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Space Architects Will Help Us Live and Work Among the Stars

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How Stuff work produced this illuminating article on how Space Architects Will Help Us Live and Work Among the Stars cannot go noticed. Hence it is republishing here.

Above is this rendering showing another view of Team SEArch+/Apis Cor’s Mars habitat. The unique shape allows for continuous reinforcement of the structure and allows light to enter through trough-shaped ports on the sides and top. TEAM SEARCH+/APIS COR/NASA

Space Architects Will Help Us Live and Work Among the Stars

By: John Donovan  |  Oct 11, 2021

This 2020 concept of a moon village created by XTENDdesign is located on the rim of Shackleton crater on the lunar south pole. The Moon Village Association (MVA) is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) whose goal is to create a permanent global forum for stakeholders interested in the development of the Moon Village. NASA

If you’re of the Elon Musk mindset and think that humans, to survive, will have to become a multiplanetary species, we’re going to need a place to live and work. Out there. In space. On other planets.

We’re going to need somebody — a lot of somebodies, really — to build us houses and apartment buildings and offices and space Walmarts and modes of transportation to haul us between all those places. Heck, we’re going to have to build a lot of places to do everything we do here on our rapidly decaying home planet.00:17/01:43

We’ll need architects. A lot of them. We’ll need a different type of architect, to be sure, for our ventures into space. We’ll need … space architects.

Luckily, that’s already a thing.

The Idea Behind Space Architecture

Olga Bannova doesn’t carry a business card that reads “Space Architect,” though she admits that would be pretty awesome. Instead, Bannova’s title (or one of them) is director of the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) — it’s been a thing since the late 1980s — in the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering. SICSA is home to the world’s only space architecture graduate program. A diploma nets you a Master of Science in Space Architecture.

It’s not a huge program yet, churning out only a few graduates every year. It is, like much of the whole idea of multiplanetary expansion, an emerging field.

But for those who believe that our very existence relies on someday moving to a different galactic neighborhood, space architecture has us covered. It is, in a very real way, simply the latest exploratory mission away from Mother Earth.

“You can’t stay in your house forever and think that somehow everything else will be the same … everything is changing, including our Earth, including us, including the solar system, including the galaxy. It’s all changing and moving,” Bannova says. “That’s why it’s important. It’s mostly about understanding more about ourselves.”

Team SEArch+/Apis Cor won first place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge for deep space exploration.TEAM SEARCH+/APIS COR/NASA

What Is Space Architecture, Really?

Space architecture, really, is just what it sounds like. Bannova heads an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) committee, the Space Architecture Technical Committee (SATC) that concentrates specifically on the field. The SATC, on the site spacearchitect.org — if it has an internet site, you know it’s a thing — describes it like this:Space Architecture is the theory and practice of designing and building inhabited environments in outer space (it encompasses architectural design of living and working environments in space related facilities, habitats, and vehicles). These environments include, but are not limited to: space vehicles, stations, habitats and lunar, planetary bases and infrastructures; and earth based control, experiment, launch, logistics, payload, simulation and test facilities.

Space architects, then, are charged with designing buildings and houses and offices and a whole bunch of other stuff that humans need to survive — those interstellar Walmarts, perhaps — both here and in space plus devising ways to get between them. All this, not for nothing, while dealing with problems that Earthbound architects don’t even dream about. Don’t need to dream about. Maybe can’t dream about.

Say, for example, a lack of oxygen or atmosphere. Weather patterns that make our current climate-change problems look like a calm day at a sunny beach. A lack of sunlight. Too much sunlight. Microgravity.

A lack of material to build what you need. Or no way to ship material that you need to where you need it. Or no way to get it there in a timely way, considering the vast distances between points in space.

It’s not hard to imagine the problems that space architects will face, now and in the future. It’s not hard to imagine, either that we can’t even begin to imagine some of the challenges they’ll be up against.

Carving out a space in space for our species to continue is a huge undertaking, perhaps the most audacious ever for mankind. It must be what the possibility of flying to the moon — of human flight at all — must have felt like to Galileo.

But, yeah, we knocked those out, didn’t we?

