The Felderhof House in Italy is built into the ground and topped with a green roof

April 18, 2019 by  
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In the Eisack Valley of Italy, an old “pair farmstead” structure partly built into the hillside years ago still remains. The new owner decided to turn this classic property into a proper home after living inside it for two years as it was, and chose Pavol Mikolajcak Architekten for the redesign. The partially underground extension is topped by a grassy green roof that serves as an homage to the old design as well as a minimal approach to interacting with the natural environment. A newer building was constructed to connect to the older structure, causing the entire house to extend from east to west, hidden within the mountain. Both buildings are linked using a natural stone staircase, and two long skylights serve as limited visible proof of the underground home. From the southern vantage point, a side of concrete and glass serves as a window, making the outer valley visible from inside. Related: Green-roofed home cantilevers over a remote mountainside in Argentina As would be expected in an underground dwelling, the interior decoration is made up of natural colors. Wooden planks line the walls, and the ceiling is primarily made from the same exposed concrete visible from the green roof . Furnishings also consist of shades of brown, and the home includes a clean-lined, minimalist kitchen. There are views of the Eisack Valley and Dolomites Mountains from both the living and sleeping rooms. Although the home is mostly underground, the architects managed to include high ceilings and open spaces within the home, adding a modern element. Occupants enjoy natural light throughout the house thanks to the large skylights . The architects hoped that this home would forge a connection between the old and new, adding a modern twist to the house while maintaining respect for the original historical property. Using eco-conscious materials  — such as natural stone, exposed concrete, steel and wood — that complement the surrounding mountainous region, the architects created an extraordinary home that has only increased in historic value. + Pavol Mikolajcak Architekten Via ArchDaily Photography by Oskar DaRiz via Pavol Mikolajcak Architekten

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The Felderhof House in Italy is built into the ground and topped with a green roof

Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow

April 18, 2019 by  
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Solar panels have trouble producing renewable energy whenever it snows. With winters expected to increase in severity because of  climate change , generating power in the cold, snowy season will likely become a major issue in years to come. Fortunately, scientists from UCLA just invented a way to produce energy from snow. The researchers call their handy device a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator (snow TENG). It works by generating power via static electricity. As explained by the lead scientist on the project, Richard Kaner, static electricity happens when a material that likes to give up electrons comes into contact with a material that captures them. Snow naturally carries a positive charge and gives electrons away freely, making it the perfect material to generate power. According to UCLA , the snow TENG is made out of silicone, which has a negative charge and actively captures positive electrons. Once the material gains positive electrons, the device gathers those charges and turns them into electricity. “The device can work in remote areas, because it provides its own power and does not need batteries,” Kaner shared. Kaner noted that the device does much more than produce renewable energy . The snow TENG can also calculate snow fall averages and tell you wind speed and direction. Kaner and his team hope to integrate their device into existing solar panels, which would give homeowners the option of producing plentiful energy throughout the year, not just in the warmer seasons. In addition to generating electricity, the device can also be used to track performance in winter sports. The TENG can monitor things like jumping, walking or running and can be easily added to the bottom of shoes given its flexibility. With further development, it is possible that the snow TENG will lead to other athletic monitoring devices that are completely self-powered. It is unclear when Kaner and his team plan to make their device available to the larger public. They produced the prototype using a 3D printer , an electrode and some silicone, making it one of the cheapest renewable energy devices on the market. + UCLA Via Gizmodo Image via Pixabay

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Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow

Boutique Ibiza hotel sports a checkerboard facade to take in cooling breezes

March 27, 2019 by  
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Barcelona-based studio Ribas & Ribas Architects has transformed an old apartment building into Hotel Sir Joan Ibiza , a contemporary and chic boutique hotel designed with sustainability in mind. Located in the heart of the Spanish island of Ibiza, the building has been restyled to include 38 rooms and suites dressed to reflect the island’s nautical elements, from stripped wood yacht floors to porthole-inspired vanity mirrors. Its eye-catching, checkerboard-like facade features openings that take advantage of natural light and ventilation, while greenery can be enjoyed in abundance from ground-level green screens to rooftop gardens. In refurbishing the old apartments into a high-end hotel, Ribas & Ribas Architects wanted to refresh the image of the building with a minimalist white and glazed facade that evokes contemporary Ibizan architecture. Tel Aviv-based Baranowitz + Kronenberg designed the hotel’s interiors with luxurious fittings that pay homage to Ibiza’s yachting heritage and upscale club culture, from the highly polished stainless steel wall panels that emulate sunlit waves to the Carrara marble and wood details found in every bathroom. “For reasons of sustainability , the openings in the façade have been designed in order to achieve ventilation and lighting in accordance with the category of the building they will house,” Ribas & Ribas Architects explained in a project statement. “The exterior spaces of the building have been improved, providing them with abundant vegetation in order to ameliorate the visual from the outside and acoustically isolate the users of the hotel. In the west communication core, a vegetal wall is created, formed by a xtend mesh that connects with the roof, hiding the perimeter of the installations and creating a striking green volume.” Related: Centuries-old stable is converted into a self-sustaining dream home In addition to 38 rooms and suites, the hotel also includes two penthouses with views of Ibiza’s port and Old Town. On the ground floor, guests also enjoy access to a pool , cabanas and two restaurants. + Ribas & Ribas Architects Photography by LLuis Casals via Ribas & Ribas Architects

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Boutique Ibiza hotel sports a checkerboard facade to take in cooling breezes

Kooshoo introduces the first plastic-free, sustainable hair ties

March 27, 2019 by  
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Amid growing concerns of plastic waste around the world, one company has created sustainable hair ties that are better for the environment. Made from organic materials like cotton and rubber, Kooshoo has come up with the world’s first plastic-free hair ties that are completely biodegradable. These hair ties come in a variety of colors and styles and are made with sustainability in mind — from the way the materials are sourced to how the products are manufactured. About the company Jesse and Rachel, a couple based out of Victoria, Canada, founded  Kooshoo . The two, who made a name for themselves as yoga teachers, built the company from the ground up. Their goal was to create a business model with sustainability in mind. They are also hoping to lead the change in the fashion industry when it comes to eliminating plastics in clothing. With its core values being love, honesty and transparency, Kooshoo is well on its way to meeting its sustainability goals. Given that more than 20,000 pounds of hair-related products end up in the trash each day, Kooshoo’s mission is important in preserving the future of our planet. An inside look at Kooshoo hair ties People around the world lose hair ties on a daily basis. Most of these elastics end up in the trash or litter the environment, which is why it is important that Kooshoo hair ties are completely  biodegradable . Related: Saving the environment one hair wash at a time Kooshoo hair ties only contain two ingredients: natural rubber and organic cotton. This includes the thread that is used to keep the ties together. Each and every product is also certified by the GOTS, or better known as the Global Organic Textile Standard. Natural materials According to Kooshoo, all of the materials used in its hair ties are sourced from organic cotton. There are absolutely zero synthetics in the products, and the cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides . Not only is the end result better for the environment, but it is also beneficial to your skin. Each hair tie is manufactured in California, though all of the design work and testing is done in Canada. The materials are sent to local shops in Los Angeles , where workers cut, weave, sew and dye the ties before distributing them around the world. The dying process Kooshoo hand dyes all of its hair ties. The company employs a crew of artisans that are specially trained in dying  textiles , which also means that each product is unique. How fast do the hair ties biodegrade? The rate of degradation depends on how the hair ties are disposed. If the ties are put in a compost pile, then the organic materials — which make up about 75 percent of the product — will start to degrade in less than one year. In fact, microorganisms in the environment will feed on these organics until there is basically nothing left. The other 25 percent of the product is the natural rubber. This material is drawn from trees in a similar way as maple syrup. It does take a bit longer to biodegrade, though organisms will eventually eliminate it in anywhere from three to seven years. Compared to traditional hair ties that contain plastics, this is much more sustainable. Even if you were to lose the hair tie in water, it will still break down completely. According to a recent article published by  Kooshoo , it takes about double the time for its hair ties to completely biodegrade in water. Scientists estimate that these sustainable hair ties take about 14 years to break down in water conditions, but once they biodegrade, they leave absolutely no trace. What other kind of products does it offer? The main selling item for the company is its twist headband. These  organic  head pieces come in a variety of colors and styles and are suitable for men, women and children alike. The company, of course, has an assortment of plastic-free hair ties that come in various color schemes, including black and brown, blonde, rainbow assorted and sea shepherd. These ties are secure enough for the thickest of hair, yet soft enough to remain gentle on the head. Kooshoo also offers a few clothing options, including a versatile shawl for women and children’s pants that grow as the kid grows. Sustainability in mind Kooshoo facilities feature dye houses that are completely powered by solar energy . The organization also packages its hair ties in reusable shipping containers and bags. These practices help curb carbon emissions and lessen the amount of waste that ends up in landfills — and ultimately  oceans — across the globe. Charitable offerings For the people who own and operate Kooshoo, selling hair ties is not only about making money. The business has also donated a portion of its profits, along with some of its products, to  charitable  organizations. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things For instance, the establishment initiated a fitness and wellness plan for people in marginalized communities. More than 1,000 individuals in these communities were given access to meditation courses and yoga classes. + Kooshoo Images via Kooshoo

