Studio Gang transforms coal plant into LEED Silver-targeted student union

April 7, 2021 by  
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Riverfront revitalization and sustainable adaptive reuse combine at the Beloit College Powerhouse, a  Studio Gang -designed student union focused on recreation and wellness. Completed last year, the award-winning Powerhouse project included a complete overhaul of the Blackhawk Generating Station — a collection of historic buildings constructed in the early 20th century along the Rock River — as well as the addition of a new field house. The design pays homage to the architectural heritage of the original structures while introducing modern amenities and energy-efficient technologies, including a radiant panel and slab system that harnesses energy from the Rock River.  Located next to Beloit College’s campus near the city’s downtown area, the 120,000-square-foot Powerhouse houses a fitness center and recreational gym, an eight-lane competition swimming pool, an indoor turf field house and a suspended three-lane, 175-meter running track that loops through all parts of the building and takes in different landscape views. The  student union  also includes a coffee shop, student lounges, club rooms, a conference center, a 164-seat auditorium and a variety of spaces for conversation, collaboration and study. A new pedestrian bridge and publicly accessible elevator connect the hilltop college campus with the Powerhouse and the adjacent riverside paths and parks.  To meet  LEED Silver  standards, the architects installed high-performance insulation into the historic portions of the building and added a radiant panel and slab system that draws energy from river water to power Powerhouse’s heating and cooling. An energy-efficient outdoor-air system ensures the highest air quality and comfort indoors. The new field house is wrapped in a polycarbonate facade that lets diffused light in while providing advanced thermal insulation.  Related: University of Toronto Scarborough learning hub to welcome nature indoors “The design retains architectural features and industrial equipment from the original structures while incorporating new  sustainable  practices and lively gathering spaces that encourage students to mix with each other and the larger Beloit community,” said the architects.  + Studio Gang Images © Tom Harris

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Studio Gang transforms coal plant into LEED Silver-targeted student union

Families turn old police station into sustainable co-housing

January 1, 2021 by  
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Belgian design firm  Polygoon Architectuur  and Jouri De Pelecijn Architect have brought to life the dream of four local families: a sustainable collaborative housing project that maintains sufficient privacy while providing shared functions. Dubbed Living Apart Together, the four-unit co-housing development is located within a former police station in  Antwerp . The adaptive reuse project emphasizes sustainable design by integrating energy-efficient systems, renewable materials and a green roof. Located within cycling distance of the city center, the Living Apart Together project features shared bicycle storage as well as  car-sharing . As a result, the area along the street side that was originally dedicated to paved parking spaces has now been transformed into a front garden with lush greenery for the benefit of both the inhabitants and the surrounding neighborhood.  The architecture studio converted the former Antwerp police station into four equal-sized family units that are segmented with an extra dividing wall that bisects the original middle bay. Since the environmentally friendly design was a construction goal from the very beginning, the architects took care to preserve the building’s internal arrangement as well as the  brickwork  architecture seen on the front facade. Though each dwelling is roughly the same size, each unit features a slightly different structure; the outer units, for example, include an extra extension on the first floor.  Related: Zaha Hadid Architects turn an old fire station into a sparkling port headquarters for Antwerp In addition to reusing existing materials, the architects crafted the co-housing project with a materials palette comprised mainly of renewable resources such as wood and cellulose. The multi-family residence also includes a  green roof  and rainwater harvesting systems, as well as solar water heaters to reduce the property’s environmental footprint. Garage boxes that were located in the original courtyard have also been demolished to create a spacious common garden viewable from the residents’ dining rooms, adding “a breath of fresh air in busy Deurne.” + Polygoon Architectuur Images © Frederik Beyens, Jessy van der Werff and Stijn Bollaert

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Families turn old police station into sustainable co-housing

