Bacteria can prevent Desertification in the future

9 05 2009


Desertification is now a widely recognized problem that can negatively affect many people’s lives. It’s occurrence not only reduces the amount of farmland available, but also widely affects the biodiversity that existed in that habitat. This is why possible solutions for the problem (besides preventive factors) are of great importance both as a method to prevent any more harm done to natural resources, as to the local people that now has to live in more hard-enduring conditions

This is why the incredible idea of Magnus Larsson, a student from London’s Architectural Association, presents one of the most ingenious and potentially effective ways of dealing with this problem. His solution: a 6,000 km long wall of artificially solidified sandstone spanning the Sahara Desert from east to west, where the combination from the sandstone and the dunes will provide a refugee housing and a block against the desert.

magnus larson

Jury member Holger Wallbaum(left) congratulates Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 2008 1st prize winner  Magnus Larsson for “Dune anti-desertification architecture, Sokoto, Nigeria”

The principle of his idea lies on the bateria known as bacillus pasteurii, a microorganism thats can 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.


The bacteria that promises to change the way we fight desertification

Larson also believes that his project might actually help achieve several goals at the same time: helping soil remain fertile, providing water and shade, and taking care of plants and animals, as well as providing locals with a less harsh environment where they can protect themselves from Sahara’s fierce sandstorms.


Example of hypothetical early construction methods

For more information and detailed photographies please visit the Holcim Awards Website




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