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In the news this week architects revealed their latest designs of homes for the future. Arup envisage buildings no longer as passive cells but more as a towering reactive organism complete with their own brains, skin and nervous system. Sounds strange on one level, but considering the advances in building technology, it is a logical development. Arup’s concepts include the engineering of the building’s facilities to respond to its inhabitants and the environment. The design harnesses algae as a biofuel as one power source, (scientists in Berlin are already investigating this notion), and photovoltaic paint as another – by catching the power of the sun.  A specialist membrane on the walls converts carbon dioxide back into oxygen.

The tower block would also include an integral health and community centre plus shops. There were also transporter pods that attached to the building like a game of Jenga. This is all very futuristic, with some dynamic concepts worth developing, but as most of us hate tower blocks why build more?

The photographs below I took in 2012 when I was on a research visit to Chengdu. The Chinese have many sparkling new tower blocks on the main drags through their fast growing cities, but walk down a side street and turn a corner, and you find a different view of tower blocks.

china-green-block-PF china-pink-block-PF