This week, we formed into our group - Davide, Anna, Alessandra, Donata, Maja and Hanaé.
We all agreed to look at the construction side of the sand crisis, and the link in the Chinese context.
We were also exposed to the idea to work with the X Factory in Hebei, China, as they are very involved in alternative construction.
Week 4 (25-26/10)
We decided to focus on the Belt and Road Intitiative following a presentation of Geospatial Analysis. We decided to map the flows of sand in this Chinese project.
Our aim was to focus on the environmental costs related to sand in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Which materials are sand-related? Which of these are used by the companies and actors involved in the Initiative? Who are really those companies and actors? By identifying the sites where sand-based construction materials are used, the objective is to create a visual tool/map localising the environmental costs related to sand on the Belt and Road. The aim is to also provide local-based solutions/recommendations for the most sand-intensive locations to move away from sand-based construction materials. This project has a transboundary scope, and focuses on scaling the issue of sand usage in the BRI.
USG survey - lithographic analysis of the world
How can the chinese authority could help - financing authority AIIB, authority behind BRI (environmental and social standards)
chinese solution - their own high ecological civilisation - national development plan - how do they export that to other countries? where to put national parks, source of wealth to have green. how to export domestic standards on the belt and road initiative?
provisions on particular types of sand that should not be used, no-go zones areas very sensitive, recycling construction waste? Close system of construction, circular production cycle,
biodiversity hotspot map, overlayed by lithographic data (pascal) - three/biodiversity layers
lithographic - sand is, rivers are
sources of sand
biodiversity - endangered species, protected areas
map of the roads itself
2 parts: demand (quantification, order of magnitude) and
how long the roads are, materials, how much concrete used (data on paved roads in the roads, WB, find a civil engineer to find out the proportion of sand in roads),
Sand is sourced in the area that it is provided because of transport cost
Distance differential between the rivers -
where do you keep your supplies? Freshwater sites, biodiversity hotspots
third part- what kind of provision of best practices make for no-go zones, what kind of standards regarding biodiversity? with national partners without the means to implement the laws
research on BRI - impact studies, scientist publishing articles, google scholar, impacts, websites - idea of what’s already done and how we can add more
google earth engine - java script
do everything with GIS - quantum GIS
need a line - planned road. Format (kml, or shape file, any kind of vector data) what is already built and what is planned
landcover dataset - forests, pine forests, crops -, water, build areas etc. -- environmental cost
primary forest have high cost for eg.
conservation international website database
Davide had come across articles about a project created by a Chinese artist in Beijing ("Nut Brother"), who had used a hoover to suck Beijing pollution during 100 days, and manufactured a brick out of it. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/01/chinese-vacuum-cleaner-artist-turning-beijings-smog-into-bricks
We all found the idea interesting (because it also links back with the X Factory, which was our initial point) so we made more research.
In fact, another Dutch artist (Roosengaarde)had built the largest air vacuum cleaner in the world and installed one in Beijing and one in Tianjin. The aim was to create pollutionless parks. He ended up with a certain quantity of carbon dust from this pollution he sucked from the air, and he decided to create jewellery out of it. https://studioroosegaarde.net/project/smog-free-tower
We thought that merging the huge issue of pollution in China, which is very know nowadays, with our issue of sand extraction, was a very enticing idea, so we decided to go further into it.
We contacted both Nut Brother and Roosengaarde, but with little success.
table with alternative materials’ characteristics/parameters: like life cycle, carbon, is using renewable energy/waste? [strength, fire resistance, paint]
at the end -> this material is very good to build that thing -> one solution is good for one application
How to produce this kind of bricks
graphic designer -> design a model of house (use models of china) and what part of the house can be made of the alternative materials (e.g. just internal walls)
final info for each product: what can be done with this material?
Thomas Maillart put us in contact via WeChat with Grissom at X Factory in Hebei, China. While chatting with him, he found the idea very good and asked us how we needed the X Factory to go further. We planned a video chat call for the next day to discuss it.
We prepared questions for the call:
Questions for XFactory
Feasibility of low cost machine?
partnership with colleagues with the glue?
general interest of this project
does the machine already exist? why don’t they already work?
What are you focusing on air pollution? what is your specific focus?
do you know how to make a brick compact that doesn’t break
what are the standards? could we build with it?
can we use the wind/renewable energies to energise it?
new projects to go there
we can go there and be helped to find people to let tus know what’s going on here
cooperator in Hebei province -> collecting new materials around the world -> they are try to build a exhibition? -> they are just collecting new materials
technology not from China
government reduce pollution by shutting down polluting companies but
organic gloom to start dust in the ground -> dust on the ground -> during the years pollution is getting better
short term -> collect enough dust
there dust from ground -> Hebei province -> mine area -> different kinds of pollution and dust -> too different
what is the source of dust -> how to solve the problem from the root ->
brick is very weak ->
solved polluting dust with water on the street -> place around cities ->
Organic glooms in water and water spilling vehicles -> but cannot collect dust -> cost very low
Transportation cost very high so construction materials must be built in place
bicks not feasible solutions -> very strict laws
concrete industry very pollution -> how to help them to pollute less -> concrete uses few sand.
sand from the rivers and in the place around oceans and seas is illegal because there’s too much salt
sand is not a big problem in China
Waster after the construction? what do you do with the alternative after destroyed?
Public health issue?
raising awareness focus via Tsinghua and academic
zero energy house concentrate on energy use by people living inside, but the construction materials are also very important - zero energy competition --
Long term solution? What do we use when there is not more pollution (maybe in 5 billion years)?
pollution coming from the northen industrial regions is polluting the cities. air pollution very bad. they are funding many new projects. come there for free and they help fund the people that have ideas, tech
Company in china, shanghai city, new kind of materials all around the world, they already use pollution dust but technology is coming from other country not China. just collect the materials.
