Structural Concept 2 PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by Koichi Paul Nii   
Wednesday, 30 December 2009

By Koichi Paul Nii


Unlike most all structures which are built having a life span of effective functional use, terraced structural framing, like earth’s surface, must function for a much longer time period.  Thus, these structures must be constructed to be both adaptable and economical.  In the near future, with building materials possibly using nanotechnology, they may be self-sustaining.  Until such time, today’s technology must be implemented.


Thus, three-dimension efficient use of these unused spaces address the present ecological and climate issues and would accelerate development to satisfy the following requirements: 1) ensure the flexibility necessary to accommodate quick changes in urban structures; 2) offer a variety of sizes, shapes or compositions and to readily apply to all types of use by setting a standardized variety of structural components; 3) ensure that every structural component with multiple component functions can be cheaply mass-produced in large quantities in the future; 4) ensure that fabrication and demolition of components can be achieved quickly and mechanically without posing problems of danger, noise, and vibration to areas adjacent to the construction site; 5) ensure safety in the event of natural or other disasters; 6) ensure that for the modularization of such necessary urban equipment systems as power supply, waste disposal-treatment, and information systems, that a terminal circuit net can be installed by compounding them and that such systems can be quickly fabricated as components to the highest possible degree; 7) ensure that systems for efficient use of energy and resources can be installed; 8)provide a structure that can cope with the distribution of traffic and materials; 9) provide an excellent living environment by planting vegetation on all levels, and to provide such mental comforts such as insulation, ventilation, sound proofing and privacy; 10) provide a constructed structure affording sufficient strength as an urban structure; 11) use for agriculture; and 12) reuse of resources must be possible after deconstruction.


The solution to achieve these requirements must also satisfy all of the following general assembly, maintenance, and disassembly criteria: a) structures constructed of materials readily available; b) structures made of components easily transportable; c) structures made of components easy to assemble and disassemble; and d) structural components replaceable without disruption to the structural system and the life activities of inhabitants of the structural system.


The best known solution to meet all these criteria is framing systems consisting of trusses.  For the horizontal platform, a space frame is used.  The truss beams supports the platform and truss columns carry the beams.  Truss members typically are modular length chords and associated connecting joints.  For the connection between space frame and beams or columns, joints are required.  One type of joint is used for platforms or horizontal surface elements; another joint is used for the vertical elements.  Many truss based connectors for variable space frame structural systems have been developed.  In total, these systems have limitations as to one or more of the necessary criteria for terraced structural framing systems using known construction methods.  To meet these conditions, an alternative construction method is used.  Present construction practice rigidly secures all framing members. This practice requires sequential construction, skilled workers, heavy equipment and a defined minimum construction time line.  To reduce the amount of the main sequences and time of construction, an alternative framing system proposed allows various parts of structures to be constructed simultaneously and be connected to each other at any location and at any time. 


It is a further objective to provide a truss joint and assembly system which can be quickly constructed from known materials without the necessity of welding or other specialized construction trades.


It is yet a further objective to provide a truss joint and assembly system easily assembled and disassembled, and maintainable without disruption to the life activities of inhabitants.


A further objective is to provide a truss joint and assembly system which can be easily assembled without the necessity of advanced training or specialized knowledge.


Finally, it is an objective to provide a truss joint and assembly system the components of which are easily transportable to a point of assembly, and which can accept temporary members to reduce the time and quantity needed for temporary structures yet permit repair and replacement of the joints.


The terraced structured land joint and assembly system is directed to such an efficient and affordable structural system and method for constructing terraced structural framing of any scale.  In an embodiment, self-interlocking joint assemblies are used to provide space frames, truss columns and truss beams, and to connect these systems.  Truss columns and truss beams transfer the space frame loads to the ground.  This framing system minimizes the need of custom-made items and allows more parts to be constructed simultaneously. 

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TSL Perspective PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by mark eakle   
Thursday, 12 November 2009

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 November 2009 )
A New Paradigm for Efficient Land Development PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by Koichi Paul Nii   
Monday, 26 October 2009



By Mark Eakle and Koichi Paul Nii

Current and historical land development practices produced what is known as Urban Sprawl. It is perhaps the most effective means by which the least number of people destroy the greatest areas of productive land, generate enormous volume of greenhouse gases, and force people to endure extended commutes to urban centers.

Urban sprawl was the accepted practice to meet the housing needs of the 20th Century.  However, the practice contributed greatly to the current global ecological and climate crisis.  This traditional method of land development is clearly an unsustainable practice in a world that faces expanding populations and diminishing non-renewable resources.

