The Building Act

The Building Act: Every dollar that goes into paperwork is a dollar not spent on the building. Accordingly, MarketTowns use single bulk material that is non-combustible, rot-proof, vermin and insect proof, yet healthy (non-toxic), highly earthquake resistant, long-lasting and beautiful. This means concrete-like systems, although preferably MgO based rather than CaCO3 based. If the foundation, exterior load-bearing walls, floors, internal walls and roofs are all made of such cast systems, the bulk material reduces the paper costs and requires fewer Licensed building practitioners.

Foamed Concrete: To that, we then examined aeration systems that reduce the density of the material. A 100 mm solid slab can be mixed so that it becomes a 400 mm thick wall, of which 75% is foamed air (or CO2 if we want to use it as a concrete rainforest). This makes the wall or floor thermally and acoustically insulative.

CarveCast: Further, these materials are exceptionally "plastic" meaning that when in their mixed state they can fill a mould of any design. With the new 3D printing and 3D carving systems that are now available, this means that the surface ornament of each building can be custom designed. It can take a 3D photograph of the most intricate carved wall that might have taken artisans years to carve, and render a moulding copy in less than a day. Alternatively new designs can be done on computer and are scalable without pixelating.


Master Building Plans: Rather than submit 4,000 building designs for individual building consents, the MarketTown intends to submit about 25 master designs (alternative solutions), each of which then contains minimum-maximum specifications and engineering calculations. In this way, each building works to the consent specifications, but has flexibility. For example, the window lintel may provide a range of 90cm to 3.6 m, so that the design can be varied. Building heights will be variable as well, so as to prevent a bland streetscape. It is expected that the insulation calculations will exceed the Building Act requirements, thus allowing more or less window and door openings without breaching the minimum.

On-site pop-up manufacturing factory: Rather than buy pre-assembled components that involve shipping a lot of air, and often result in excess packaging that must be discarded, the majority of the building system should come on site in bulk material form. Each village plaza (open space) and the walk-to industrial park zone serve as the staging areas for on-site factories. While the details may change, it is anticipated that heavy walls and floor slabs will be manufactured on site to reduce the transport distance. Assembly of buildings will use 21st century technology, not the traditional piecework standard that each building part must be liftable by two men.

Staging and Sequencing: It is better to think of this not as a residential construction project, but akin to building an international airport or the Beijing Olympics where large-scale construction occurs. This would be coordinated by an international engineering firm qualified to manage complex systems to deliver on budget, on time, with no blowouts. Each of the twenty villages will be its own job site, operating in parallel, and supported by the central staging on what will become the walk-to industrial park. It also may require dormitory or barracks type worker housing. It has been suggested that the motorpool be designed with toilet/shower and kitchen facilities so the open space can serve as worker barracks, and then when it becomes a motorpool that it can do double-duty as a Civil Defence emergency shelter.

Rooftop Greenhouses: The California study examined the normal water scarcity of California aggravated by the worst drought in known history. The New Zealand rural model of rooftop rainwater harvesting is the answer. From an efficiency standpoint, it is easier to make a flat, useable roof out of pre-stressed concrete - a waterproof cap that becomes a top yard rather than a backyard. However, rainwater collected on such a living roof would require additional filtering and comes with additional contamination risks. The answer is to cap the flat roof with a greenhouse. This enables clean rainwater to be captured and brings a host of other potential benefits:

  • Commercially grow food using LED lights to allow food harvests 52 weeks a year
  • Permit any family to opt out of commercial grow to rooftop farm for their family
  • Affix solar panels to collect both PV and thermal energy
  • Duct the oxygen into the buildings below, and the CO2 from the buildings up to the plants
  • Build wheel-barrow sized lifts that access every rooftop greenhouse, making each building handicapped accessible
  • Harvest rainwater. Store below ground in cisterns. Pipe for central processing (not like rural NZ) and pipe back.