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Short Course


"Integration of technologies and cultural frameworks"

Organized by: Stellenbosch University (SU) and Technische Universität Berlin.

Date: 7th-11th Nov. 2011

Venue: Stellenbosch University (SU) in Stellenbosch and including case-study-field trip to Delft settlement.

The blue economy concept, conceived by Gunter Pauli as founder and director of the Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives Foundation (ZERI), promotes a sustainable business model in which available resources enter a close loop cycle where the waste of one product or process becomes input for a new one, minimizing thus consumption of raw materials and reducing emissions related to manufacturing activities. A thorough analysis of a regular family home shows in this context, immense potential for the recycling and reuse of waste materials resulting from daily household activities, which suggests reduction of domestic consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources as well as business potentials through the integration of adequate value creation processes. Black water for instance can undergo separating processes allowing the urine component to be reutilized as fertilizer and faeces to be used as organic input material to manufacture Terra Preta, which has proven itself since centuries as excellent compost and soil conditioner. A fully sustainable housing system would also consider development and implementation of strategies and systems for improving household’s energy efficiency by means of low-cost intelligent solutions for energy sourcing and monitoring. Such solutions could be achieved using smart electricity meters, to ensure scalable connection of local energy sources to create a reliable decentralized network centralized monitoring and maintenance of the local energy sources through daily reporting and optimal energy distribution by releasing energy according to the current production level.

Three basic assumptions have been made in searching sustainable alternatives for re-designing the existing built environment that integrates technical innovation:

The existing environment needs to be considered as it is, and (relatively) minor changes be introduced in order to allow innovations in the current context to succeed.

The involvement of the end users and other actors such as public officials and community leaders is a critical leverage in this adverse context, and should aim at the improvement of existing practices towards new ones that integrate innovation.

The potential flexibility for physically integrating innovation remains, should the current built stock prove as rigid as can be expected, in the non-built spaces: patios and gardens at the household level, playgrounds, plazas, streets and alleys at the community level.

The purpose in a housing perspective will be thus to identify strategies to redesign the existing built environment that integrate the end user and other relevant actors in the innovation by integrating innovative technologies and improving practices towards better use of scarce resources. These are strategies of adaption rather than strategies of “tabula rasa”, considering existing physical and social contexts.


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