Guallart Architects unveil winning bid for a self-sufficient community in China

August 27, 2020 by  
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Barcelona-based Guallart Architects has won an international competition for its design of a mixed-use, self-sufficient community in China’s Xiong’an New Area. Presented as a model for sustainable urban growth, the project champions local energy production, food production, energy efficiency and material reuse. The tech-forward proposal also takes the needs of a post-COVID-19 era and growing work-from-home trend in account by designing for comfortable telework spaces in all residences. Established in April 2017, China’s Xiong’an New Area was created as a development hub for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei economic triangle. Guallart Architects’ winning proposal for a mixed-use community is part of a scheme to raise the cachet of Xiong’an New Area and provide a post- COVID model that could be implemented in different cities around the world. Related: UNSense to develop a 100-home “real-life testing environment” for the future of housing “We cannot continue designing cities and buildings as if nothing had happened,” Guallart Architects said. “Our proposal stem from the need to provide solutions to the various crises that are taking place in our planet at the same time, in order to create a new urban life based in the circular bioeconomy that will empower cities and communities.” At the heart of the proposal is self-sufficiency ; residents would produce resources locally while staying connected globally. The mixed-use development would consist of four city blocks with buildings constructed with mass timber and passive design solutions. In addition to a mix of residential typologies, the community would include office spaces, recreational areas, retail, a supermarket, a kindergarten, an administrative center, a fire station and other communal facilities. All buildings would be topped with greenhouses to produce food for daily consumption as well as rooftop solar panels. On the ground floor, the architects have included small co-working factories equipped with 3D-printers and rapid prototyping machines for providing everyday items. All apartments would come with telework spaces, 5G networks and large south-facing terraces. + Guallart Architects Images via Guallart Architects

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Guallart Architects unveil winning bid for a self-sufficient community in China

Painting wind turbines may reduce bird collisions and deaths

August 27, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Ecology and Evolution shows that painting one blade on a wind turbine black may reduce bird deaths at wind farms by up to 70%. For a long time, organizations, such as the Royal Society For The Protection of Birds (RSPB), have been championing for more care when it comes to setting up wind power plants to avoid the deaths of birds through collisions. This study could reveal a simple solution. Although wind farms provide one of the cleanest sources of energy , they are tainted by the effects of the turbines on birds. It is common for birds to collide with the turbines and die on the spot. The study now shows that if the blades of turbines are painted black, the rate of accidents could greatly decrease. The study was conducted off the coast of Norway; the location is home to the Smøla plant, where six to nine white-tailed eagles are killed annually. Related: US and Canada in drastic crisis with 3 billion birds lost since 1970 According to Roel May, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research and one of the authors of the study, wind power negatively impacts wild bird populations. “Collision of birds, especially raptors, is one of the main environmental concerns related to wind energy development,” May said. The main purpose of the study was to find out if there are any mitigating measures that could reduce the collisions. The researchers found that if one of the main rotor blades is painted black, it reduces the motion smear, making the blades visible to birds when they are in motion. While the findings are promising, the study authors warn that more research still has to be done. The new study provides a platform for more studies to explore the possibility of reducing bird deaths at renewable energy plants. “Although we found a significant drop in bird collision rates, its efficacy may well be site- and species-specific,” May explained. “At the moment there exists interest to carry out tests in the Netherlands and in South Africa.” Further studies will need to be carried out in diverse locations to determine the viability of such a move in different areas and on specific bird species. Members of RSPB are also championing for establishing wind power farms in safer locations, where there are no large populations of birds. + Ecology and Evolution Via BBC Image via Matthias Böckel

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Norway oil drilling expands to Svalbard

August 27, 2020 by  
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Norway is expanding oil drilling operations farther north into the Arctic. Environmentalists are concerned about the fragile Arctic ecosystem, and campaigners worry relations with Russia will deteriorate as Norway pushes the limits of the Svalbard treaty. The Svalbard archipelago is northwest of Norway, east of Greenland and south of the North Pole. In addition to the 2,667 people who lived in Svalbard as of 2016, polar bears, Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes make their home in the remote and rugged terrain. Svalbard is one of the northernmost inhabited areas of the world. Related: Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan “Irrespective of changes in the environment, the Arctic is a very harsh place,” said Ilan Kelman , a professor at UCL and Agder University in Norway.  “A lot can go wrong, and when something goes wrong … it can cause extensive damage for a long time.” Several environmental groups, including WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Norway , sent an open letter to the Norwegian government pointing out its long track record of ignoring the wisdom of environmentalists to not continue a decades-long northward expansion of oil exploration. “Given that we don’t yet have the technology to clean up spills in an Arctic environment, it really doesn’t make any sense to continue with offshore extraction there,” Kelman said of the Svalbard move. Two of the reasons that this oil expansion is so tricky are the Svalbard treaty and the definition of the “ice edge.” Originally called the Spitsbergen Treaty, eight countries signed it in Paris in 1920 to try to regulate administrative and economic activities in an area that has been compared to the Wild West. Now, 46 countries are involved. The treaty states that Norway governs Svalbard legally and administratively, but that citizens from all treaty signatory nations can access Svalbard for economic activities. No nation, including Norway, is allowed to permanently station its military on the archipelago. Some experts are worried that Norway’s petroleum development in Svalbard will cause tension with other countries, especially Russia. Then there’s the ice edge, that place where open seas meet ice. This area is important because it’s where marine mammals, fish and birds feed on plankton. Because it’s so ecologically sensitive, the ice edge has been a no-fly zone for petroleum activities. But Norway has continually nudged its definition of the ice edge north to accommodate oil extraction. This latest move to open parts of Svalbard to petroleum companies is the farthest push north yet. Via The Guardian , High North News and The Maritime Executive Image via Einar Storsul

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