Cameron Sinclair joins Airbnb to provide housing for 100,000 displaced people

April 25, 2017 by  
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Airbnb wants to provide temporary housing for 100,000 displaced people, and to help reach that goal, the home-sharing service has put together a team lead by designer and Architecture for Humanity co-founder  Cameron Sinclair . Sinclair heads architecture firm Small Works , which focuses on building for communities in need, making him the perfect fit for Airbnb’s temporary housing project. Sinclair has been working with Airbnb over the past year on various pilot projects, with the official project launching this summer. The ultimate goal is for one million Airbnb users to register as “hosts for good,” signaling that they will provide housing for people impacted by natural disasters or otherwise displaced. Related: INTERVIEW: We Talk with Architecture for Humanity Founder Cameron Sinclair Airbnb announced its ambition to host displaced people during this year’s Super Bowl with a commercial tagged #weaccept. In addition to working on the commercial, Sinclair also worked on Airbnb’s Yoshino Cedar House . via Dezeen images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Cameron Sinclair joins Airbnb to provide housing for 100,000 displaced people

Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings

April 25, 2017 by  
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Tesla’s Powerwall has reigned supreme in home energy storage , but now they’ve got some competition from Mercedes-Benz . Last year, Daimler , parent company of Mercedes-Benz, announced that they had started developing their own brand of home energy storage units. Now the company confirmed they are beginning to deliver the units to businesses and homes in Germany . Mercedes incorporated the same lithium-ion battery technology from their hybrid cars in the new home energy storage units. Each unit has an energy content of 2.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh), and a system can be scaled up to include eight modules for a total of 20 kWh. The units come with a 10-year warranty , the same as the Tesla Powerwall , though Powerwalls come with the option to store more energy with a capacity of 13.5 kWh. Related: BMW, Daimler, Ford, and VW are planning an electric vehicle superhighway in Europe Similar to a Powerwall, Mercedes’ battery storage units store excess energy gathered by solar panels for use during peak hours or at night. According to Daimler , homeowners using their system can increase renewable energy use by as much as 65 percent. Daimler aims to expand throughout Europe and start selling the units in the United States this year. Mercedes is already developing three industrial-scale projects to provide reliability to the grid in Germany; one project includes 29 megawatt-hours of storage capacity. Mercedes is also offering a package for homeowners that comes with the battery storage unit, solar panels, an inverter, and an energy management system. The whole package, including installation, costs around $10,000. One 14 kWh Tesla Powerwall costs $5,500 ; with supporting hardware the total estimate is $6,200. Installation costs between $800 and $2,000. That doesn’t include a solar power system. Head of Development Electrics/Electronics and E-Drive for Mercedes-Benz Harald Kröger said in a statement, “We are convinced we can offer our customers an attractive product at a competitive price.” Via Treehugger Images via Mercedes-Benz and Daimler

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Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings

This playful Airbnb treehouse near San Francisco lets you sleep in a 150-year-old oak tree

April 18, 2017 by  
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This amazing treehouse near San Francisco is built around a 150-year-old live oak tree. Linda and Doug Studebaker built the Bay area’s only Airbnb treehouse as a cozy overnight rental in the backyard of their hillside property in Burlingame, California , and furnished it with furniture that gives it an old-fashioned feel. Offering scenic views of the San Francisco Bay, Doug and Linda’s Treehouse is a private refuge nestled among the treetops of a quiet forested canyon, about a twenty-minute drive away from the city. Located 30ft in the air, with a wooden staircase leading up to the main space, the treehouse is not for the faint of heart. Related: Gorgeous Robin’s Nest Treehouse Hotel immerses you in nature Visitors can enjoy the sunset or sunrise with a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay from the wrap-around deck. The interior features a comfy queen size bed, table, and a lower level chaise/reading nook. A private kitchenette and bathroom are located in the lower level of the owners’ log home, just 30 feet from the base of the treehouse. You can rent the house, ideal for two people, for $275 per night. + Doug and Linda’s Treehouse on Airbnb Photos via Airbnb

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This playful Airbnb treehouse near San Francisco lets you sleep in a 150-year-old oak tree

