Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Envisioning Labs

What is the name of your solution?

BamBlock Modular Construction System

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

BamBlock is a total building envelope interlocking modular block construction system for adaptable and resilient housing incorporating an expanded supply chain of engineered bamboo or other lignocellulosic feedstock for decarbonization and superior building properties.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Hundreds of millions of families lack access to the finances needed to purchase a home or the skill to design, construct, modify or repair a strong, long-lasting home themselves, let alone one that offers dramatic decarbonization potential and extreme weather resilience. We aim to address this multifaceted problem.

In addition, building construction and operation emissions, and deconstruction waste, are significant drivers of climate change that we wish to address in a solution. 

Climate crisis response housing, both a) more resilient and capable of avoiding damage from extreme weather, and b) affordable yet strong and long-lasting that can be rapidly delivered to communities post homelessness causing events, are problems we also aim to target with our solution. 

What is your solution?

BamBlock is a construction materials and design solution taking advantage of bamboo and other fast growing, rapid CO2 drawdown lignocellulosic materials (e.g. hemp, bagasse) as the engineered construction material for a modular, interlocking block, construction method. We designed a strong, resilient construction system that dramatically reduces and draws down CO2 emissions while being more affordable and easier to construct, modify, repair and move than standard construction techniques. 

Our solution has several interacting parts. We begin focus on part 1, and expand to parts 2 and 3 as we gain traction and market. 

  1. We start with the BamBlock System. The block design means at end-of-life for one building, the blocks can be reused in another building. The blocks support self-construction by low-skilled homeowners, or rapid construction by experienced crews. BamBlocks are made of interlocking ‘boards’ that resist forces and loads, and include a embedded tensile rod tendon design that not only holds walls and roofs together in high winds, but enables panels of our blocks to be laid horizontal and support floor and roof loads. BamBlock thus enables an entire home envelope to be built of the same materials and method, making it easier to construct and more affordable. Cavities in the blocks enable the tendons, as well as plumbing and electrical, to be run through sustainable rigid insulation slotted into the blocks. 

  2. While we start part 1 using engineered bamboo from manufacturers today, where the bamboo primarily comes from China, South East Asia, and South America, this concept achieves greatest impact by increasing the growing of bamboo, and other plants, to many more regions globally. Bamboo grows in most climate zones, on degraded land, without fertilization, in and around urban areas as well as rural lands. Expansion of lignocellulosic plant growth worldwide, feeding building product manufacturing, is what enables the decarbonization potential of these materials. 

  3. Coinciding with expansion of source material at the front end of the supply chain (part 2), and expansion of their use in a widely adopted building construction method at the deployment end of the supply chain (part 1), is the need for expansion of manufacturing in the middle. Scaled and efficient deployment requires distributed manufacturing located close to source material and to markets where product deployment occurs. 

Although stacking blocks are used, problems remain such as lack of strength if simply stacked for a wall, and non-modular construction still required for floors and roofs. BamBlock overcomes these problems by using structural tendons to hold interlocked blocks together in panels that provide the strength for floors and roofs in a similar modular way. Walls require only vertical tendons to hold wall blocks, connected to roof and floor panels, all together. Floor and roof panels run orthogonal tendons through block cavities enabling flat, load carrying capability. Corner, tee, and cross-intersection block variations enable all interior and exterior wall construction.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Climate change-driven housing insecurity affects millions worldwide. According to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, an average of 21.5 million people are displaced from their homes and communities annually due to climate-related crises. Especially vulnerable populations exist in the Global South, with coastal populations considered some of the most at-risk. These countries are consistently underserved as a result of centuries of colonialism and globalization creating inequitable wealth distribution. With climate change-causing events like rising sea levels, storm surges, and droughts, these coastal (and often agriculturally dependent) communities are even more disenfranchised. Because low-income communities often suffer the most and take the longest to recover after climate change-related disasters, BamBlock provides an affordable and modular housing system that can provide housing relief for affected populations. This technology uses a modular building-block design that can be scaled up rapidly to efficiently construct a resilient home or shelter, providing flooring, walls and a roof. This technology is designed to integrate electrical wiring, plumbing, insulation and weather proofing for longer-term housing options as well. Shelter habitation is a foremost consideration during disaster relief to ensure protection from the elements, privacy, sanitation and health. BamBlock supports these needs by establishing sound indoor environmental quality to support communities while they get back on their feet.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Envisioning Labs includes engineers, designers, computer science specialists, and social innovators who have been working together on diverse projects for several years. The company also has a track record of working with local and international partners “on the ground” in our development areas. Hence, we are working with a growing number of mining companies in our Rockburst Technologies initiative, are working with Malaysian partners in our Unburn peat fire suppression technology initiative, and are working with the USA EPA in our PM Shield initiative for low cost indoor air purification against wildfire smoke. The team itself includes diverse backgrounds, with our CEO born in Mexico and retaining many ties in Latin America, and our COO of Asian descent with ties to Hong Kong. 

