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2015-09

Sustainable Development Summit 2015 
27 Sep 2015 - By Mr. Berqstrom
 
Pope Francis held his speech today at the UN general Assembly. He speaks on behalf of the worlds poorest and how the environmental changes is affecting peoples lives.

"..government leaders must do everything possible to insure that all can have the minimum in spiritual and material means needed to live in digninty and to create and support a family..

..in practical terms this absoulte minimum have three names: lodging (roof over their head), labour and land.." Quote: Pope Francis"

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Pope Francis: Source;
France24
Pope Francis speach at the 2015 UN General Assembly, video published on Youtube.com 25 Sep 2015.

It is inspiring to listen to Pope Francis and his words, setting a standard for minimum "means needed to live in digninty". With this speach he manage to create a focus on basic but important aspects in many peoples lives; lodging, labour & land. He furthermore encourage the global society to bring to an end the waste of valuable recources and share with people in need.
 

 
Structure & resources 
25 Sep 2015 - By Mr. Berqstrom
 
If you have read some of my previous articles you might question why shortage of resources could be seen as an opportunity? To start with, I would like to refresh the future scenario taken into consideration. Rapid urbanisation, populations growth and a shift to the green economy will force the building industry to optimize Resources to fulfill a higher demand at a lower cost.
 
Historically buildings has been a heavy object, built with rocks, clay/ brics and later concrete. This has over time created a cultural appreciation and a refferance to how buildings should be made. I belive we have to challange this worldview, even more than what has been done in contemporary architecture and its longstretched overhangs. Only by "dissolving the traditional architectural- mass -element into structural fragments" (quote: MrBergstrom) can this historic understanding be changed to fit a new green world.

This change or optimization process can in many ways be compared with the shift, as seen in the automobile industry at the end of the 20th Century and even earlier in the shipping industry. Instead of using thick sheets of steelplates, engineers could find the same strenght in thinner plates, as long as they had a specific shape. This would create a structure replacing the strength previously held by the mass within the plate. This optimization made it possible to make lighter vessels, giving capasity for more freight.
Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller, originally a shipdesigner, worked on improving the capasity of ships/vessels in the beginning of the 20th Century. Later when working as an architect, he brought with him knowledge and understandment from his career in shipdesign. This led to an architectural understandment where weight was seen as a fundamental element on how to understand structures. He saw the ground for a building, in the same way water is underpinning any floating vessel, making weigh crusual to what capacity the vessel could have. In The Buckminster Fuller Reader, this aspect is explained through his experience, asking the genuine question; how much does your building weight? 
 
Fuller asked this questions to several architects. This was the way he was used to converse with shipdesigners, since life on a ship depends on this knowldege. But with buildings the story were different. As in Fullers time, even today the fewest architect (and even engineers) know the weight of their buildings. This results in a massive overestimation and high risk factors. Whereas, for the more standarized building blocks, wery little time is spent to analyze the weight and the material usage. Most square meters in the world are built traditional, following the principle; repeating what works (instead of optimizing possibilities). Said in a different way; "Who cares about weight, as long as you find solid rock in the ground?" (This might not be the case for skyscrapers and other prestige buildings, where the projectteam have to activly use this knowledge)
 
To solve the challanges in todays overspending of materials, I advocate Buckminster Fuller's concept, thinking about buildings as a ship, making it "float" on the ground with minimum weight and a strong structure. By optimizing materials from the nano size building blocks and upwards on every level until the final architectural structure, less goods is needed as the organisation of mass (previously solid mass) makes it stronger and lighter. A proper foundation is furthermore always needed, but it should not be more than what's necessary for the building. It will require a huge leap in knowledge among the whole industry to change focus into optimizing the structure, but with a financial initiative; creating awarness among the contractors about their possibilities to save material with simple structural principles, it can be done.


 
A historic business opportunity
21 Sep 2015 - By Mr. Berqstrom
The previous article show clearly why the global society has to work togheter to "alleviate poverty". As seen in the Hans Rosling Ted Talk is this one of the main answer to prevent an overpopulated planet. It is preunderstood in this context that; planet earth only has resources for a limited number of people. By preventing poverty, people climb above the safety level on the "Maslow's hierarchy", and they tend to get smaller families. Rosling presents this case with a clear statistical connection between family planning and financial stability.
 