Chinas rival to AirBnB opens new Beijing office with cutting-edge interior design

February 15, 2017 by  
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Airbnb’s biggest rival in China, Xiaozhu , just opened their latest office in Beijing, a diverse and flexible work environment that bears similarities to an Ikea showroom. The office space, called Sliced House, is the work of People’s Architecture Office (PAO) and People’s Industrial Design Office (PIDO), and is largely inspired by the diversity of the home-sharing startup’s online listings. The office’s collection of domestic spaces creates a casual and playful setting that fosters spontaneous interactions. PAO credits Xiaozhu’s need for a flexible work environment to the startup’s rapid growth—the five-year-old startup is valued at over $300 million and could possibly be bought out by AirBnB in the near future. The office is mostly open plan but also includes private meeting rooms, a conference room, and lounge. Most of the workspaces can be rearranged into different configurations, from the jigsaw-like worktables that can break away into individual desks to the conference room that uses room dividers to transform one long conference table to three smaller tables in separate rooms. The fixed meeting rooms are built to look like cozy living rooms and kitchens. Related: Airbnb launches nature-filled Tokyo office that feels like a beautiful cozy home “Sliced House is conceived as a house that has been divided and its parts dispersed throughout an otherwise banal office interior,” write the architects. “Shared interior finishes between split spaces make apparent that adjacent portions refer to a single room. These sliced samples of domesticity include kitchen, living room, and bedroom and double as ad hoc meeting areas. Such spaces reflect Xiaozhu’s rental offerings, providing users with a wide spectrum of settings to choose from.” PIDO custom built the transforming furniture , which include workspaces and a mobile trishaw-like meeting area made from converted tricycles . This wheeled workspaces were inspired by Xiaozhu’s Tricycle House listing and the tricycle’s long history in China. + People’s Architecture Office Via ArchDaily

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WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’

February 15, 2017 by  
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Singapore’s 48 North Canal Road is a dynamic office space designed by the renowned architecture firm, WOHA . Working within local Urban Redevelopment Authority’s guidelines to guard the heritage-protected storefront on one side, the green-loving architects tacked on a vibrant addition to the rear of the building using a contemporary mix of glass, brick and aluminum, and infused the entire program with lush pocket parks . Although the architects had to work within a number of spatial restrictions, they were able to strategically maneuver new open space out of the existing layout. The plan focused on vertically “lifting up” the existing office space in order to maximize flexibility and provide optimal natural light and city views. A curtain wall made of perforated aluminum panels runs the height of the building, serving as an integrated sunscreen to shade the interior atrium space. Related: WOHA’s solar-powered SkyVille in Singapore boasts a deep-green public skypark The building’s design consists of an eye-catching “fractal, triangulated geometry”. Interestingly, this feature was inspired by local city code that requires splayed corners on certain buildings located on corner intersections. Using the requirement to their advantage, the architects carried this theme throughout the design, “chiseling” various disjointed geometric forms and creating little nooks and seating areas along the way. The flat spaces created by this method were converted into green pocket parks throughout the building, including the more spacious rooftop, which was transformed into an outdoor recreational lounge. Visitors and tenants can also enjoy a cafe, break-out areas, and meeting rooms that are all organized around the building’s central green space. + WOHA Via Architonic Photography by Patrick Bingham-Hall

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WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’

