Electrically-conducting plastic gets simple and affordable
By Mark Brown
24 February 11
A team of Australian researchers at the University of New South Wales have discovered a technique that can make almost any plastic film electrically-conductive, and even give some plastics superconducting properties.
Plastics are well known for being lousy conductors, and are used to insulate electric cables, but by placing a thin film of metal onto a sheet of plastic and mixing the metal into the polymer with an ion beam, the researchers can make cheap, strong and flexible plastics, with impressive conducting powers.
Electricity-conducting plastic isn't necessarily a oxymoron -- conductive polymers do exist. They're just riddled with disadvantages, or only fit for very narrow purposes. You can make plastic conductive by punching and bending a complex metal sheet into the plastic itself, but the process is cumbersome and makes the plastic heavier and inflexible.
There are also specific polymer materials, like polyaniline, polythiophene and polypyrrole, which can conduct electricity, but it can be difficult or impossible to change their shape, they're often unstable conductors, they have low conductivity rates and are intolerant to oxygen exposure and difficult to process.
This new technique, which has been published in the journal ChemPhysChem by a team led by UNSW's Professor Paul Meredith and Associate Professor Ben Powell, doesn't have those issue. It's easy to produce and still acts like a plastic, but has a high conductivity on par with metals.
"This material is so interesting because we can take all the desirable aspects of polymers -- such as mechanical flexibility, robustness and low cost -- and into the mix add good electrical conductivity," said Professor Adam Micolich, who contributed to the research.
The most exciting part, says researcher Dr Andrew Stephenson, is the way that material scientists can precisely alter the materials' conductivity. "Put simply, we have ten billion options to adjust the recipe when we're making the plastic film. In theory, we can make plastics that conduct no electricity at all or as well as metals do -- and everything in between."
By making an affordable and approachable technique for producing conductive plastics, we could see flexible touchscreens and that oh-so-futuristic e-paper sooner than you might think
1. Do we really need ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTING PLASTICS at all when we have already so many conducting materials?
Feb 25th 2011
Finnish designer unveils forkless bike
By Katie Scott
24 September 09 Comments 1
l chopper and K-55 lightweight Russian motorcycle, all of which you can see on his website.
1. Gents design. Congratulations Olli Erkkila.
Dr.A.JagadeeshFeb 19th 2011
'Horsey' makes your bicycle look like a horse
By Duncan Geere
18 February 11
A Korean designer named Eungi Kim has put together a frame for bicycles that lets you pretend that you're an equestrian. In Kim's own words: "'horsey' is an attachable bicycle ornament/accessory which makes one's bicycle look horsey!"
Kim told Designboom: "The 'horsey' package includes wooden ornaments (horsey shape body), metal parts, and screws. The manual is very simple so that anyone can easily arrange it according to one's needs. Through this 'horsey' project. I wanted to give a special look to bicycles so that people would care about cycling not only as transportation but also as a lovely pet."
1. Good design. Congratulations Inventor. A case of Biomimicry.
Feb 19th 2011
Water-filtering push bikes in high demand for Bangladesh
By Liat Clark
18 February 11 Comments 1
Due to high demand, a Japanese company is planning to supply water-purifying bikes to Bangladesh this year.
The Cycloclean's bike chain operates a motor that pumps water through a set of filters to produce up to five litres of purified water a minute, so all that is needed is a willing cyclist. The purifying equipment is housed in a protective case at the back of the bike, which can be propped on a stand next to the water source while the user pedals to power the pump inserted in the water source. It can pump water from as deep as five metres in the ground.
Although only 200 bikes have been sold since Kawasaki-based company Nippon Basic launched the bike in 2005, this is most likely down to the high price -- around £4,000 (550,000 yen). Most of these went to local governments, but a handful were sold in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.
After requests for bikes increased in Bangladesh, the company moved production to the South Asia country to reduce costs by banding together with a local bicycle maker. It hopes to make around 200 units a year from April.
"If you can bike to a river, pond, pool or other sources of water, all you need is your leg power to produce clean drinking water," said Nippon Basic's president Yuichi Katsuura. The entrepreneur believes local production will fill demand for jobs as rickshaws start to disappear as the economy grows.
