Eco-friendly housing redefines Tanzanian urban architecture

October 7, 2021 by  
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The Teachers Housing for the International School of Tanganyika is a contemporary residential project by Architectural Pioneering Consultants (APC) that incorporates site-specific solutions to adapt to the vibrant tropical surroundings. Located in the rapidly growing coastal city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania , the 12-unit apartment block serves as a model for sustainable urban architecture in the region. Often, sustainability efforts in Africa focus on rural regions, despite the rapid expansion of urban areas. This results in unsustainable infrastructure that permeates growing cities. Taking this into consideration, the architects explored ecological solutions to satisfy the needs of the residents. Related: These bioclimatic student dorms use low-cost, sustainable materials The apartment block is seamlessly embedded in the site and oriented to interact with on-site foliage and maximize views of the Indian Ocean . Lush vegetation, including the flourishing fig and tamarind trees, were fully preserved during construction and shade the spaces surrounding the project. Successful eco-friendly designs for the tropics require innovative approaches to mitigate climatic factors. For this housing project, varied ceiling heights create air volumes within the interior spaces, and the façade is redefined to encase the building in a spatial membrane. Both design strategies help regulate thermal comfort by eliminating heat through reduced air temperatures , maximized airflow and dehumidified spaces, all without sacrificing aesthetics. Locally sourced materials are meticulously selected to enhance the design and create comfortable spaces. The free-standing concrete structure and elegant teakwood brise soleil allow the project to float above the ground wrapped in an intricate, patterned skin. Lightweight material choices for walls, including in-situ built structural insulated panels (SIPs) and prefabricated magnesium-oxide fiberboard, prevent heat gain by minimizing thermal mass. Besides catering to the thermal characteristics of the equatorial site, the design team incorporated water management systems to optimize abundant resources. Catchment systems harvest stormwater during the rainy season, while greywater is treated using a biogas digester plant to make it potable. By integrating various site-specific strategies with sophisticated architectural details, the architects create a distinct East African tropical modernist aesthetic that bridges local craftsmanship with international contemporary design. + APC Architectural Pioneering Consultants Images courtesy of Markus Lanz/PK Odessa and APC

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Eco-friendly housing redefines Tanzanian urban architecture

Clean solar light right in your pocket

October 4, 2021 by  
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Namene Solar are the makers behind Occa, a portable solar light and headlamp, striving to put a clean source of light in everyone’s hands. That’s why when you buy one of these lamps, the company will donate one of them to families who live off the grid and have to rely on kerosene lamps. This is a much cleaner, safer and more environmentally-friendly source of light. Occa’s solar light has an inbuilt solar panel, yet it is lightweight and small enough to fit in a pocket. There’s a USB-C backup and a detachable stand. The light is both splash-proof and shock-resistant with a warm light and cool light setting. It’s UV-resistant, fire-retardant and very easy to use and operate. Related: Sunne passively and stylishly collects sunlight for use after dark Solar lights don’t produce carbon emissions and they don’t need batteries to run. Their light is clean and renewable. After all, it’s the same source of energy that plants have been using for hundreds of millions of years. Occa provides up to 15 hours of light, creating no emissions the entire time it’s lit up. Give it six hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the light. The light will charge completely in three hours via USB-C. The solar power of the sun is harnessed through the panel that is built right into the design . The light has three brightness settings: 10 lumens, 30 lumens and 50 lumens and is three times brighter than kerosene . Additionally, the compact, lightweight design of the Occa allows this light to be hung, worn or carried. It’s portable and easy to take anywhere. The families that receive donated lights for every purchased light are living in South Africa and Kenya. + Namene Solar Images via Namene Solar

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Honeybee swarm kills 63 African penguins

