Green Walkways – A simple concept of eco-friendly construction

Walkways are defined as paths demarcated for exclusive use of pedestrians. Walkways are constructed on the sides of the road to isolate the movement of pedestrians from the vehicle traffic. In residential construction, walkways are made in the compound especially in gardens for the movement of residents and for the aesthetic purpose.

Paved walkways will serve the purpose better than unpaved walkways and therefore walkways are paved in almost all conditions. Concrete is mostly used for paving the walkways. If walkways are covered with concrete, the water falling over the walkway would run off without seeping into the soil. As groundwater is a source of drinking water for many people, the concreted surfaces are against the ecosystem. As a solution to this, concrete tiles were introduced for paving works. When concrete tiles are laid, sufficient spacing is made in between to allow the water to seep into ground. Still this type of walkways cannot be considered as eco friendly as production of concrete tiles takes a lot of energy and also the concrete products generates a large amount of heat into atmosphere.

Now engineers and designers are going for eco friendly options which are economical too. Some of the eco friendly materials which can be used for paving walkways are:-

1) Clay tiles


2) River pebbles


3) Stone blocks


4) Wooden planks


5) Bricks


The latest trend is to do the paving by laying tiles and sod (turf) alternately. See the image below.


Besides paving, walkways can be made eco-friendly by providing a green roof which is a combination of arches where vegetations or flowers are made to grow. These types of arches are made with wooden frames.


Another method is to energize walkways from natural sources by providing solar lights.

Above all, the most effective method is to minimize the area of walkways and increase the area of garden.  The length of walkways can be minimized by proper selection of the alignment.

Filler Slab Roofs – A NG (New Generation) roofing technique

A roof is a covering component on uppermost part of the building which provides protection from weather primarily against rain. As roofs are just covering components, live loads will not act upon it. Still the common practise is to cast solid RCC slabs like floor slabs to keep the aesthetic view of the structure or building. Now innovative ideas are brought in by engineers and constructors to cast roof slabs in an economical way without hindering the aesthetic side. One such new generation idea is filler slab.

Concrete which is the principal element in construction is strong in compression, but weak to withstand tension.  In a simply supported slab, lower part is subjected to tension(tension zone) and upper part is subjected to compression(compression zone). To avoid the failure of slab, steel reinforcement is provided in tension zone as steel can withstand tension. The concrete in tension zone has no structural purpose except to hold the reinforcement. These unnecessary concrete portions can be filled with some light weight materials and such slabs where concrete in tension zone is reduced by the use of light weight fillers are known as filler slabs. Though coconut shells, mud bricks, earthen pots, thermocol etc can be used as filling materials, clay roofing tiles are commonly used as fillers in slabs. Clay roofing tiles can be installed in two layers (2 tiles by one over the other) and thus an air pocket is made in between which is an extra advantage for reducing the quantity of concrete.


Things to be considered for casting RCC filler slabs

  • The important thing is that the filler material should be of low cost when compared to the quantity of concrete to be replaced as this method is mainly adopted for economical advantage
  • Filler material should not react with the concrete and steel
  • Filler material should have low water absorption rate and if not, the water-cement ratio of the concrete may be affected. If clay roofing tiles are used, the same may be soaked in water to reduce its water absorption capacity.
  • Filler materials using in a simply supported slab should be of same size and cross-section without affecting the spacing of reinforcement.
  • Filler material should be of good finish as the material will be in visible condition on bottom part of the slab i.e. inside the building.
  • Considering the above points, it is better to use clay roofing tiles as filler material in simply supported slabs.
  • If rectangular clay roofing tiles are used in a one way slab, the tiles should be placed in such a way that the shorter side of the tile is parallel to the longer span of the slab so that the spacing between the main bars can be kept to minimum. In one way slab main bars are bars along the shorter span.(See the image shown above)
  • Slab thickness should be minimum 110 mm.


