Category Archives: people you should know

Miscellanea: more favourites

Public transport – why you should opt for rail over bus by Prof Peter Newman

Is New York the greenest city? A review of ‘Green Metropolis’

Interesting articles on aspects of urbanism: Creative Communities

Socially concious design – a website that exploresd the question: can design change the world?

New York City Street Design Manual.

Pioneering urban regeneration in Johannesburg driven by the arts.

A revealing article with a snippet on where the priorities of some ‘star’ architects really lie.

Restoring the industrial landscape by William McDonough: regenerating a Ford factory.

A great house featured on Grand Designs.

A field guide to green roofs.

The website of the ‘Rational House’ concept.

Zulu cuisine.

South African rainwater harvesting and heat pump systems.

The consulting practice of Alan Baxter, recent recipient of a CBE.






Miscellanea on Africa, development, PoMo and more

This from random links that I have ‘favourited’ over the last while and want recorded for future reference…

It looks like the world’s oil reserves have been deliberately overstated.

The ‘Green Agenda’ may be good for developed countries but perhaps counterproductive for developing countries.

A really good initaitive in Cape Town with the faith and business communities working together for the Common Good. (Can LIV be the catalyst for something similar in Durban?) Also 350 bible verses relating to ‘creation care’.

One of the results you get when you google ‘postmodern engineering’ (PoMo = postmodern)

A Times article on electric buses.

An interview with innovative American town planner Peter Calthorpe: The City of Tomorrow, together with his urban network concept.

An excellent primer on sustainability in the built environment: Playbook for Green Buildings and Neighborhoods.

What the industry wants – brief but perceptive thoughts from Seth Godin on how big business influences what we eat and our healthcare choices.

A link to Park-Tec because they have a picture of a security gate with great architectural desgn.

Singaporian design and sustainability consultancy I have worked with – CPG.

China is buying Africa, and Africa stands by while other Africans continue with self destructing their countries. Meanwhile young middle-class Westerners try and help – but does it?

The darker side of Dubai (I hope to elaborate on this at some stage).

A South African engineer with (I think) some of the same intentions as me.

Solar water disinfection – water treatment could not be lower tech…

An article on Scott Harrison, whom I have mentioned before and is someone you really should know.

A mobile phone based home energy management system.

charity:water – 2009 in review

Scott Harrison and charity:water are doing good things in a fresh way. Unlike the big legacy charities they don’t rely on tugging the heartstrings to get people to support them – instead they are using creativity and new media to connect to people. I think it works because donor fatigue is real and the old way has led to just that. They also ensure 100% of public donations go to the end recipients which puts other charities in the shade. Scott also chose to support water supply as the target which is close to my heart. It is unfortunate that health issues especially AIDS gets all the attention and therefore money whereas water is seen as too mundane. (The organisation I am part of often has to link a water project to an AIDS project just to get funding for example.)

I first saw him speak soon after he had started when he gave a presentation at London’s Apple Store and I immediately became a fan.

Here is their 2009 review – I hope and pray their work continues to grow.

People you should know: Janine Benyus

She was in Cape Town and I had the privledge of listening first hand to her expound on the new science of biomimicry. It was mentioned by someone that it is not just a new source of design ideas, but a new way of thinking. I agree – its early days but the potential is massive.

A few links:

Article on architecture and biomimcry

Reuters article on biomimicry

HOK architects view on biomimicry

Durban’s Early Morning Market: what would Yunus do?

It looks like the demolition of 20090420_WarwickJunction_EditedDurban’s historic Early Morning Market, home to thousands of informal traders, is inevitable. The city powers have bulldozed this through, ignoring the environmental specialists; heritage specialists; development specialists; academics and not least the traders themeselves. This is to make way for a new shopping mall with all the economic blandness that it entails, converting the thousands of micro entrepreneurs into at best a few hundered wage earners, with all profits going into ‘Big Retail’.

I find it sad as this place pulsates with energy and while it is indeed chaotic and lawless, it has incredible potential to emerge (with good planning and management) as a cenre for micro-business and local trade, whilst retaining the heritage and unique atmosphere of the space.

What is ironic (and which makes it sadder still) is that none other than Muhammad Yunus is currently in the country, sharing in the successes of investing in the poor with his microfinancing methods of Grameen Bank.

I suggested to an activist organisation opposing this development that they should make contact with him and get him to opine on the issue. I have no doubt on which side he would come down on.

What would Yunus do?

Here is an interview by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, where he is due to speak.

Tony Lankester asks: where is South Africa’s Muhammad Yunus?

The text of a petition to the city council is pasted below:

Continue reading

Saul Griffith: Someone you should know

He is the authour of the presentation in the previous post, taking an engineer’s perspective on the issue of climate change and energy consumption. Bottom line, we have no alternative to reducing consumption and increasing efficiency – something that I strongly believe.

Apart from inventing things, he is also an advocate for sustainability and has created the website wattzon where you can estimate your ongoing power consumption.

He has done plenty of other things, just google…

Further Links

Article on the way forward for an integrated satnav solution.

Another from the Guardian on Jeffrey Sachs and development.

365-energy electric car charging infrastructure.