Team AI. SpaceFactory of New York also participated in NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, and won second place for its space factory habitat on Mars.AI SPACEFACTORY/NASA

The Challenges Ahead

Identifying the multitude of challenges in our move into space, thinking them through, and realizing that so many have yet to be recognized is a sizable part of what space architects now, and space architects in the future, must do. The field cries out for critical thinkers who have an understanding (if not necessarily a doctorate-level degree) in a multitude of specialties; not only architecture and its different branches, but the different areas in engineering (industrial, aerospace, systems and aeronautical, to name a few), physics, geometry, mathematics, logistics, computer science, human biology and many more.

In meta terms, architecture embraces both art and science. It addresses how we build, how we live, in the space we inhabit. You don’t build a library without figuring out how we move about it, where the books go, where the light comes in.

If our living space is to become outer space — a habitable space that humans have been learning about, up close, for at least 20 years — well, we better start cracking the books.

What’s a habitat on Mars to look like? How do winds there affect what you build? What about gravity? How do you construct a farm, if one can be built, with the radiation of another planetary body beaming down? How do we build living quarters on a ship that may take decades to get where it’s going? How can we make sure that a flying habitat flies?

What can we learn by building these habitats on some of the less-hospitable areas of Earth? How can what we learn help us while we’re still here?

You want to be a space architect? Get yourself a planet-sized toolbox.

“Space architecture is not for the technically timid. To play this game, one needs to educate oneself about the harsh realities of life beyond Earth, and the science and technology for fashioning habitable bubbles in deadly environments,” Theodore Hall, a former chairperson of the SATC and an extended reality software developer at the University of Michigan, said back in 2014. “Only then is one prepared to stand toe-to-toe with the engineers and strive for architectural aesthetics that treat the human as more than a deterministic biochemical subsystem of a soulless machine.”

Those still interested in space architecture — and, again, we’re going to need a lot of forward-thinkers to sign up — shouldn’t be intimidated, though. Plenty of problems are there to be faced, certainly, and it will take all kinds to determine how our species can best live away from home.

But we have cellphones now that are more powerful than the computers that sent men to the moon. We’ve been on the International Space Station for 20 years and counting. We’re exploring Mars and other deep-space outposts at this very moment.

Problems in finding a new home among the stars? Space architects are on the job.

“It’s impossible to predict everything, in space especially. It’s hard to design some close-to-perfect habitat even on Earth,” says Bannova, who carries an undergraduate degree from the Moscow Architectural Institute, dual masters degrees (in architecture and space architecture, both from UH) and a doctorate from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology. “We have more questions than answers. It’s the nature of the profession. But it gives you an opportunity to see and decide for yourself where your passion is.”

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Sustainable living space in a world of limits: a need for dialogue

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EURACTIV Media network post by Doris FuchsNils BlosseyPia Mamut and Sylvia Lorek on the need for dialogue about agreeing to a Sustainable living space in a world of limits, should not come as a surprise. Let us go through it and then see if it were as realistic as it should be.

Challenges to ecological and social sustainability require us to integrate limits to resource consumption into all areas, including residential space, write Doris Fuchs, Sylvia Lorek, Pia Mamut and Nils Blossey.

Doris Fuchs is a German political scientist and professor of international relations and sustainable development at the University of Münster, Chair of International Relations and Sustainable Development. She authored this opinion piece together with researchers Sylvia Lorek, Pia Mamut, and Nils Blossey.

Multiple socio-ecological crises challenge our societies to reconfigure patterns of resource consumption. As we are increasingly approaching the exhaustion of planetary boundaries, sustainability and a societal dialogue about how to achieve it need to be introduced to all spheres of human life.

Next to nutrition and mobility, housing is the major driver of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to switching to renewable energies and energy-saving refurbishment measures, recent studies suggest that also limits to residential space might be required to sufficiently reduce energy consumption.

Importantly, the introduction of such measures does not pursue an introduction of lower standards of living, but rather careful planning and inclusive political processes to ascertain what sustainable living spaces that take account of social minima and ecological maxima can look like.

Clearly, humans need to be endowed with a minimum amount of material resources and space to be capable of attaining physical and psychological wellbeing – for many people especially in the Global South this would correspond to more, rather than less space and resources.