Advantages of Filler Slabs

  • There is considerable saving in concrete and steel by adopting RCC filler slabs instead of conventional RCC solid slabs and approximate cost saving is Rs.200/sqm.
  • If clay tile roof of a building is removed for constructing RCC slab roof, the clay tiles can be reclaimed and can be used as filler material for constructing RCC filler slabs
  • If done with proper workmanship, the filler material can be exposed inside the building to create aesthetically good ceiling.
  • Reduction in concrete and steel reduces the generation of carbon which in turn makes the slab construction eco-friendly.


Eco-friendly Construction – A NG (New Generation) approach

Nowadays there is unpredictable change in climate and environment. Construction sector is the major contributor to such climate changes. Carbon which is the crucial element responsible for the changes in climate is mostly generated by construction industry. Affected by the struggles due to drastic climate and environment, government and people are more concerned about the development with greener concepts. Necessity of eco-friendly construction is being promoted in all fields of industry. As 70% of the construction industry deals with residential projects, architects and engineers are trying to encourage eco- friendly construction by designing and constructing eco-friendly villas and apartments.

There are several ways to make the construction of buildings eco friendly. One of the effective methods is to use eco-friendly materials for construction which increases the energy efficiency and reduces the impact on climate and environment. A new way of constructing the walls using interlocking mud bricks is getting popularized as an alternate to the current usage of solid concrete blocks. The mud bricks are eco-friendly materials and they generate lesser heat compared to solid concrete blocks which in turn increases the energy efficiency of buildings. Plastering is not necessary for interlocking mud brick wall due to its good finish and thus there is considerable saving in cost. (See the image below)


Now people prefer the traditional clay tile roof instead of concrete roof to avoid the adverse effect of heated concrete slab during summer season. Clay tile is an eco-friendly material and it can be fixed upon wooden frame work which is also an eco-friendly system.(See the image below)


As an eco-friendly material, bamboos are widely used for making huts and traditional rest houses especially in tourist resorts.(See the image below)


The construction works using recycled materials will reduce the impact to the environment. For example, the use of reclaimed wood can save the trees surviving in the environment and is one of the purest forms of recycling in construction industry. Reclaimed wood is wood that is taken out from an old building during its demolition without making damages to the wood. Reclaimed wood structures have many advantages when compared to new wood structures. If the existing shape of the wood structure is acceptable for new building, the effort gets reduced to just transportation, saving labour and cost. For instance, the windows and doors taken out from an old building can be used as such for new building if new requirements match with the old ones. (See the image below)


Now researches are going on to use recycled aggregates for construction as the major takeout from the environment by construction industry is aggregates (both fine and coarse aggregates) which is making a huge impact to the environment and human beings.

Besides the use of eco-friendly materials for construction, buildings can be constructed eco-friendly by its design itself. A design which makes use of the natural resources like sunlight and wind will reduce the energy consumption of the building. If windows are given in sufficient numbers without affecting the safety of the building, the building will be graced with natural light and wind which in turn cut down the usage of electric lights and fans. The installation of energy efficient equipments can also make the building eco-friendly. The use of energy efficient electrical appliances, water efficient kitchen equipments and toilet components and the system to recycle the waste water for gardening etc. can make a building and its surroundings eco-friendly.

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2013 Competitions Annual edited by G. Stanley Collyer with Daniel Madryga | The Competition Project | 2014
This collection of the winners and runners up of fifteen architectural competitions – similar in format to the 2012 Competitions Annual – is framed by two themes, one on the back cover and one in the introduction: the increased role of landscape architects in competitions and large-scale architecture in general, and the need for better-designed affordable housing which eschews the misconceptions that arose from the (sometimes literal) implosion of public housing since the 1970s. Not all of the projects found within the book correspond to these themes, but there is more to be found that relates to landscape architecture than housing. Many of the projects are, not surprisingly, cultural and institutional, but there are a number of large-scale campus and infrastructure projects that are often led by landscape architects. Setting themes among the assembled competitions aside, this book, like the 2012 edition, benefits from editorial commentary, jury comments, and the inclusion of runners up and winners in one place. It is not an exhaustive collection of competitions from the calendar year 2013, but it is a strong collection that students and young architects in particular will benefit greatly from, given the impressive renderings and drawings found throughout.

