Here’s a sneak peek of my latest article for Aquila Magazine’s Earth Issue. It’s all about indigenous populations making the most of their ancient traditions to cope with an increasingly unpredictable climate. As well as highlighting the continued importance of ancient water tunnels (called aflaj) in Oman, I spoke to an expert on community adaption in Bangladesh about the floating gardens (called baira) which are providing a lifeline to flooded communities. There’s also a snippet on the amazing work of Hassan Fathy in Egypt…
Want to read more? Well all you have to do is download (how eco is that?!) a copy of the latest Aquila Magazine here. It’s only a couple of dollars for a mag jam-packed with goodness. Go on, you know you want to!
Posted in Architecture, climate change, Climate Justice, Economy, Environment, Ethical, Food, Green, Islam, Middle East, Muslims, Water, Women
Tagged Aflaj, Ancient Adaptation, Aquila Style Magazine, Bangladesh, climate change, Hassan Fathy, indigenous populations, Oman
Alzainah Albabtain, a 22 year old student, is growing her own food in the scorching heat of Kuwait and wants others to give it go too
A green fingered student from Kuwait is taking the blogosphere by storm with her ‘It All Grows’ blog. Filled to the rafters with gorgeous photos of lovely fruit and veg, recipes, and gardening tips, Alzainah wants to prove that “good fruits and vegetables don’t have to travel across the world to make it to your plate.” I caught up with her to find out how she got hooked on gardening and her insider tips for growers in the Middle East. Continue reading
Posted in climate change, Climate Justice, Environment, Ethical, Food, Green, Islam, Middle East, Water, Women, Youth
I speak to Mario Cucinella the architect behind Gaza’s eco schools about building under conflict, water, education and bringing hope to a desperate region
Early 2013 will see the launch of a green school which will collect rainwater and regulate internal temperature using thermal technologies. Whilst such a project would not be noteworthy in Europe, this project is coming to the energy-scarce, water-poor and conflict-ridden region of the Gaza Strip. Constructing a green building in such a region definitely comes with a whole cache of problems- it also comes with a whole load of benefits. Building green schools that save water and reduce the amount of energy needed offers huge benefits to the people of Gaza. I caught up with Mario Cucincella, the architect behind the project to find out more.
Aburawa: Looking back at the profile of your work, most of the projects you are involved in are based in Italy. How did you get involved in the scheme to bring eco schools to Gaza?
Cucinella: I got involved in this project as I was invited to a conference by the Italian government which was about the future of Palestine and how a green economy could help Palestine’s economy and encourage development. At that meeting I met with UNRWA which is the UN organisation for Palestinian refugees and we talked about presenting a project about the green buildings I had worked on in the last couple of years as they were interested in the integration between green issues and architecture.
They took me to visit refugee camps and we went to Gaza to see the schools and so I proposed to them an idea of building a different quality of school. I mean, UNRWA builds a lot of schools as they are in charge of education and health and social problems- so they build schools, hospitals and lots of other things- and there was a big programme to build one hundred schools in Gaza and they were really interested in a new style or standard of building. Well, these things grow very fast and they were excited about my proposals and I guess, here we are.
Aburawa: There has been lots of press attention around the concept of green schools- could you tell us about some of the green features of the Gaza schools?
Cucinella: Well as you know, Gaza has a real issue with access to lots of resources. So for example, water is really polluted and 40% of the population still don’t have access to potable water. There’s also significant energy blackout and so that does affect how you can run schools and hospitals. The first idea was to collect rainwater as they don’t collect rainwater and in Gaza there are between 100-600mm of water a square a year- which is not lot but it’s still free water. They also don’t recycle water so the principle is to be able to collect maximum water for the school.
The other issue is that the schools are very low quality and they are not suited to their environment. In the summer the buildings are very hot and it’s hard for children to focus on their studies when it’s 38 degrees in the classroom. So another important feature is creating a sufficient thermal mass so that energy is stored and temperature can be better regulated. These two are not very complex principles but when you put them together you get something quite special which can really improve the people’s quality of life. And that was the agenda behind these buildings.
In Gaza it is notoriously difficult to construct buildings as there are issues around the ability to bring in materials due to the blockade. How will you be working around these restrictions to make sure the schools are built? Continue reading
Posted in Apartheid, Architecture, climate change, Climate Justice, Development, Economy, Environment, Gaza, Green, History, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Water, Women, Youth
Tagged Architect, Cucinella, Eco-Schools, Gaza
A recent GreenProphet blog which looks at the problem with green projects that are planned for the illegal Israeli settlements.
Around a week ago, the Israeli government announced that 10% of its renewable energy quota would be going to the West Bank. This means that literally millions (some have put the estimate at $660 million) will be heading to the territories to encourage solar, wind and biofuel energy development.
Whilst this move has been welcomed by green activists in principle, there have been concerns over the fact that solar fields will be built in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank. The continuing growth of the Jewish settlements across the West Bank is one of the most widely contested issues in the region and is considered to be a major barrier to Israel and Palestine reaching a peace deal. So does green progress outweigh these political downfalls? Continue reading
Posted in Architecture, climate change, Development, Economy, Environment, Green, Green Energy, Israel, Middle East, Occupation, Water, West Bank
Tagged Green Investment, Israeli Settlements, Solar power