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The Goldilocks Module — Building Affordable, Carbon-Negative Cities







Structural Engineering & Sustainability: Thornton Tomasetti


12 Units



In 2021 Vishaan Chakrabarti gave a TED Talk entitled “A Vision of Sustainable Housing for all of Humanity,” at TED’s “Countdown Summit” in Edinburgh, Scotland.   Central to the talk was building we call “The Goldilocks Module,” a low-rise, high-density, net-zero housing prototype.

At the scale of individual buildings, we know how to build carbon negative single-family homes with existing technologies, but such homes are far from being a panacea, not only because they are very expensive to make carbon negative, but also because single-family homes encourage car-dependent sprawl which leads to a loss of wetlands, farming, forests, and community. You may think that tall towers are a better way to house the world’s growing population, but the reality is we are far from developing carbon negative skyscrapers because we don’t have the technology. Towers demand tremendous amounts of energy to build and operate. They also have very little roof area to effectively utilize solar panels, similarly, wind turbines on towers barely make a dent. How can we build carbon negative urban housing globally with the technology we have today that is also broadly affordable? The answer is hiding in plain sight, a “Goldilocks” strategy that rests between the scale of houses and towers, a scale at which we built many of our cities in the past.

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