Clean drinking water can be scarce in Bangladesh, where tidal flooding is responsible for salty groundwater in coastal regions. In 1993 high arsenic levels were found within wells in the west of the country, forcing communities to use other, unsanitary water sources. Due to the devastating effects of these problems, the world's largest trial of a cheap oral cholera vaccine has just been launched in Bangladesh's Dhaka district. Contaminated water is the biggest cause of cholera and according to the World Health Organisation three to five million cases are reported annually.
1. Excellent. It should be popular in many developing countries
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Feb 19th 2011
On board the 431km/h Shanghai Maglev Train
- By Duncan Geere
04 February 2011
In 2004, China opened the Shanghai Maglev Train -- a 431 kilometre-per-hour monster of a travel experience. But what's it like to ride?
YouTube user MadePossible took a jaunt on the train between Shanghai Pudong airport and the city centre -- a distance of 30.5 kilometres that's covered in just seven minutes and 20 seconds.
The train travels at an average speed of 251km/h (156mph), but reaches a maximum of 431km/h (268mph). During pre-launch tests in 2003, it hit 501km/h (311mph).
The best bit of the video? Around 2m25s, when the train meets its counterpart going in the opposite direction at the same speed. Whoosh.
I visited China 3 times. It is a thrilling experience travelling by Shanghai Maglev Train. Of late China is adopting THINK BIG Philosophy which was earlier in USA.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India.
Feb 6th 2011
The Sun: now available in 3D
By Darren Quick
18:43 February 6, 2011
Image of the far side of the Sun taken on February 2, 2011 when there was still a small gap between the STEREO Ahead and Behind data - the gap is now closed (Image: NASA)
Image Gallery (3 images)
On October 26, 2006, NASA launched two STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) spacecraft. Using the Moon’s gravity for a gravitational slingshot, the two nearly identical spacecraft, STEREO-A and STEREO-B, split up with one pulling ahead of the Earth and the other gradually falling behind. It’s taken over four years but on February 6, 2011, the two spacecraft finally moved into position on opposite sides of the Sun, each looking down on a different hemisphere. The probes are now sending back images of the star, front and back, allowing scientists for the first time to view the entire Sun in 3D.
Each of the probes captures images of half of the Sun and beams them back to Earth where researchers combine the two opposing views to create a sphere. To track key aspects of solar activity such as flares, tsunamis and magnetic filaments, STEREO’s telescopes are tuned to four wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet radiation.
Space weather forecasting
The resultant 3D images will allow researchers to improve space weather forecasts to provide earlier and more accurate warnings for potentially damaging coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that can impact aircraft navigation systems, power grids and satellites. Previously, an active sunspot could emerge on the far side of the Sun before the Sun’s rotation turned that region toward Earth, spitting flares and clouds of plasma with little warning.
"Not anymore," says Bill Murtagh, a senior forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. "Farside active regions can no longer take us by surprise. Thanks to STEREO, we know they're coming."
As part of NASA’s ‘Solar Shield’ project, the NOAA is already using 3D STEREO models of CME’s to improve space weather forecasts, but the full Sun view should improve these forecasts even more. And the forecasting benefits aren’t just limited to Earth. The global 3D model of the Sun also allows researchers to track solar storms heading for other planets, which is important for NASA missions to Mercury, Mars and even asteroids.
"With data like these, we can fly around the Sun to see what's happening over the horizon—without ever leaving our desks," says STEREO program scientist Lika Guhathakurta at NASA headquarters. "I expect great advances in theoretical solar physics and space weather forecasting."
NASA also expects the 3D images of the Sun to shed light on previously overlooked connections. For instance, researchers have long suspected that solar activity can “go global,” with eruptions on opposite sides of the Sun triggering and feeding off each other. The global images will allow them to actually study the phenomenon.
In conjunction with NASA’s Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the STEREO-A and STEREO-B probes should be able to image the entire globe of the Sun for the next eight years. Therefore, these initial images are just the beginning of what should be some truly stellar images and movies that NASA says will be released in the weeks ahead as more of the data from the STEREO probes is processed.
User Comments (1)
Great achievent by NASA.
