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The Salt Project is a biomimetic attempt to combat desertification by using seawater to build and sustain habitable cities in the world’s driest regions. The premise is to pump up seawater to arid areas, where it can be distilled by the sun’s energy in greenhouses. The water evaporates in the greenhouses and salt pans to grow crops and finally become salt. Once separated, the fresh water is used for farming produce, and the salt is utilised as a building material for construction, creating a « closed ecosystem » with no waste. The remaining brine goes to salt pans to be turned into salt. Another part of the seawater goes to the algae farming area where starch is grown. The starch and salt form the building material.
Recent experimentation with Salt Pup prototypes confirms that the salt-based building material has around the same strength as other common vernacular building materials such as 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 material is very white, a feature very handy in desert environments as it will reflect the sunlight as much as possible. It is also translucent when it’s cast or 3D printed in thin panels, leading to very interesting architectural possibilities.