Thus, scholars and practitioners have outlined a range of minimum space standards for basic needs satisfaction regarding housing, which are partially based on context-specific parameters in terms of location and building.

Rao and Min, for instance, define a household space of 30m2 for up to three inhabitants and an additional minimum of 10m2 per each further person as a minimum threshold to provide decent living conditions.

The NYC Building Code, in turn, identifies as a standard that at least one room in a dwelling unit must have a size of 13,9 to 20m2, for example. Societal minima for living space may also vary depending on cultural and regional contexts.

Finally, discussions of minimum housing requirements are also driven by rising real estate prices and rents as well as shrinking space in metropolitan areas.

On the other end of the spectrum, the average size of residential homes in advanced economies has generally increased despite declining household size. As home size increases, so does the associated consumption of energy and other resources.

From a perspective of planetary boundaries, therefore, it becomes clear that we also need to engage in a societal dialogue about consumption maxima with respect to residential space.

In this vein, recent studies have calculated how much space an individual could use from a one-planet-perspective and assuming intra- and intergenerational justice. In such calculations, Lettenmeier arrives at an estimated target of 20m2 of residential space per capita.

Grubler et al. attribute more potential to improvements in energy efficiency and arrive at an estimate of 30m2 per capita (in 2050), which equals the present average in the Global North. For a family of four, then, estimates of residential space beyond which ecological boundaries are endangered range between 80-120m2.

Thinking about both social minima and ecological maxima is important for the future wellbeing of humans on this planet. Indeed, they belong together, as the concept of consumption corridors delineates.

However, whereas social minimum standards for housing easily evoke broad approval, thinking about upper limits to residential space is considerably more challenging. Maxima to residential space inevitably lead to conflicts of interest between members of society, which need to be balanced out in democratic processes.

Importantly, such upper (and even lower) limits should therefore not be envisioned as being based solely on scientific estimates and top-down enforcement. On the contrary, broad societal dialogue is necessary to generate an improved understanding of social and ecological conditions and needs, conflicts between them, and options for their joint pursuit.

Moreover, policies supporting the availability of adequate and affordable housing and addressing rising structural inequalities in the housing market need to be implemented alongside any focus on consumption minima and maxima with respect to residential space.

In addition, appropriate infrastructural measures need to ensure that potential contributions to one-planet lifestyles, which may result from current trends towards co-living, smaller home sizes, and cooperative house ownership can be realised.

Challenges to ecological and social sustainability require us to make complex decisions and to integrate limits to resource consumption into our practices and policies across consumption fields. We need to openly discuss social minima and ecological maxima with respect to residential space – just as in any other consumption field.

Meeting the demand for sustainable housing and green buildings

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In this article by Vinit Dungarwal, Director, AMs Project Consultants, meeting the demand for sustainable housing and green buildings, is proposed as the safest path towards environmentally responsible and resource-efficient buildings making up the future built environment. The vital trend should unify all development with however regional and local specifics.

The above Image for illustrative purpose is of Pinterest.

Meeting the demand for sustainable housing and green buildings

Sustainability in the real estate context is not only limited to energy conservation but also includes the use of resources, impact on the surrounding environment and living conditions for inhabitants. 

India ranks only second after the US in terms of the number of green technology projects and built-up area.

The climate change conversation in India has picked pace in the last few years. Millennials and Gen X consistently rate the environment and climate change as the two issues they worry most about. All industries and sectors have now consciously been working towards reducing the carbon footprint and even real estate sector is doing its bit. Even governments are now giving various incentives to push eco-friendly development. To put things in perspective, buildings contribute to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and consume 40 per cent of the world’s energy. In addition to this, the construction sector in India is responsible for about 22 per cent of our total CO2 emissions.

Hence, to cope with changing as well as challenging times, it has become extremely important for us to think about sustainability in this sector. The focus needs to shift on using alternate resources and technologies which help in saving cost and resources and at the same time align in regards to the objective of having minimal impact on the environment for a balanced life.

In the post-COVID-19 world, where increased focus is being laid on overall wellbeing, it is said that sustainability will be the main element.

