China is building a massive underground laboratory to research disposal technologies for high-level radioactive waste, the most dangerous by-product of nuclear technology and applications. This is meant to pave the way for a repository that can handle the disposal of at least a century’s worth of such materials for tens of thousands of years.
The lab will be situated in granite up to 560 meters below ground in the Beishan region of Gansu province, said Wang Ju, vice president of the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology. The underground lab was listed as one of China’s major scientific construction projects in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).
Its surface facilities will cover 247 hectares, with 2.39 hectares of gross floor space. The underground complex will have a total structural volume of 514,200 square cubic meters, along with 13.4 kilometers of tunnels, he added.
The lab is estimated to cost over 2.72 billion yuan (£305 million) and take seven years to build. It is designed to operate for 50 years, and if its research proves successful and the site is suitable, a long-term underground repository for high-level waste will be built near the lab by 2050.
Workers began building a water distribution system for the lab on December 28th, and roads to it are set to be paved this year, Wang added. “The lab will provide critical support in the safe geological disposal of high-level waste, which is crucial for the sustainable development of nuclear energy in China.”
In 1985, the same year that China started building its first nuclear reactor, Chinese scientists had already begun researching how to properly dispose of such waste, which includes harmful substances such as strontium-90, cesium-137 and plutonium-239. All three substances are very damaging to animal cells and the environment.
High-level waste management constitutes the end stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, and it is a major challenge for all nuclear countries, as these highly irradiated by-products make up only about 3% of the total volume of nuclear waste, yet can contribute over 95% of the waste’s total radioactivity, according to the World Nuclear Association.
“As China bolsters its nuclear power capacity, the disposal of high-level waste becomes a critical issue for nuclear safety and environmental protection,” Wang said.
According to the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), China seeks to cut carbon emissions by optimizing its energy consumption structure and raising its proportion of non-fossil energy to around 20% in the next few years. Nuclear energy currently makes up about 5% of the total energy China produces.
This includes building a new generation of coastal nuclear plants and expanding the nation’s solar energy generating capacity from about 50 giga watts last year to 70 giga watts by 2025. China will also bolster its ability to process nuclear waste, along with promoting technologies including modular small-scale reactors and offshore floating reactors, the plan said.
As of last year, China had 49 nuclear reactors in operation, making it the world’s third-largest nuclear energy producer, behind the United States and France. There are 16 nuclear reactors in construction in China, the most in the world, according to the World Nuclear Association.
“We cannot just reap the benefits of nuclear energy and worry about cleaning up its waste later. Development and safety are equally important, and both have always been the two paramount priorities in China’s nuclear energy strategy,” Wang said.
At the advent of nuclear technologies, humanity’s disposal of nuclear waste was littered with controversial ideas and short-sighted practices, from early nuclear nations dumping it into the oceans to some scientists proposing launching it into space.
Infamous incident
One of the most infamous incidents came in July 1957, when the U.S. Navy was dumping waste into the sea. Two barrels of radioactive sodium kept floating back to the surface, prompting the Navy to send aircraft to shoot the barrels with machine guns until they sank, The New York Times reported.
The international scientific community eventually agreed that a safe and feasible method to dispose of waste is to permanently bury it deep underground in a tomb of concrete and rock, isolated from all biospheres, natural disasters and human activities for millennia, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
But this requires scientists to comprehensively survey the repository’s environment, both on the surface and underground, this includes investigating the site’s geological conditions, distribution and flow of groundwater, the types, locations and chemistry of rock types and dozens of other factors.
The repository must also be far from populated areas and historical or cultural sites, as well as ecological protection zones, yet it also needs access to infrastructure so that personnel and material can be moved in to build the project.

Wang continued, “Searching for candidate sites alone is already a massive scientific undertaking, let alone building the underground repository, Sweden, France and Finland have also completed their site selection and are applying for or building repositories for high-level waste.
As for China, it took hundreds of scientists and engineers 35 years of drilling boreholes in isolated areas across the country in order to finally decide on the candidate site for the lab in Gansu province.
Fruitful exchanges and long-term collaboration between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the China Atomic Energy Authority played a constructive role in China’s geological disposal of nuclear waste.
I was a young man when I joined the project in 1993. Now people jokingly call me Uncle Wang.
Generations of scientists and engineers have been willing to toil and moil in the desert for this project because everyone knows managing nuclear waste is a solemn undertaking that will have a profound effect on people’s lives, the environment and the nation’s development,
Although living conditions in the field are extremely harsh, we always raise a clean Chinese national flag at our camp to remind ourselves that all the hardship we endure is for the betterment of our country and its people.”