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Kooshoo introduces the first plastic-free, sustainable hair ties

Old Swedish farm is reborn as a cozy woodland cabin holiday home

March 19, 2019 by  
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Swedish architectural practice Wingårdh Arkitektkontor converted a large old farm in the south of Sweden into a holiday home with a cozy woodland cabin atmosphere. Commissioned by a family who reside in the nearby city of Malmö, the countryside retreat was fashioned as a luxurious escape into nature built predominately with timber and designed to embrace views of the lush forest through floor-to-ceiling glazing. The adaptive reuse project—dubbed Kvarnhuset (The Mill House)—has respected the farm’s traditional gabled forms, while imbuing the interiors with new contemporary flourish. The original farm buildings included a cowshed, stables, hayloft and barn. Wingårdh Arkitektkontor transformed those structures into sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a gym and other additional rooms, while adding a new freestanding wing to the late 19th-century house. The annex consists of a guest bedroom as well as a sauna with a dressing room and bathroom. Since the existing creek onsite was too small for bathing, the architects also built a small bathing pool next to the sauna so that the family can engage in the “Swedish ritual of sauna and bathing.” “The detailing of the annex surpasses all of Wingårdh’s prior work,” the architects explain in their project statement. “The entire building is crafted with the precision of fine cabinetry and the craftsmanship and materials – oak and limestone – infuse the atmosphere with warmth and authenticity. The heavily detailed architecture of the interior is more than a mere background for its contents. By contrast, the simple exterior gives no indication of the care lavished on the inside, particularly the façade towards the courtyard.” Related: Tham & Videgård Arkitekter designs Swedish “vertical village” built from CLT The architects also reference Japan’s traditional teahouse architecture as a major inspiration. However, unlike the straightforward simplicity and austerity of those teahouses, the Mill House offers a more luxurious experience. + Wingårdh Arkitektkontor Images by Åke Eson Lindman

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Old Swedish farm is reborn as a cozy woodland cabin holiday home

Uber transforms 19th-century industrial buildings into hub for futuristic tech

March 6, 2019 by  
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A row of historic industrial buildings long considered at-risk of collapse has been saved thanks to Uber . The Uber Advanced Technologies Group R&D Center, a group that develops experimental and futuristic transit projects including self-driving technologies, is now housed within part of San Francisco’s Pier 70 — the best-preserved 19th century industrial complex west of the Mississippi. A sensitive undertaking, the adaptive reuse project breathed new life into the decrepit structures yet stayed true to the complex’s architectural integrity. With masterplanning efforts spearheaded by San Francisco-based urban studio SITELAB, Pier 70 in the city’s Dogpatch neighborhood has been undergoing a renaissance of change from a former industrial site to a mixed-use development consisting of offices, retail, residences and public space. Drawn by the site’s history with transportation — Bethlehem Shipbuilding was once a Pier 70 tenant — and the spacious interiors, Uber leased out 130,000 square feet within the complex across four continuous buildings (Building 113, 114, 115 and 116), an area approximately equivalent to two city blocks. Damaged from years of neglect and vandalism, the four buildings needed a gut renovation before Uber could move in. In a process the firm described as a “labor of love,” Uber restabilized the structures with steel braces and columns carefully chosen to complement the historic architecture. To retain existing elements and abide by the regulations put forth by the National Register of Historic Places, the project used a “building-within-a-building concept” that allowed for the insertion of mezzanines, stairs, rooms and other free-standing programmed elements without damaging the historic perimeter brick walls. Nods to the building’s history can be seen in the industrial-inspired architectural lighting and minimalist material palette. Related: Uber just gave the world a first look at its air taxi prototype “The project’s contribution to the community and industry is immense in that it revitalizes a crumbling shipyard facility into a vibrant place for work and public gatherings,” Uber shared in a statement. “Precision craftsmanship is required to both refurbish deteriorated existing construction and accommodate new building components into the highly complex and diverse existing structures. The approach retains and repairs salvageable elements . If un-salvageable, the replacement element or material is specified to be historically compatible and environmentally benign.” + Uber Advanced Technologies Group Via Architectural Digest Photography by Billy Hustace Photography via Uber