Hebei province very polluted
economic efficiency of the technology
organic glue to stick dust on the ground, so wind doesnt bring that into the air.
mining area, industry dust→ different sand
they try to solve the solution for pollution
they collect dust with water+glue in the city, just in the cities, but places outside the cities no. water+glue, dust stuck in this paste and it falls on the water and stays on the ground.
Transportation cost high. constructions materials have to build near the construction place. very strict restrictions for environment to produce bricks. the real problem is concrete industry. in china there is not much sand. From the bottom of the rivers. collect water from sea not possible because of the salt and it weakens the concrete. problem with sand is in the northen regions.
Our project → suck pollution and make bricks.
In China they do not really use bricks.
they also have strict environmental rules to make bricks
They do not import sand. The sand taken from rivers near the construction place.
Not enough pollution dust to make a brick
They mainly use concrete and cement → so bricks are not really useful
Switch from OBOR to alternative material for construction (construction of brick that could be made our of pollution particles)
We changed our project because it seemed to vast, and too few resources and data (no details for the map and no real transparency of information)
We were stuck at the materials part. We found the example of Roosegaarde Studio who created a huge vacuum cleaner in beijing and Tianjin to suck in pollution particles from the air and create jewelry out of the dust. We then wanted to use that idea to create an alternative material to concrete. We decided to contact Roosegaarde but we received the response that they were not working on this project anymore so they were not interested in this partnership. We also contacted an artist who used pollution dust and made a brick out of it. however, we didn’t get all responses.
Thomas made it possible for us to see the project more clearly and with more confidence as he put us in contact with the X Factory on Wechat. We also talked to Jean-Marie who helped us define a first prototype of the brick with legos in the FabLab and dust from the laser hoover. The X Factory contact suggested that it was a great idea and supported it completely. We set a video chat meeting with him for the next day.
financial cost, cost estimate is enough (Louise)
energy of the machine (Thomas)
Integrate the different pollution issues with sand issue → plastic reuse, wood bricks,
impact of art and culture to awareness on environmental social problems
circular economy, nature science
we need to catalyse this kind of innovation through art? this would be the second step
While we were all very enthusiastic about the idea of working on the BRI, our various exchanges and research have made us realise that it was too big a scope and that the data was not open to the public. This was indeed a dealbreaker as our mapping project would have been based on detailed information.
Create an exhibition accessible by people all over the world
Design art pieces in relation to the topic of art and science
Contact and partner with artists (Nut Brother), alternative construction companies (Rainbow ecosystem, Terra Block) and other key player (Irina Bokova)
The project is to merge and connect art and scientific knowledge, in the context of the global sand crisis, a crisis that surpasses borders. By doing an exhibit demonstrating the necessities of decreasing the demand of sand in construction, we aim to convey the sense that art can help in attaining the public and the private sphere by finding new and unconventional ways to build. In that sense, this exhibition will present the possibilities of new ways of life.
This exhibition will use Virtual Reality to provide accessibility. We recognize the cross-national scope that the sand crisis reflects. We call “visitor” the VR user. The visitor will enter the exhibition as a “new world” where the sand presence will be considerably diminished.
Through the showing of different part of the exhibition, each containing several pieces of art, the visitor will first go through the various negative effects of sand: the scarce resource of sand, the intensity of its usage, the impact on biodiversity, beach erosion, illegal mining and child labour, urban pollution. The second part will introduce different artistic but realistic ideas of how to build by using other materials. In doing so, we will show existing and interesting alternatives that everybody can use and exploit in everyday life.
Nut Brother is a major inspiration. He uses environmental issues to convey art touching general public. He referred to drinking water and air pollution, we wanted to extend it to the sand crisis.
We contacted him on Thu 15/11 by video call. He is ready to help us.
Brick is a part of the building now -> artistic mean
Industrial vacuum cleaner -> bigger battery and painted (7100 RMB-> 800/900€)
He sends us: Video of vacuuming and one other making a brick
We send him information about sand issue? YESSS
We started with the idea of the art exhibition in the idea B, but it was in the long term.
During week 6, we finally had an answer from Nut Brother, which made us realise that we could use art as the central part of our project.
After long discussions, we ended up coming up with different very good ideas of art pieces that could be designed as a real art exhibition about sand. We expanded it in a way that we could show alternative materials in that way and use art as a bridge to find scientific alternatives.
collection of content (ask companies pieces)
design in 3D and pu in VR
in exhibition -> communicate and make available to people the possibility of deepen some topics they like (site connected)
Possibilities for 07.12:
make a visual presence of the exhibition (VR)
with your smartphone scanning the marker that can show the object -> design marker and design the object
scan in 3D -> object file and texture/skin -> structure that goes around (take some time)
Design the room, the flow of people, the art pieces and the explanation panels
Google Tilt brush
3D printer with wood texture
The idea of doing an exhibition about the sand issue has never been done before. The fact that it is in VR makes it close to people’s intimacy. The artistic experience of the visitor will be quite unique, but it will also convey unconventional materials present in our day-to-day life. The perspective under which it is shown is totally novel for the public who has not even heard about the crisis. This merging of different non-traditional elements makes the project absolutely one of a kind.
UN agency - UNEP
Private company - Construction companies (Terra Block, Rainbow Ecosystem)
Think tank - X Factory
NGO - Greenpeace China?, Sand Stories,
Artists - Nut Brother
Individual consultant - Jann from Birthday Lab, Jean-Marie, David from VR
Academic institution - Tsinghua University, Unige
Davide Fornacca, Charlotte