September 24, 2021 by  
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Sixty-three endangered African  penguins  were the victims of a tragic attack last week. The culprits: a swarm of Cape honeybees. African penguins who live on the islands and along the coast of Namibia and  South Africa  have already been the casualties of hunting, fishing, mining, oil and gas drilling and climate change. But this was the first time they faced massacre by bee. And it happened inside what’s supposed to be their safe space, the Boulders Penguin Colony in Simon’s Town, South Africa. Related: About 90% of world’s largest king penguin colony has mysteriously disappeared At first, investigators blamed predators. Then they noticed the stings around the birds’ eyes. The skin around penguins’ eyes is especially thin, thanks to pink sweat glands located there. One of the fallen penguins sustained 27 stings. “Seeing the number of stings in individual  birds , it would have probably been deadly for any animal of that size,” Katta Ludynia of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) told the BBC. The bees also stung the penguins’ flippers — another vulnerable, non-feathered body part. Why the bees attacked is still a mystery. “The bees don’t sting unless provoked ? we are working on the assumption that a nest or hive in the area was disturbed and caused a mass of bees to flee the nest, swarm and became aggressive,” said Alison Kock, a marine biologist with South Africa’s  national parks  agency. “Unfortunately the bees encountered a group of penguins on their flight path.” The time of death was between last Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The deceased penguins were sent to SANCCOB for post-mortems and toxicology testing. Other than the stings, the penguins had no visible external injuries.  Honeybees  die after they sting. Investigators found dead bees at the scene of the crime. The penguins seem to have been a target of the hive mind. “Once a honeybee has stung something, it leaves a pheromone behind so that the target is easily located by other honeybees defending the nest,” said Jenny Cullinan of the African Wild Bee Institute, as reported by the BBC. The institute is asking nearby residents to no longer have beehives in their gardens. Via BBC , HuffPost

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Honeybee swarm kills 63 African penguins

Cottage Rock tiny home nurtures healthy living and nature

August 27, 2021 by  
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The project began with a client brief by rock-climber enthusiasts who wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in favor of a simple, off-grid  tiny home  where they could focus on the health of themselves and their ailing son. With this goal in mind, the clients brought in architect Nadine Engelbrecht to overcome the obvious site challenges and deliver their new home, called Cottage Rock.  Located in Pretoria’s Tierpoort in South Africa , the building lot had little to offer as far as accessibility. The only way to access the site was on foot, and even that required dedication. The site was wedged between usable farmlands and had no agricultural value. So the first several months involved excavating a rustic road into the building site, which put limitations on the supplies and how they were delivered. Related: Viewfinder House combines great views with energy efficiency A press release from the architect said, “Due to the steep and winding road only 3m3 concrete trucks and maximum 8m long trucks could be used to supply materials. Building materials had to be planned accordingly and a 15m length steel H-column had to be cut into three lengths and reassembled.” On the build site, emphasis was placed on preserving and reusing the copious amounts of large sandstone boulders throughout the property. Designers incorporated them throughout the landscaping and into the exterior of the house to use as a climbing wall. For  minimal site impact , the footprint of the house was limited to 86 square meters, yet the home remains cozy with two loft bedrooms and an open living space below.  A tight budget and desire to respect the natural surrounding environment guided the decision to use reclaimed steel windows, raw concrete for floors and walls, and stone . The team also incorporated raw bricks and cement-washed walls. With a primary goal to eliminate chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, all materials were used in unprocessed forms.  Catering to the client’s wish for a home that opened up to the outdoors, Cottage Rock employs retractable doors on both sides of the house to invite  natural light  and ventilation and erase the lines between indoors and outdoors.  Cottage Rock is also completely off-grid. A  rainwater collection  system funnels water into a storage tank beneath the patio. Passive design elements provide natural temperature control and meet the client’s request for extremely low operating costs for the future of the home.  + Nadine Engelbrecht Architecture  Via ArchDaily   Images via Marsel Roothman  

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Cottage Rock tiny home nurtures healthy living and nature