Out of Scale: AIA Small Projects Awards edited by Marc Manack and Linda Reeder | ORO Editions | 2015 | Amazon
There is much to praise the AIA Small Project Awards Program: it gives young architects and small firms a chance at recognition, what they might not receive in the other awards categories; it recognizes the importance of small buildings, structures and spaces, not just big gestures; it recognizes that innovation often occurs at the small scale; and, to be honest, many of the winning projects are just more interesting than the larger buildings that win those other awards. With this in mind, and with the AIA Small Project Awards Program ten years old, now is a great time to have a book highlighting the winners. Yet this is hardly a straightforward presentation of the winners. The projects are presented chronologically in four chapters – Pavilions & Installations, Adaptive Reuse & Interiors, Houses, Details – yet some of them feature in more than one chapter; a year-by-year index on each project points to where it is in the book. Further, between each chapter are jury comments and loads of statistics that try to find common ground among the projects. The comments are fine, but I could have used without the statistics, instead giving more pages to the projects, which are documented primarily through small photos.

Road Trip: Roadside America, From Custard’s Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant by Richard Longstreth | Universe | 2015 | Amazon
This isn’t the type of book I’d normally review on my blog, but I’m a sucker for guidebooks focused on buildings, capital A architecture or not. As the name indicates this book is about vernacular roadside architecture in the United States, predominantly buildings and structures that were built between 1920 and the late 1960s; after that, the Interstate Highway System changed the landscape of roadside architecture into something more corporate and less idiosyncratic. The chapters illustrate just what was built in those decades: commercial strips, restaurants, gas stations, motels, stores, theaters, and “other places of entertainment.” Each of these chapters has an introduction on the respective typology, followed by Longstreth’s photographs with captions that indicate the what, where, and when. Most photos were taken in the 1970s, making Roadside America a visual history and remembrance of places under-appreciated in their time.

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Essays On Thermodynamics, Architecture and Beauty by Iñaki Ábalos and Renata Sentkiewicz | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
Architecture, beauty, thermodynamics. One of these terms appears to be out of place, not typically lumped in with the other two. Of course I’m referring to thermodynamics, which would seem to relate to architecture through sustainability; it deals with heat transfer after all and is therefore an important part of designing enclosures. But for Ábalos + Sentkiewicz it is really one of four terms that are used to organize this book into “issues that a projective definition of architecture must necessarily address:” Somatisms, Verticalism, Thermodynamic Materialism, and the Assemblage of Monsters. While I was intrigued by the inclusion of thermodynamics in the title, the term “projective” turned me off. I’ve tried to understand the use of the term relative to architectural practice (Constructing a New Agenda and Oxymoron and Pleonasm are loaded with it), but to me it is too much of a meta-term than something grasped even with some effort. My lack of understanding aside, this book is basically a monograph on Ábalos + Sentkiewicz that is accompanied by a number of essays. Do people have to understand the essays to appreciate the work? Obviously not. But as architects and academics, the essays have been tools for them to explore ideas and attitudes about architecture, and therefore they have influenced the projects. The essays are then a valuable part of the book and should be rewarding for those so inclined to read them.

The City That Never Was: Reconsidering the Speculative Nature of Contemporary Urbanization by Christopher Marcinkoski | Princeton Architectural Press | 2016 | Amazon
I am a sucker for books with aerial photography – I have enough of them that aerials is a tag on my “Unpacking My Library” blog. One architect/author who has exploited the use of aerials is James Corner. So it comes as no surprise that Christopher Marcinkoski used to work at James Corner Field Operations. Now the head of PORT Urbanism and a professor at PennDesign, Marcinkoski sets his aim on the housing bubble of 2008, looking at areas of the Madrid metropolitan region from above through five case studies. Much more than other places, the boom and bust in the region was pronounced, the latter visible in the marks of infrastructure, unfinished cultural venues and other failed projects. More than eye candy from above, The City That Never Was is a thoroughly researched and well illustrated (with charts, not just photos) book on the adverse effects of large-scale speculative urbanization.