Hauser & Wirth gallery, where adaptive reuse and art thrive

November 3, 2020 by  
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New York’s West Chelsea neighborhood has a distinct character that residents have worked to preserve over the years. The neighborhood is full of historic buildings and architecture that showcases America’s design past. But West Chelsea has also become a home for innovation, art and culture. The new Hauser & Wirth building in West Chelsea celebrates this culture by preserving the community’s history and allowing art to flourish all in the same space. Selldorf Architects designed the space, which resides in the West Chelsea Arts District. Working in collaboration with Hauser & Wirth, Selldorf Architects has created multiple adaptive reuse projects in New York. The new Hauser & Wirth building has a contemporary facade composed of concrete blocks and zinc panels. The concrete blocks were sustainably sourced and partially made with recycled waste glass and aggregate. Additionally, glazed openings fill the interior spaces with light. Big, open spaces inside provide plenty of room for art installations. Gleaming polished concrete runs throughout the building, and walls of white plaster provide a bright, clean background for bold, imaginative art displays. The ground floor’s 16-foot glass door can be folded and opened up completely, giving the world outside a view of the amazing art within. The second floor has 12-foot glass doors that open up the same way. Another opening, a glazed roof hatch, resides on the fifth floor. This hatch serves two purposes: to bring natural light into the space and to allow large artworks to be lifted by crane into the building. A bar and event space on the second floor hosts artist appearances and public gatherings. Appropriately, the first project displayed in the building was called “Artists for New York.” Artists donated pieces to help raise funds for a group of 16 non-profit visual arts organizations in New York impacted by COVID-19. + Hauser & Wirth Images via Hauser & Wirth

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Old industrial building is now an energy-efficient complex in London

September 21, 2020 by  
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International practice Make Architects has transformed a 1950s industrial building into the Asta House, a mixed-use development comprising commercial offices, luxury and affordable residences, retail spaces and a new pocket park in London’s Fitzrovia. Developed for Derwent London, the adaptive reuse project was sustainably designed to retain as much of the original facade and structure as possible while injecting the building with a new, contemporary aesthetic. Make Architects also reduced the project’s long-term carbon footprint by installing triple glazing, additional insulation, operable windows and solar hot water heating panels to preheat domestic hot water for the entire building. Located on a corner site between Whitfield Street and Chitty Street, the Asta House features 36 design-led residences that include one- to three-bedroom apartments, 10 social apartments and four intermediate apartments. The architects also added two additional stories — carefully stepped back from the facade to preserve the building’s architectural integrity — to house a pair of penthouse apartments. By setting back the penthouses, the architects created space for extensive private decks. The other apartments in the building share a courtyard terrace backing Charlotte Mews, and all residents will have access to Poets Park, a 240-square-meter pocket park with a small cafe. Related: The origami-like monocoque pavilion in London is shaped by its environment The Asta House’s contemporary interiors feature a restrained material and color palette and are flooded with natural light from large windows. Contrast is created with black detailing against white backgrounds and the juxtaposition of rougher tactile elements with smooth surfaces. Built-in furniture helps achieve a streamlined appearance.  “The modern, yet intimate scale and design of this project aims to appeal to those who want a character-rich home in this bohemian area,” said architect Kunwook Kang. “Externally the project is completely respectful of its location, chiming with surrounding colours and massing. Internally our choice of materials was key. We’ve created smooth, consistent interiors that make the most of original features and crafted new ones to provide not only functional, efficient homes, but also spaces that delight.”  + Make Architects Images via Jack Hobhouse and Make Architects

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Washington bans wildlife-killing competitions

September 21, 2020 by  
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On Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to ban the killing of wildlife in contests. This makes Washington the seventh state to ban such contests with the aim to conserve wildlife. Washington now joins California, Vermont, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Mexico in implementing a ban on hunting competitions. The successful vote means that the residents and visitors of Washington cannot kill wildlife for competitions, allowing only a limited number of coyotes and other wild animals to be hunted. Hunting contests have proven detrimental to wildlife populations over the years. Popular hunting events, such as the Washington Predator Coyote Classic and the Lind Gun Club Coyote Hunt, have led to the deaths of thousands of animals. These two events alone led to the killing of 1,427 coyotes between 2013 and 2018. Unfortunately, these events are often celebrated and the winners crowned as heroes. To make matters worse, the ethics of the games also allow the winners to post images and videos on social media with piles of coyote carcasses. Related: New rules allow hunting of Alaskan bear cubs and wolf pups “I’m so grateful the commission has finally banned these cruel, unsportsmanlike competitions,” Sophia Ressler, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity , said. “These wasteful contests don’t reflect the values of most Washington residents or proper, science-based wildlife management.” In many states, similar contests still continue under the justification of population control. But president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) , Kitty Block, says the organization has a mission of stopping such games. “We have made it our mission to end all wildlife killing contests — gruesome events that make a game out of recklessly and indiscriminately killing animals for cash, prizes, and bragging rights,” Block said. “These competitions that feature piles of animal carcasses are not only cruel and unsporting, but they are also at odds with science .” Block argues that population regulation is not the work of humans but a natural process, and that mass culling will not help resolve human-wildlife conflicts. “Wild carnivores like coyotes and foxes regulate their own numbers, and the mass killing of these animals does not prevent conflicts with livestock, people, or pets.” + Center for Biological Diversity Image via U.S. Forest Service

