Building the World

October 27, 2018
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Bridging the Future

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, China. Take a test drive. Image: wikimedia.

World’s longest span, China’s Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, stretches 34 miles  (55 km) across the Pearl River Delta. An artificial island supporting Zhuhai’s port joins the financial centers of Hong Kong, Shenzhen (Special Economic Zone), and manufacturing areas like Dongguan. The bridge cuts travel time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong, formerly taking 4 hours, to 40 minutes. One unique aspect revealing cultural history: traffic patterns change from left-lane driving (in once-British Hong Kong) to right-lane vehicular traffic (the rule of the road in China).

Brooklyn Bridge. Image: wikimedia commons.

Bridges have long encouraged economic activity. London Bridge was perhaps the first shopping mall: spaces along the span were leased to stores whose taxes paid for bridge maintenance. The Brooklyn Bridge cost $15 million to build. Tolls varied: it cost one penny to walk across but double that if you brought a horse or cow, and ten times more with a one-horse wagon. Fifteen years after the bridge joined Manhattan and Brooklyn, the latter’s population doubled and both economies grew rapidly.

China’s new bridge may promise economic development but also drew headlines for costs: $7 billion for the 14 mile main span; $13 billion for tunnels. The project used enough steel (400,000 tons) to build 60 Eiffel Towers. There were also costs in lives lost: 10 people perished during construction; another 500 were injured. There were costly delays (the project was two years late) and troubling scandals: 19 people were indicted on criminal charges for fake concrete. Another cost: the number of rare white dolphins (sometimes called China’s marine panda)  swimming in Hong Kong waters dropped by half, even though $68 million was devoted to their protection.

Rare white dolphin (Sousa chinensis) sometimes called China’s marine panda. Image: wikimedia commons.

How can the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge assure environmental stability? Will the University Alliance of the Silk Road and the Confucius Institute help to bring sustainable and inclusive values that are perhaps the most important bridges?

Confucius Institute. http://chinesecio.com

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Test Drive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9VOhEH4te0

Ramsey, Austin. “China opens giant bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland,” 23 October 2018, The New York Times.

University Alliance of the Silk Road. http://uasr.xjtu.edu.cn/About_UASR/UASR_Introduction.htm

Zhou, Christina, and Bang Xiao. “China’s massive sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai slashes rare white dolphin population.” 25 October 2018. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-25/white-dolphin-numbers-drop-worlds-longest-sea-bridge-opens-china/10428038.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

 

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April 27, 2018
by buildingtheworld
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Bridges to the Future

“London Bridge Illuminated at Dusk,” by photographer burge500, 2006. Image: wikimedia commons.

The land of London Bridge just announced a span to a better environment, banning single-use plastics. The UK government states the measure will help eliminate any increase in what is estimated as over 150 million tons of plastic in our oceans. As a result, one million birds and 100, 000 sea mammals die from ingesting or getting trapped in plastic waste. Particularly concerning are smaller pieces of plastic like Q-tips and plastic straws that slip through filters into rivers and oceans. Scotland earlier led the ban on single-use plastics; the new law will be introduced across the Commonwealth.

In the United States, such environmental considerations are up to states and cities, banning or taxing single-use plastics: California was the first state in 2014; Boston recently joined the increasing group of cities with an urban plastic bag tax.

Corley, McKinley. “Another Big US City is Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags.” 18 December 2017. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/another-big-us-city-banning-single-use-plastic-bags/

Nace, Trevor. “UK To Ban All Plastic Straws, Q-tips, and Single-Use Plastics.” 25 April 2018. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2018/04/25/uk-to-ban-all-plastic-straws-q-tips-and-single-use-plastics/#cb4a4ff11383

Thanks to Cherie E. Potts for suggesting this topic.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

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August 8, 2016
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Olympic Feat

Olympic Gold medalist Michael Phelps, Beijing 2008. Image: wikimedia commons.

Olympic Games are paved with gold (and silver, bronze, and brilliance.) In Rio, Olympic Gold was won by Michael Phelps, crowning the swimmer as the most decorated Olympian, adding to eight golds awarded in Beijing 2008, four golds and two silvers in London 2012. During the London Olympics, a parallel Olympic feat, or perhaps one should say ‘feet,’ marked a milestone in energy and environment. The West Ham Tube station near the London Olympic stadium was paved with 12 electricity pavers, activated by a million footsteps. Renewable, wireless electricity, thus generated, powered 12 LED floodlights at the subway station during the Olympic and Paralympics Games. Laurence Kemball-Cook conceived the idea as a university student, at the age of 25, and soon founded PaveGen. Generative floors power only the immediate area, only when stepped upon, but that’s enough to illuminate an LED street lamp. Or imagine a mall or hospital lobby where an average of 250,000 steps occur; that’s enough to power 10,000 mobile phones. PaveGen technology grows stronger; over 100 locations worldwide, including dance clubs, shine. Will Fitbit readouts soon include energy generated? Kemball-Cook observes that “the average person takes 150 million steps in their lifetime, just imagine the potential.” Future goals: paving areas in Mumbai, where people currently lack access to electricity. More visions: universities, schools, sporting venues, hospitals, shopping malls, grocery stores, greenways and sportsways — places where many steps are taken — could add floors to their energy system. When Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics, a milestone in transport and energy was achieved: Shinkansen. Tokyo will again host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics; Beijing, 2022. PyeongChang is next, in 2018. The Olympic path has always been paved with gold; now, also paved with light?

