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Traditionalist. https://t.co/t008rR8GZP #GoodUrbanism
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Jun 20 4 tweets 2 min read
Neat two-dimensional diagram of how to catch a breeze. Room apertures and wind direction.

x No effect.
▲ Almost no effect.
△ Meh.
○ Nice.
◎ Maximum effect.

And remember that apertures of different sizes are better than same sized ones, and at different height too. If you live in a tight urban area or can't easily control your home floor-plan, you can relatively easily build projecting windows that can be tuned to catch breezes from "the wrong direction."
May 19 4 tweets 1 min read
May 1 4 tweets 3 min read
The McIntire Garrison House is the oldest house in Maine, built by a Scottish soldier in 1707, Scandinavian style solid log with dovetail corners. The cladding in the photos is new (from 1903). Brick chimney, half cellar and foundations made of field stone. Like the feat of that 18th c. Scot, a build like this would be eminently doable today, and much easier with modern power tools. If you buy the trees for the walls "standing" it wouldn't break the bank either.
May 1 4 tweets 2 min read
The oldest house is Connecticut, by the Puritan Reverend Henry Whitfield House in Guilford next to the village commons. 2ft thick field-stone walls, hewn oak beams, large rooms with ten fireplaces to be able to house and protect the entire community in times of danger. 1639-1640. Stone houses from this era in New England are rare because there was no easily available lime to make mortar. This house used a mortar made by burning and crushing oyster shells and then mixed with yellow clay. Costs nothing but will probably outlast anything built since.
Apr 26 4 tweets 2 min read
The Stockholm Central Post Office, as painted by its 1903 architect, Ferdinand Boberg, son of a miner, in 1905. Not built to any style but perhaps with vague Renaissance and Swedish medieval style influences. The Post Office was built in a hurry and to save time (and maybe for extra authenticity?) the sandstone carvings were made in situ. Unbelievable today. Here is a detail of the central entrance archway carving.
Apr 25 4 tweets 3 min read
A lot of people are buying extra grains and cereals "just in case" right now. Which is good. Every family should have a few months of food at home, if at all possible. Rice is a good basic staple to keep, and if you can find it, at least half of it could be brown rice. Brown rice has far more dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins than white rice. White rice is good if you are trying to gain weight, if you are body building, etc. or if you have a weak stomach or problems chewing. Brown rice is better for everyone else.
Apr 20 7 tweets 5 min read
When it comes to interior decoration you can't get more trad and timeless than distemper. Possibly the oldest paint in existence, it consists of hide glue (made from boiling animal hides: same as gelatin, edible), chalks, possibly pigments of some kind. Water soluble, non-toxic. On hard surfaces, Neanderthals used a variant of distemper (but with a tar based binder rather than hide glue) for their cave paintings. Ancient Egyptians used it in their tombs (this one ca. 1,500 B.C.) and the Ancient Romans for wall paintings in Pompeii (early 1st c. A.D.).
Apr 15 6 tweets 2 min read
In 1992 a forestry researcher in Toyama City visited a Shinto shrine and noticed that one of the Japanese Cedar growing on its grounds didn't produce any pollen. The first such mutant cedar ever found in Japan. Tests were run, & finally in 2007 the first seedlings came to market. ImageImage A commercially viable pollen-free Cedar is a huge thing in Japan where 30% of the population suffer from so severe pollen allergy they require medical treatment. It all started in the 1940s when fast growing American Cedars were introduced but that also produced far more pollen. Image
Mar 18 4 tweets 2 min read
There are about 19,500 cities, towns and villages in the U.S. It would be interesting if at least one of them, as an experiment in urban revival, built a neighborhood with town houses like this. Just one, see how it works out. Or somewhere in Europe? I am thinking a dead mall: it has power and water already. Get a bunch of these images, ask a dozen builders to make up a street pattern, indicate what they'd build where. Waive all permit fees etc. and taxes for the first three years. Leave some open spaces for public bldgs.
Mar 17 5 tweets 2 min read
Having wood interiors has many benefits, it helps you concentrate and relaxes you, reduces stress, it regulates humidity etc. Some wood natural wood stains also increase its antiseptic properties while absorbing and neutralizing toxic off-gassing (formaldehyde), like "kakishibu". Kakishibu is made by crushing, fermenting and aging unripe astringent persimmon. It is 100% natural and completely harmless to humans and helps preserve wood each time it is applied. Used both for interiors and exteriors. It is easily made at home.
Mar 11 4 tweets 3 min read
In Japan there is now a minor boom in falconry: crows are attacking solar power plants with stones, and the only effective way to keep crows away is to deploy falcons. One trained falcon making 60 attack sorties a day can protect 100,000 solar panels from vengeful crows. It is unknown why crows bombard solar panels, possibly it is a game. The stones seldom directly crack panels, but the crows are experts at placing stones or other garbage just so that they stay on top of the panel, soon causing overheating and destruction or permanent damage.
Mar 10 4 tweets 2 min read
“Nothing is more detrimental to a sound general order appropriate to human nature than two things: mass and concentration...People need to be taken out of the mass and given roots again.”
— A Human Economy, The Social Framework of the Free Market, Wilhelm Röpke, 1960 “When the consulting rooms of psychiatrists, neurologists, and heart specialists fill up with the wreckage of our civilization, no paeans extolling motorcars and concrete will help.” — A Human Economy, The Social Framework of the Free Market, Wilhelm Röpke, 1960
Mar 9 4 tweets 2 min read
In 1980, the wood engraver Philip Hagreen (1890-1988) offering us some anecdotes about life in 1921, on manners, Dorset, cheese, and on Noblesse oblige. Philip Hagreen on growing up in Suffolk, Edwardian England, the fishermen of Southwold Beach, and the local culinary arts. Probably around 1898.
Mar 7 5 tweets 2 min read
Nice find: "In each state, there is a specific level of low humidity that may signal a flu outbreak is imminent. When this threshold is crossed each year, a large increase in flu cases follows within two or three weeks, on average." So here's some points: jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasa-find… 1. Too low (or sometimes too high) humidity makes flu far more easily spread and contracted. Hence, we ought to have humidifiers in every classroom:
Mar 4 5 tweets 4 min read
Christophe Jacquin made this model (1/250) of La Bastide de Sauveterre de Rouergue, a fortified royal town built on ecclesiastical land in France, funded in 1284, population a little over 1000, giving it a density between modern Bronx and Manhattan. Area: almost 0.04km² or 4ha. Buildings are 1-3 floors, with a large square, church, schools etc. The fortifications were removed in the 17th century but the old bastide remains. The end of the 13th c. saw a building boom in SW France: over 350 fortified towns were founded, almost all of which still remain.
Feb 18 5 tweets 2 min read
Genius biologist Minakata Kumagusu (1867-1941, right in photo) was a fierce environmental protectionist. In 1910 he was arrested for getting drunk and gatecrashing/heckling a meeting of local politicians who wanted to cut down sacred groves to "improve agricultural efficiency." He spent his time in jail after sobering up by discovering a new species of slime mold. And the politicians eventually gave up. Thug science.
Feb 15 9 tweets 5 min read
If we are to have any chance for a future we need to start looking at what we have that is sustainable now. The FAO registers Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), for example the Minabe-Tanabe Ume System, Japan: an integrated orchard and water control system. The Ume orchards (a sort of hard plum) has been in business for 400 years without the need for technology, pesticides or fertilizers, without erosion. The system integrates the entire area (population 79,000) in a satoyama-satochi system: rice, vegetables, orchards, coppicing.
Feb 6 8 tweets 4 min read
Most interesting thing on twitter last month was a tweet from @ploughmansfolly suggesting that 1 in 10 Americans might be better* employed in market gardening, raising a furor similar to what we get when talking parking.