Least developed countries tell rich nations to cut emissions

July 16, 2021 by  
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A coalition of 100 Least Developed Countries (LDC) is raising concerns over the slow rate at which developed countries are implementing their promises to reverse the climate crisis . The LDC group wants richer countries to commit to more concrete climate mitigation measures at the Cop26 Summit later this year. Cop26 will be the most important climate meeting after the Paris Agreement of 2015. Hosted by the U.K. , the meeting is expected to bring world leaders together to discuss key climate matters that could determine the world’s future. Leaders from Cop26’s LDC group are already discussing their concern over developed nations’ lack of commitment to climate action. Related: G7 leaders commit to curb climate change, but fall short on coal Chair of the LDC group for Cop26, Sonam P. Wangdi of Bhutan said: “Despite Covid understandably taking the headlines, climate change has been getting worse over the past year as emissions continue to rise and the lives and livelihoods on the frontline suffer.” Wangdi added, “We vulnerable countries are not asking for much – just that richer countries, who have caused this problem, take responsibility by cutting their emissions and keeping their promise to help those their emissions have harmed.” The LDC group has already published five demands, among them a call for richer governments to strengthen national plans to cut emissions, provide $100 billion per year in “climate finance” to developing countries, and bring the Paris Agreement to full effect. One of the major talking points at Cop26 will be the failure by developed countries to live up to their 2009 promise of providing $100 billion per year in funding to poor countries by 2020. “Developed countries are currently not pulling their weight or keeping their promises on their obligations to provide climate finance. Like any negotiation, you need to have faith that pledges and commitments will be met,” said chair of the Africa group of negotiators Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale of Gabon. Some developed countries, such as the U.K., have even cut their support to poor countries. This week, MPs voted to cut the U.K.’s foreign aid by a third, from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%. LDC leaders say that these actions demonstrate a lack of responsibility. They demand the world’s richest nations be held accountable for the adverse effects of pollution since they are responsible for the majority of emissions worldwide. Via The Guardian Lead image via Topu Saha

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Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding

July 16, 2021 by  
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Considering retiring on the coast one day? Better rethink your plans. A new NASA study explains that a cute-sounding phenomenon called a “ moon wobble” could lead to devastating coastal floods in the next decade. “In the mid-2030s, every U.S. coast will experience rapidly increasing high-tide floods, when a lunar cycle will amplify rising sea levels caused by climate change ,” the report warned. Related: Severe coastal floods could affect 287 million people by 2100 But don’t expect to look up and catch a glimpse of a jumpy moon. The wobble refers to an 18.6-year cycle that sharp-eyed astronomers first noted in 1728. During the cycle, the moon wobbles a little in one direction, then the other. One way means lower tides, the other, higher. As you can imagine, higher tides coupled with rising seas will mean some very wet and ruined  coastal  cities that could put humans at risk. “We’re going to have sort of a double-whammy,” William Sweet,  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA) oceanographer and one of the study’s authors, told The Washington Post. “It means that coastal communities — unless they adapt and fortify — are likely to expect even greater flooding than they might otherwise.” In 2019 alone, NOAA tracked 600  floods  caused by high tides on the Gulf and East Coasts. Once the moon wobbles, this number could shoot up. NASA said some clusters of floods could last over a month. Not only could we have flooding, but also public health disasters like stinking cesspools. The moon is now amping up for the flood-prone half of its cycle. And if the human race survives for another 18.6-year cycle, the next one will be worse, thanks to rising  oceans . In the 2030s, Hawaii and Guam will be in trouble, along with just about every piece of U.S. coastline, except perhaps Alaska. For the study,  researchers  examined 89 coastal locations in U.S. states and territories. They studied astronomical cycles and predicted the likelihood of how the moon will affect tides and flooding up to the year 2080. NASA’s  Sea Level Portal  helps citizens better understand what might be in store. Via HuffPost , AlJazeera Lead image via Pixabay

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Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding

Brand new "mega-carnivore" dinosaur discovered in Africa

October 26, 2017 by  
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Paleontologists have discovered fossil remains of what may have been the largest predator to ever hunt on the African savanna. The fossilized footprints were found in Lesotho, and they belong to a previously unknown “mega-carnivore” dating back to the early Jurassic Period, 200 million years ago. Although its size and demeanor was likely on par with well-known species such as Tyrannosaurus Rex and Allosaurus, the carbon dating of the fossil remains suggests this new dinosaur may have existed far earlier than its “mega-carnivore” comrades. At 22-inches-long and 20-inches-wide, the three-toed footprints are the largest of their kind ever found in Africa . The fossilized theropod (suborder of large, carnivorous dinosaur ) footprints were discovered by an international team of scientists from the University of Manchester, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. The new species, which has been named  Kayentapus ambrokholohali , would have been 10-feet-tall at the hip and 30-feet-long, almost twice the size of the average early Jurassic theropod. “The latest discovery is very exciting and sheds new light on the kind of carnivore that roamed what is now southern Africa ,” said Fabien Knoll, co-author of the study recently published in the journal PLOS ONE . “That’s because it is the first evidence of an extremely large meat-eating animal roaming a landscape otherwise dominated by a variety of herbivorous, omnivorous and much smaller carnivorous dinosaurs. It really would have been top of the food chain.” Related: Scientists discover 52-million-year-old tomatillo fossil The fossilized footprints are surrounded by current-ripple marks and cracks, which indicate that the animal likely died near a watering hole or river bank , where prey is often located. Although later predators such as T Rex were larger than Kayentapus ambrokholohali, the new theropod’s early existence is notable. “This discovery marks the first occurrence of very large carnivorous dinosaurs in the Early Jurassic of Gondwana – the prehistoric continent which would later break up and become Africa and other landmasses,” said Lara Sciscio, co-author of the study. “This makes it a significant find. Globally, these large tracks are very rare. There is only one other known site similar in age and sized tracks, which is in Poland.” Via New Atlas Images via University of Manchester

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Brand new "mega-carnivore" dinosaur discovered in Africa

Study finds pollution is more deadly than war, natural disasters, and disease

October 23, 2017 by  
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Environmental pollution isn’t just inconvenient, it’s also deadly. Every year, more people are killed by pollutants — from toxic air to contaminated water — than by all war and violence. Pollution is also responsible for more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. This disturbing revelation was revealed in a new study published in the Lancet medical journal. Scientists determined that one out of every six premature deaths (about 9 million in 2015) results from pollution; and while life is more important than money, these deaths cause $4.6 trillion in annual losses or about 6.2 percent of the world’s economy. Epidemiologist Philip Landrigan, lead author and Dean of global health at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, said, “There’s been a lot of study of pollution, but it’s never received the resources or level of attention as, say, AIDS or climate change. ” Landrigan added that pollution is a “massive problem” few truly comprehend, as what they’re witnessing are “scattered bits of it.” This is the first study of its kind to take into account data on all diseases and death caused by pollution combined. According to the study , developing countries — primarily in Asia and Africa — are putting the most people at risk due to a lack of air and soil pollution monitoring systems. In 2015, one out of four (2.5 million) premature deaths in India and one out of five (1.8 million) premature deaths in China were caused by pollution-related illness. “In the West, we got the lead out of the gasoline, so we thought lead was handled. We got rid of the burning rivers, cleaned up the worst of the toxic sites. And then all of those discussions went into the background,” said Richard Fuller, head of the Pure Earth and one of the 47 scientists who contributed to the report. In Bangladesh , Pakistan, North Korea, South Sudan and Haiti, nearly one-fifth of premature deaths are pollution-related. Based on this information, it should not come as a surprise that the poorest suffer most from pollution-related illness. 92 percent of sickness related to environmental toxicity occurs in low- or middle-income countries. Phys reports, “Environmental regulations in those countries tend to be weaker, and industries lean on outdated technologies and dirtier fuels.” Fuller noted that this safety of the public is being compromised for industrial growth, which has negative repercussions. He said, “What people don’t realize is that pollution does damage to economies . People who are sick or dead cannot contribute to the economy. They need to be looked after.” To determine the global impact of pollution , the study’s authors used methods outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for assessing field data from soil tests, in addition to air and water pollution data from the Global Burden of Disease. Though 9 million pollution-related deaths is a “conservative” estimate, it is still 15 times the number of people killed in war or other forms of violence, and six times the number killed in road accidents . Ernesto Sanchez-Triana, the lead environmental specialist at the World Bank, said, “The relationship between pollution and poverty is very clear. And controlling pollution would help us address many other problems, from climate change to malnutrition . The linkages can’t be ignored.” + Lancet Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Kenyas Bird Nest is a breathtaking safari suite in the African wilderness

