In 1982, the ground beneath the historic port city of Pozzuoli began to rise like a cake in the oven. Within two years, the swell had exceeded 6 feet. Then the earth started shaking—first, a swarm of microquakes. When the first magnitude 4 quake hit, Pozzuoli became a ghost town overnight.
As the world’s cities expand at faster and faster speeds, so does its use of cement. One oft-quoted statistic shows that China alone used as much cement in the last three years as the US used in the last 100. Just one problem: Cement is responsible for pushing a hell of a lot of carbon dioxide into the world.
In today's awesomely brutal-sounding material science news, Stanford engineers have created a building material that exploits that "cold darkness of the Universe" to cool itself—even when the sun is shining. Stanford calls it a "cosmic fridge," and it could replace air conditioning.
If you have ever sweated through a summer in the city, you can thank those skyscrapers all around. Tall buildings trap heat that create urban heat islands. But what if you could create a building that cools the city instead? A building skin made of a series of tubes with evaporating rainwater can do just that.
Coating concrete with residual ash from burning coal can make it strong enough to withstand hellish conditions — and save governments millions of dollars. Fly ash is an industrial byproduct from coal power plants, which used to be pumped into the atmosphere, but is now collected.
James May's Lego abode may be shaping up to be spectacular, but he's far from the first person to build a house out of something novel. Here are ten more amazing homes with, shall we say, unorthodox constituents.