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Air Structures by Will McLean and Pete Silver | Laurence King | 2015 | Amazon
Part of Laurence King’s “Form & Technique” series (other titles include Deployable Structures and Generative Design), this little book’s release was timely, coming just after Frei Otto’s passing and him winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize last year. Although his projects are nowhere to be found in the book, his influence permeates throughout. Along with R. Buckminster Fuller, Otto pioneered doing less with more. And he looked to nature – soap bubbles, spider webs – to figure out how to do it. With air as their primary “building material,” the projects in this book show that the desire to build lightweight – and fun – structures continues.

Spaces of Serenity: Small Projects for Meditation and Contemplation by Jeffrey S. Poss | ORO Editions | 2015 | Amazon
This appropriately small book collects six small projects architect Jeffrey S. Poss designed as responses “to the basic human desire to identify and seek creative ways to resolve the conflicts of living in the everyday world.” He is also a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, so most of the projects are in the area, including a couple self-initiated projects for his family. They are poetic little construction that bring to mind Mike Cadwell’s small buildings documented inPamphlet Architecture 17, though Poss’s buildings are less folly-like and more practical as places for relaxation and meditation (three of them are called Meditation Huts). They are well documented with photos, drawings and the occasional rendering, though I wish there were more hand drawings like those that accompany the short introduction. Those images reveal the source of the calm behind the designs.

Scaling Infrastructure by the MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism | Princeton Architectural Press | 2016 | Amazon
A pet peeve of mine (one of many) is when great minds assemble – be it for conferences, educational programs, or other events – but then don’t share the information to a wider audience through books, videos, or some other means. I can’t say for sure if the hoarding of information is more prevalent than the sharing of information these days, but I’m glad to see a couple books published by the Center for Advanced Urbanism at MIT. The program started in 2013 with a commitment “to fostering a rigorous design culture for the large scale” and a motivation “by the radical changes in our environment, and the role that design and research can play in addressing these.” These two books take their commendable approach beyond the university’s walls. “Scaling Infrastructure” was the program’s second conference (following “Infrastructural Monument,” below), and it is documented through thirteen contributions: lectures, projects, interviews, all geared to infrastructural investments at all scales.

Infrastructural Monument by MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism | Princeton Architectural Press | 2016 | Amazon
MIT CAU’s first conference, “Infrastructural Monument,” explored “how infrastructure can transcend the merely practical and fulfill a role that is profoundly cultural – one that moves beyond the transportation of goods and labor and into the realm of architecture, public space, and landscape form.” This theme is considered in eighteen contributions across six sections. Befitting an academic conference, it’s a varied lot, with architects, planners, engineers and urban designers alongside people from real estate, transportation and the US government. Amongst all of these voices, architects hold their own, though it seems that ecology is the consideration that comes to the fore above the rest. Numerous other trends are evident such as resiliency and crowdsourcing, which makes some sense, since infrastructure has been its own trend since Barack Obama spoke about it four years ago.

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Catalyst: Lineages and Trajectories edited by Ghazal Abbasy-Asbagh | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
This book in two parts documents the faculty and student output of the architecture and landscape architecture departments at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. There is a concerted attempt to make it something special: each of the two books is small; they fit together into a slipcase; and they are accompanied by a foldout with two “maps.” The Lineages book serves as an archival project “that traces the lineage of the school’s faculty,” so logically it is structured as a collection of interviews. The Typologies book, on the other hand, presents studio projects from the 2013-2014 school year.

Geographies of Trash by Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
Nobody wants to think about garbage. At least that is the assumption. But treating garbage as an “out of sight, out of mind” problem is not healthy – neither for people nor the planet. Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy’s Geographies of Trash is a book-length argument for architects “to take on problems that had once been the domains of engineering or regional planning.” The “Represent” section lays out their argument through essays and illustrations, the latter focused on trash in the state of Michigan, while the “Project” section presents five design scenarios for dealing with garbage as a building material or morphological element of urban form. Lastly, “Assemble” documents through photos the duo’s installation that created a spatial object from their five projects. Kudos to the graphic designers at Thumb, who took the great visuals and turned it into a beautiful book.