Anumakonda Jagadeesh - February 6, 2011 @ 07:24 pm PST
Stunning first images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory
By Darren Quick
01:32 April 23, 2010
A full-disk multiwavelength extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by SDO with false colors tracing different gas temperatures - reds are relatively cool, while blues and greens are hotter (Image: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team)
Image Gallery (5 images)
Although we do know some things about the Sun - it's big and hot for example - in many ways it remains a great mystery to scientists. In a bid to shed some more light on our closest star, NASA launched its most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the Sun in February this year. The goal of the the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is to help us understand where the Sun's energy comes from, explore its inner workings, and learn more about how energy is stored and released in the Sun's atmosphere. A nice side benefit will also be the capture of stunning images – the first of which have just been released.
During its five-year mission, the SDO will examine the Sun's magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the Sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate. SDO will determine how the sun's magnetic field is generated, structured and converted into violent solar events such as turbulent solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These immense clouds of material, when directed toward Earth, can cause large magnetic storms in our planet’s magnetosphere and upper atmosphere.
Since launch, engineers have been conducting testing and verification of the spacecraft’s components. Now fully operational, the SDO will provide images with clarity 10 times better than high-definition television and will return more comprehensive science data faster than any other solar observing spacecraft.
SDO will send 1.5 terabytes of data back to Earth each day, which is equivalent to a daily download of half a million songs onto an MP3 player. The observatory carries three state-of the-art instruments for conducting solar research.
The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager
This maps solar magnetic fields and looks beneath the Sun’s opaque surface. The experiment will decipher the physics of the Sun’s activity, taking pictures in several very narrow bands of visible light. Scientists will be able to make ultrasound images of the Sun and study active regions in a way similar to watching sand shift in a desert dune. The instrument’s principal investigator is Phil Scherrer of Stanford University. HMI was built by a collaboration of Stanford University and the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly
This is a group of four telescopes designed to photograph the Sun’s surface and atmosphere. The instrument covers 10 different wavelength bands, or colors, selected to reveal key aspects of solar activity. These types of images will show details never seen before by scientists. The principal investigator is Alan Title of the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, which built the instrument.
The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment
This measures fluctuations in the Sun’s radiant emissions. These emissions have a direct and powerful effect on Earth’s upper atmosphere - heating it, puffing it up, and breaking apart atoms and molecules. Researchers don’t know how fast the Sun can vary at many of these wavelengths, so they expect to make discoveries about flare events. The principal investigator is Tom Woods of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. LASP built the instrument.
Some of the first images from the spacecraft show never-before-seen detail of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Others show extreme close-ups of activity on the Sun’s surface. The spacecraft also has made the first high-resolution measurements of solar flares in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.
"These amazing images, which show our dynamic Sun in a new level of detail, are only the beginning of SDO's contribution to our understanding of the Sun," said SDO Project Scientist Dean Pesnell of Goddard.
SDO is the first mission of NASA's Living with a Star Program, or LWS, and the crown jewel in a fleet of NASA missions that study our Sun and space environment. The goal of LWS is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.
User Comments (2)
Outstanding pictures indeed. Only NASA could do it.
Anumakonda Jagadeesh - February 6, 2011 @ 07:25 pm PST
Could electric cars smooth out spiky renewables?
By Duncan Geere
18 October 10
Proponents of renewable energy often gloss over its spiky nature, but researchers are starting to explore the possibility of using electric cars to smooth it out.
Wind, wave, solar and other forms of natural energy deliver clean, guilt-free power, but the problem is that the power doesn't come in a smooth, controlled stream like that of a coal or nuclear plant. A sunny day yields far more energy than a cloudy one, for example, but is counterproductive for wind and wave power. A blustery day means the opposite problem.
You can't really store power for long periods, so this unpredictable nature means that energy suppliers who use renewables have to rely on other sources too. In practice, that usally means ramping natural gas power stations up and down on the fly to match both the well-known demand curve of domestic and industrial customers, and fluctuating renewable supply.
Researchers have theorised for some time that massive arrays of batteries, distributed across the country, could help alleviate this problem. But no infrastructure for those batteries has been in place, until now. The tens of thousands of electric cars that are going to begin rolling off production lines in the next couple of years all contain batteries which could be used for storing power from the national grid.
This is known as vehicle-to-grid, or V2G. When demand is low but supply is high, your car battery is used to store excess power. Then, when demand is high and supply is low, it feeds it back to other local customers -- perhaps even your own house. Electricity companies would pay the owners of the vehicles for providing that power.
For this to be accomplished, however, you need to yield some control of your battery over to your electricity supplier. This can be accomplished physically by running a data connection through your power socket. Adding that and a convertor that let power move both ways through the battery, would mean that electricity grids would be able to use large numbers of electric cars to store surplus energy.