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A historical 16th-century building in Austria gets a green makeover

March 4, 2019 by  
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When architectural studio Peter Ebner and friends was tapped to design a building with two residential units in Salzburg, Austria , the firm not only had to contend with an abandoned historic property onsite but also the challenge of pushback from the local community. Although the existing 16th-century building had been neglected for years, fear of change to the building’s historic appearance sparked anxiety among the community and drove the architects to take an especially sensitive approach. The resulting renovation and expansion includes two new floors strategically stacked above the historic part of the building to echo the roofline of the medieval Hohensalzburg Fortress. The design also integrates energy-efficient technologies to dramatically reduce the building’s power consumption. Peter Ebner and friends has dubbed the adaptive reuse project “a hidden treasure” after its secluded location and its unusual design, which merges historic and modern architecture. The original building was built in the 16th century under Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Reitenau. Despite being used for a variety of purposes over the years, the building still retains the original Prince-Archbishop’s coat of arms on one of its facades. Romanesque columns from Salzburg Cathedral can also be found on the ground floor. In contrast to the ivory-colored stucco facade of the renovated historic building, the two-story contemporary addition is wrapped in a reflective metal facade that the architects compare to an “iridescent water surface.” With two owners, the residential building features a flexible interior with rooms of various sizes and shapes that can be closed off or combined depending on intended use. “[We] wanted to create a likeness of the historical city, with its alternation of squares and lanes, open and intimate spaces,” said the architects, who were inspired by the urban planning principle of diversity championed in Vincenzo Scamozzi’s treatise ‘The Ideal of Universal Architecture.’ Related: Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape Moreover, the Hidden Treasure Gestüthalle project also boasts a reduced energy footprint. Compared to similar residential buildings in Austria, the building consumes 90 percent less power thanks to green technologies , such as an underground heat pump. + Peter Ebner and friends Via ArchDaily and Elizaveta Klepanova Images by Paul Ott via Peter Ebner and friends

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Architects design gorgeous forest-enveloped home with lounge space on its green roof

March 4, 2019 by  
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Brazilian firm, MF+ Arquitetos have unveiled a beautiful wooden home design with a massive open-air lounge on its sprawling green roof. Located in a lush green forest outside of Madrid, Casa Spain is a 6,400-square-foot family home built to be a refuge in the woods. Designed to seamlessly blend into its forestscape and natural topography, the home’s heart is located on its dual-level green roof, which comes complete with a lounge area and fire pit. Although the gorgeous family abode is tucked into a forest, the home design was inspired by the homeowners’ desire to re-create a bright and airy beach home, but surrounded by greenery instead of ocean views. The result is a spectacular forest refuge that is fully integrated into its surroundings thanks to its contemporary volume and natural building materials. Related: Green-roofed home cantilevers over a remote mountainside in Argentina Using the building site’s natural environment as inspiration, the designers choose to create a organic volume made up of glass, stone, wood and concrete. Made up of two overlapping and perpendicular volumes, the home was strategically orientated to make the most out of the views. Both of the home’s levels make use of the wooden-clad eaves and panels of folding brise soleil to reduce solar heat gain and provide natural ventilation throughout the interior. The bottom level of the home sits on a small hill with an expansive stone platform that wraps around the ground floor. Large floor-to-ceiling glass panels open up to the outdoors and flood the interior with natural light . The upper level of the home is a smaller recessed volume that opens up to the roof of the bottom level, revealing a spectacular green roof that sits up high in eyeline with the dense tree canopy. With a large dining table, lounge area, fire pit and native vegetation, this outdoor terrace space is definitely at the heart of the home’s design. + MF+ Arquitetos Via World Architecture Images via MF+ Arquitetos