What are Green Buildings and Why do they matter

The global green building movement started about two decades back. The genesis of this movement was to cut down the use of extravagant resource consumption in modern buildings. In India too, the demand for having Green Buildings has increased tremendously in the last 10 years. As per estimates, India’s green building market will double by 2022 and reach 10 billion sq ft and will be valued at USD 35-50 billion.

Environmentally responsible and resource-efficient buildings are usually classified as a green building. These buildings not only reduce or eliminate negative impacts on the environment, by using less water, energy or natural resources, but in the long run even have a positive impact on the environment. This is possible as they are capable of generating their own electricity, have better ways to harvest water and even increase biodiversity.

The homebuyers of today are not just aware of these buildings but are also looking for these features for the obvious benefits that they offer. There is an increased demand for a home that has ample sunlight, proper ventilation and access to freshwater. People are also increasingly aware of the materials that are being used in construction and the impact these have on the environment.

Benefits of Green Building

Sustainability in the real estate context is not only limited to energy conservation but also includes the use of resources, impact on the surrounding environment and living conditions for inhabitants. Green homes can help in saving time and money as the materials used are easily accessible. In some of these buildings, developers buy the materials locally, which not only saves time but also reduces the carbon footprint by minimising the distance they need to be shipped. This helps in creating a sense of community and supporting the domestic economy.

Apart from the cost-benefit, there are many social drivers for green buildings that include improved occupant health and well-being and increased worker productivity. Given the environmental benefits and the satisfaction, it brings to the workforce green buildings are increasingly being sought after by the corporate sector.

Need for Affordable Green Buildings

It is a known fact that eco-friendly buildings help in saving operational costs by cutting down electricity, water and other utility bills. However, it is often perceived that the cost of construction for these buildings can be higher. Green concepts and techniques in the affordable housing sector can help attain a reduction in energy and water consumption, improved health, hygiene, sanitation; better ventilation and light in the dwellings, etc.

There are many low-cost techniques that are being deployed that help in cutting down even the cost of building. In addition, the use of recyclable products that are locally available can further help in bringing down the cost of development. Most importantly, the use of eco-friendly materials will help enhance the occupants’ quality of lives.

In India, the market for affordable housing has seen a strong uptick in the last two years and that, in turn, is also fuelling the demand for green buildings.

Key aspects that green building focus on are:

# Waste Nothing – Avoiding wastage is one great way to cut down the materials that are being used.

# Adapt to the place/location/building – Every place has its own set of challenges and solutions. Solutions that work for a building in Shimla will not hold true for, say, another one in Mumbai. So, builders need to think on their feet and adapt to the environment.

# Optimise rather than maximise – Whatever materials are available, one should try and use them in very optimised manner rather than maximizing the number of materials.

# Build sustainable designs that last longer – In the bid to use sustainable material one should never compromise on durability.

# Use materials that can be reused/recycled – There are many materials that can be reused and thus help in saving cost. For example, corridor and verrandah flooring has can be made using waste marble, kadappah, kota and red Agra pieces, with a simple IPS Border. This move alone can help save at least 30% cost over regular floor options. Another option could be using natural stones instead of using ready-made colours from the market. This gives graceful look to the bare concrete structure.

# Adopt energy efficient measures that help in saving costs in the long run – The focus should be to adopt methods that help in lowering cost of day-to-day living. Relying on renewable energy can help in reducing the monthly bills by up to 20-30 per cent.

The big Green push

Though at a nascent stage, India has emerged as one of the leading countries in terms of green building projects. India ranks only second after the US in terms of the number of green technology projects and built-up area. The Indian government too has played a pivotal role in promoting green building. A significant step in this direction was taken in 2007 with the introduction of the Energy Conservation Building Code, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and later updated in 2017.

Additionally, several government agencies have acknowledged and incentivised green buildings, including central agencies such as the Ministry of Skill Development and the Small Industries Development Bank of India, as well as State governments and municipal bodies across India.
Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) in the past few years has been working intrinsically with several Central and State Government agencies to promote the green building movement in the country. Some of the Central and State Government agencies have given recognition to IGBCs’ Green Rating Systems. This too has helped in fuelling the trend for green building in India.