Platform 8: An Index of Design and Research by Zaneta Hong | Actar | 2016 | Amazon
Not to be confused with GSD 08 Platform, which came out in 2008 and should have been Platform 1 since it started the school’s ongoing Platform publications, the latest annual collection of design and research projects uses the encyclopedia as its format. The various classes, lectures, projects, publications, and other output are discovered in the A-to-Z (Academia-to-Zoo) listing of terms. A gimmick to be sure, but one that is surprisingly effective if a bit dry, with only a few splashes of color with photos of faculty, students and some student projects. What could have been an arbitrary and confusing way of structuring things is aided by cross-referencing and an index for those looking for particular students, faculty and guest lecturers. Not all terms are related to the GSD’s output, so these would appear to indicate what are important (ha-ha and high-rise, apparently) to the students and professors at the school.

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Abstract 2015 edited by Jesse Seegers | Columbia GSAPP, distributed by Actar D | 2016 | Amazon
Of all the architecture school annuals, Columbia GSAPP’s Abstract is the one I know the best. The first one I bought was from 1993/94, when I was in architecture school (not at Columbia). Then the books were pretty straightforward and consistent from year to year. But things got interesting when Stefan Sagmeister started designing them, treating them differently each year. The 2009/10 Abstract, for instance, has an acetate slipcase, gold cover, and layouts with small text and big images for the student projects. Things didn’t always go smoothly, as in 2013 when Abstract went digital-only and students protested by throwing the “book”‘s plastic cases out the windows of Avery Hall and using them as ashtrays (you’ll have to trust my memory on this last point, since I can’t find a photo documenting such). The latest Abstract (designed by Common Name) is a spiral-bound “post-internet book” with four sections, each with different paper and page layouts. It’s a pleasure to browse and get a flavor for what the school offers and produces.

Analytic Models in Architecture by Emmanuel Petit | Yale School of Architecture, distributed by Actar D | 2016 | Amazon
This is a very refreshing book. It is so rewarding to see a book focused squarely on models – and analytical models, to boot. When I was teaching design studio a few years ago, I liked to see analytical models as well as study models. And along those lines, these sorts of models ideally carried over to their design projects in the form of study models that distilled the main ideas, formal gestures and structural elements of their designs. Covering a selection of the roughly 900 models created by students in Petit’s studio course “The Analytic Model: Descriptive and Interpretive Systems in Architecture” at Yale from 2005 to 2014, there is plenty of model photos to contemplate.

Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice by Martha Bohm, Joyce Hwang, Gabrielle Printz | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
Coming out of the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning‘s 2012 Martell Symposium, the book has three sections: “Architect as Initiator,” “Architect as Detective,” and “Architect as Advocate.” Each section is structured with an introductory essay followed by contributions from architects and then interviews with them. These include Hansy Better Barraza’s “Searching for an Authentic Production,” Juliette Spertus’s “Build It In: Making the Case for Garbage Collection in Urban Design,” Lola Sheppard’s “Navigating Territories of Engagement: Investigations in a Remote Territory.” The symposium and book were a collaboration with the Gender Institute and the School of Architecture and Planning with the goal of “redefining contemporary architectural patronage and to highlight the important role that women have had and continue to play in expanding the profession’s boundaries.”

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Expanded Field: Installation Architecture Beyond Art by Ila Berman and Douglas Burnham | Applied Research and Design | 2015 | Amazon
Astute readers of art theory will recognize the title of this book, which refers to Rosalind Krauss’s seminal essay, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.” In this image-drenched book, Berman and Burnham explore art/architecture installation practices through various disciplines: architecture, interiors, sculpture, and landscape. Culled from their 2012 exhibition, Architecture in the Expanded Field, the book presents 65 projects organized into 12 chapters: constructed landscapes, tectonic structures, spatial distortions, earthworks/land art, etc. The selection of projects is solid and the presentation is aided greatly by drawings that imbue even the most artistic projects with architectural qualities.