Airbnb and Pantone create a hidden nature-filled home in London

February 1, 2017 by  
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Airbnb teamed up with Pantone to create a magical nature-filled wonderland in the heart of the London. Inspired by the Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year called 15-0343 Greenery, the “Outside In” House is a secret indoor garden listed on Airbnb’s home-sharing site for overnight stays. The transformation of a brick Clerkenwell building into a lush greenhouse-like oasis is stunning—keep reading to see how the creative companies let lucky renters spend the night in color. Pantone’s pick for the Color of the Year 2017, called Greenery, is a bright yellow-green shade symbolic of new beginnings that evokes images of budding plants in springtime. The ‘Outside In’ House was created to let people “live the color” starting with its eye-catching door, designed to look like a Pantone Greenery swatch card. The door swings open to reveal a slice of a woodland forest for the reception area, with live ferns, moss , grass, and trees planted beside stepping stones made of tree stumps. “As guests cross the earthy threshold, they will be fully immersed in the outside, in,” says the Airbnb press release. “They will be greeted by the house ‘groundskeeper’ with a fresh and healthy green juice, made locally and color-matched to PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery. As they leave they can rest assured that the house is environmentally green too; all materials will be recycled where possible and spare plants will be donated to community gardens .” In addition to the woodland reception, the two-bedroom Greenery flat included an indoor greenhouse that doubled as a dining room, garden-like bedrooms with real turf as carpets, topiaries, soporific plants, a teepee for children, a hydroponics installation, a rainforest-themed bathroom, and a kitchen with walls filled with live vegetables and herbs available for guests to pick. A soothing soundtrack with nature sounds accompanies the lush, nature-filled environment. The flat accommodated families of up to four people a night. Related: Airbnb invites visitors to experience Finnish cabin life in Paris The temporary Outside-In house welcomed guests for £200 a night from January 27 to January 30, and was also open for free visits during those three days. All proceeds were donated to the American Institute of Graphic Arts . The unique Airbnb home, hosted by Pantone, was located at 4 Dingley Place, Clerkenwell. + Outside-In House

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Airbnb and Pantone create a hidden nature-filled home in London

New research shows the universe may be one giant hologram

February 1, 2017 by  
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It turns out we may all be living in an infinitely large Holo-deck. That’s basically the conclusion a group of researchers reached after analyzing what is thought to be the first-ever observed evidence that the universe could in fact be a gigantic holographic projection . Phys.org reports that a team of theoretical physicists and astrophysicists from the U.K., Canada and Italy made the discovery while researching irregularities in the “cosmic microwave background,” or the “afterglow” of the Big Bang. In the course of that research, which involved using the theory of cosmic inflation, they found substantial evidence to support a holographic explanation of the universe, which actually holds as much weight as the traditional explanations for these irregularities. As Phys.org notes, the idea of a holographic universe first emerged in the 1990s, and involves the theory in which all the information that makes up our 3D reality (including time) is contained in a two-dimensional surface, on its boundaries. Scientists from Canada’s Perimeter Institute and University of Waterloo , the U.K’s University of Southampton and Italy’s University of Salento jointly made this most-recent discovery using advanced telescopes and sensing equipment that can detect data hidden in the microwaves left over from the Big Bang. As Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton, Kostas Skenderis explains: “Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions (and your perception of time) in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field. The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire universe is encoded.” It’s essentially like watching a 3D movie in a theater, when the images appear to have depth, along with width and height, but they are ultimately still coming from a two-dimensional screen. Related: “Largest-ever” new map of universe shows 1.2 million galaxies “Holography is a huge leap forward in the way we think about the structure and creation of the universe.,” adds Skenderis. “Einstein’s theory of general relativity explains almost everything large scale in the universe very well, but starts to unravel when examining its origins and mechanisms at quantum level. Scientists have been working for decades to combine Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum theory. Some believe the concept of a holographic universe has the potential to reconcile the two. I hope our research takes us another step towards this.” Via Phys.org Images via NASA and University of Southampton

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New research shows the universe may be one giant hologram