Source: The Japan News


Construction firms BAM and Weber Beamix have begun building the world’s longest 3D printed concrete pedestrian bridge in the Netherlands.

Simply named ‘The Bridge Project’, the initiative is being co-commissioned by Rijkswaterstaat (the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management), with contributions from designer Michiel van der Kley and the Eindhoven University of Technology. Although it will be constructed in Nijmegen, the bridge is currently being printed in the city of Eindhoven, where BAM and Weber’s 3D printing facility is located.

Once complete, the concrete structure will stand at a length of 29.5m (almost 97 feet), reportedly breaking the world record for the longest 3D printed bridge. According to CNN, the current record is held by Tsinghua University for its 86-foot concrete bridge in Shanghai.

Ushering in a new wave of design

The employment of digital design in construction is expected to enable a new wave of novel building concepts, all while making the process more affordable and time-efficient. With most conventionally manufactured concrete structures requiring the use of formworks, van der Kley and Rijkswaterstaat sought a design that would be impossible without 3D printing in a bid to test the true potential of the technology. Conceived in the studio of van der Kley, the freeform bridge is intended to represent the future of 3D printing in the construction sector.

Naturally, the use of 3D printing also brings with it a new set of challenges, such as structural safety, accurate load analysis, and material suitability. To rationalize the initial design, the project’s structural engineers, Witteveen+Bos, commissioned Summum Engineering to create a parametric model of the bridge. The model conformed the original design to a set of structural constraints, segmented it based on printing specifications developed by the Eindhoven University of Technology, and generated an optimized internal geometry for the bridge.

This enabled the team to determine three different outputs. Firstly, the external surfaces of the structure, which were used as inputs for the 3D Autodesk Revit models; secondly, the internal and external meshes, which were used for finite element analysis calculations; and thirdly, the printing paths for the concrete 3D printers.

Following an initial test bridge which was 3D printed by the Eindhoven University of Technology, BAM and Weber Beamix are now in the process of erecting the final bridge in Nijmegen. The partners chose Nijmegen for the landmark project because it was named the Green Capital of Europe in 2018, falling in line with the bridge’s eco-friendly philosophy.

Europe leading the charge

The Nijmegen bridge has less than a month to go until completion, and Weber Beamix already has plans to 3D print four more bridges across the Netherlands. Although construction 3D printing has cropped up in all four corners of the world, such as in the U.S. with residential buildings and even Thailand with co-working spaces, the Europeans seem to be leading the charge in terms of sheer project numbers.

Late last year, Germany-based construction company PERI Group 3D printed the world’s first on-site apartment building in Wallenhausen, Germany. The three-floor residential structure was printed using Danish 3D printer OEM COBOD’s concrete 3D printing technology, and consists of five rentable apartment units.

Elsewhere, in the Massa Lombarda region of Northern Italy, 3D printer manufacturer WASP recently completed 3D printing a unique eco-friendly organic house. Named ‘TECLA,’ the fully-fabricated dwelling has been built as a proof-of-concept and an initial blueprint for future sustainable housing models.


Source: 3D Printing Industry


London’s largest purpose-built rental community – Greenford Quay in the London Borough of Ealing – is ready to be unveiled by leading developer Greystar, one of the main players in the ever-growing Build to Rent (BTR) market.

Greystar has soft-launched the scheme since November 2019, when the first residents moved in, but is now ready to offically reveal the development to the media.

The US-based firm originally entered the European market in 2013 to acquire and develop purpose-built student accommodation and rental housing, and launched the ‘Greystar U.K. Multifamily Fund I’ in May 2019, a new flagship fund series to develop purpose-built rental housing properties in the UK with a target raise of £750 million.

