Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

March 16, 2017 by  
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These stunning nature-inspired sculptures are so beautiful you might not notice at first glance what they’re carved from—old farm equipment. Self-taught artist Dan Rawlings recycles these discarded tools into canvases and sculptures . By giving these forgotten tools new life, he hopes to remind others to appreciate the value of our existing possessions and the environment rather than succumb to the never-ending excesses of commercialism. Based in Gloucestershire, UK, Rawlings is drawn to the fun challenge of working with old found objects that still have sentimental value even if they’re damaged beyond use. Using a variety of tools including a handheld plasma torch, welders , and scalpels, the artist reshapes and carves intricate nature-inspired scenes. He writes: “I try to create images that remind people of the moments when everything seems possible and free; times when climbing a tree, or sitting admiring the way its branches twist and curl means nothing, but means everything.” Related: Artist Nikki Ella Whitlock recycles wine bottle fragments into ethereal mosaics Although Rawlings works with many different materials, he’s most well known for metal carvings . His manipulation of metals can be seen in his reworking of old saws to the walls of vans. + Dan Rawlings

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Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

March 16, 2017 by  
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What exactly is biomimicry ? I think of it as a way of unlocking a whole world of super-powers for humanity. It is literally the next stage of human evolution. Leonardo DaVinci himself said, “Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” Maybe we’ve been studying the wrong master, trying to make a living on this planet in ways that will ultimately deplete us all. That’s certainly the case with humans and honeybees . Yes, humans love honey, and the busy hum of bees in the garden is a sound that gives us peace on a warm day. But we have much more to learn from them. Find out the lessons they have to teach in today’s entry of The Biomimicry Manual ! Great designers know that people feel good when they are surrounded by plants and other living things. Gardens are good for the soul. That’s ‘biophilia.’ Nature makes us happy. We love using ‘organic’ raw materials, like honey and beeswax, because they are useful and renewable, pleasing and non-toxic. They won’t sit in a landfill for the next thousand years like yesterday’s plastic. The Earth will recycle them. That’s ‘bio-utilization,’ using nature because it’s just good stuff. Our herds of goats and sheep, the crop varieties we’ve grown and selected for millennia because they taste the way we want, and even the family dog are ‘bio-assistants.’ They help us make and do the things we need. Honeybees, for instance, are not ‘wild animals,’ but domestic helpers. We have shaped their evolution to suit ourselves. Biomimicry is a little different. It only “uses” life’s ideas. It’s when you have a problem, and you ask, “how other living creatures solving it?” Instead of harvesting that creature or its by-products, you copy the idea itself and make it anew, make it human. Every plant and animal , fungus, and bacteria has a whole genome worth of time-tested, sustainable ideas to inspire us. That’s a lot of superpowers. Myself, I like bioinspiration of all kinds. John Todd ‘s ‘ Living Machines ‘, for instance, do a little of everything: biophilia, bio-utilization, bio-assistance, and biomimicry. He uses a pleasing array of living plants and bacteria (both domestic and wild) to imitate the way a natural wetland ecosystems works, filtering and treating sewage in the process. Believe it or not, a bee has to eat eight pounds of honey to make a single pound of wax to safely store her honey and larvae in. It’s an expensive proposition, and it has to be done efficiently. The ancient Greeks understood that modular hexagonal honeycomb makes the most storage possible with the least amount of material. Architects and designers are tapping this for all sorts of applications. Panelite , in New York, offers hexagonal ClearShade insulating glass. It passively regulates heat, while still letting in lots of light. The Sinosteel skyscraper in Tianjin, China uses honeycomb windows the same way. Our honeybee has other brilliant design ideas as well. For instance, her 300 degree field of vision literally gives her eyes in the back of her head. Nissan Motors is working on a laser range finder inspired by these curved, compound eyes, which will detect and avert potential collisions. German researchers are designing a honeybee-inspired wide-angle lens for aerial drones, while other researchers are using their navigation tricks to optimize GPS and tracking systems. We know that it’s physically impossible for bumblebees to fly. And yet they do, with incredible efficiency and maneuverability. So what are we missing? We aren’t completely sure, but one thing they have is the ability to zip and unzip their two-part wings for flight and landing. What if our airplanes could do that? Wouldn’t that save space on aircraft carriers and in busy airports? And when we say something is “the bees’ knees,” it’s even better than we thought. Insect joints contain ‘resilin,’ a springy protein. Turns out to be the most efficient elastic known, dramatically better than natural or synthetic rubber. With it, bees can flap their wings a thousand times a minute, and fleas can jump one hundred times their body length. An Australian government research group has mimicked this “near-perfect” rubber, creating 98% bounce back. That’s practically a perpetual-motion machine! These examples are taken from Jay Harman’s new book, The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and how Nature is Inspiring Innovation . There are so many good ideas in nature, it boggles the mind, And that’s just the bees! There is literally an infinite world of time-tested, sustainable ideas to learn from. And if we get “buzz-y” studying them, we can unlock a whole new set of super-powers to take us into the future. + The Biomimicry Manual  An evolutionary biologist, writer, sustainability expert, and passionate biomimicry professional in the  Biomimicry 3.8 BPro certification program , Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker blogs at  BioInspired Ink  and serves as Content Developer for the  California Association of Museums ‘ Green Museums Initiative. She is working on a book about organizational transformation inspired by nature.