There is a huge scope for Green buildings in India. Given the advantages it offers, the incentives that the government is providing to this construction and the growing demand by the environment-conscious consumers, the future for this segment seems very bright.

Printing our way out of the Netherlands housing crisis

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Printing our way out of the Netherlands housing crisis by Ivo Jongsma, Eindhoven University of Technology could not only resolve the Netherlands’ housing crisis but an intelligent way of sorting out the MENA region’s shortage of endemic lack of proper accommodation, particularly in those heavily populated areas. It is worth noting that the end product bears similarities with the vernacular architecture of many of the MENA housing typologies.

The picture above is of Eindhoven University of Technology

Printing our way out of the Netherlands housing crisis: ‘It is desperately needed’

Eindhoven leads the way: for the first time, Dutch residents are moving into a 3D-printed concrete home. Professor Theo Salet of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is the driving force behind Project Milestone, which is more relevant than ever before due to the housing crisis. An interview with an impassioned man: “We are facing an unprecedented challenge.”

It sometimes seems as if freshly printed concrete has a will of its own. The mixture constantly reacts to changes in temperature during curing and tends to collapse like a plum pudding when there is insufficient stiffness. To complicate matters further, the printing process needs to account for inclined walls and the changing weight of the structure.

With a little imagination, you can compare concrete printing to walking on a very thin tightrope: you must not print too quickly (the structure then becomes unstable) but also not too slowly (the printed layers will no longer adhere). It’s no small feat.

Customization on a large scale

Under these difficult conditions, Theo Salet and his team have spent years looking for ways to develop safe, rigid structures through which unique homes with a distinctive character can roll out of the concrete printer. Customization on a large scale instead of standardization.

The project caused him some headaches. Salet is a professor and dean of the Department of the Built Environment at TU/e and the driving force behind the Project Milestone, a collaboration between TU/e, Eindhoven municipality, construction company Van Wijnen, building materials manufacturer Saint Gobain Weber Beamix, engineering firm Witteveen + Bos and housing investor Vesteda.

For years, Salet worked with Ph.D. students Rob Wolfs and Zeeshan Ahmend and various master’s students and third parties on the construction of the first completely 3D-printed house that meets all building requirements. He regularly had to swallow disappointments, such as during the search for the right combination of concrete and insulation material for the sandwich walls, but these were just as often followed by the realization that his team was making progress.

“The fact that we’ve already come this far makes me a proud man,” Salet says as he strolls the grounds near the 3D-printed home in Eindhoven’s Meerhoven district this morning. He is also proud of how the knowledge developed has found its way to industry so quickly. Printing a wall is one thing, but producing a complete house is a different kettle of fish. This can only be done with the right industrial partners, emphasizes the professor.

“What’s nice is that there’s still so much to be gained just by learning from this experience,” he explains as his eye travels across the structure. The shape of the house is inspired by that of a boulder, a polished version of the housing that used to be featured in the Flintstones cartoon, with a sleek and modern interior.

First occupant of 3D concrete printed house in Eindhoven receives the key

The first tenant of the first Dutch home made of 3D-printed concrete will receive the key today, April 30. The house in Eindhoven, the first of five from Project Milestone, fully complies with all strict Dutch building requirements.

The house is a detached single-story home with 94 square meters of net floor area, a generous living room and two bedrooms. It is located in the Eindhoven neighborhood of Bosrijk. The home consists of 24 printed concrete elements, which were printed layer by layer at the print factory in Eindhoven. The elements were transported by trucks to the building site where they were placed on a foundation.

https://www.youtube.com/embed//suDusQKvzu8?color=whiteThe shape of the house is inspired by that of a boulder. The video shows the outside of the house in more detail. Credit: Bart van Overbeeke

Real necessity

There’s a reason Salet is putting his heart and soul into this project. The urgency is profound, he stresses several times this morning. “This is not about the ambition of some scientist, it’s about the rock-hard necessity of making major changes to the way we build,” Salet says, referring to the ever-expanding housing shortage and the pressing climate issue, among other things. “Understand that we need to build in the Netherlands alone a million homes in 10 years and make 7.5 million homes drastically more sustainable in 30 years. In addition, infrastructure from the 1960s and 1970s is heading towards the end of its design life. We are facing an unprecedented challenge.”

