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Cities Made of Salt May Hold The Key To Sustainable Urban Planning

As global desertification becomes a serious issue, one Dutch designer has an inventive solution that uses one of the world’s most plentiful resources.

As climate change wreaks havoc on our eco-system, many drought-prone regions have been left wondering how to deal with issues like urban planning and global desertification. The latter is an increasingly dire issue that has caused those in the architecture community to look for innovative solutions. 24-year-old Eric Geboers, a young designer from The Netherlands, thinks that he may know the solution, and, according to Design Indaba,“is on a one-man mission to change the world through sustainable innovation.” The first stop on his global mission is to create a “sea salt city in the desert” via his intuitive design organization The Salt Project. So far the group has already earned awards from the A*Star’s Science of Future Cities competition and a nomination for the Archiprix Prize 2016.


As straightforward as its name, The Salt Project creates building blocks composed of compressed salt—which are proving to be a solid contruction material on par with packed earth and other frequently used local resources. Strong in compression, the salt blocks are ideal for the types of rounded, arched, or domed structures already prevalent in dry, desert areas. In addition to looking cool, the translucent salt blocks also reflect and protect from the harsh sun, and are coated with a bio-based solution to keep them from melting.

Each of these “salt cities” will be made from compressed salt, as seen above.

Geboers’ vision doesn’t end at just architecture: he also intends to produce and maintain a “whole new ecosystem” in desert areas. He hopes to achieve this through a process of pumped seawater, harnessed via a solar-powered pipe system to a series of desalination greenhouses set up in the desert.

The Salt Factory is meant to showcase the dazzling possibilities of salt as a building material, but also comes as part of an expansion push for Qatar’s newest planned city, Lusail. It’s hoped that The Salt Project’s Lusail base will be the first in a series of self-sufficient communities of salt towns with organic infrastructures and regenerating greenhouses to grow native vegetation.

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