Pilot projects have begun in a number of countries -- Sweden, Italy and Japan have all begun testing the technology. Denmark, however, is taking things even more seriously. The country gets 20 percent of its power from wind farms, but on some particularly windy days those farms can supply the entire country, with energy to spare.
A paper recently published in Renewable Energy by Claus Ekman, a researcher at the Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, examines how many cars would be needed to power different numbers of homes. He discovered that 500,000 vehicles drawing from 8 gigawatts of wind power could reduce the wasted energy by as much as 800 megawatts -- 10 percent of the total, and enough to power about 200,000 homes. Ekman says this is "significant but not dramatic".
Potential problems with the technology include a worry that this excess usage could harm battery lifespan, however, this hasn't yet proven to be an issue in the trial schemes.
With many companies, including Denmark, aiming to ramp up their renewable energy production considerably in the coming decades, some way of regulating the supply will be necessary. With many countries also putting their weight behind electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, this could prove to be a marriage of more than just convenience.
1. Yes. Electric Cars and Renewables go together.
Jan 25th 2011
Sunlight reactor rips hydrogen out of water molecules
By Duncan Geere
21 January 11
A newly-developed reactor design could produce large quantities of hydrogen fuel and oxygen using nothing but water, carbon dioxide and sunlight.
The reactor, being developed at the California Institute of Technology, would allow energy collected in sunny places to be bottled up and carted to cloudier, more power-hungry, regions of the world. The research is led by Sossina Haile, a professor of materials science and chemical engineering.
It works by taking advantage of the properties of a material known as cerea -- a metal oxide commonly used in the walls of self-cleaning ovens. It has the remarkable ability to "exhale" oxygen atoms at very high temperatures, but "inhale" them at low temperatures.
"What is special about the material is that it doesn't release all of the oxygen. That helps to leave the framework of the material intact as oxygen leaves," Haile explains. "When we cool it back down, the material's thermodynamically preferred state is to pull oxygen back into the structure."
The oxygen is pulled out of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) gas molecules that get pumped into the reactor, leaving behind carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) molecules. The hydrogen can then be extracted to power hydrogen fuel cells, and the carbon monoxide, when combined with hydrogen, can be used to create syngas, which is an ingredient in the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
But for it to work, the core of the reactor has to reach around 1649 celsius -- more than twice the temperature of the surface of Mercury. That's delivered by a quartz window which focuses the suns rays, just like a magnifying glass. So far it hasn't been tested in the wild, but in Paul Scherrer Institute's High-Flux Solar Simulator in Switzerland, the team managed to attain the best rates for dissociation of CO2 ever achieved.
Haile said they were able to attain the impressive results "because we're using the whole solar spectrum, and not just particular wavelengths". However, in its current design, it's relatively ineffiecient due to losses from heat radiation, using only 1 percent of the solar radiation it recieves. The team reckons that with a bit of work, the efficiency of the design could rise to as much as 15 percent.
Eventually, it's hoped that CO2 emitted from vehicles and power plants could be captured, and then turned into fuel. "You'd effectively be using the carbon twice", said Haile. It could also be used in a fuel cycle where H2O and CO2 are converted to methane, which is then used to fuel electricity-producing power plants that generate more CO2 and H2O. We're still a long way from approaching the efficiencies needed for such an approach to be viable, however.
1. Excellent. Hydrogen is the future Energy Carrier. Any process to produce Hydrogen is most welcome.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Jan 25th 2011
Europe to import Sahara's solar power
By Duncan Geere
22 June 10
The Sahara desert, which is situated across the bulk of northern Africa, has little in the way of natural resources. What it does have, though, is sun. And lots of it. In fact, covering just five percent of the Sahara with solar panels that are 20 percent efficient would provide enough energy to fuel the entire world.
Locals are pretty expert at turning the Sun to their advantage, using it to generate solar power. But there's far more energy generated than locals can use, so the European Union is negotiating for some of that power to be shipped north to energy-hungry countries in Europe. It's hoped that such a scheme could help the EU meet its target of 20 percent of renewable energy use by 2020.
Europe's Energy Commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, told Reuters that hundreds of megawatts would be able to be generated in the next five years from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, and delivered to Europe through undersea electricity cables known as "inter-connectors". Over time, that could be ramped up to thousands of megawatts as more projects are completed.
