A city covered in one million plants and 40,000 trees will soon be built in China to help tackle the long-standing air pollution problem that plagues the country at present.

Designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri (who was also behind the ‘Vertical Forest’ tower in Milan) the entirely fabricated metropolis will contain over 40,000 trees and one million plants.
At its heart, the scheme is intended to subvert the notion that urban areas are more prone to poor air quality, by introducing natural measures to absorb tons of CO2 and pollutants.

China has long been swamped with poor air quality. Studies show that over a million premature deaths are attributed to pollution in the country each year. Chinese power plants emit as much nitrogen oxides (NOx) as all the cars in the world combined.

In 2016, China declared red alert for air quality in the capital city of Beijing, closing schools and factories and removing 50% of cars from the road for a temporary period. This seems to have served as a wakeup call for the government, who have since introduced a series of measures aimed at curbing their alarming emissions. As well as championing renewables as a form of energy, the authorities are now looking at more innovative solutions. Could the ‘forest city’ be part of the solution to a worsening crisis?

The ‘forest city’ is planned to be built in Liuzhou, Southern China by 2020.

Here’s what it will look like:

A private company in Shanghai used 3D printers to print 10 full-sized houses in just one day.

Many believe 3D printing could a viable solution to alleviate slum housing in the world and provide shelter to disaster-stricken communities. Is 3D printing the future of construction?

The video shows a 3D printer creating a structure using a special material, comprised of recycled rubble, fibreglass, steel, cement and binder. Once pumped into place, the material takes just 24 hours to dry completely.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a pioneer of 3D printing at the University of Southern California, who is currently working with NASA on 3D-printed lunar structures, believes that we could one day live and work in 3D printed cities. “I think in about five years you are going to see a lot of buildings built in this way.”

He also suggested that the innovative technology could help tackle a worldwide shortage of low-income housing. “I think it is a shame that at the dawn of the 21st century, about two billion people live in slums. I think this technology is a good solution.”

Watch the video below and see for yourself. How to you think 3D housing will affect the construction industry? Will its impact be good or bad? Let us know in the comments section below!

Juliet Woodcock looks at the latest innovations in the built environment from around the world.

Tom Robinson, founder of Adaptavate, has been named the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year, winning £30,000 in start-up funding for his invention Breathaboard, a plant-based alternative to plasterboard that locks CO2 into buildings.

A builder originally, Tom’s intention is to create a moisture absorbing board that will facilitate what he describes as “healthier people in healthier homes.” His invention is 75% bio-based and the remainder a mineral-binder – non-cementitious – so at the end of its life, Breathaboard is 100% compostable.

Tom explained to R&R: “We are trying to create a board that is a fundamental shift in the way we make materials that will grow into the materials of the future; but what is really important to me is that we’re trying to address the issue of moisture in buildings – that will be the main selling point.”

Financial backing for R&D is in place; as is funding with Bath University to quantify the performance of the product, while Tom is in the process of gaining accreditations such as the BRE Green Guide Rating, but as he reveals, this is a lengthy process – still being at the design stage for the factory to produce the board. The only results back at this early stage of testing is for thermal conductivity, which is half that of traditional plasterboard at 0.089 W/mK.

Meanwhile in Italy, an Italian construction firm has developed a ‘biodynamic’ mortar that is able to remove pollutants from the air automatically. The mortar, which is made from recycled scraps of marble and left over aggregate, absorbs nitrogen oxide and sulphur pollution and converts it into harmless salts. It uses a titanium catalyst that is activated by ultraviolet light to drive the chemical reaction. The salts then wash off the walls when it rains. It has already been used to create a building in Milan called the Palazzo Italia, which was completed for the World Fair in the city in 2015.

Looking further north, researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have developed a transparent wood material that could change the way we construct buildings and solar panels, as well as make glass windows a thing of the past.

The new material is suitable for mass production, the researchers say, and is a low-cost renewable resource. To create the transparent wood, researchers chemically removed lignin from samples of commercial balsa wood. Lignin being a structural polymer in plants and can be found in the cell walls, blocking 80 to 95 percent of light from passing through.

This alone, however, didn’t result in creating a transparent material.

Removing lignin makes the wood white, so researchers added added acrylic to the wood to allow light to pass through.

Cement is still one of the most widely used materials in construction, but also one of the largest contributors to harmful carbon emissions, said to be responsible for around 7 per cent of annual global emissions. Researchers at Bath University, meanwhile, are trying to overcome the problem of cracking in concrete, by developing a self-healing mix; containing bacteria within microcapsules, which will germinate when water enters a crack in the matrix. This will produce limestone, plugging the crack before water and oxygen has a chance to corrode the steel reinforcement.

Kinetic energy is another area of science under the microscope; with Pavegen creating a “transponder” type technology that enables flooring to harness the energy of footsteps. It can be used indoors or outdoors in high traffic areas, and generates electricity from pedestrian footfall using an electromagnetic induction process and flywheel energy storage. The technology is best suited to transport hubs where a large flow of people will pass over it.

Who knows what our bright young things will invent next? However if we can’t halt the slide in education standards – especially for mathematics and science – and bring on a new generation of inventors as well as savvy building professionals, we may find that we not simply dealing with a skills shortage, but a chasm our industry cannot climb out of.

The effects of humans on the Earth are becoming more profound every day. Our energy consumption is higher than ever, and it is only getting worse. The population is also growing, which is putting a dramatic strain on basic resources like space, water, and food. Finally, the environment is rapidly changing, which has led to extreme weather that has had a tremendous effect on cities around the world.To address some of these problems, innovative changes are being made to old construction technologies to make the future beautiful, clean, and (most importantly) liveable.

Watch the video below to see 10 truly amazing construction technologies that have the potential to change the world:

A 157m long, 22m wide, 1,500-tonne machine called Trinity has begun work on the Mersey Gateway crossing.

Described as looking like a giant Meccano structure, Trinity is a movable scaffolding system that will attach to the bridge piers and enable the elevated approach viaducts to be built over the Mersey estuary.

The machine will act as a giant concrete mould for the deck of the approach viaducts, which will be constructed in sections (known as ‘spans’) of approx 70m in length. It will take up to two weeks to build each span.

Trinity started construction work in Widnes on Thursday with a concrete pour for the first deck section of the northern approach viaduct, which will lead to the new bridge. The first pour lasted 24 hours and consumed an impressive 160 truckloads of concrete, poured into the 1,170 m3 formwork mould.

It took three months to assemble her on site from 1,200 component parts held together by more than 60,000 bolts. She will now be on site for the next 14 months.

General Manager of the Merseylink contracting joint venture, Hugh O’Connor said “This is a hugely exciting time for our construction teams. An enormous amount of effort has gone into preparing and testing Trinity ahead of today’s concrete pour. We are delighted to achieve this important milestone and get this next phase of the project underway.”

Once the bridge is complete, the equipment is set to be dismantled and recycled. Making it an innovative and sustainable one of a kind!

See how the machine works in the below video:

Watch the full version of the 3D fly-through of the plans for the Mersey Gateway Project below. This includes a look at the route, the main crossing and the construction methods.