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The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

"City of Dreams" pavilion on NY’s Governors Island will be made from 300,000 recycled cans

March 14, 2017 by  
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Every summer, Figment NYC selects a team to design and erect a temporary “City of Dreams” pavilion for its annual arts festival on Governors Island , a 172-acre plot of land in New York Harbor, just below Manhattan’s southernmost tip. Co-hosted by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Structural Engineers Association of New York , the competition is as much a meditation on the future of New York City as it is a call for novel and sustainability-oriented approaches to design. This year’s winning entry, dubbed “Cast & Place,” rehabilitates waste from eyesore to resource. The brainchild of Team Aesop, a group that consists of Josh Draper from PrePost / RPI-CASE , Lisa Ramsburg and Powell Draper from Schlaich Bergermann Partner , Edward M. Segal from Hofstra University , and Max Dowd from Cooper Union , the trellised structure will deploy roughly 300,000 community-sourced aluminum cans, though not in a way most of us would expect. A defining characteristic of the pavilion is its filigree-like pattern, which Team Aesop plans to create by making clay casts that they’ll allow to dry—and crack—inside a furnace. The cans will then be melted down and drizzled into the channels, creating rivulets of molten aluminum that turn solid as they cool. The designers originally wanted to use soil dredged from the East River, but scheduling difficulties forced them to look elsewhere. Team Aesop now has its eye on excavated earth from a construction site in Flushing, Queens, which it will frame with reclaimed wood from Big Reuse , an organization that turns demolition debris into building materials. Light but strong, the resulting pieces can be assembled into structures for both shelter and play. Flanking the standing structure will be “rain-soaked reflecting pools of dredge” that wear away to reveal the pavilion’s framework. They’re meant to foment contemplation, inducing “meditations on time, materiality, and the sources of our city,” Draper and company said. But Team Aesop can’t pay for everything alone. To raise funds, the designers have launched a Kickstarter campaign , with rewards that range from a pop-up postcard model of the pavilion to one of the 36 panels they eventually hope to make. Donors to the project can pride themselves as forward thinkers. Not only will they be helping shepherd a new fabrication method, but they’ll also be “enabling a conversation about the future,” Team Aesop said. “In a time of climate crisis, we need to rethink how we use energy and resources,” the designers added. “We asked ourselves: What if we used waste to make this pavilion? How could we find value in the valueless? Join our journey and become part of the conversation.” + Cast & Place: City of Dreams Pavilion on Kickstarter Photos by Schlaich Bergermann Partner/PrePost/Edward M. Segal/Max Dowd

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"City of Dreams" pavilion on NY’s Governors Island will be made from 300,000 recycled cans

If all paper cannot be made from 100% recycled fiber, what should we use?

March 14, 2017 by  
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Recycling paper was one of the earliest and most important actions individuals and companies took to treat our natural world more gently.But despite great advances in paper recycling, we don’t have enough recycled paper fiber to go around.So, if we cannot make every new product from recycled paper, which products should be made from recycled and which should use sustainably grown new fiber?A new tool is being developed to help answer that question. But first, let’s explain why we need it in the first place.

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If all paper cannot be made from 100% recycled fiber, what should we use?