Those projects include the 400 billion euro Desertec scheme, which consists of photovoltaic solar power, concentrating solar power and wind farms. However, the exact plan hasn't yet been finalised yet.
There are some questions about the plan. Solar plants require water to keep them clean and cool the turbines, which could hurt local populations as scarce water supplies are spread more thinly. There's the question of how to transmit the power to Europe without losing significant quantities. Lastly, others point out that it'll be difficult to separate out the renewable solar power from the coal- and gas-fired power plants operated in north African countries.
Oettinger said: "I think some models starting in the next five years will bring some hundreds of megawatts to the European market. Desertec as a whole is a vision for the next 20 to 40 years with investment of hundreds of billions of euros," said Oettinger. "To integrate a bigger percentage of renewables, solar and wind, needs time."
1. Wise proposal.
Jan 25th 2011
Capture the sun: The Planta Solar stations
19 January 10
It's not exactly what the Copenhagen Climate Conference mandated. But if the world's economic powers are serious about weaning us off fossil fuels, this may be the future for much of our countryside.
The Planta Solar 10 (above top) and Planta Solar 20 (above bottom) near Seville, Spain, jointly produce enough energy to power 16,000 homes. PS20's 1,255 movable mirrors reflect the Sun's rays toward a solar receiver on top of the 160-metre tower (PS10 has half the number of mirrors). Solar-heated fluids pass from the receiver to steam turbines outputting a combined 30MW.
Both solar plants are part of the Solúcar Platform Project, scheduled to have new towers and parabolic trough plants generating 300 MW by 2013. Other next-generation multi-megawatt solar-power stations are being built around the world -- though none are planned for the UK.
1. Think Big" to harness Solar Energy.
Jan 25th 2011
Cornwall installs world's largest wave energy site
By Duncan Geere
08 September 10
Off the coast of Cornwall, close to St Ives, a behemoth lurks beneath the waves. It's called Wave Hub, and it's the largest wave energy project in the world, comprising of multiple different energy generation devices with their own turbine arrays.
Each device is connected to the central hub by cable, and from there to a substation at a local village called Hayle, where it's connected up to the national grid. The idea is to provide a "socket" on the sea bed where previously-tested devices can prove their commercial worth by generating useful quantities of electricity, which the developers are paid for.
The hub can take up to four devices at once, with a initial capacity of 11 kv that'll ramp up to 33 kv once suitable connectors are developed. The devices are moored within an eight square kilometre area of the sea bed which is fenced off with navigational markers so that ships don't run into them.
The whole project has cost £42 million, with about about £10 million coming from the UK government. It's planned to become operational in 2011, and Ocean Power Technologies is already signed up to take part. Other companies haven't yet been confirmed, but Fred Olsen Ltd, WestWave and Oceanlinx are said to be interested.
Stephen Peacock from the South West Regional Development Agency, who also helped to fund the project, told Inhabitat: "This milestone is the culmination of more than six years’ work by the RDA and its partners and will catapult south-west England and the UK to the forefront of wave energy development. Our aim is to create an entirely new low-carbon industry in the south west and hundreds of quality jobs."
Wave Hub's general manager, Guy Lavender, added: "Seeing Wave Hub lowered into the water was the culmination of more than seven years’ hard work by hundreds of people and the fact that it was designed and built in this country is testimony to the skills and experience that the UK already has in the fledgling marine renewable industry."
