Student: HE Jialei Constance
Supervisor: Ivan Valin
Thesis section: Toward a New Nature, or, Landscape's reckoning with technology
Programme: Master of Landscape Architecture
Date: June 2020
Cement is one of the most carbon-polluting industries in the global economy due to its heat generated grinding process. About 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions are attributed to concrete manufacturing each year. Hong Kong, as one of the notorious concrete jungles in the world, the expanding reclamation projects and the multilevel metropolis that built on the mountain has all substantiated that how ubiquitous is concrete in this city. However, the breakthroughs in materials science have enabled the concrete industry to obtain a more sustainable production and assembly process. For instance, the new biodegradable concrete, which establishes an organic substrate that can provide a living environment for creature through the net-like structure weaved by plant fibers inside, makes concrete no longer to be a monotonous and non-viable surface. Besides, other progress, like digital fabrication and material recycling, have provided multiple possibilities to challenge the conventional position for concrete in urban construction. Therefore, in responding to the new living concrete system, landscape architects need to re-conceived the existing construction process when using concrete as the building material for urban hardscapes and infrastructure such as roads, engineered slopes, drainage facilities, and structural wall to make way for new lightweight concreteless urban development. The traditional process that mixed sand, aggregate, and water in a large remote factory will also be replaced by a method that can extract the material from the urban natural environment. The new structural details about the conjunction and consumption of the concrete will be transformed due to the progress in materials science, to establish a material ecology of concrete in Hong Kong.
Keywords: concrete; material assemblage; material science; urban infrastructure; Hong Kong