Unprecedented challenges call for rigorous measures. In fact, the professor argues, you need to turn the entire chain upside down. The construction sector must be more focused on the demands of society and, at the same time, more productive and sustainable. People, profit, planet, to put it briefly. According to Salet, this is the path along which we must pursue the transition. Close collaboration between academia, industry and the government is of great importance—the triple helix model. Salet: “Make that the quadruple helix model. You have to involve the public as well. Isn’t it crazy that residents barely have a say in their own built environment?”

In order to break the chain, the need must first be felt by all parties involved. Salet: “Take the government, which must realize that the housing shortage is an issue for which it does not have an answer, simply because no one has the answer. The academic world can stimulate innovation, but there has to be a concrete question on the table. Industry must also be given the opportunity to make the transition to high-quality manufacturing. The municipality of Eindhoven understood this in the Milestone project and dared to take on this unique challenge.”

Indeed, the government can create the conditions that foster partnerships which accelerate innovation. “Create pilot projects to experiment with and then scale them up. In tenders, look not only at price but also whether the construction project scores highly in areas such as circularity or innovation in the construction and manufacturing industries. If the urgency is felt, parties will seek each other out.” The professor points to Eindhoven-based VDL, for example, which will be working with Van Wijnen in Heerenveen.

Industrial customization

In the media, Salet regularly reads that standardization should become the new norm. Modular construction is gathering more and more attention, but he dismisses this idea. “We’ll then start delivering mass production and, in a while, the same houses will line every street. That would be extremely monotonous; no one is waiting for that and it isn’t necessary either. You have to digitize the entire process from design to construction. A robot doesn’t care what shape it has to print, so you then get industrial customization with variation. Let’s make that step in one go, as challenging as it may be.”

If the construction industry can make a dramatic shift, as Salet says it can, the benefits of industrial customization will be huge. Productivity will skyrocket. Additionally, you will need less high-quality craftsmanship in a market with a desperate shortage of skilled workers. The heavy work will disappear. This will make more room for women in the sector while the health of employees will also improve; a bad back or worn knees will be a thing of the past.

The biggest gains, however, will be in the areas of sustainability and circularity. “The amount of material we currently use in construction is unprecedented. We need to cut down.” Concrete, for example, is one of the largest emitters of CO2 worldwide. By both adjusting the composition and reducing the user quantity, giant leaps can be made. The reuse of materials and elements of a 3D-printed house should also become possible in the future. “We’re currently working hard on that.” Salet is hopeful and sets his sights high: “It’s absolutely possible to use 50% fewer raw materials and increase construction speed by 35%.”

Second floor

For this reason, the professor would prefer to continue developing the printing method as quickly as possible. The momentum is there. In addition to the first home, he wants to realize a second house in the near future which will be a step further along than its predecessor: a second floor. In total, Project Milestone covers five concrete-printed homes. Salet: “I now want to work from industrial product to design instead of the other way around. For the first house we first created a design without an estimate of whether the printer can produce certain shapes, so we tried to force the printer. The question should be: which products can the printer handle? From there, we can create a variety of designs. Artificial intelligence is going to help with this and will become necessary in order to keep the quality of the printed work consistent, especially if we’re going to print a home on site.”

Meanwhile, research into 3D concrete printing is gaining popularity around the world. “We’ve set the tone,” says Salet. “In terms of technological development, we’re at the forefront. Printing layers and building a wall can be done by others. But producing an entire house that meets the strict requirements of a building permit and is also inhabited, that’s truly unique. We can be very proud of that. We’re increasingly understanding the will of printed concrete.”


Explore furtherTU Eindhoven starts using kingsize 3-D concrete printer


Provided by Eindhoven University of Technology

Smart Villages, Internet Cities or Creativity Engines

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Here is the Abstract and some excerpts of Dr Ali Alraouf’s examining the Discourse on Knowledge Cities as published by Academia. It is of being or planned to being Smart Villages, Internet Cities or Creativity Engines.