Jigsaw City: AECOM’s Redefinition of the Asian New Town by Clare Jacobson, Daniel Elsea | ORO Editions | 2016 | Amazon
This book presents various plans by AECOM for India, China, the Philippines, and other Asian countries through two parts, one by each author. Elsea’s “Learning from Hong Kong” is a study of seven new towns that provide new, modern housing for millions. In some cases the projects include clusters of anonymous high-rises without any noticeable relationship to landscape and ecology, but on the plus side the importance of density and transportation comes across strongly. In the second part, Jacobson presents 18 new town plans by AECOM, either single or groups of new towns set into thematic headlines: vision, client, masterplan, protection, reuse, landscape, energy, regions, etc. Both parts are required reading for urban planners and urban designers who want to understand how projects on this scale are accomplished.

Relentless Pursuit of an Architecture by MKPL Architects | ORO Editions | 2016 | Amazon
This monograph on twenty years of Singapore’s MKPL Architects presents a mix of big and small projects. The firm’s capabilities in dealing with material, form and space come across better in small projects, while many of the larger projects are in progress, meaning they are documented solely through renderings. All tolled, their designs are sensitive – if not overtly striking – responses to tropical climate.

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Design/Build with Jersey Devil: A Handbook for Education and Practice by Charlie Hailey | Princeton Architectural Press | 2016 | Amazon
On this blog I’ve reviewed books from Princeton Architectural Press’s “Architecture Briefs” series numerous times, including a Book Brief devoted to four of the titles back in 2012. It’s good to see the series still going, especially when other series (PAPress or otherwise) appear but then fade away just as quickly. Their Architecture Briefs are targeted primarily to students and young architects, so it makes sense to have one devoted to design/build. Instead of Rural Studio, which has published three books with PAPress, the lesser-known but no-less-important Jersey Devil is the subject of this book. The trailblazing group, which started doing funky design/build projects in the 1970s, is still going strong; as the cover attests, though, the funkiness is a bit more subdued. The small book is crammed with practical information throughout (building a water tube level is just one standout), while also including a few in-depth case studies.

Inventive Minimalism: The Architecture of Roger Ferris + Partners by William S. Saunders, Roger Ferris | The Monacelli Press | 2016 | Amazon
The foreword to this monograph on Connecticut- and New York-based architect Roger Ferris is penned by Robert M. Rubin. Although a Wall Street man, his name should be familiar to preservationists: he owns and has restored Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre in Paris. With a strong interest in architecture (he’s working toward a doctorate in Columbia’s history/theory program), he has commissioned Ferris for a number of projects, most notably the clubhouse and master plan for The Bridge Golf Club in Bridghampton on Long Island (yes, that club). It’s one of Ferris’s most well known projects, and at eight years old one of the oldest in the monograph, which highlights built works but also includes a number of projects on the boards. Excelling in residential architecture and the ability to capture the domestic scale in a modernist palette, it’s fitting that Rubin commends Ferris’s design of the clubhouse for, among other things, taking up “less total square footage than your average McMansion.”

The Complete Zaha Hadid, Expanded and Updated | Thames & Hudson | 2016 | Amazon
The first Complete Zaha Hadid came out in 1998, when it was published by Rizzoli and featured primarily drawings, paintings and models, since Hadid only building at the time was the Vitra Fire Station. Aaron Betsky penned the introduction then, as well as in the 2009 update and the latest in 2013, when the title switched to publisher Thames & Hudson. The 2016 title expands and updates the 2013 version, but thankfully Hadid’s beautiful paintings from The Peak and other early projects are still an important part of the monograph. The buildings and projects here are presented in chronological order by start date, so some projects appear in unlikely places. In one instance, Spittelau Viaducts, which started in 1994 and was completed in 2005, is inserted between the unbuilt Cardiff Bay Opera House and a pavilion built in Birmingham in 1995. This is not a drawback as much as it is a result of updating a book that strives for completeness. Even with her sudden death in March, there are still plenty of updates to come, as the projects she had worked on in recent years get built and the firm carries on the spirit of her work without her.