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Washington bans wildlife-killing competitions

Key phase of Everglades restoration project starts in November

September 21, 2020 by  
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Federal and Florida state authorities are working together to complete the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Project, an important part of restoring the Everglades. The state was just awarded a $200 million contract, meaning the last step of this plan, which Congress approved in 2009, will finally begin in November. “Phase 2 of the project will focus on raising and reconstructing the remaining 6.7 miles of the eastern Tamiami Trail with features to further improve water conveyance, roadway safety, and stormwater treatment,” according to an official statement. “Construction on Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in November 2020.” Related: Can Florida save its prized Everglades from climate change destruction? The Tamiami Trail is the 275 miles of U.S. Highway 41 that join Tampa and Miami. Politicians in Tallahassee came up with the idea to link Florida’s west and east coasts with this route in 1915. But in the last 105 years, traffic has increased more than anybody could have foreseen, straining local ecosystems . Before the highway and other human interference, more than 450 billion gallons of water per year easily flowed southward into what is now Everglades National Park. By 2000, that figure was only about 260 billion gallons of water per year, resulting in a deteriorating ecosystem. That year, Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which aimed to “restore, preserve, and protect the south Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.” With a 35-plus-year timeline and a $10.5 billion budget, this was the largest hydrologic restoration project in the country’s history. The restoration project is important for both wildlife and the state’s economy. Routing more freshwater to the Everglades will keep salt water at bay, providing drinking water for humans and animals and helping to restore wetlands for wading birds. A better water flow will also boost recreational activities and agriculture and help maintain real estate values. Everybody from the Florida panther to the alligator to the Midwestern tourist will benefit from this investment in the Everglades ecosystem. “The granting of this award is an exciting milestone in the completion of such a critical project for Everglades restoration,” said Margaret Everson, acting director of the National Park Service, according to CBS Miami . “This step is a wonderful example of how collaboration and coordination with our partners sets the stage for long-term restoration efforts.” + National Park Service Via CBS Miami Image via Pixabay

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Key phase of Everglades restoration project starts in November

A small Swedish town becomes home to urban development experiments

September 18, 2020 by  
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Stockholm-based architecture firm Anders Berensson Architects has unveiled designs for the Tibro Train Tracks , an ongoing urban development project to transform an abandoned track area in the Swedish town of Tibro into an innovative hub for urban planning experiments. Commissioned by the municipality of Tibro with support from the ArkDes Swedish Center for Architecture and Design, the practice-based research project explores the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which calls for sustainable cities and communities. Under the direction of SDG 11, the Tibro research project aims to find new ways of sustainably revitalizing small, rural towns. Located in southern Sweden, the small town of Tibro is best known for its furniture industry and local manufacturing. As a result, the architects opted to highlight the town’s history by taking an inventory of the machines and industrial features that could be adapted into site-specific projects and interventions. Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France The project has created 60 fast photomontages, 16 inventories of local producers, 17 urban projects and proposals and one urban planning proposal for the abandoned train track in the heart of the town. The one-year project comprised three phases. Phase 1 consisted of community meetings that began with 60 fast photomontages to stimulate discussion among locals, who have created over 300 proposals. In Phase 2, the architects visited 16 local companies, schools and associations to figure out what elements in their site-specific projects could be locally produced. For Phase 3, the discussions and inventories were combined to create a “smorgasbord” of 17 proposals, prototypes and projects for the abandoned train track area. The 17 proposals span small and large interventions, from increasing tree coverage by the train tracks to the creation of the Tibro Market Hall. “The site itself as an abandoned yet central site with a small interest to invest and develop fast can be seen as a disadvantage but with a focused strategy over a long time it can be turned into the opposite,” the architects explained. “With more time experiments can be done, tested and evaluated. Small projects, tests and prototypes can be built and removed or kept. Things can grow organically in a focused plan with a resilient strategy.” + Anders Berensson Architects Images via Anders Berensson Architects