As a team that has done previous work alongside countries with various socio-economic needs, we recognize the continued and conscious effort required of technology-based international development efforts. Envisioning Labs is built on the idea that diverse collaboration between broad areas of knowledge and expertise is what creates the best solutions. To us, this means building lasting connections with our international partners and engaging in collaboration to create local ownership and accountability for the technology. We do not believe in promoting “saviourism complexes” but rather empowering local knowledge and autonomy within our projects. As an example, our Unburn initiative partners with the Malaysian University UPNM (Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia), where local engineers have helped design a prototype with our resources and support, while working with local fire departments and forestry experts in Borneo to test and create an optimal technology to serve their specific environmental needs. 

We believe BamBlock is more than just a modular construction system. It is a tool that can help communities across the world to build housing that supports their cultural and environmental needs in the face of climate change. We plan to engage with local community champions who can support this and help us understand the specific housing needs of the communities that will be built up with BamBlock. As this project grows, countries with bamboo exports can be engaged to create a sustainable supply chain built on equitable trade practices. With sustainability and collaboration at the heart of what we do, Envisioning Labs is well equipped to deliver this solution to the global populations that need it.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Reduce emissions from multifamily housing during construction, operation, and end-of-life while addressing barriers to local adoption.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Vancouver, BC

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • Canada

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model, but which is not yet serving anyone

Please share details about what makes your solution a Prototype rather than a Concept.

We have prototyped the core principles behind the BamBlock design, including the core interlocking block design and the tensile rod tendon system that strengthens the blocks into panels, and enables panels to be laid flat and support load on their flat surface as floors and roofs. The prototypes used a) softwood as a proxy for the engineered bamboo, suitable from a strength standpoint as softwood is not as strong as engineered bamboo, and b) threaded steel rod as a proxy for engineered bamboo tendons, also suitable for prototyping as engineered bamboo tendons can be made stronger than the mild steel of the threaded rod. In other words, since the prototype worked well with the materials we used it will work better with the desired final materials. For prototyping we built a stack of four blocks with top and bottom end caps, and tightened one tensile rod tendon through the end caps and blocks to successfully test a vertical load of an 84 kg person standing in the middle when the blocks were laid flat, supported only by the end caps. The prototyping so far is enough to validate the ideas and principles we used in the design, yet leaves more extensive prototyping of larger panels, different corner, tee and cross block designs for complete wall systems, and installation of rigid insulation, plumbing and electrical. We will also further develop and test the roof panel to wall panel to floor panel connections to be resilient to high wind loads.

How many people does your solution currently serve?

None, yet. 

Why are you applying to Solve?

Envision Labs seeks to develop innovative solutions to global problems and help promote sustainable development worldwide. Our core operating principle is to coordinate a team to apply cross-disciplinary expertise and diverse experience to global problems and ideate unique solutions from concept through proof-of-concept feasibility to commercial prototype verification. As our projects are driven up the technology readiness level (TRL) ladder and we reach commercial validation from both technology and business perspectives, we spin them off into dedicated companies. Thus, in the early stages, as we develop a technology’s TRL from 1 through 5 to 6, we rely on self-funding, grants, in-kind support, and early adopter support, achieved through collaborations and partnerships to reach the stage where investment can initiate the dedicated spin-off company. We hope the The MIT Solve community can help us connect with finance, cultural and market resources that can help us elevate this concept to higher technical and business readiness levels, and prepare for commercial deployments.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business Model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Oscar Malpica

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Our solution is innovative in the sense that we advance the state-of-the-art in factory manufactured modular block building construction systems, and combine our design advancements with the use of feedstock that comes from the most rapidly growing and thus highest decarbonization potential building materials. This source feedstack material is ideally bamboo, yet other plant material like bagasse and hemp may be more available and suitable in some regions. The feedstock is modified through a manufacturing process into engineered construction materials like block boards, panel end caps, tendons, and more. 