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Architects design gorgeous forest-enveloped home with lounge space on its green roof

Oceans are dubbed the ‘ultimate sink’ for plastic waste

March 4, 2019 by  
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Plastic waste has officially reached the deepest levels of the world’s oceans, which are now being dubbed as the ultimate sinks for pollution. Scientists discovered organisms that had ingested microplastics at the bottom of the Mariana trench, which descends over 6,000 meters. The Royal Society Open Science journal published the findings of the study, concluding that all marine environments have now been affected by plastic waste. Many of these microplastics come from substances that do not biodegrade quickly and make their way to the ocean via landfills. Once they reach the ocean, the plastics break down even further and float to the bottom. Related: Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic Scientists are well aware of the impact plastics have on shallow marine environments, where the waste is a choking hazard for seabirds, whales and dolphins. But nobody thought the problem to be as widespread as the study showed. Scientists captured creatures from six different locations deep on the ocean floor. The researchers examined organisms from the Japan trench, Mariana trench , Izu-Bonin trench, Peru-Chile trench and the New Hebrides and Kermadec trenches. Microplastics were discovered in all six locations. Some of the plastics that were ingested included lyocell, ramie, polyvinyl, rayon and polyethylene. The deeper the scientists looked, the more contamination they found. This is largely due to the fact that the waste has nowhere to go once it reaches the bottom of the ocean and cannot be flushed out. “It is intuitive that the ultimate sink for this debris, in whatever size, is the deep sea,” the study concluded. It is unclear how much these microplastics are harming deep sea ecosystems. Scientists believe the waste is more harmful at lower depths, because organisms that thrive in these environments often eat whatever they come across. While scientists continue to do more studies, researchers admitted that it is depressing finding so much plastic waste in a place where humans have such little contact yet are making the biggest impact. Via The Guardian Image via TKremmel

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Oceans are dubbed the ‘ultimate sink’ for plastic waste

BREEAM Excellent-certified office of the future frames Bucharests restored Oromolu Villa

February 26, 2019 by  
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Bucharest-based architecture firm DSBA (Dorin Stefan Birou de Arhitectura) recently completed the Oromolu Office, a futuristic counterpart to its historic neighbor, the recently restored Oromolu Villa. Created as part of the Aviatorilor 8 complex in the heart of Bucharest , the three-story new-build was conceived as the “office of the future” with an eye-catching curvaceous glass curtain wall that helped the project achieve BREEAM Excellent certification. In addition to the triple-laminated facade, the building is equipped with a variety of cutting-edge sustainable technologies, from the implementation of an Advanced Building Management System to the availability of electric car chargers, bike racks and showers on all underground parking levels. The centerpiece and the inspiration behind the Aviatorilor 8 complex is the Oromolu House, a historic landmark built in 1927. The construction of the BREEAM -certified office building was completed alongside the restoration of the historic villa, which had previously suffered from neglect for years. The transformation of the site has restored the landmark building to its former glory. “Oromolu Office is a dialogue between old and new, between heritage and new technologies, a reflection on the glass of the history who yearns to be contemporary,” the architects explain in their project statement. “The innovation factor is defined by the 16m-long canopy and double-ventilated façade with triple-laminated double-curved glass that enhances the quality of the interior space and the flowing green jardinière controls the heat transfer and gives a graceful expression to the whole architectural approach.” Related: Contemporary cabin-like cafe pops up in the heart of Bucharest As a futuristic “smart” building, the Oromolu Office features not only the latest generation HVAC systems, but is also the first building in Romania to use the cutting-edge heating solution that embeds a PE-Xa pipework system in the slurry walls, which also help heat and cool the neighboring historic villa. The energy efficiency and sustainability of the office is further optimized with rainwater collection and recycling, sensor-controlled lights and blinds, low-flow fixtures and the use of recycled construction materials. + DSBA Images by Radu Malasincu and Vlad Patru

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