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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The ancient Greeks were probably the first to make up a list of the Seven Wonders—those marvelous structures that no traveler would want to miss. Through the ages, others added to or subtracted from the list, based on their opinions. Today, however, the following wonderworks are most often referred to as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

· The Pyramids, tombs for the Egyptian pharaohs, are the oldest and best preserved of all the ancient wonders. The three most famous pyramids were built at Giza ('gēzə) about 2600 B.C. The largest of the three, the Great Pyramid, stands about 450 feet (137 m) high. Its base occupies about 13 acres (5 hectares).

· The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built by King Nebuchadnezzar (nebjəkəd'nezə) who ruled Babylonia from 605 to 562 B.C. Babylon, the capital of Babylonia, was located near the city of Baghdad (bæg'dæd) in Iraq. The walls are in ruins today, but accounts describe beautiful gardens of flowers, fruit trees, and fountains. The gardens were laid out on brick terraces about 400 feet (120 m) square and 75 feet (23 m) above the ground.

· The Temple of Artemis (ɑːtɪmɪs) was built about 550 B.C. in the Greek city of Ephesus (efəsəs) on the west coast of what is now Turkey. Artemis was the Greek goddess of hunting. The temple was made entirely of white marble except for its tile-covered wooden roof. It was 377 feet (115 m) in length and 180 feet (55 m) in width. More than one hundred enormous stone columns, in a double row around the building, supported its huge roof.

· The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece, was perhaps the most famous statue of the ancient world. It was made in about 435 B.C. and dedicated to the king of the Greek gods. The statue was made of ivory, 40 feet (12 m) high, and showed Zeus sitting on a huge golden throne set with precious stones.

· A The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (halə'kärnəsəs) was located in what is now southwestern Turkey. It was a huge, white marble tomb for a king named Mausolus (môsô'ləs). Its size and gold decoration made it so famous that large tombs are called mausoleums even today.

· The Colossus of Rhodes was a huge bronzed statue that stood near the harbor of Rhodes, an island in the Aegean (i je' an) Sea. The statue honored the Greek god of the sun, Helios (hēlēäs). It stood about 120 feet (37 m) tail-about as high as our Statue of Liberty.

· The Lighthouse of Alexandria stood on the island of Pharos in the harbor of Alexandria, Egypt. The lighthouse rose from a stone platform in three sections: the bottom was square, the middle eight-sided, and the top circular. Light was provided by a bonfire burning continuously at the top of the tower.

· Except for the pyramids at Giza, none of the ancient wonders is standing today. They were destroyed by humans or nature. We can still play this game of listing wonders though, just as the Greeks did. What do you think the seven wonders of the modern world are?


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Italy's green primary school


Rossiglione's school has been rebuilt from the ground up

The first thing you notice about the new primary school in Rossiglione, northern Italy, is the smell. Despite the fact that it is brand new, there is no eye-stinging stench from chemicals, glues and fresh paint. Instead it has a warm woody odour that is more afternoon walk than building site.

Set deep in the Ligurian hills, about 30 winding minutes from Genoa, Rossiglione is home to a project that the European Union hopes will provide a blueprint for future constructions.

Partly-funded by Brussels, partly by the local council, the sleepy village is home to one of Italy's first environmentally friendly schools.



"It is a project that aims to illustrate how things can be done," explains Luciana Zuaro, an architect working on the project.

"People say that bio-architecture is either something for the rich or for private companies, but we need to get it out into the mainstream, the public sector."

"That way, it is no longer a product of privilege but something that benefits us all," said Ms Zuaro, kicking up a cloud of dust as she heads into the unfinished secondary school that is being built next door.

Despite her ready laugh and wild hair, Ms Zuaro is not an isolated player on the lunatic fringe of her industry.

The issue of environmental, or sustainable, building is moving through the UK construction industry "like a hurricane", according to Ed Badke, director for construction and the built environment at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

"You have a push-pull scenario," he explains. "The push comes from the government saying you have to do this. The pull comes from the consumers becoming more environmentally conscious."


Cheek by jowl

The changing construction landscape also plays its part.

With less land to build on, people are living closer together, increasing the need for better sound proofing, fewer emissions and greener living.

Britain has set out a target of cutting carbon emissions by 60% by 2050, and there is talk of requiring all new buildings to include some form renewable energy, such as solar panels.

"The issue is very much on the agenda," said Gary Clark, a project manager for Hopkins Architects in London.

"There has been a change of mindset as an industry and more architects are taking it seriously. The profession as a whole is fairly keen to push things along."

The total value of new construction projects in 2003 was £49.6bn (71bn euros; $91bn), according to RICS figures.

Sustainable building accounts for a small part of that total at present, but that is expected to increase with time.

"It's something that happens gradually," said RICS's Mr Badke. "But there is a definite trend from suppliers in the industry to respond to sustainability."


Driving force

In Rossiglione, Ms Zuaro is less keen to wait for change, ducking under scaffolding, checking finishes and asking workers for updates.

"What's interesting is the contrast between the building materials and the techniques that rely heavily on the past, but can be used today thanks to technological advances," she says.

Tiles are made from marble that has been ground down and baked hard; wires and circuit boxes are coated to cut emissions; blinds are incorporated into the double glazed doors and windows, and solar panels are used to generate electricity.

Windows are large to let in natural light, and even when they are closed, there is a current of air that helps the building and its inhabitants breathe.

Ms Zuaro is particularly pleased with the school's underfloor heating system.

There are none of the problems associated with maintaining and changing air conditioning filters - and in summer, the hot water is switched for cold, cooling the building.

An added bonus is that the system is fuelled by debris collected from the surrounding woods, cutting heating costs.


Too much?

The main complaint that has been levelled against "green building" is the extra costs that are involved.

Ms Zuaro estimates that the school in Rossiglione will cost between 15% and 20% more than a traditional building.

"If you want to do it on the cheap, then this isn't the method," she admits. "But it is about spending smart, rather than as little as possible.



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