The BamBlock system extends existing wooden modular block building designs, only suitable for use as the walls of a building, to encompass the use of modular tensile rod tendons run through the cavities of the interlocking blocks to tie stacks of interlocked BamBlocks together into panels. These panels can not only form extra strong and resilient walls, but with tendons run through the panels in orthogonal directions, can be laid flat and provide floor and roof structures, supporting load on the panel’s horizontal surfaces. No other stackable, interlocking block system has this capability of providing panels that form walls, floors and roofs, and thus the entire building envelope. 

This design greatly simplifies the construction of an entire home into an assemble-by-numbers exercise using many identical block elements that almost anyone can follow and complete. Software will drive the design and block layout of the end building based on customer requirements, and indicate where and how all the numbered blocks and tendons fit together. No cranes or other heavy equipment are needed to construct a BamBlock building. 

Once we achieve early market traction of the BamBlock building designs and its use of engineered bamboo materials, we plan to expand partnerships to help develop the rest of the supply chain for expanded growing of bamboo and distributed manufacturing of BamBlock product. Thus, along with the advancement of using the same block design to build an entire building envelope, and the plan to support expansion of the material and manufacturing supply chain, we can significantly lower the cost of home construction and displace emission heavy construction methods and materials, and begin to make a significant contribution to CO2 drawdown. Rizome (a bamboo products company) has calculated that converting 12% of global construction to bamboo building materials (from concrete and steel) would annually address 1/3 of global CO2 emissions through a combination of drawdown and emissions avoidance.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

In the next year our goal is to trial the BamBlock System in a vulnerable community using support from a government or NGO agency. We already work with various agencies of the Government of Canada on other projects, and the EPA in the USA on our PM Shield development for low cost indoor air purification against wildfire smoke. Even locally to us in British Columbia, there are vulnerable communities at risk from climate change induced disasters, such as the intense fires and flooding we have experienced in the past several years. In collaboration with the government and/or NGO agencies and nearby communities, we plan to identify a first use case and site where we can support the construction of a BamBlock System building for testing. 

In the next five years our goal is to have enough deployments and validation data that we have the evidence for the case that we can improve the lives of 10s of millions of people in the next 10 years as the supply chain, manufacturing and solution deployments are ramped up to large scale. In addition, we wish to establish the evidence that this scale of supply chain and deployment achieves climate significant CO2 drawdown, ideally at the 100M tonnes/yr level or higher. Advancing hand in hand with the previous goals, within 5 years we want to demonstrate how the solution supports a fair trade construction industry, with the economic growth of communities in the supply and manufacturing of materials in a sustainable business.

In addition, our goal is to have established a working relationship with agencies such as the UN CTCN (the implementation arm of the Technology Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) where the solution is being deployed broadly in developing nations.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Both internal and external indicators will be used to measure project development and ESG progress. To assess technological advancement, TRL achievement will be used as a primary indicator. Other quantitative indicators to further understand internal progress will include the number of customers, customer lifetime value, number of complete units built, number of application opportunities, and calculations for CO2e drawdown potential by using this alternative construction method.

Additionally, Envisioning Labs uses the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to ensure that each company project works towards some facet of sustainability. As BamBlock addresses specific SDGs, using the established targets and indicators of relevant goals will help evaluate external social and environmental progress through the widespread adoption of this technology. Here are the targets and indicators BamBlock will specifically address:

  • Target 1.5: By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.

    • Using Indicator 1.4.1: Assess the reduction of DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) and Deaths associated with disaster management through the use of BamBlock.

    • Using Indicator 1.5.4: Quantify the number of local governments that adopt and implement BamBlock as an option for local disaster risk reduction strategies.

  • Target 9.4: By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.

    • Using Indicator 9.4.1: Improving the home construction industry with reduced CO2 emission per unit of value added.

  • Target 11.1: By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.

    • Using Indicator 11.1: While BamBlock can be used for informal housing situations, it reduces the number of populations living in inadequate housing by providing complete modular units (i.e., walls, roofs, floors).

  • Target 12.2: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.

    • Using indicator 12.2.1: Assess reduced material footprint, material footprint per capita, and material footprint per GDP in BamBlock production countries.

  • Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

    • Using Indicator 13.1.1: Assess the reduction of DALYs and Deaths associated with climate-related hazards and disaster management through the use of BamBlock.

    • Using Indicator 13.1.3: Quantify the number of local governments that adopt and implement BamBlock as an option for local climate disaster risk reduction strategies.

  • Target 17.7: Promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed.

    • Opportunity for the involvement of Global South countries in the supply chain development of this technology using commonly found material (ie. bamboo or other local ligneous material).

What is your theory of change?

