Did you know that over half of the world’s agricultural land is affected by desertification? With around 12 million hectares of fertile land lost every year, it is an issue that impacts over 1.5 billion people worldwide.
Such startling facts are the driving force behind The Salt Project, an initiative to combat desertification by using seawater to build and sustain habitable cities in the world’s driest regions.
Essentially, the idea involves pumping sea water into arid areas, where it can be distilled by the sun’s energy in greenhouses. Once separated, the fresh water is used for farming produce, and the salt strengthened and utilised as a building material.
This ingenious circular model creates a fully-sustainable, closed eco-system. So in theory, self-sufficient communities – and even cities – could spring up and thrive in deserts and other harsh drylands.
The Salt Project is the brainchild of Eric Gebeors, a Dutch innovator who conceived the idea whilst studying architecture at TU Delft. He is now leading project research and development at the Salt Lab in Rotterdam.
Recent experimentation with Salt Pup prototypes (shown below) confirms that the salt-based building material is comparable in strength to masonry, rammed earth and ice when constructed in organic forms. An algae coating is also being developed to protect the salt forms from dissolving if they are subjected to rain.
The Salt Project is currently showcasing Salt Pup prototypes at Fab City, a temporary innovation campus on Amsterdam’s Java Island, set up as part of the cultural programme for the Netherlands Presidency of the European Union.
Research and development will be ongoing throughout this event – which is open to the public and runs until 26 June. A limited number of Salt Pups (which can be used as seating) will be on sale at Fab City to raise funds for The Salt Project.
- Explore the project in full at The Salt Project website >
- To find out more about the Fab City campus and how to visit, go to to the Fab City website >
Image credits: The Salt Project, Eric Gebeors
The Salt Project features in the May edition of Rhine Capital Partners client reporting.
- On 22nd May 2016