Lawrence Kemball-Cook, TEDtalk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_vPbhYqg2k

“Green sidewalk makes electricity — one footstep at a time.” George Webster, CNN, 13 October 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/13/tech/innovation/pavegen-kinetic-pavements/

http://www.pavegen.com

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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May 6, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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Mine the Gap

A year might make a lifetime of difference. Image: peacecorps.gov.

When a first daughter decided upon a gap year, the world voiced opinion. Some worried that a year off assumed privilege; others expressed admiration for benefits of time in the ‘real world’ of work, experience, travel, service, or specialized training. Balancing gown and town, in 1209, King John hired a French engineer and cleric who “in a short time hath wrought in regard to the Bridges of Xainctes and Rochelle, by the great care and pains of our faithful, learned and worthy Clerk, Isenbert, Master of the Schools of Xainctes” to build London Bridge. Charlemagne’s engagement with Alcuin, or the Netherland’s institution of the Dike Army (“ende alman sal ten menen werke comen op den dijc“), are examples of study and service. The medieval guilds combined learning, doing, and regional travel; Erasmus today is reminiscent. City Year Americorps offers options with college scholarships; Tufts 4+1 includes a Bridge Year. Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge, discovered a new idea when hiking in Bamberg on a student vacation. The University of Massachusetts Boston offers support for travel and scholarship to nations and locations featured in Building the World, through the Building a Better World Fund. Many ‘gap’ programs involve travel: Frank P. Davidson, whose early experience in Mexico has been cited as forerunner to the Peace Corps, suggested an interplanetary year. To fulfill the global vision of the Paris Agreement COP21, environment, governance, and industry may transform through engaged education.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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October 23, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Dancing (and Walking) in the Light

 

Dancing and walking in the light. Image: Kalka, “Prosty znak graficny ilustrujacy taniec Break Dance” 2008, wikimedia commons.

Scene: crowded dance floor, London, where dancing was electric, in many ways. Scene: West Ham station of the London “tube” leading to the 2012 Olympics venue. More than one million people walked through the underground station, generating enough electricity to light the station. Similarly, the original London Bridge drew foot traffic and brought prosperity to the growing city. Both dance floor and subway station are bright ideas of Laurence Kemball-Cook, a 27-year-old entrepreneur who envisions permanent installations in high foot-traffic areas like office buildings, or universities. Pavegen produces floor tiles that combine a person’s weight with a 5mm movement in the tile, producing electrical current. While a student at Loughborough University, Kemball-Cook devised the idea, and started a company on just 50 British pounds; today, there are projects on every continent. A related MIT development derives energy from small bending motion. Should UMB’s “catwalk” pave the way to a new era for universities, giving added meaning to paths of learning and enlightenment?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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January 30, 2014
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Frost Fairs and the Future

Thames Frost Fair by Thomas Wyke. Image: wikimedia commons.

February 1, 1814, marked the most recent “frost fair” on the Thames in London. Pop-up pubs serving gingerbread and gin appeared on the frozen river; skating and dancing occupied idle merchants, whose businesses were closed due to the icing of the river, and festive townsfolk. In 1814, even an elephant ambled along the stretch between London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, demonstrating the thickness of the ice. What happened to this winter carnival? One factor is London Bridge itself. In 1831, a new bridge whose arches encouraged more sea water to pass under the span made for a saltier Thames, less prone to freezing. Another reason is climate change. What is the future of frost? How will climate change affect cities and bridges?

For more, http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/frozen-thames/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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February 5, 2013
by zoequinn001
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London Bridge not the Only One Worth Noticing

View of the Forth Rail Bridge under construction, photograph by Evelyn Carey, in the records of the British Railways Board, from nas.gov.uk.

The Thames is not the only river in Britain with bridges that amaze the observer in style and design. The Fourth Rail Bridge in Scotland is to be considered as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2015. For more information on the construction of the bridge and its application to UNESCO, please see:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-18237211

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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July 31, 2012
by zoequinn001
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London 2012: Tower Bridge

Olympic rings on London’s Tower Bridge, from dailymail.co.uk

London’s iconic Tower Bridge is often mistaken as London Bridge. Tower Bridge, however, is much larger than London Bridge, and therefore able to accommodate the extra large set of Olympic rings suspended from its center. However, with no shops’ rent, financing these rings was not so easy as financing the original London Bridge. Fore more on the size and cost, please see:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2165518/London-2012-Olympics-Rings-unveiled-Tower-Bridge.html.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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March 20, 2012
by zoequinn001
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London Bridge is Falling Down!

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Most children have played the game “London Bridge is Falling Down” while singing the accompanying song. Even today the game is performed on popular children’s shows, such as “The Wiggles.” It is a testament to the longevity of a poem about a bridge that had anything but.

The poem refers to the the number and types of bridges built in that location that led to Henry II’s decision to make one of stone to withstand fire, floods, and invaders. The poem suggests that even if made of steel, the bridge will always require replacement. The most recent London Bridge was finished in 1972 and still stands today. It has a long time to go, however, as the bridge that began construction under Henry II lasted over 600 years!

For more information on the nursery rhyme please visit http://www.rhymes.org.uk/london-bridge-is-falling-down.htm
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February 29, 2012
by zoequinn001
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A Trip Across the Bridge

While today’s London Bridge may be a bit more sturdy than some of its predecessors, there is still reason to write about it. Write music that is. From children’s poems to chamber music, this bridge continues to influence the arts. Below you can listen to a piece written in 1926 by England’s own Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) titled, “Six Studies in English Folk Song.” The part most relevant to this discussion is the sixth movement is called, “As I walk over London Bridge,” and can be heard if you skip to 7:10.

This piece exemplifies how the histories of macro-engineering projects go beyond legal and financial implications to culture.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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