The developer has previously stated its goal of delivering 10,000 BTR units in London by 2022, and the Greenford Quay development on the border of Greenford and Northolt – two historic London suburbs – will ultimately deliver 2,118 new homes overlooking the Grand Union Canal.

With the first building of the development completed in under 19 months, thanks to innovative modular construction methods, Greystar argues it is setting a new standard in the UK ‘for community-led rental properties’ combined with ‘sustainable operational excellence’.

The restored Art Deco building which forms the focal point of the development – known as Tillermans – is made up of 379 apartments (studio, one, two and three-bedroom) and faces onto a landscaped public square, with ‘extensive landscaping and water features’.

The first residents have already moved in and been established in the building for some time, and Greystar says that demand is proving to be strong. So far, existing and prospective residents have singled out the service and security provided by the on-site management team, as well as the attractiveness of Greenford Quay’s various amenities.

Greenford Quay, unlike many other developments in the UK that were originally for sale and then converted into rental housing, was designed specifically with renting in mind from the outset.

Greystar’s in-house team has led this approach, tailoring each new development to meet the needs of prospective tenants. The developer is directly in charge of operating the new community and supporting its residents, with a dedicated on-site team providing customer service that includes management, maintenance, leasing and events services. Various events have already been held for residents and the local community, while street food vendors have occasionally appeared in the landscaped public areas.

Greenford Quay is aiming to become a new destination and established community with regular on-site family-friendly events.

Todd Marler, senior director of multifamily operations in UK & IE at Greystar, said: “Greenford Quay is a significant milestone for Greystar in Europe, as it is the first development we have overseen from inception to delivery. There is a severe shortage of high-quality homes across our major cities and we are delivering a professionally managed solution that we hope will open people’s eyes to the long-term benefits of renting, particularly in the UK.”

Paul Naylor, community manager at Greenford Quay, added: “Greenford Quay has been thoughtfully designed to build a sense of community by fostering interactions inside and outside the buildings. It is a delight to see our on-site team interacting with our new residents – together helping to bring the development to life. Our aim is to provide a level of service that renters rarely experience in the UK, but certainly deserve. The flexibility we provide is appealing to residents, as they can enjoy one of our secure, high-quality homes and all the benefits of our lively community for as long as they want.”

What was there before?

Greenford Quay is the redevelopment of the 20-acre waterfront site previously occupied by GlaxoSmithKline and the Sunblest Bakery. For a long while before the development began, the area had been neglected, half-derelict and overgrown, with numerous disused buildings serving no obvious purpose.

After many years of speculation about what the area would be turned into – including talks of a cinema complex or shopping centre – Greystar acquired the sites in January 2016 and consulted extensively with Ealing Council, the Greater London Authority, local businesses, residents and other stakeholders to develop proposals for modern canal-side living in the heart of Greenford, bringing the derelict site back to life.

The finished development is set to provide a new health centre, primary school, shops and restaurants that, once complete, ‘will benefit the neighbouring community’, while also playing a part in addressing London’s housing shortage.

Work on the first building began in June 2018 and was finished 19 months later – with the speed of the build possible thanks to the innovative methods of construction used.

The entire development is set to be completed far quicker than a ‘for sale’ scheme, following the decision to deliver it using modular methods in partnership with Tide Construction.

The ‘high-quality’ residential units are largely built off-site and slotted into the buildings, which significantly reduces construction time, with a reduction of up to 80% of typical construction traffic on-site.

This, in turn, lessens the disruption to local residents and the building’s carbon footprint through greatly minimising the construction waste normally generated.

What does Greenford offer?

One of London’s most popular commuter towns, Greenford is surrounded by Northolt, Wembley, Perivale and Harrow and is arguably best known for its Central Line tube station. This station sits in Zone 4, with Zone 1 accessible in 20 minutes and Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush even closer than that.

Pre-Covid, Greenford station was topping four million annual entries and exits and, as well as Underground services on the Central Line, it is also the terminus of the National Rail Greenford Branch Line.

Greenford Quay is about a seven-minute walk from the station and aims to offer the best of town and country life. It is surrounded by nature and only a short stroll from the ancient woodland at Horsenden Hill and Paradise Fields – a rich natural habitat famous for grassland, ponds, reed beds, lagoons and wildflower meadows.