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Rihanna’s new Fenty skincare line leads the industry in sustainability

September 18, 2020 by  
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Fans of Rihanna’s trendy cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, have a lot to look forward to with the new addition of her latest enterprise, Fenty Skin. The Fenty Skin line, released in July 2020, boasts a clean, vegan and earth-conscious system that incorporates recycled post-consumer materials and refill systems for products that embrace sustainability in all the right ways. Rihanna spent years frustrated and overwhelmed by the vast number of skincare choices available and even had a few bad experiences with a product that discolored her skin. “Fenty Skin is my vision of the new culture of skincare,” Rihanna said . “I wanted to create amazing products that really work, that are easy to use, and everyone can apply it.” Fast forward to 2020, and the talented singer and entrepreneur has created an approachable and simple skincare system that celebrates the valuable lessons she has learned throughout her own skincare journey. Related: Haeckels delivers zero-waste skincare with Bio Restore Membrane Globally sourced, clean ingredients It’s no secret that Rihanna’s successful career has brought her around the world, from her home country of Barbados to New York, Los Angeles and Paris, and the Fenty Skin ingredients certainly reflect that. Everything is clean, vegan , gluten-free and mineral oil-free, combining global ingredients like vitamin C-rich Barbados Cherry with popular skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide (vitamin B3). The affordable products also feature refreshing, tropical fragrances like coconut and wild desert Kalahari Melon, with synthetic fragrance never exceeding 1% of the total formula. Other thoughtful and unique ingredients include Japanese Raisin, a natural and ancient detoxifying botanical; Australian Lemon Myrtle, a healing flowered plant that reduces oil; and Ginkgo Biloba, a tree used in Chinese healing techniques to clarify skin. “I’ve lived and traveled all over the world and I wanted to make sure that Fenty Skin represented the best-of-the-best when it came to our ingredients,” Rihanna said on the company’s website. “I wanted safe, clean, effective formulas that celebrated and respected what our planet has to offer.” You won’t find any harsh ingredients here, either. Fenty Skin’s formulas are free from parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, formaldehydes, thiazolinones, paraffins and sodium lauryl sulfate, to say the least. Even better, the SPF products don’t use any reef-harming or coral-bleaching oxybenzone or octinoxate, and all products are free from the plastic microbeads that have been shown to harm marine life. It’s inclusive, too, with every Fenty Skin product tested on all skin tones, textures and types. Sustainable packaging Fenty Skin is designed to have less of an impact on the environment by striving to reduce, reuse and recycle at every opportunity. “I wanted the packaging to be beautiful, but also functional with an earth-conscious approach,” Rihanna explained on Fenty Skin’s site. “We eliminated boxes where we could, we have refill systems, and we use recycled materials where possible. Nobody is perfect, but I really believe we can try our best to do right and we’ll keep evolving as we go.” The company makes an effort to eliminate excess packaging , and even those products that require protective paper boxes have recyclable elements. Fenty Skin also utilizes refillable systems so that customers can buy a product once and purchase a refill when they run out without having to throw away the entire container. The system requires less packaging and makes the products less expensive in the long run, a win-win. Where possible, the bottles, tubes and jars incorporate post-consumer materials, and all shipping boxes are fully recyclable. Fenty Skin Start’rs Fenty promotes 2-in-1 products with its three main “Fenty Skin Start’rs,” consisting of the Total Cleans’r Remove-It-All Cleanser ($25), the Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum ($28) and the Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen ($35). The regime starts with a gentle makeup remover-cleanser complete with a creamy lather that removes dirt, oil and makeup without drying, then moves into a toner-serum hybrid to target pores, improve dark spots and fight shine, and finishes with a moisturizer-sunscreen combination for hydration and sun protection. One of the most compelling aspects of Rihanna’s new skincare line is that it doesn’t showboat its sustainability (which is hard to come by nowadays, considering the uptick of greenwashing in the beauty industry). Looking at the products themselves, there’s no gaudy green label or wood-capped packaging to make it appear more eco-friendly. Packaging is minimalist and chic, not unlike the Fenty Beauty products that highlight the superior colors and formulas in simple-yet-stylish containers. Instead, the brand is transparent about its goals to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious behind the scenes. As Rihanna herself puts it, Fenty Skin is a “vision of the new culture of skincare.” This earth-conscious business model is a role model for all companies, no matter the industry. + Fenty Skin Images via Bold PR