October 16, 2017 by  
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If we ever won the lottery, this breathtaking Bird Nest in Kenya is where we’d like to spend the night. The award-winning Segera Retreat and NAY PALAD just unveiled a breathtaking luxury escape that lets lucky guests sleep beneath the stars in one of Africa’s most iconic safari locations. Designed by architect Daniel Pouzet near a river full of wildlife, this unique suite above the treetops is surrounded by pristine nature and 360-degree panoramic views of the Laikipia plains. Perched above the tree canopy, the Bird Nest blends into the landscape with its timber frame woven together with locally sourced raw materials. Individual tree branches make up the crowning bird’s nest structure, where guests can lay out beneath the stars. The interior suite, wrapped with glazing and wooden louvers , is a cozy den richly layered with bespoke furnishings and textiles. The fully equipped bathroom includes running water heated by solar and a flushing toilet. The luxury suite sleeps two, but can also accommodate a small family. Related: 7 eco-friendly and conservation-minded safari lodges across Africa The Bird Nest experience begins just before sunset when guests are whisked away on a tour of the area then greeted at their suite with champagne, culinary delights, and beds prepared with luxurious linens with mood lighting set by lanterns. Adventurous guests have the option of dining on the top open-air deck with views of the sunset and sleeping beneath the stars. “To wake up to the magical sound of wildlife and birds, surrounded by pristine nature as far as the eye can see, is a life-changing experience; this is a place of true, untouched wonderment,” said Jens Kozany, the General Manager of Segera. Unsurprisingly, this one-of-a-kind stay at the Bird Nest doesn’t come cheap—the cost of the Bird Nest Experience starts at $1,150 USD per night. + Bird Nest Images by Jimmy Nelson

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Kenyas Bird Nest is a breathtaking safari suite in the African wilderness

70-mile wide group of butterflies shows up on radar, confuses weather scientists

October 6, 2017 by  
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“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a flock of migrating butterflies!” After spotting a colored mass flitting over Denver and nearby counties, weather scientists at the National Weather Service supposed the phenomenon was just a group of birds. With the help of social media users, however, they later realized that the group of loosely spaced insects with big wings comprised thousands of butterflies. It turns out, there are so many butterflies migrating across central U.S., they showed up on the radar . Look at what's flying into Denver! Radar from last hour showing what we believe to be birds. Any bird experts know what kind? #ornithology pic.twitter.com/EAqzdMwpFU — NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 3, 2017 Weather scientists at the Boulder meteorology office posted the images to social media with the caption, “Look at what’s flying into Denver! Radar from last hour showing what we believe to be birds. Any bird experts know what kind?” After confirming that avians “rarely produce such a coherent radar signature” and taking into account social media users’ answers, the Boulder meteorology office realized they were actually butterflies. Related: 8 Ways that you can help save monarch butterflies “Migrating butterflies in high quantities explains it,” the group posted afterward. The Denverite reports that it is presently migration season for the painted lady butterfly. Orange-and-black in color, the butterflies are making their way from north to south, in time with the changing seasons. According to The Prairie Ecologies , thousands of the painted ladies butterflies travel between the southwest part of the United States/northern Mexico and the central U.S. every year. Because butterflies migrate with the wind, they were able to cover an area about 70-miles-wide. Birds, on the other hand, fly straight toward their destination. This was a big clue in differentiating the mass of flying objects. Said Sarah Garrett, a lepidopterist at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado , people as far away as North and South Dakota have spotted the butterflies , whose populations typically surge when flowers are abundant. Scientists believe the painted lady butterflies migrate to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico in the fall. Using radio tracking , studies have shown they also travel south from Europe to Africa in the fall, and return in the spring. Via Denverite Images via National Weather Service ,  Pixabay

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70-mile wide group of butterflies shows up on radar, confuses weather scientists

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