On the same level shown by the "Maslow's Hierarchy", there is safety of property. According to the UN-habitat "working for a better urban future", are 40% of the words population going to live in slums in year 2030 if "the global society" do not provide proper housing to deal with the trend of rapid urbanization. In other words will the next 10-20 years give us the biggest urban Development ever, in a historic perspective. It will take place all over the world, and new megacities will emerge. To put it into perspective, will about 3 billion people, in 2030 be in need for basic housing and access to infrastructure, such as water and sanitation systems, unless there is completed about 96150 housing units per day, starting building today.
 
This trend is well known in the UN system, but where is the political answer? Mostly what I have taken notice of, is the "traditional development programs" initiated from basis in Humanitarian needs. Unfortunately is the speed today on this processes to slow to meet the required need. Therefore, the elected politicans are "by their inaction" creating a historic housing crisis and potential disaster. I can not predict how the political agenda will develop over time, but I belive this issue will be a hot topic in year 2030 when almost half of the world population will be in desperat need for better living condition. unless steps are taken today. 
 
So, as for today is it not possible to rely on governmental programs and subsidies to have the right initiative to deal with this future crisis. UN does not have the funding and world politician can only think ahead as long as their elected period. Therfore I am proposing to leading politicians to focus on the regulatory process, insted of funding. Over time governmental funding might be the answer to push the Development further on a big scale. But untill then, make it possible for business to have nessesary land to develop. The business will solve the practical cost issue, as long as they can trust access to land, or said in a different way; "I'm quite confident developers will find a way to make money, when they understand the scale". 
 
In any way the political agenda plays out, I see this housing crisis as the ultimate golden opportunity for anyone in the field of architecure and engineering to become a part of the solution (and as a businessman, be part of the boom). The rebuild after the second world war will be nothing in comparison. The challange on the other hand is; how to change the building industry into developing faster, cheaper and more environmently friendly?
 
Examples could be:
- new cheap environmently friendly materials
- stronger and lighter building structures
- faster building methods

By sharing this imminent opportunity, I hope more architect & engineers will join the future, starting today developing solutions to decipher the housing crisis into practical results;  - for your business and the people in need !

 
 
Possibilist - A new Breed of Architects & Engineers?
18 Sep 2015 - By Mr. Berqstrom
 
In the Ted Talk below Hans Rosling is presenting his data about population growth with "analog" IKEA boxes. Here he shows why poverty has to be overcome; for the planet of man to survive the future. This point of view is rare in the common press and it is furthermore Rosling's opinion that people have not updated their world view since going to school. Therefore the dominated western worldview in media and elswere, is largly percived through the memories of our society's leading agegroup (50-60) and what they learned at school in the 1960s.
 
Hans Rosling shows in his presentation how the world has changed, but due to the mentioned absence of knowledge, there is a major misunderstandment on what development that has taken place globally and further more; where the world is heading. Because of this, there is a "noise" undermining the worlds current state. This "noise" is everywhere, even today and makes me think about the message itself and its original creation. It was a different time (year 1960) when the message was still true. I wonder why it's resonance is still being heard so clear. Perhaps the medium did become its own message?
 
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Hans Rosling Ted Talk; Source: Ted.com
Ted Talk with Hans Rosling, video published on Gapminder.org 26 Aug 2010.
 
Nevertheless, Hans Rosling gives a glimse of hope in his presentation. At the end in the video, he claims that he is not a optimist, nor a pesimist. Thoug he is a  very serious possibilist: "its a new category, where we take emotions apart and just work analytically with the world. It can be done. We can have a much more just world, with green Technology, and with investments to alleviate poverty, a global governance. The world can become like this.." (quote: Hans Rosling)
 
Even if this world view migh seen far away today, thinking about how EU is struggling to manage the refugee crisis from Syria, can perhaps his vision be the seed young and prosper architects/ engineers need to seek new answers,. Creating better solution for todays world, instead of listening to dusty texbooks where "form follows function" or vice versa. I hope students in the field today look for data driven solutions, through an interdisciplinary teamwork, getting the most out of the resources "clients" have at hand. By recommending this approach, I speak against the contemporary seperation among the professions, where architects manage form/spacial - functions and the engineers set up the structure. This creates an overuse of resourses the planet cannot afford over time; an obsolete thinking bound to the oil era, where "more is merrier".
 