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FaulknerBrowns Architects proposes to reinvigorate a Victorian villa

August 25, 2020 by  
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International architectural practice FaulknerBrowns Architects has submitted a proposal to England’s Newcastle City Council for sensitively preserving the Ashfield Towers — a magnificent, Victorian villa — by transforming the grounds into a contemporary residential development. Located in the affluent Gosforth district in Newcastle upon Tyne, FaulknerBrowns’ Ashfield Towers proposal calls for a mix of residential typologies housed within the restored Victorian villa along with a renovated late 19th century coach house and new, contemporary buildings. Originally built as a private residence, Ashfield Towers has been previously adapted into a workplace and most recently as the school building for the Westfield School for Girls. In 2018, Union Property purchased the 1.4 acre site to allow the school to consolidate its estate to its senior site. The Westfield School for Girls bid farewell to Ashfield Towers in the summer of 2019. Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Working closely with the local planning authority as well as conservation , landscape and urban design officers, FaulknerBrowns created a site-sensitive proposal that includes seven apartments within the Victorian villa, a single dwelling inside the renovated, late 19th century coach house and three new homes and three new apartments in the contemporary new buildings. The new construction would feature pre-cast concrete elements and hand-molded bricks to complement the mix of existing honed and chiseled stone, while the new color palette of light blue and peach tones take cues from the conservation area and complement the existing yellow sandstone of the original buildings. “Ashfield Towers has given us a fantastic opportunity to revive a beautiful piece of Gosforth’s heritage, returning the site to its original, residential use,” explained Jane Redmond, associate at FaulknerBrowns. “The rich context of the conservation area continues through to the proposed shared gardens while the new architectural elements are inspired by the language of their Victorian neighbour, but with a restrained form and simple material palette that brings forward a varied mix of elegant new homes.” + FaulknerBrowns Architects Images via FaulknerBrowns Architects

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Testbeds repurposes architectural mockups into community assets in NYC

August 11, 2020 by  
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New York-based New Affiliates has teamed up with architect and historian Samuel Stewart-Halevy to launch Testbeds, an innovative, adaptive reuse initiative to transform architectural mockups from large-scale development projects into community structures such as classrooms, sheds and shade structures. The Testbeds’ pilot project will be located at the Edgemere Coalition Community Garden in Queens where, in collaboration with NYC Parks GreenThumb division, the designers hope to construct a multipurpose adaptive reuse structure in fall 2020. Architectural mockups from large-scale development projects are typically constructed from high-end, resilient materials and commissioned by developers and institutions to simulate various parts of a planned building. Yet after review, those architectural mockups are typically discarded as waste into landfills. New Affiliates, which has a special interest in turning construction waste streams into architectural resources, collaborated with Stewart-Halevy to try and redirect these mockups from New York’s luxury real estate market to historically disinvested communities in the outer boroughs.  Related: PAU unveils carbon-neutral Sunnyside Yard masterplan in NYC In their conceptual proposals, the designers have reimagined mockups into elements for new greenhouses , casitas, tool sheds, cold frames, classrooms and other garden structures. “The process of repurposing mockups requires coordination between a wide range of stakeholders including community garden boards, city agencies including Parks and Sanitation and real estate developers,” the designers explained.  The pilot project, for instance, required coordination with GreenThumb, which provides programming and material support to over 550 gardens in New York City. A mockup from the Tribeca condominium 30 Warren has been donated for the pilot project and consists of four custom concrete panels and an 8-by-5-foot glass window. The existing window will be used to frame a new room for meetings and classrooms placed beneath a large shade structure and next to a greenhouse and tool shed in the Edgemere Coalition Community Garden. The Testbeds team is currently fundraising for its pilot project and looking for partners and collaborators for this and future projects. + New Affiliates Images via New Affiliates

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Testbeds repurposes architectural mockups into community assets in NYC

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