The area surrounding Greenford Quay is a mixture of nature, residential and industrial, with the open land of Greenford originally attracting various renowned British industries that also benefitted from the railway and canal in terms of trade and connectivity.

With a past rooted in wheat and tea – the area was previously home to Tetley’s headquarters and Lyons’ factories, as well as bread-making facilities – Greystar is aiming to reimagine the site for modern 21st-century living.

*All images courtesy of Greystar and Billy Bolton

Source: Property Investor Today

Two of the world’s leading experts on water placemaking and floating architecture have collaborated on a masterplan for Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston which will deliver a new residential neighbourhood on the water as well as a waterside public amenity. The pair, Koen Olthuis, Principal of Waterstudio in the Netherlands, and Richard Coutts, Principal of London-based Baca Architects, were invited onto the design team by Boston’s 6M Development who are seeking to implement the first floating housing community off the East Coast of America. The intention is that the development will provide a template for climate adaptive and resilient affordable homes across the Hudson Harbour and along the entire U.S. coastline- and indeed to any other coastal city where land costs are high.

The scheme centres on repurposing a long-dormant pier by selectively demolishing and retaining parts to create four sturdy islands that will become anchoring points for floating homes, providing Boston with much-needed housing economically and efficiently. The homes will be built on top of large floating pontoons tethered to the islands by flexible moorings, allowing the homes to rise and fall with the tide. The pier development will thus work with the dynamic tidal range of Boston’s Inner Harbour while also achieving a canal experience reminiscent of Amsterdam. Sustainability is key to the scheme which is aiming for 138 LEED Certified Gold and will include a water heat exchange, acting as a renewable “blue battery”, to provide heating and cooling together with solar pergolas on the rooftops which will generate sustainable energy.

The homes will be built using modern methods of construction consisting of structural highly insulated prefabricated timber panels. They will offer four levels of accommodation with three and a half sitting above the waterline, no higher than 12 metres above the existing pier height. Half the lowest level will be below the waterline, with windows above, and will sit within the flotation unit to provide buoyancy to the rest of the structure. There will be a combination of townhouses, duplexes and apartments with balconies and roof terraces and easy access to a boat mooring, designed to adapt to different mix of units as the evolving market dictates.

Each island will have its own character and offer different types of amenities from numerous pocket parks, wetland fringes providing natural habitats, a public harbour walk and canal-side pathways to event spaces, retail, cafes and restaurants at the water’s edge and a gourmet market. The development will be pedestrian access only, served by water taxis and private boats.

“It will be a wonderful neighbourhood and a catalyst to activate this stretch of the harbour and possibly beyond,” says Richard Coutts. “We are not only creating homes in strategic locations but are activating the waterfront for the public and providing new green spaces. The different identities of each island will mean that the total development will be greater than the sum of its individual parts.”

Koen Olthuis says: “Our scheme marks a tipping point for cities looking to unlock their water potential. With this project, Boston will be able to showcase the new philosophy of Rise of the Blue City in which water space is used to enhance liveability along the waterfront and to bring solutions to combat the effects of sea-level rise and urbanisation”.

The practices of Waterstudio and Baca have been collaborating recently on other projects nationally and internationally – from marina designs to hotels and floating hospitality and leisure.

About Baca Architects

Baca Architects was founded in 2003 by Richard Coutts with the aim of integrating landscape and low carbon technology to create beautiful and enduring developments.


About Waterstudio

Waterstudio is an architectural firm based in the Netherlands that is confronting the challenges of the problems posed by urbanisation and climate change.




As the construction industry looks to power the post-Covid economic recovery, a new report by Turner and Townsend highlights that embedding sustainability strategies will be critical to strengthening the supply chain and achieving the country’s net zero targets.

The global professional services business’ latest UK Market Intelligence Report (UKMI) shows a cautiously positive outlook for the construction industry tempered by risks of inflationary pressure. But core to the sector’s medium and long term success will be how it deals with the need to decarbonise and build back greener.

The report argues that a concerted effort by the industry to focus on decarbonisation will not only support the environmental imperative to reach net zero, but it will also create a commercial case to do so too.