*For reasons of economy, health, soil, animal rights, &c. The furor was to be expected of course, but it shone a light on the familiar blue-tick disconnect. @ploughmansfolly based his argument on vegetables/chicken. Let's look at chickens. Already 13% of Americans keep chicken. So his argument was low-balling it: just get a bigger coop.
Feb 6 5 tweets 3 min read
The Batdam ( 밭담 ) dry stone walls (no mortar) of Jeju Island have been likened to black dragons crawling over the landscape: 21,108km of volcanic field stone dug up by hand and built gradually over the last 1,000 years: without these most agriculture here would be impossible. The walls protect the little soil there is from wind erosion, they keep livestock out and create a better microclimate at ground level, and provide habitats for wildflowers, insects, animals, and effectively mark family properties.
Feb 3 4 tweets 3 min read
"Rice Paddy Dam" is a concept for river basin flood control that originated in northern Japan around the turn of the century. It uses agricultural land as a sort of reservoir to protect downstream urban areas from flood damage and excessive water, the fields used to store water. When bad rains are anticipated fields can be emptied prematurely and filled up again in a controlled manner that prevents overflow, erosion and scouring using a system of weirs and channels. Depending on the size of the system it can hold vast amounts of water, millions of tons.
Jan 27 4 tweets 3 min read
Map of Toyama City's (pop 419k) resiliency project by city densification and public transport improvement: development in red zones* get subsidized (think ca. 1/3 of cost of new build). Target: 45% of pop. bef 2045.

*500m from train/tram.
*300m from high freq. bus (>60 per day). In 2003 Toyama City was facing skyrocketing infrastructure and social services costs: the population was aging, city trams were losing money, health levels were dropping, young ppl. had little hope for the future. Car dependency was increasing at over 70% but fewer could drive...