5 Excuses People Make for Not Recycling (and Why They’re Wrong)

March 9, 2017 by  
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Recycling is one of the most beneficial habits for preserving our environment’s health and creating a more sustainable culture. The average American produces about 7.5 pounds of garbage every day; without recycling, that garbage goes into landfills…

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5 Excuses People Make for Not Recycling (and Why They’re Wrong)

Piecing together the shattered economics of glass recycling

March 7, 2017 by  
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Municipal recyclers say there is no demand for recycled glass. Glass processing companies say they can’t get enough.

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Piecing together the shattered economics of glass recycling

Zero-carbon home generates income by making more energy than it needs

March 6, 2017 by  
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The home of the future could slash your utility bills and generate enough money to help pay the mortgage. UK firm Koru Architects designed and built one such house, named the Lloyd House, that’s effectively zero-carbon and runs entirely on renewable energy. Tucked away on a quiet street in England’s East Sussex, this contemporary home generates more energy than it consumes and even brings in a net income of £2650 per year from solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and a wood-chip biomass boiler. Completed in 2011 as a case study, the Lloyd House is a large and contemporary three-bedroom home that only consumes around half the energy of a typical UK household thanks to its use of passive solar design, energy efficient appliances, effective insulation, and high airtightness. The home was built with mostly natural materials including sustainably sourced timber for the cladding and flooring, zinc roofing, hemp and wood-fiber insulation, recycled glass in the kitchen countertops, and lime-based natural plants. Sedum plants carpet the roof to add an additional layer of insulation and provide habitat to local insects and birds. A 4,700-liter Freewater UK Elite rainwater harvesting system collects rainwater for reuse in irrigation, the washing machine, and the dual-flush toilets. The Lloyd House produces all the hot water it needs for domestic use and for the underfloor heating with a 6-kilowatt solar thermal system and a 10.5-kilowatt wood-pellet boiler. A twelve 340-kilowatt peak solar array provides around 3800 kilowatt-hour of electricity annually, which is more than it uses thanks to its energy-efficient measures. Excess energy is exported to the grid and, with the help of renewable heat incentive and feed-in-tariff schemes, the home brings in a net annual income of £2650 ($3,300 USD) after bills are subtracted. The house emits 93% less carbon dioxide equivalent than the average UK household. Related: Colorful wind-powered community in Scotland is everything an eco-village should be Constructed with passive solar principles, the airtight home is oriented towards the south with large areas of glazing to take advantage of the sun’s heat and natural lighting to reduce energy demand. High-level skylights also flood the interior with natural light. In addition to the three bedrooms, the home comprises a home office, two bathrooms, living room, utility room, open plan kitchen and dining area, garage, and garden. The spacious and comfortable interior is organized into split-levels to make the most of the sloped site. “The house is expected to last around 80 years, and through its generation of clean energy it is expected to offset 41 tonnes of carbon over its life,” write the architects. “Including the replacement of the renewable energy technologies, it would take 48 years to become entirely carbon-neutral.” The project was awarded the RIBA Download Prize 2011 in the category for sustainability and serves as a source of green inspiration for the community. + Koru Architects

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Timberland transforms recycled plastic bottles into shoes, bags

March 3, 2017 by  
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For its latest collection, Timberland is turning to the bottle—the plastic bottle, that is. The outdoor-wear maker has teamed up with Thread , a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based manufacturer of sustainable fabrics, to transform plastic bottles from the streets and canals of Haiti into a dapper collection of footwear, bags, and T-shirts. The Timberland x Thread collaboration goes “beyond environmental sustainability,” according to Timberland. Not only does the partnership turn an ecological blight into a resource but it also creates social value in the form of cleaner neighborhoods and job opportunities for one of the planet’s poorest nations. “The Timberland x Thread collection is incredible proof that style and sustainability can go hand-in-hand,” Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland, said in a statement. “This collection delivers good with every fiber, not just by recycling plastic bottles that would otherwise end up littering the streets, but also by creating job opportunities and cleaner neighborhoods in Haiti. Related: Take a first look at Timberland’s new boots and bags made out of recycled plastic “Consumers can feel good about pulling on their Timberland x Thread boots or backpack, and know they are making a positive impact in someone else’s life,” she added The Timberland x Thread capsule comprises five styles of men’s shoes and boots, a duffel bag and a backpack, and one T-shirt. All incorporate Thread’s “Ground to Good” fabric, which the certified B Corp. spins in the United States using 50 percent post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate , better known as PET. Thread says that every yard of fabric can be traced throughout the supply chain, from bottle collection to textile creation and delivery to the manufacturer. The “bottle to boot” process employs more than 1,300 bottle collectors, entrepreneurs, and manufacturing employees in Haiti alone. “At Thread, we believe that dignified jobs cure poverty—and our fabric creates those jobs,” said Ian Rosenberger, founder and CEO of Thread. “Our partnership with Timberland marks a seismic shift in the fashion industry, combining Timberland’s large supply chain and loyal customer base with Thread’s responsible, transparent approach to creating premium fabrics and vital jobs in the developing world. The Timberland x Thread collection is a major step towards improving the way our clothes are made.” + Timberland + Thread