Looking specifically at the residential sector, the report suggests that there will be large scale options for cost neutral net zero retrofit schemes by the end of 2023. The challenge must be for new housing schemes to achieve the same targets where the marginal cost will effectively be nil, creating a major scale-up in delivery.



The UKMI also assesses the forward outlook for inflation. Showing that while inflationary pressure was balanced in 2020, with deflationary constraints on demand and construction activity offsetting the productivity impediments of social distancing and rising material costs, 2021 is due to tip towards inflation.

This is down to the expected increase in construction activity this year – though predicted demand is not evenly spread. High government infrastructure spending is behind Turner & Townsend’s prediction of a 1.5 percent increase in infrastructure tender prices in 2021 (up from 1.0 percent in 2020). But for real estate tender prices, a 0.0 percent inflation rate is expected (up from -2) as new orders remain weaker.

On its own, a quick uptick in inflation in an era of fragile finances could frustrate a build back better recovery, but the fragility of the wider supply chain and an industry still heavily propped up by government support are also cause for concern. With demand and output both set to increase, clients must therefore closely monitor their exposure to further supply chain disruption, insolvencies and cost increases. Resilience and capacity can be built into the supply chain with the right investment and innovation into green technologies, retrofitting and sustainable building to capitalise on the business opportunity around net zero.

Michael Grace, director in the Leeds office of Turner & Townsend, said: “The construction industry has a pivotal role to play in delivering a net zero carbon future in Yorkshire. We need to drive change, working with our customers and the supply chain to deliver sustainable outcomes.”

Source: The Business Desk


Leading data and analytics companies GlobalData and Marketscreener have reported a significant rise in the adoption of Digital Twins – virtual models of physical objects such as buildings, cars or infrastructure.

More industry sectors now recognise that by drawing on complementary tech and resources such as AI, the Internet of Things and ‘big data’, Digital Twins can build new products – and get them right first time.

They can also monitor existing assets, optimize maintenance, and reduce downtime, or check carbon emissions, nearby traffic flow, and even simulate an adverse weather object.

They are already revolutionizing industries including construction, energy, architecture, aerospace, automotive and transportation and the value in the new tech is reflected in its predicted growth: Markets & Markets estimates that the Digital Twin market will grow from $3.1 billion in 2020 to $48.2 billion per year by 2026, at an annual CAGR of 58%.

Kiran Raj, Principal Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData, named COVID-19 and efficient integration as the reasons behind increased adoption: “Digital Twin technology has gained a lot of traction in the last few years due to accelerated digitalization across industries. It has become more valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic to help companies navigate the crisis.

“Start-ups have the capacity to provide off-the-shelf and bespoke Digital Twin solutions that enterprises in various industries such as construction, oil and gas, automotive and healthcare can quickly integrate into their business operations.”

 Construction-based Digital Twin specialist Cityzenith was named as market leader by GlobalData, and CEO Michael Jansen said:

“2020 and 2021 have been significant years for Cityzenith. Our Regulation A+ crowdfunding campaign recently surpassed the $2 million first goal, and we have welcomed over 1,000 new investors to the company since its launch, aided by our independent investment platform launched in December 2020.

“In the past year, we have partnered with the $500 million Orlando Sports + Entertainment District state-of-the-art redevelopment and earned a pioneering contract to create a multi-purpose Digital Twin for an ultra-luxury residential tower in the Middle East.”

Norwegian industrial combine Kongsberg was also named in the report and highlighted the Digital Twin trend, with executive VP of its DigitalOcean sector, Andreas Jagtøyen commenting:

“More customers have reached out to learn how the development of maritime Digital Twins is progressing, both related to autonomous shipping and solutions supporting the more efficient and safe operation of advanced equipment and machinery onboard the vessels.”


Extract from the Report:


 Digital Twins are being used to simulate the impact of operational, environmental, and financial data on large-scale construction projects. This enables construction companies to assess the performance of relevant infrastructure in real-time and adjust operations to optimize efficiency. US startup Cityzenith developed a Digital Twin platform SmartWorldPro to create a virtual replica of buildings and infrastructure to help clients design, develop and run projects at any scale.