Generating Giant Sandstone Walls to Fight Desertification

by , 05/06/09


Desertification, the degradation of land in arid areas, is a growing problem due to deforestation, fires, and climate change. Magnus Larsson, a student at London’s Architectural Association has a drastic solution–a 6,000 km long wall of artificially solidified sandstone spanning the Sahara Desert from east to west. Dunes along Larsson’s sandstone wall will act as a combination of refugee housing and a block against the desert.

The project, which won first prize last fall in the Holcim Foundation’s Awards for Sustainable Construction, proposes using bacillus pasteurii–a microorganism found in wetlands and marshes–to solidify loose sand into sandstone. Larsson imagines that one day he could “force the grains of sand to align in certain patterns, certain shapes, having the wind blow out our voids, creating a structure that would change and change again over the course of a decade, a century, a millennium.”

It’s a big departure from current anti-desertification methods, including water conservation, soil management, forestry, sustainable energy, improved land use, wildlife protection, poverty alleviation. Larsson believes that the interior of the dunes along his sandstone wall could be used to achieve multiple goals at once–helping soil remain fertile, providing water and shade, and taking care of plants and animals.

If it is ever constructed, Larsson’s sandstone wall could support the Green Wall Sahara initiative, which aims to plant a shelterbelt of trees across the African continent.

+ Holcim Foundation


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  1. Holcim Awards December 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    This is an incredible project and there is a fascinating TED talk about it.

  2. samar December 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    i wish to learn this technology but how?

  3. toubabnomad June 1, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I’d love to use this technology in the Adrar region of Mauritania to help with agriculture…when can I start?

  4. UncleSA May 9, 2009 at 2:20 am

    What a great idea! Creating sandstone, which is 10-20% CO2 by weight, would help make up for all that cement we use (3rd largest source of CO2 emissions).

    Sequestering CO2 (10-20% by weight in sandstone) would be another great side benefit!

  5. dispo May 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    reminds me of this movement:

    most especially roger & martyn dean’s housing designs.

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