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 SaharaDesert from east to west. Dunesalong Larsson’s sandstone wall will act as a combination of refugee housingand a block against the desert.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

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 sandinto 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 structurethat would change and change again over the course of a decade, a century, a millennium.”

It’s a big departure from current anti-desertificationmethods, including water conservation, soil management, forestry, sustainable energy, improved landuse, 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 waterand shade, and taking care of plants and animals.

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

+ Holcim Foundation