Building the World

February 20, 2019
by buildingtheworld
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Building Better Coasts

Climate change is causing sea rise resulting in coastal erosion, flooding, and threatening ports and cities. Jakarta is in extreme danger: thirteen rivers run through the city, causing frequent flooding. The mega-city of 10 billion is doubly endangered: urban land is suffering subsidence, parts of Indonesia’s capital  (some predict 95%) could be deluged by 2050.

Reed beds revitalize polluted waters. Image: wikimedia

Even rivers like the Thames and Lea in London are not immune. But the city of London Bridge is responding. Thames21 is planting reeds that oxygenate rivers, restoring the habitat marred by pollution; reeds convert toxic ammonia to nitrate. Reed beds also provide habitat for aquatic life. In an echo of the Canal des Deux Mers, the canalized section of the River Lea will receive new reed beds every 300 meters over the length of the river coursing through London.

Indonesia, image: wikimedia.

Meanwhile, Jakarta is exploring response including artificial recharge, a method used a half-century ago by Tokyo in a time of subsidence; to support the program, groundwater extraction was halted and businesses were required to utilize reclaimed water. Jakarta would need to use only rainwater; could catchment systems help? The Dutch, formerly involved in the region, have returned: Institute Deltares reported on the efficacy of the current plan to build the Great Garuda Sea Wall (32 km) along with 17 artificial islands at the cost of (US$) 40 billion. Included in the plan is a new lagoon waterway that can be lowered during floods allowing water to drain. Another method: biopori – digging a hole of 100cm depth to allow rainwater to more easily absorbed into the land, replenishing groundwater. Indonesia may offer an example to many places in the world surrounded by water; how can we build better coasts?

“Jakarta, the fastest-sinking city in the world.” 12 August 2018. By Tom de Souza, with interactive elements by Arvin Surpriyadi, Davies Surya, and Leben Asa.

“Project Reed Beds.” Thames 21. https://www.thames21.org.uk/project-reedbed-2/

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

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.

April 22, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Earth Day: Social Power

Can social media influence California’s water crisis? Image: “Hashtag” by DjAvrilPerry90. Wikimedia commons.

 

Today is Earth Day. California’s drought is severe, and so is social criticism. Using the power of Twitter and other social media, vigilant citizens report water misuse and abuse. Ancient Rome was no different: Juvenal satirized water thieves, including the wealthy who bribed plumbers to pipe personal waterlines to their thirsty homes. Public relations campaigns helped England promote the New River, bringing water to London. Will “drought shaming” help to solve the water crisis?

http://www.earthday.org/

https://twitter.com/hashtag/droughtshaming

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.

January 30, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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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.

February 12, 2013
by zoequinn001
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Charles Ives’ “The New River”

London traffic, from The Guardian, at guardian.co.uk.

The American composer’s “The New River” is a song that in title might sound as if it were about England’s human-made waterway, but instead Ives talks about a different kind of river, one of noise. The song for voice and piano has these lyrics:

“Down the river comes a noise!

It is not the voice of rolling waters.

It’s only the sound of man,

phonographs and gasoline,

dancing halls and tambourine;

Killed is the blare of the hunting horn.

The River Gods are gone.

Fortunately, the New River in England continues to preserve its bucolic nature through walking paths designed to help the public admire the English countryside not too far from London. In fact, some would say that without the beauty of the walking paths and their healthy lifestyle, Britain could have been less attractive due to the river of noise. Consider London Monday morning traffic reports.

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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.

August 7, 2012
by zoequinn001
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London 2012: Lee River

Canoe Slalom at Lee Valley White Water Center, from london2012.com.

The River Lee (or Lea) historically has played an important role in London’s success, as a source for the New River. More recently, the River Lee is playing host to the Olympic canoe slalom at the Lee Valley White Water Center. For more on the venue and the sport, please see:
http://www.london2012.com/venue/lee-valley-white-water-centre/

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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.

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.

March 27, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Let’s Take a Walk

“The River Lea at Ware” from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, at hertsmemories.org.uk.

Walking along riverbanks is a beloved English pastime, and in a country with so many rivers compared to its size, why shouldn’t it be? While it may not be a true (or new) river, the New River attracts its fair share of strollers as well. The Ramblers, a group dedicated to creating and/or maintaining walking routes in Britain, have created a path along the New River, as well as many of its source rivers, like the River Lea shown above.

Other sites worth visiting if you’re an avid walker include:The Long Distance Walkers Association, The UK Rivers Network, The Walking Englishman, and many, many more!

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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.

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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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.

March 6, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Why Does London Need Two Rivers?

“The London Bathing Season” From Punch Magazine, July 3, 1858, found at victorianlondon.org.

Despite, or perhaps because of the creation of the New River, the River Thames saw little improvement. The Thames continued to be a health hazard as the decades passed. In the summer of 1858, the disposal of human waste into the Thames (ironically due in large part to the invention of the more sanitary flushing toilets) led not only to an outbreak of cholera in the city, but to a period known as “The Big Stink.” The Big Stink wasn’t all bad, however, as it eventually led to the study of the role of the sanitary conditions in disease.

Even today the Thames has a ways to go before it becomes drinkable again. Residing in the middle of a city still lends it to easy trash disposal, and “trash eaters” have been made to roam the tidal river snacking on plastic bags, newspapers, and, oddly enough, water bottles.

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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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