Sustainable architecture and an Indian eco-city?

As someone who is very passionate about architecture, and its role in fashioning the future we want for ourselves, I am always curious to hear about urban renewal and eco-city projects and how they can help us to address climate change, food security and water management issues.

Tianjin Eco-City in China is one of many such projects around the world. A number of new technologies are being tested here, including electric driverless cars, rubbish bins that empty themselves into an underground network and a process for cleaning up industrial pollutants.

Neighbourhood Centre, Tianjin Eco-City

However, such developments need to strike a balance between acting as testing grounds for new and innovative technologies and also being livable for their residents.

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“Living” life…

I am currently on holidays in Canada for a few weeks, allowing me to reflect on the new life I am building in India. India can be quite an overwhelming place to live and work sometimes, but this quote inspires me to tackle each challenge head on and throw myself into life there.

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Handmade solar car

An unusual article in The Hindu newspaper caught my eye this morning. This solar vehicle was designed and built by a local Bangalore businessman.

Inspired by the design of auto-rickshaws, it was handmade from local materials, many sourced from scrap metal yards. It cost about AUD$1800 to build and is soon to be driven on a 2000km road trip from Bangalore to New Delhi, as a show of support for anti-corruption activist, Anna Hazare. The vehicle’s maximum daily range is 100km, travelling on battery backup, and the maximum speed is 30km/h.

Who would fancy taking it out for a spin?

Solar car in Bangalore

My first visit to an Indian orphanage

Some expat friends of mine here in Bangalore volunteer their time at a local orphanage and this weekend I joined them for the first time.

As we drove out to their property on the outskirts of Bangalore, it was interesting to see how much development is happening. Where there once would have been small villages, they are now merged together and line a road that has gone from a single dirt track to a wide bitumen road in just a few short years. Buildings lie in crumbling heaps of concrete and people’s livelihoods have been moved on to provide the necessary space.

The orphanage was started more than 20 years ago by one man who had found a starving 2 year old thrown in a rubbish bin. From one man, one room and one boy, they have grown to 85 boys, 3 carers and a large complex.

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Chipko Movement – Tree Huggers

During a recent meeting with a prominent Indian Australian businessman and educator, in which we were discussing environmental education projects in India, I was introduced for the first time to the “Chipko movement”.

Until that point, I had been unaware that in the early 18th century, and more recently in the 1970’s, “an organized resistance to the destruction of forests spread throughout India and came to be known as the Chipko movement. The name of the movement comes from the word ’embrace’, as the villagers hugged the trees, and prevented the contractors’ from felling them.” The Chipko movement originated in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand in northern India (later spreading throughout India) and was inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy of Satyagraha.

Tree Huggers

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