1. Wave energy is produced when electricity generators are placed on the surface of the ocean. The energy provided is most often used in desalination plants, power plants and water pumps. Energy output is determined by wave height, wave speed, wavelength, and water density. To date there are only a handful of experimental wave generator plants in operation around the world. As such a large wave power plant will kindle interest in large scale exploitation of Wave or Tidal Energy.Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. The first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) started operation in 1966.Although not yet widely used, tidal power has potential for future electricity generation. Tides are more predictable than wind energy and solar power. Among sources of renewable energy, tidal power has traditionally suffered from relatively high cost and limited availability of sites with sufficiently high tidal ranges or flow velocities, thus constricting its total availability. However, many recent technological developments and improvements, both in design (e.g. dynamic tidal power, tidal lagoons) and turbine technology (e.g. new axial turbines, crossflow turbines), indicate that the total availability of tidal power may be much higher than previously assumed, and that economic and environmental costs may be brought down to competitive levels.Historically, tide mills have been used, both in Europe and on the Atlantic coast of North America. The earliest occurrences date from the Middle Ages, or even from Roman times. List of tidal power stations•The first tidal power station was the Rance tidal power plant built over a period of 6 years from 1960 to 1966 at La Rance, France. It has 240 MW installed capacity. •The first tidal power site in North America is the Annapolis Royal Generating Station, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, which opened in 1984 on an inlet of the Bay of Fundy. It has 20 MW installed capacity. •The Jiangxia Tidal Power Station, south of Hangzhou in China has been operational since 1985, with current installed capacity of 3.2 MW. More tidal power is planned near the mouth of the Yalu River. •The first in-stream tidal current generator in North America (Race Rocks Tidal Power Demonstration Project) was installed at Race Rocks on southern Vancouver Island in September 2006. The next phase in the development of this tidal current generator will be in Nova Scotia. •A small project was built by the Soviet Union at Kislaya Guba on the Barents Sea. It has 0.4 MW installed capacity. In 2006 it was upgraded with a 1.2MW experimental advanced orthogonal turbine. •Jindo Uldolmok Tidal Power Plant in South Korea is a tidal stream generation scheme planned to be expanded progressively to 90 MW of capacity by 2013. The first 1 MW was installed in May 2009. •A 1.2 MW SeaGen system became operational in late 2008 on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. •254 MW Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Plant in South Korea is under construction and planned to be completed by the end of 2010. •The contract for an 812 MW tidal barrage near Ganghwa Island north-west of Incheon has been signed by Daewoo. Completion is planned for 2015. •A 1,320 MW barrage built around islands west of Incheon is proposed by the Korean government, with projected construction start in 2017. •Other South Korean projects include barrages planned for Garorim Bay, Ansanman, and Swaseongho, and tidal generation associated with the Saemangeum reclamation project. The barrages are all in the multiple-hundred megawatts range. •The Indian state of Gujarat is planning to host South Asia's first commercial-scale tidal power station. The company Atlantis Resources is to install a 50MW tidal farm in the Gulf of Kutch on India's west coast, with construction starting early in 2012. •Estimates for new tidal barrages in England give the potential generation at 5.6GW mean power(Source: Wikipedia)
Jan 25th 2011
Swedish architecture firm proposes buildings on rails
By Duncan Geere
05 January 11
The company, Jagnafalt Milton, suggested that existing and new railroads could be built to provide the base for buildings that could be positioned differently depending on the seasons and on the weather. It proposed designs for rail-mounted single- and double-berth cabins, along with a two-storey suite. It also imagined lookout towers, kitchens, lifeguard stations, changing rooms, and -- in true Swedish spirit -- a sauna.
The idea, says the agency, was to use the city's railway infrastructure -- left behind from the days when it was an maritime construction town, building oil rigs -- as a basis for its future. Konrad Milton, one of the partners in the company, told Wired.co.uk: "As we see it there are two major benefits. First, it's easier to put buildings on existing train tracks than to demolish the tracks and build regular building foundations. Secondly the city of Åndalsnes has different needs depending on season."
He continued: "Summertime the city is full of tourists from cruise ships and hikers -- during this time there is a need for hotels and shopping. Wintertime the climate is harsh and there is less activity but a need for climate shelters and public indoor activities. By changing the building line-up according to seasons and events the city can become truly flexible."
The jury agreed, saying that they were "impressed and charmed by the proposal's aesthetic and visual qualities". They added: "The light-surreal mood of the visualisation with a magic and Tarkovsky-esque atmosphere contrasts well with the sober and technical qualities of the plans and axonometric drawings. All in all it is a proposal that is consistent in its study of a single element's potential to develop the city of Åndalsnes into a dense, integrated and ever changing scenography of rolling, cubic volume."
Why rail and not roads? Milton says: "In this case the railtracks are in such abundance that it's the obvious choice, but the idea with rolling buildings could work very well in situations where roads and other hard surfaces are in abundance -- like old military airfields, harbors or over sized highways."
Jagnafalt Milton has previously won awards for the design of a culture centre in Galway in Ireland, and for the design of a Sami parliament building in Finland.
1. Good Innovation.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Jan 25th 2011