Produce your own water from thin air with SunGlacier’s solar-powered DC03

February 1, 2017 by  
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If you’re alarmed by reports of dwindling water supplies across the globe, there has never been a better time to take matters into your own hands. SunGlacier founder Ap Verheggen, who has spent the better part of the last decade designing devices that harness the sun’s potential to extract water from thin air, has made his latest design available online – for free. The solar-powered DC03 relies on a Peltier element, explained in greater detail below the jump, to produce a small amount of clean water each day without a battery, without fans or an inverter, and without any moving parts that could easily degrade. The solar-powered DC03 device generates power for an 18W Peltier element. Asked to explain that in layman’s terms, Ap Verheggen told Inhabitat: “A Peltier element is a very small and thin square piece of electronics. If you connect it to electricity, it becomes hot at one side, and cold at the other side. The cold side we use to cool a cone. As the air comes at the cool cone, moisture in the air starts to condensate and produces water drops.” Water drawn from the air then drips, through gravity, into a glass (or whatever vessel each person chooses to use). Because the Peltier element has a temperature difference of 67C maximum between the upper “hot” side and the under “cool” side, according to SunGlacier, the hotter the air, the more water the device produces, bringing the group one step closer to their original ambition of improving water security for people living in desert conditions . Related: A solar-powered leaf that makes ice in the desert At the moment, the device makes about half-a-glass of water every six hours, according to SunGlacier. It is designed to operate during daylight hours only, mitigating the need for a battery. Verheggen says while the DC03 design has been thoroughly tested, it has not been optimized, which is where you come in. In the same spirit as Elon Musk’s approach to the Hyperloop , whereby he encourages anyone to improve upon the original idea, SunGlacier invites the public to take a stab at making their own solar-powered water maker using their design, which is available online . Universities and research institutes from as far afield as Iran, Romania, South-Africa and The Netherlands have already expressed an interest in getting involved, Verheggen says. This collaborative approach is expected to make SunGlacier’s groundbreaking, low-maintenance design accessible to the greatest number of people possible – and that is something we can really get behind. + SunGlacier Photos by Hessel Waalewijn

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Produce your own water from thin air with SunGlacier’s solar-powered DC03

Tesla just unveiled the world’s largest battery storage plant

February 1, 2017 by  
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Tesla just completed construction on what it claims is the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world. The facility is located at in Ontario, California and it consists of 396 Tesla powerpacks that can store 80 megawatt-hours of electricity – that’s enough to power over 2,500 households for a day or 15,000 households for four hours. Tesla nabbed the contract to build the battery storage facility for Southern California Edison in September 2016, and it was completed by the end of that year. The project consists of two 10 megawatt systems – each made of 198 Tesla Powerpacks and 24 inverters – connected to two different circuits at the Mira Loma Substation. Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel said “Storage is quite a new thing…and this is a different breed of battery. This is the tip of the iceberg of how much storage we’ll see on the grid .” Related: Solar homes with Tesla’s Powerwall 2.0 are already cost-competitive with the grid in Australia SCE said the facility would allow them to draw more on clean energies like solar power . When clean energy projects produce more electricity than the utility needs, it can now be stores and utilized during peak hours. The Tesla battery storage facility seems like the perfect answer to our energy issues, but MIT Technology Review points out lithium batteries are still expensive, and no one has said how much the facility cost. It’s also not clear how many cycles the Powerpack batteries can go through before they begin to degrade – MIT estimates 5,000 cycles, which would work well in a home but not as well in a grid setting. At the ribbon-cutting, SCE CEO Kevin Payne said, “This project is part of our vision at SCE to take advantage of the wind and the sun, and operate a flexible grid that delivers clean energy to power our homes, our businesses, and our vehicles. Standing here today among these Tesla Powerpacks is a great reminder of how fast technology is changing the electric power industry and the opportunities that will come with it.” Via MIT Technology Review Images via Ernesto Sanchez/Edison International

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8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small