We propose a new paradigm for land development.  This paradigm requires a re-examination of land use.  Human occupation of land, from the first agricultural settlements to the current urban, suburban and rural developments, has been two-dimensional. We propose to expand into the third dimension by constructing land in the form of staggered, platforms tiers that increase usable areas for a given footprint.  The concept is similar to multi-floor buildings, for a given square footage of land the usable area increases with the number of floors.  We call the proposed structure Terraced Structured Land, TSL. TSL is not a building.  It is a method to create more land with similar benefits as natural land, support all things on it, create openness, and provide natural elements like sunlight and breeze.  Its purpose is to construct substrates upon which architecture and agriculture can take place.  TSL is not a statement on any one particular architectural design.  TSL is an artificial, expandable land creation.

TSL provides a paradigm shift in land occupation.  TSL reduces the current land use by all things such as buildings, infrastructure networks, farms and others.   They are replaced by exterior activity spaces such as parks and open fields.  Foremost, TSL returns much land for all other life.  Combined with reduced occupation on natural lands and efficient living style provided by TSL, the balance in nature will begin to restore. TSL will help initiate the reversal to the on-going destruction to global ecology and changes to the climate.

The TSL Concept

The philosophical concept of TSL is to provide more surfaces for human use, advancement to “quality-of-life” standard and return much of the presently occupied land to nature on a global scale.  We strongly believe TSL will help reverse current destructive trends on global ecology and climate. 

We will need a second earth by 2050, if we follow the current trend in population growth and the global race to meet the ‘quality-of-life’ standards of the United States.  The primary problem is lack of land, and the solution is creating lands.

What is land?  For us humans, land is a surface on which to support structures, infrastructure networks and farms.  In other words, platforms that support all things currently placed on the ground suffice.  Humans also require natural elements, sunlight, wind, rain and others.  Terraced land can satisfy all the needs.  The first platform tier is several feet above ground providing a secure and dry environment as water level rises due to flooding, rise in sea level and damages to levees.  Residences and farms are placed on the outer platforms open to natural elements, and all other societal infrastructure is inside the mountain.  Life in TSL improves the quality of life and reduces the dependency on carbon- and fossil-based energy.   Much of the land unoccupied by humans becomes land for all other life.

Structural Frames of TSL

The platforms, girders and columns are trusses.  The platforms are spaceframe with a depth of about 6 feet.  This allows all infrastructure lines such as sewer, utility and power that are presently undergrounds to be installed within the spaceframe.  It provides unobstructed horizontal passages for utility, sewer and power lines because of inherent characteristic of spaceframe.  The girders and columns also provide passage within the cross-sectional open area.  Each member of the trusses is connected to a joint using alternative construction method.  The system reduces the quantity of sequential system in construction permitting many workers, speedy construction and reduction of heavy equipment usage.  Also, the system allows for exchanging framing members with new ones.  Because TSL is an open frame structure, it accommodates modular systems such as panels for enclosing spaces, solar energy collectors and rainwater harvesting channels.

Open frames with minimum surface resist strong winds such as hurricane and typhoon.  The structures on the platforms are secured to the top and bottom lands to withstand destructive natural forces.  

Multi-functional Supporting System

TSL is a structure secured to the ground and complies with codes.  Everything placed on the platforms are structurally safe, similar to partitions secured to floors and ceilings of buildings.  This condition provides freedom, efficiency and flexibility to space creation that are unseen in current structures.  Followings are few advantages of TSL:

Architectural spaces

  • Foundation is not needed.
  • Partitions and floors can be hung from platform above.  Upper floor can be built without lower floor.
  • Studs are not needed for wall constructions. 
  • Modular space systems are easy to install.
  • Pathways for private and public vertical transports provided.
  • Foot traffic for storefronts is at all levels.

“Green” Product Installation       

  • Applications are universal instead of singular.
  • Connections to existing grids are kept to a minimum.
  • Supports for mechanisms are integral part of the frame.
  • Rainwater harvesting systems are provided.
  • Drainage systems for differently used water are installed.

Economic Opportunities

TSL instigates economic opportunities by providing new life style and space.  It provides opportunities in the following fields to name few: 

  • Construction,
  • Deconstruction
  • Land conversion,
  • TSL maintenance,
  • Converted natural land care and,
  • Innovations such as vertical mass-transport systems, private vertical vehicles, sunlight guidance system and space framing panels for the new spaces. 


Living in TSL

TSL provide lifestyle similar to that on single-family residential lot.  Each lot has the benefits of flat lot and hillside lot; flat exterior activity spaces, and unobstructed distant views.  There is space for custom three-story houses.  The backyard, exposed to all the natural elements, is personally designed landscape.