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Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks

March 3, 2017 by  
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Archi-Union Architects have completed an unusual art exhibition space in Shanghai with the help of robots. Created for the Chi She artist group, the building in the city’s Xuhui district was built with recycled gray-green bricks salvaged from a former building. Designed with both traditional and contemporary elements, the Chi She exhibition space features an unusual protrusion made possible with advanced digital fabrication technology. The 200-square-meter Chi She exhibition space was built to replace a former historic building, the materials of which were salvaged and reused in the new construction. While the zigzagging roof has been raised and reconstructed from timber, the most eye-catching difference between the old and new buildings is the part of the wall above the entrance door that bulges out. The architects used a robotic masonry fabrication technique developed by Fab-Union to create the curved wall, which would have been difficult to precisely achieve with traditional means. Related: WeWork’s new coworking space in Shanghai features salvaged materials from the city’s past “The precise positioning of the integrated equipment of robotic masonry fabrication technique and the construction elaborately to the mortar and bricks by the craftsmen makes this ancient material, brick, be able to meet the requirements in the new era, and realizes the presentation of the design model consummately,” wrote the architects. “The dilapidation of these old bricks coordinated with the stretch display of the curving walls are narrating a connection between people and bricks, machines and construction, design and culture, which will be spread permanently in the shadow of external walls under the setting sun.” + Archi-Union Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Su Shengliang

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Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks

Dazzling art-filled passageway immerses visitors in everything that makes Amsterdam special

March 2, 2017 by  
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The city of Amsterdam just added another attraction to its long list of must-sees. Artists Arno Coenen, Iris Roskam and Hans van Bentem converted an arched passageway into Amsterdam Oersoep, an immersive art project decorated with seemingly innumerable references to the city of Amsterdam, its history, and its future. Glass mosaic, traditional Italian terrazzo, gilded mirrors, and recycled bicycle chandeliers are just a few of the beautiful elements that make up the intricate and enchanting artwork. Commissioned by Bouwinvest , Amsterdam Oersoep was created as part of a redevelopment project called Nowadays that encompasses the passageway and the buildings attached to it on Nieuwendijk and Damrak. Amsterdam Oersoepâ??Oersoep is Dutch for â??primordial soupâ??â??was created in Beurspassage , a passageway between Damrak avenue and the street of Nieuwendijk popularly used among Amsterdam residents and tourists. The renewed Beurspassage was created as a major tourist attraction, beautification project, and to include the worldâ??s longest coffee bar in the world: Liquid Mokum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf89uLLvO5A Related: Nature-filled office takes over a former factory building in Amsterdam-Noord The Amsterdam Oersoep pays homage to the cityâ??s canals with its color scheme and wavy images that give the effect of walking through an underwater tunnel. The ceiling is covered in 450 square meters of glass mosaic embedded with iconic symbols of Amsterdam, from fish and air bubbles that allude to the canals to bicycle gears and a floating Vincent van Gogh ear. The sides of the passageway are lined with bluish-green tiles as well as large gilded and engraved Art Deco-styled mirrors. Handmade stained glass lamps, crafted in thirteen different shapes, hang from the sides. The traditional Italian terrazzo flooring is decorated with icons symbolic of the cityâ??s rich heritage of art and trade. Seven golden chandeliers hung from above are made from recycled bicycle parts like gears, headlamps, and handlebars. Every detail in the Amsterdam Oersoep hints to the stories of Amsterdam, creating a richly layered and beautiful artwork that fully immerses whomever walks through the passage. + Beurspassage Images by Kees Hummel

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