The world’s growing cities are a critical fact of the 21st Century and represent one of the greatest challenges to the future. By the year 2050 cities with populations over three million will be more than double: from 70 today to over 150. When knowledge is perhaps the most important factor in the future of city’s economy, there is a growing interest in the concept of the “knowledge city”. Hence, what are the qualities of future cities becomes a crucial question. Leif Edvinsson defines Knowledge City as “a city that purposefully designed to encourage the nurturing of knowledge”.

Knowledge city is not just a city. It is a growing space of exchange and optimism in which each and every one can devote himself to personal and collective projects and aspirations in a climate of dynamism, harmony, and creativity.  There are already several cities that identify themselves as knowledge cities or have strategic plans to become knowledge cities. The list includes the following cities, for example: Barcelona, Melbourne, Delft, and Palmerston North. On the contrary, Arabcities are building technological isolated projects to promote the same concept. An examination of projects like Egypt’ Smart Village and Dubai’s Internet City and Knowledge Village will be helpful in evaluating the knowledge status of contemporary Arab Cities.

I’ll argue in this paper that the concept of ‘Knowledge Cities ‘is rooted in the urban, cultural structure of traditional Arab cities. Therefore, an attempt to foster this concept in today’s Arab cities would not be possible by building isolated technological statement scattered around the city. Alternatively, the rise of the network society, global networks, linked cities, and existence of smart communities should construct the basis for shaping Arab Knowledge Cities.  In addition, the paper will introduce the concept of “Urban Creativity Engines”, and examples of various types will be presented. I’ll argue that this is a more comprehensive concept for constructing and evaluating knowledge cities. Although this concept and its terminology is new, the paper will prove that there are many historical examples, regionally and internationally, of “knowledge cities” and “Innovation/Creativity Engines

Castells (1996 & 1998) has argued that a new type of society is rising in our contemporary cities due to the consequences of the information revolution. From a sociological point of view, Sassen (2000) has argued that cities in the information age should be reperceived as nodes of an immense network of commercial and political transactions.

The Emerging Knowledge Cities: International Attempts

Smart Village project in Cairo – Egypt, is it really smart?

There are already several cities that identify themselves as knowledge cities, or have strategic plans to become knowledge cities. These cutting edge cities are aiming to win competitive and cooperative advantage by pioneering a new environment and knowledge ecology for their citizens. The list includes some of these cities according to the Knowledge Cities Observatory (KCO) classifications: Melbourne, Australia – its strategic plan for 2010 emphasize the path towards enhancing its position as a knowledge city.  Delft, the Netherlands – the city clustered its knowledge intensive projects included in the “delft knowledge city” initiative in 5 themes: soil & water, information technology, innovative transport systems, environmental technologies.  Barcelona, Spain – the activity of Barcelona Forum 2004, which manifests the cultural perspective which Barcelona adopted as a main theme for its knowledge sensitivedevelopment. Accordingly, the city was chosen to host the founding meeting of the distinctive Knowledge Cities Observatory (KCO).  Palmerston North, New Zealand – this relatively small city puts education in the heart of its “knowledge city” manifest.  Monterrey City, Mexico – the new governor set the goal of becoming a knowledge city among his top 5 priorities.

Knowledge Cities/Zones: Regional Attempts

In an attempt to actualize the high-performance knowledge city different initiatives took place in the Middle Eastern cities. Experiences and lessons learned from real-world knowledge zone initiatives.  On the contrary of the strategic planning of European and American cities, Arab cities are building technological isolated projects to promote the same concept of claiming its new identity as knowledge cities. An examination of projects like Egypt’ Smart Village and Dubai’s Internet City and newly lunched project Knowledge Village will be helpful in evaluating the knowledge status of contemporary Arab Cities. 

Read more in the Academia‘s

Ali A. Raouf, PhD, M. Arch., B. Sc is an Egyptian architect based in Bahrain and interested in research related to architectural and environmental design.

Ali A. Raouf, PhD, M. Arch., B. Sc is an Egyptian architect based in Bahrain and interested in research related to architectural and environmental design.