On this path (inspired by Rosling's example) to create the "primitive hut in an urban future", I dont see shortage of resources as a challange. It is an opportunity. An opportunity to inspire into new solutions where replication of nature and natural systems might give answers. As one of the sources for how to optimizing scarce resources, nature shows us the creation of magnificent shapes with astonishing functions. By following this example, architecture and engineering can obtain a mission and a reason for existence, seperated from any philosophical argument, into a real and practical aspect to solve; environmentlyfriendly housing and infrastructure for 9 billion people to save the Earth.



Slum Upgrade - City Resource Stations
16 Sep 2015 - By Mr. Berqstrom
 
From a "City" point of view and its politicians, trying to create solution "tackling" the rapid growth in todays urban areas is a great challenge. On one side of the equation is there a tremendous financial cost to develop full scale city infrastructure and it can be difficult for politicians to enforce regulatory policies for permanent housing in potential growth- areas. On the other side, the city increases in numbers daily, due to people moving from rural areas seeking work in the city.
 
To solve some of these issues EggCube.org present the City Resource Stations as a cost efficient develpment initiative to upgrade slum areas. It shall be seen as the first sted towards permanent development, a process that might take years or decades until the final date where execution of the permanent development plan will be initiated.
 
In these long timespans when the politicians are discussing the future planning process, there can be possibilities for the city to collect revenue from slums by giving squatters access to simple infrastructure, provided for by the city. This will improve peoples health living in these areas and over time become a financial advantage for the city with improved workers condition. It is further my belife that slums with internet access will create new businesses. Overlooking this potentially in an area where people are focused on every penny, might prevent the next "AirBnB's from ever be developed. In the same time the infrastructural mainlines are put into ground, making the area ready for permanent development.
 
Resource Station
Resource Station  - City service/ slum upgrade; Source: EggCube.org, by Mr. Berqstrom
Audun Bergstrom, Resource Station, illustration first published in article at EggCube.org 13 Sep 2015.
 
 
By devloping a few strategic streets with the basic infrastructure in a existing (or new) slum areas, you can provide city services to a great number of residents. Please see the following list of features the slum Upgrade might provide for the city and its residents:
 
Health;
- Seperated areas for clean drinking water and waste water - improving sanitary conditions
- Long time food storage (freezing box for rent) - improved access to nutritions
 
Connectivity;
- Internet connection with a supercharged wifi hotspot - educations and business Growth
- Charging station and backup - power for handheld units (mobile/tablets)
 
Safety;
- Road access for firetrucs, ambulances and other city vehicles.
 
Growth;
- Easy scaling of basic ground infrastructure when execution future plans for permanent area Development
 
 
 
Slum crisis & the lifestandard paradox

06 Sep 2015 - By Mr. Berqstrom

The DR.dk youtube clip shows Hans Rosling explaining how the global lifestandard has improved. Hans is known for the way he explains complex data with simple and understandable graphics. In the DR.dk intervju he describe how the earths population is better off than ever before, where most people now have taken vacines, use condoms, is literate and have a longer lifespan.

To put this in perspective I remember taking a survey for classifying the lifestandard in Nigeria. At the point I took this survey (2013) I lived in Norway and had a decent job as an architect. I used data about myself as input, with the lifestandard I was having in Norway. The results where interesting since I bearly managed to get on the list as middle class in Nigeria. Perhaps I did not have enough of video recording equiptment and furhtermore I only owned one car. This did not help for the ranking in the survey. But for me, the data where a quantum leap in understanding how well the development globally is going forward.

So, if the lifestandard is improving all over the world, why is the housing crisis so imminent? To answer this question I will first start to make a reference to the UN-habitat "working for a better urban future". According to this fraction of United Nations are 40% of the words population going to live in slums in year 2030 if we "the global society" do not provide proper housing to deal with the trend of rapid urbanization.

The contradictions that people's lifestandard is increasing, in the same time as more people live in slums, must have an explenation.

While the consumer- cost for goods an apliances has been going down the last 50 years, due to more efficient production and new technology, has the development of housing in the same time period not changed to any extent.

 

 
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Hans Rosling interview; Source: DR.dk 
DR.dk, interview with Hans Rosling, video published on DR 03 Sep 2015.

This does not mean that the building process has not improved over time, but compared to the production capacity of a modern factoryplant is this improvement small.

The consequense is that people have to spend more of their income to pay for housing than other goods and apliances. Additional to this, does rapid urbanization push housing prices further, due to high demand,  whereas many people have no other choise than to live in slums, even if they seemingly can afford more goods than ever before.