BamBlock addresses a global housing crisis, specifically targeting housing insecurity exacerbated by climate change. This modular construction system is designed to serve climate-vulnerable communities, specifically, countries residing in the Global South by providing an opportunity for adaptive and timely responses to climate disasters using low-carbon and low-cost housing systems. 

BamBlock can provide housing support to the world’s most climate-vulnerable communities. The inputs required to bring about this change include daily business activities like product design and production. Beyond that, critical activities would include providing construction software, manuals or on-site training and ensuring distribution to communities in need. We envision distribution through regular models of freight transportation as well as disaster relief supply in emergency situations. 

The measurable effect of this work can be assessed through both quantitative and qualitative indicators. We aim to create an impact by opening market and supply-chain opportunities for low-carbon construction materials. The modular design also reduces the cost of construction, making it an ideal proposition for developing countries and communities in situations such as disaster relief. Scholarly research links the environmental, cost-effective, and time-efficient benefits of prefabrication or modular design. One case study on prefabricated architecture suggested a reduction in construction time of 20% and a reduction in construction waste of 56% (Boafo et al., 2016). Meanwhile, another study in the UK suggested a cost reduction of 22% for modular homes compared to traditional ones (Lim et al., 2022). For smaller, temporary disaster relief housing, the environmental impact, time, and cost associated with construction will be ideally even smaller.

Furthermore, the wider benefits of this technology will support community empowerment after climate disasters using an efficient housing model to get people into safe, affordable, and healthy housing immediately. The long-term goal of this technology is to reduce the number of populations affected by long-term housing insecurity post-climate disasters and to reduce the DALYs and deaths associated with climate-change housing insecurity. There is a significant body of research suggesting that displaced communities and groups from climate disasters experience diminished health and sanitation, which has lasting effects on quality of life (Healthy Housing, 2015). By providing an efficient model for a complete modular home with roofs, floors, and walls, the quality of housing is improved. Meanwhile, the mobile characteristic of this housing model reduces burdens on communities and governments during rebuild periods, eliminating the need for certain zoning, permitting, and inspection requisites of individual building projects. This theory of change will be evaluated using qualitative feedback from users as well as quantitative measurables to ensure the project evolves in an impact-focused way. 


Boafo et al., 2016, Performance of Modular Prefabricated Architecture: Case Study-Based Review and Future Pathways.

Lim et al., 2022, Planning and coordination of modular construction, Automation in Construction,

Health Housing, 2015,

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

This technology was founded by deliberating high-level questions about the inextricable links between the global housing crisis and the climate crisis. Housing insecurity is prevalent across the globe, and climate vulnerable communities are some of the most impacted populations. Meanwhile, the construction and building sector continue to have severe impacts on climate change. Contemporary housing methods suited towards single-family dwellings are unsustainable in this changing world, and a shift towards sustainable and resilient housing is necessary. 

With these ideas we created the BamBlock Modular Construction System. At its core, this is a low technology solution; indeed, that is one of its strengths. It could be implemented anywhere at low cost and with minimal expertise in construction techniques. The innovation is in the design elements that are brought together in the solution, and also the use of engineered bamboo, a relatively new construction material that is undergoing adoption into the construction market. By leveraging bamboo as the core material, we aim to expand construction supply chain opportunities toward materials that can be harvested sustainably with a faster regrowth rate than industrial forestry. We utilize natural technology and plant-based solutions by centering this product on bamboo material. With its biodegradable, water repellent, and impressive tensile strength properties, we aim to leverage a sustainably built technology that can compete with current industrial housing construction practices, while providing environmental benefits such as CO2 drawdown. While other modular building technologies exist on the market, BamBlock is unique by providing an all-in-one construction solution, with the ability to build walls, floors, and roofs using a singular model due to our tensile rod tendon connection system. The BamBlock solution is supported by existing higher technologies, such as 3D design and layout software, and CNC like machining operations in manufacturing. 

This idea was built on pre-existing concepts of sustainable and community based housing. While modern housing trends have shifted towards unsustainable models, sustainable and multi-family housing models have been developed across cultures throughout history. We studied the architectural composition of historical courtyard housing such as Chinese Siheyuans, the structural integrity of traditional bamboo housing seen in parts of Latin America and Asia, and the naturally constructed multi-family living styles of Wigwams and Long Houses built by Indigenous populations from Turtle Island. BamBlock relies on ancestral knowledge systems that have created sustainable ways of co-living, while modernizing these designs to meet the contemporary needs of today’s society. At its core, BamBlock modular construction system is a technology that can be designed uniquely in a way that fits the cultural and environmental housing needs of the population it serves, while being built at grassroots levels by individuals who don’t require prior construction experience, as a way to support climate vulnerable communities.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • Malaysia

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

8 In total: Full time: 3 (Chuck, Oscar, Cliff); Part time: 1 (Steven); Contractor: 4 (Jayden, Lisa, Geoff, Mahmoud)

How long have you been working on your solution?

