Thursday, June 03, 2010

More Features of the Hillside Block

Hillside techniques, owners and hightowers

Construction, Ownership and Interspersed Towers

By John Taylor; 2010 June 03, Azamat 16, 167 BE

So far, in this section on infrastructure we have imagined a massive building project called the world belt, which would be promoted by a democratic world government. The belt consists of large oblong block buildings with their utilities hidden from view. On the street corners are markets and "worker's palaces," and the streets are lined with paths, stoa and gardens and trees.

The building running down the street between the corners is a single block building, green on one side, inhabited on the other. We have been calling this world-standard superstructure of mound-like, multi-use developments hillside construction. Hillsides are long row developments with a single roof.
There are many ways the superstructure could be built. They may be made from large piles of sand sculpted by bacteria into sandstone. This technique is part of an international project to build a long wall to hold back the spread of the Sahara Desert into Africa. Alternatively, perhaps hillside blocks will use the monolithic dome technique, which sprays insulation inside a large, pneumatic form, then completes the structure with sprayed concrete inside that.

The inventors of the monolithic dome were inspired by Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome, except that monolithic domes are more practical, flexible and cheaper. They are simpler, quicker to build and less prone to leakage (see for more details). Hidden under these long, hollow mounds are not only buildings, warehouses and high density, modular housing units but also a common public transportation system, high voltage power lines, an integrated agriculture and food preparation systems, as well as factories, studios and other workplaces.

Ownership of the Hillside

Unlike most of our present real estate, no single person or institution will own the building superstructure in a hillside development. The land and shell are held in common, with residents owning shares. The price of shares rises and falls according to what they make of their household and neighbourhood, how well they collectively promote stability and prosperity in the locality.

Every new resident starts off as a minimum stakeholder, as do various levels of government and other organizations, such as faith groups and schools. An enterprising resident can increase his or her shares by contributing to the community over a lifetime. These shares are interchangeable anywhere in the world belt, so that a resident can move anywhere in the world without sacrifice or having to sell their old house and buy a new one.

Interspersed Hillside Towers

In the previous two essays we just described the main meeting place for neighbourhood and block governing institutions, a room that we called the consultorium. Some consultoria will travel up and down tall watchtowers, giving those deliberating on local concerns a broader perspective on the neighbourhood. This will not be the only use of towers.

Hillside rows will frequently have towers penetrating through the roof of the hillside mono-structure. Some will be water towers, giving pressure to water pipes in the area, as is done in towns and regions normally. A rural hillside will also include silos, seed and grain storage towers for farmers. Some towers will be devoted to electric power, holding aloft large wind turbines and having solar collectors running down their sides. One of the most frequent towers, the heat tower, would be devoted to power conservation.

The heat tower is an ancient invention used originally in the deserts of Babylon and the Fertile Crescent. Some, thousands of years old, remain in use today in certain towns in Iran and Iraq. Heat towers were the original air conditioners, making the hottest, driest climate comfortable for residents of an entire neighbourhood. At night, a long, vertical cylindrical tube draws excess heat out of the buildings into the cool upper air. This offers residents a cool room in the basement where they can take refuge in the noonday heat.

Hillside heat towers could do something similar, on a broader scale, drawing out heat built up during the day, and combining with active air conditioning to cool the entire structure. Our present buildings use more energy for air conditioning than for heating. A heating tower would do most of the work of air conditioning for free with just the sun and cool night breezes.

A different approach would be needed in colder climates. During the winter water can be piped up to the top of a heat tower where it freezes, then carried deep underground into insulated storage bins. On hot summer days, these blocks of ice are carried to the surface where they will supplement air conditioning the building. Again, this technique is at least hundreds of years old, made practical again by the economies of scale in a large hillside block development. Combine this with underground, vertical geothermal heat exchangers and the heating and power requirements of hillside developments will be virtually free in the long run.

Climbing for Thrills

These towers and silos can have recreational uses too. A spiral water slide can run around the outside and even inside a tower. Cable cars can run between towers, giving some of the thrill of a ski slope to the flattest prairie development. Towers can be observation posts. Some may have long spiral stairs with a panorama at the summit, and places there to meditate. Getting up there by running on stairs would encourage residents to build physical activity into their daily routine. Other towers can house heliports and airship docks. With a transparent dome on its summit, it may be used as a high-flying stage, eating area or cinema.


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