The global sand shortage: study of the role of glass in contemporary New Zealand residential architecture

  • YEAR
    Hayes, Lauren
    Petrović, Dr Emina Kristina
    2020 Conference Papers
    Acoustics, Daylighting/Lighting, Natural Ventilation, Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality
    Conference Papers


Sand and aggregate are the world’s second-most extracted resource behind only water and more than 75% of dredged-up sand is used in construction as the key component of glass and concrete, often causing major damage to ecosystems and coastlines. Sand extraction is rapidly increasing worldwide, while the recognition that worldwide supplies are finite is still limited. Sustainable natural resource use has been acknowledged by the United Nations as a pivotal factor to improving economic prosperity and human wellbeing globally. Meanwhile, New Zealand architecture is increasingly reliant on glass as a key conveyor of the landscape, freedom and command of space. This presents a major contradiction between sustainable natural resource use and themes in idealised residential architecture. This paper hypothesises that the construction industry must find alternatives to glass as a heroed material in architecture. It will investigate opportunities of designing with less glass through residential design, analysing existing buildings’ sand usage and determining limitations for a framework for designing with less glass. The paper aims to raise awareness of the discrepancies between sustainable resource use and current themes in New Zealand architecture. The acknowledgement of these issues must be accelerated in the architecture community in order to prepare for the imminent crises of the sand shortage and its architectural implications.

Keywords: Glass; sand shortage; sustainable construction; New Zealand housing.


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