Our core team have been working on sustainability projects together for 10 years. For this project previous efforts have fed into the formulation of the concept over about 1 year, coming together into the BamBlock design and proposal over the past 4 months.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Envisioning Labs encourages and integrates diversity in all its activities. Envisioning Labs’ three officers include two visible minorities and our CEO was honoured as a finalist in the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur category of the Small Business BC 2018 award. We engage students or early career professionals whenever possible. Envisioning Labs has promoted diverse open groups to take on innovation in Vancouver since 2013. One program of interest included running the Corporate Social Responsibility Innovation Program which assisted internationally trained professional immigrants in getting their first Canadian work experience. Our core values are about welcoming diversity in all its aspects, including diversity of race, culture, gender, skills, experience and opinion. We support, encourage and value the participation of everyone we involve in our work of solving sustainability challenges. 

Literature shows that a broader set of people are drawn to engineering and STEM fields when they feel they can make a positive impact. Research in STEM education has shown that diverse engineering students had above-average participation levels in projects centered on sustainability issues. At Envisioning Labs we see the enthusiasm for tackling sustainability challenges by a wide diversity of people first hand, and strive to offer meaningful avenues for the expression of all our collective creativity and drive into effective sustainability solutions.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Envisioning Labs has evolved into a unique business model. We respond to sustainability and climate change related open innovation challenges with solution concepts we ideate within our extended team. Where we gain support, from grants, open innovation challenge awards, or in some cases government R&D service contracts, we execute projects to elevate the proposed ideas through significant levels of prototyping, bringing them from technology readiness level (TRL) 1 through level 5 to 6, where we can show validation of the solution as a commercially viable solution. At the same time as we are working to elevate the TRL of the technology, we are evaluating and developing the business case. When the technology and the business level reach the point of attracting external investment, we spin-off the project as its own company, to own all the IP and drive the rest of the way to commercialization with a product or service. 

An example of this approach is our spin-off Rockburst Technologies. This started by responding to an open innovation call by the Government of Canada for ideas and technologies that could reduce the energy of crushing and especially grinding (called comminution) by 20% or more, since these processes are so inefficient and use a reported 4% of the world’s electricity. We came up with a unique solution concept, were awarded challenge funding to execute prototyping and testing of our concept, which continued to show promise as we elevated the idea from TRL 1 to 3, at which point we received investment and spun off the company dedicated to drive commercialization of the technology. The company continues to grow, has since elevated the technology through TRL 5 showing the potential for greater than 50% energy savings, and is engaging with a number of governments and mining companies to support and test the technology. We expect similar evolution of several other sustainability technologies we have in our project pipeline, in addition to the BamBlock System we describe here.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Government (B2G)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

For this project, similar to others we have developed, we expect to start with some self-funding to show initial viability of the concept, and then land challenge award or grant funding to develop the idea further. We continue to survey and evaluate funding for early TRL development of our projects from a variety of sources, often succeeding in landing funds, due to the large potential for positive impact our solutions could bring. We also look for and engage with collaboration partners and investors as we develop the technology, and begin evaluation of markets and the business model. In the case of the BamBlock System, we see opportunities to engage with governments and NGOs in early trials, to validate the technology and approach. Eventually, we will look for investment in the spin-off, following up with the growing number of climate focussed funds and private wealth funds targeting sustainability and climate change solutions.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

From 2018 to date, Envisioning Labs and its spin-off subsidiary landed $2.68M in grants, and generated $1.34M in revenue. Grant providers include the Government of Canada, Government of BC, Mitacs and WWF-Malaysia. Revenue was earned through selling service contracts for trials of our technology, and for providing R&D services to the Government of Canada. Our spin-off subsidiary was founded with a venture capital firm’s seed investment of $100K. We plan to apply similar fundraising approaches for the BamBlock System.

In more detail, our previous grant providers consisted of the following:

  • Government of Canada

    • National Research Council of Canada (NRC)

    • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

    • CanExport

    • NRC-Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

    • Transport Canada

  • Government of BC

    • Innovate BC

  • Mitacs

  • WWF-Malaysia

Solution Team

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