Different from the current residential lot, front yards of TSL lots face airy and large open spaces with 3-dimensional traversing networks for walking, skating and biking to the adjacent urban core.  In the core are moving belts, escalators and multi-route transports that move people to various cultural, medical, educational, commercial and event centers.  Public mass transportation run within TSL and connect to a network of other TSL mega-plexes.  Life in TSL is independent of cars.  They are parked in spaces between ground level and the first platform and are enjoyed for leisure such as driving and traveling.

Structured lands are also built in the core of the artificial mountain.  They provide additional structural stability.  These lands allow stores and facilities to be placed at any level irrelevant of supports below.

Starting Locations and Purpose

Where are the best places to build TSLs? Prime candidates are: districts and villages destroyed by natural forces; parts of urban core planned for revitalization; areas of over-extended farmlands; and currently occupied lands slated for reclamation, preservation and species protection.   

It is not enough to build TSL as a minimal-impact structure to preserve nature. As TSLs are built, structures on emptied adjacent lots are deconstructed and the lots are returned to nature.  With expansion of TSLs, more lands become part of nature.  Some of the open lands are for human enjoyment but the majority of the lands are for other life.  A five-tiered TSL reduces land use by about half.  Ten-tiered TSL reduce the usage to about 30%. Taller the TSL, the more structured lands are created, and more lands are returned to nature. 

TSL provides opportunities for people to reduce their footprint by exchanging natural land for structured land without sacrificing their current comforts and living standards.  Throughout the history of human advancement, people actively participated in changes if their conditions were improved, if their beliefs were secured, and if the changes were not forced upon them.  TSL is a means, presently just a proposal, for all life on earth.  Global participation is needed for the realization of TSL that will reduce unrestricted consumption of scarce and valuable lands and help restore a healthy eco-system.
The Root Problem of the Ecological and Climate Crisis PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by Koichi Paul Nii   
Thursday, 01 October 2009

The root cause of the global ecological and climate crisis is the inefficient occupation of limited land by humans.  This must be acknowledged for the solutions that reverse the present crisis are to be realized.  The currently recognized problems are mere branches of the basic problem.  The solutions to these problems only arrest or reduce the rate of destruction.


The developments and researches into alternative and new products that are “green” in all endeavors are commendable.  However the universal applications of them are meeting obstacles because of cost, quantity and resistance.  Even if the obstacles are overcome, the damages done to earth will not reverse.  Application of all the available and coming products may reduce the rate of damages.  They will not reverse the destructive process because the root of the problems is not being attacked.  In fact, the root of the problems is not presently acknowledged.  People are aware of the conditions but they hesitate to see it as the main problem.  This may be because of the thoughts of needing to sacrifice the “quality of life” standard, because search for alternative means is not lucrative, because solution is unknown or not recognized in the mainstream or because existence of the empty lands.


The current focus of “green product” is to resolve the global climate crisis.  Assume the crisis is resolved.  The ecological crisis still remains.  The population continues to increase.  More land is needed for food production.  There already exist conflicts between land for food and for structures.  In fact there is a published article that proposes to have food produced in a high rise structure in the urban core.  The number of endangered species continues to grow.  In short, there is not enough land for all life to coexist harmoniously.  How many species have become extinct because of humans?  How many more are on the verge of complete disappearance?   The mere fact that these questions are poised is proof that humans are occupying too much land.  The unoccupied land must remain untouched by the humans.  In fact, much of the occupied land needs to be unoccupied and returned to nature in order to begin reversing the global ecological and climate crisis.  This must be accomplished at a times when more land are needed due to the population growth, the demands for food and for shelters, and the desire for improvement in the “quality of life” standard.  Continuing with the thousands of years old expansion practice into unoccupied land will not reverse the climate crisis.


Two most inefficient utilization of land are suburban developments and agricultural expansion.  These are two dimensional growths.  Beside the land needed for the purpose, they require supporting infrastructure such as networks of roads, stores and factories.  These require more lands.  These growths continue to expand into unoccupied land areas at an alarming rate.  As long as human population continues to increase, more lands are needed.  And so long as the human occupation of land continues in two dimensional expansions, global ecological and climate crisis will worsen.  A three dimensional growths occupies natural land efficiently and improves the “quality of life” standards.  Sensible natural land usage occurs when the problem of inefficient occupation of land is acknowledged.


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 October 2009 )
Structured Land System PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by mark eakle   
Monday, 19 May 2008

This is the latest in a series of 3D renderings of what artificial land or a "Structured Land System" could look like.  - click on the image to view the movie.


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Last Updated ( Friday, 12 March 2010 )
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