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Biosphere 2

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Biosphere 2
is a 3.15-acre (12,700 m2)[1] structure originally built to be an artificial, materially-closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona (USA) by Space Biosphere Ventures, a joint venture whose principal officers were John P. Allen, inventor and Executive Director, and Margret Augustine, CEO. Constructed between 1987 and 1991, it was used to explore the complex web of interactions within life systems in a structure that included five areas based on natural biomes and an agricultural area and human living/working space to study the interactions between humans, farming and technology with the rest of nature.[2] It also explored the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth's. The name comes from Earth’s biosphere, Biosphere 1, Earth's life system and the only biosphere currently known. Funding for the project came primarily from the joint venture’s financial partner, Ed Bass' Decisions Investment, and cost $200 million from 1985 to 2007, including land, support research greenhouses, test module and staff facilities.



The Xstrata Treetop Walkway

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The Xstrata Treetop Walkway // London // UK // Marks Barfield Architects


Marks Barfield Architects have designed a 18-metre-high walkway through the canopies of sweet chestnut, lime and deciduous oak trees in Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London. The 400-tonne steel structure was designed to blend in without harming its sensitive environment. 

The Xstrata Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens opened on 24th May 2008, Kew Garden’s ‘Year of the Tree’, to over 9,000 visitors.  The walkway takes visitors 18m high into the tree canopies for a birds-eye view of Kew, providing insights into the special role of trees in our breathing planet and the intimate views of a deciduous woodland and its inhabitants from within the tranquillity of the leaves.

In conjunction with the Walkway, an underground ‘Rhizotron’ exhibition space is attached which explores various themes associated with tree root biology, climate change and the relationship between tree roots and microorganisms. Its appearance is inspired by a natural cracking within the earth to reveal a dark and dynamic space rich with exciting and educational content.


Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque

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Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque

Architect Marks Barfield is to design a £13 million “eco” mosque on a 0.4 hectare brownfield site in Cambridge.


England’s historic city of Cambridge, with its world-famous university and idyllic countryside, will soon count a mosque amidst its stunning skyline of spires. But this isn’t just any old mosque. In fact it is the first-purpose built mosque in the city which also happens to be environmentally-friendly!

After years of dealing with overcrowding at various small sites across the city, the growing Muslim community decided that it was time to take action. By the summer of 2008, a strip of land and an old warehouse has been purchased and plans for the new mosque were underway. However rather than simply building a mosque as quickly as possible, it was decided from the very start that the mosque would follow environmental sustainability principles.

Europe’s first Eco-Mosque

“Islamic civilization has been based on the rejection of waste as an under-estimation of God’s blessing and so in the construction of the new mosque here in Cambridge, we were very much in the forefront of the local environmental movement in that we are using the latest heat pumps, conservation technology and green roofs so that we’ll have an almost zero carbon footprint,” commented Chairman of the Trust, Tim Winter who is also known as Abdul Hakim Murad.


What is Ecological Systems Design?

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What is Ecological Systems Design?

Summary: Systems designers consider the context. Each subsystem is designed so it works synergistically with the others to form an optimized whole. In Ecological Systems Design, the "whole" is ultimately the whole planet.

An example:

Huehuecoytl eco village (Eco village house) This home in the Huehuecoytl eco village (Eco village house) is made largely from natural materials, much of them from on-site. Harvested Rainwater supplies a cistern, which supplies super-efficient fixtures with water pre-heated by the sun, which drain through a greywater system, which waters fruit trees that shade the house in summer, reflect sun onto the house in winter, block cold wind, and supply fruit.

Investment in these synergistically functioning systems saves resources and adverse impacts, making both the earth and the residence a nicer place to live.

What ecological systems design is not: Specialists each solving their design problems by shifting impact from their specialty to someone else's. This is often the status quo. For example, residential recirculating water pumps save a little water by wasting a lot of copper and energy.

Because we are a nation of specialists, individual systems are pretty well optimized. However, the opportunities to improve the way systems connect are rich and unexplored.

I researched and developed the first laundry detergent which biodegrades into plant food. Apparently because plant physiologists, wastewater engineers and soap compounders have little professional contact, no one had thought of doing this before. This design opportunity fell through the cracks between their specialties.

A systems approach is more involved. However, since in the real world everything really is connected, explicitly acknowledging these connections can only improve results. The reason this isn't done more is because hardly anyone is educated in this way.



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