Hydropower from buildings

 

Rainwater pipe

Last time I posted about hydropower, and now I wanted to touch on one less obvious application for it.

Normally one thinks about streams in the woods, or some such usual place for these micro-hydroelectric things, but this can even be used in cities.

Normally, only wind and solar are thought of when talking about natural power generation in cities. Yeah, there are also the plants that process waste and get methanol from trash, but those are not something most people can just purchase in a store and install in their home.

Most buildings have a pipe to run rain water from the roof down to the street or a drain. This pipe has a huge drop, and it’s a great place to put one of these turbines to generate some power. The higher the building, the more turbines you can fit. Since the turbine will slow the water down, you’d need to space them for the water to pick up enough speed again.

Yeah, it doesn’t rain all the time. Sun comes mostly daily, same with wind, but rain only has certain seasons. Still, it’s quite a lot of power that could be gotten from it, and would help assist with cooling/heating consumption, depending on the need.

It’s an alternative worth exploring, and a turbine as small as the one in the other post certainly makes it easier.

Space saving furniture

 

Back on the topic of space saving solutions, I love small spaces and need to make the most out of them, here’s a great collection of them in a video.

I’ve usually disliked this kind of furniture because the designs I’ve known are rather poor. These, on the other hand, surprised me and made me want to have a few.

I’d try to make them a bit less modern, though… but the ideas are great. ;)

Cool construction worker skills

 

Found these videos and felt like sharing them here. They show some pretty good team work by these construction workers from other parts of the world. Really hard workers.

The techniques are pretty cool and could easily be used in earth construction methods as well if needed.

I remembered a friend that had years of experience in construction in Uruguay, telling me how he had this worker that could plaster a wall using a shovel! He’d pick up some concrete and throw it against the wall as if his shovel were a huge trowel, speeding up the process a lot. It must take a lot of muscle, technique and practice to achieve that, the trowel can be hard enough. I searched for a video of something like it, but didn’t find one.

Sliding walls, multiple rooms

 

I read this post over at The Tiny Life blog today, about a Hong Kong apartment that used sliding walls to change the room’s function. These walls aren’t just a board, though, but furniture, rather.

Here, watch these two videos about it.

I personally didn’t like moving them the way that guy does, since he seems to needs to be careful moving the things or they’ll lock inplace because of not being parallel to the tracks. I think it’s better to do it with a mechanism, like the high density mobile storage systems, which this architect seems to have drawn a lot of inspiration from.

There’s also a side-sliding one but will become more efficient the longer your wall is, which is unlikely it will be very much in a small home. Still, it at least adds 50% more storage to a shelving unit, as long as you can do without the extra space it takes in front of the original one.

Actually those storage systems would be great for any apartment and, I don’t know the prices, but would probably be available in small sizes and few units so that they’re useful in a home application.

Stewart Brand’s How Buildings Learn, a BBC documentary

 

It’s quite a nice series and I enjoyed it. Here’s what the author said in his description of the show over at Google Video:

This six-part, three-hour, BBC TV series aired in 1997. I presented and co-wrote the series; it was directed by James Muncie, with music by Brian Eno. The series was based on my 1994 book, HOW BUILDINGS LEARN: What Happens After They’re Built. The book is still selling well and is used as a text in some college courses. Most of the 27 reviews on Amazon treat it as a book about system and software design, which tells me that architects are not as alert as computer people. But I knew that; that’s part of why I wrote the book. Anybody is welcome to use anything from this series in any way they like. Please don’t bug me with requests for permission. Hack away. Do credit the BBC, who put considerable time and talent into the project. Historic note: this was one of the first television productions made entirely in digital— shot digital, edited digital. The project wound up with not enough money, so digital was the workaround. The camera was so small that we seldom had to ask permission to shoot; everybody thought we were tourists. No film or sound crew. Everything technical on site was done by editors, writers, directors. That’s why the sound is a little sketchy, but there’s also some direct perception in the filming that is unusual.

Part 1: Flow

Part 2: The Low Road

Part 3: Built For Change

Part 4: Unreal Estate

Part 5: The Romance of Maintenance

Part 6: Shearing Layers

What did you like -or didn’t- about it?