January 26, 2017 by  
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Even if you could never imagine living in a tiny house , you have to admit there’s something inspiring about them. In about 400 square feet, with some clocking in much less, these mini dwellings challenge inhabitants to think big about how to live small. We’ve rounded up 8 tiny homes , cottages, and cabins we found on Airbnb  that manage to accomplish two things: they satisfy our wanderlust and our curiosity for tiny living. From a family-friendly cottage in Norway on its own private island to an A-Frame cabin nestled in the woods of an off-grid village, there’s a range of options depending on your definition of “roughing it”. Whichever compact getaway you choose (even if it’s only to put on your wishlist for now), these retreats may encourage you to live more simply and explore the bigger picture, including the gorgeous natural surroundings.   1. “Half-Moon” Cabin in California It may be tiny, but there’s a lot to tiny living love in this off-grid cabin nestled deep in the woods of Northern California. The rustic half-moon shaped structure was hand-built as part of an off-grid village which counts chickens, dogs, and frogs, as well as a few humans hard at work, as its neighbors. Located in the Six Rivers National Forest, the cabin includes a lofted bed and a wood stove. Despite the dwelling’s high coziness factor, you probably be spending most of your days exploring the national forest beyond the cabin, hiking over mountains and streams, or perusing the organic gardens for ingredients for a meal in the shared outdoor kitchen. Just make sure you bring a flashlight-the cabin doesn’t have electricity. 2. Industrial tiny house near Seattle The owner of this tiny house is an artist, designer, and welder, who brings those sensibilities together in a sleek space located a few miles from downtown Seattle . Industrial touches such as a steel ladder leading up to the lofted bed, metal shelving in the kitchen area, and lockers for stowing your stuff are warmed up by the wood floors and bright walls. The house feels surprisingly spacious and can accommodate three people for sleeping, with a high ceiling that keeps the home from feeling cramped. It also has a bathtub with wooden planks instead of fussy claw feet. 3. Writer’s Cabin near Stockholm For travelers who want to get away from it all but still have the security blanket of a city nearby, this cozy Swedish writer’s cabin may be the answer. Located in Trolldalen (which means “Troll Valley”), about a 15 minute drive from Stockholm, this basic cabin with a cheery exterior is ideal for either holing up when those Scandinavian days are short or serving as a place to collapse after a full day’s adventure in the city. Or just explore nearby: depending on the season, there’s hiking, blueberry picking, ice skating and cross-country skiing nearby. The writer’s desk does look like the perfect place to complete the finishing touches on your own masterpiece, or simply for catching up on the works of some Swedish masters. If you find your muscles are cramping from being hunched over your laptop, head on down to the property’s sauna to melt away the tension. 4. Atlanta treehouse This trio of rooms connected by bridges is the ultimate treehouse fantasy, and we’re not the only ones who think so. It’s been featured in magazines and TV shows as well as being Airbnb’s “#1 Most Wished-For Location Worldwide”. It certainly checks off a lot of boxes: minutes from downtown Atlanta , a living room, a bedroom, and a deck, and plenty of windows for admiring the lush natural surroundings. Twinkling lights on the bridges and a hammock add to the rustic chic vibe. RELATED: 7 exotic off-grid Airbnb rental homes for adventurous travelers 5. A Norwegian cottage on its own island Because everyone should feel like the king or queen of an island at least once. Another example of Scandinavian ingenuity and tiny house charm, this waterside cottage is located in the Hvaler archipelago in Norway . The cottage can be a getaway for two or a family that doesn’t mind tight quarters: a seat in the dining doubles as a convertible bed for two and the attic can sleep up to three kids or two adults. Cottage renters also have the use of a boat ; swimmers can take advantage of the area’s safe waterways and a floating dock. A marina and several restaurants and stores are only minutes away by boat, but we doubt you’ll make it that far. Pretending you are shipwrecked or pirates is just too much fun. 6. Mushroom Dome in California Steal away for a few nights to a cottage with a geodesic dome loft and a deck that overlooks a grove of redwoods. Part-treehouse, the mushroom dome is compact, yet light-filled: even the bathroom (with self-composting toilet) has a skylight . This unique retreat tends to book up months in advance given its ideal location for stargazing. It also makes a great temporary home base for hiking or heading out to the nearby beach. Hummingbirds, goats, and chickens will anticipate your arrival. 7. California A-Frame cabin In the wise words of Emerson, “Simplify, simply.” Staying in this off-grid A-Frame cabin will certainly inspire you to minimize even if just for a night or two. There’s just enough space for a futon mattress and a candle or two to light the way at night. Located in the same village as the Half-Moon Cabin , it has a shared outdoor kitchen, wood stove sauna , and acres upon acres of surrounding natural beauty. 8. Garden Caravan The owners of this 200-square-foot Garden Caravan on wheels squeezes a lot in without creating a cramped environment. The property has RV appliances, a kitchen stocked with pots and utensils, a toilet, and a shower. Situated on the hosts’ 5-acre plot, the caravan was built by hand with plenty of recycled materials by a boat builder accustomed to making the most of tiny spaces. The tiny home is located just a few miles from Sandpoint, Idaho , so you can sip your morning coffee while watching the ducks, head into town for some shopping or to the nearby lake for a swim, and be back in time for an evening cocktail. All images via Airbnb. Lead image by Lindsay Appel

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