These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses

November 25, 2019 by  
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What were once 28 unused canal-side bridge houses are now a series of hotel suites reused by Dutch architecture firm Space&Matter for the SWEETS hotel. The hotel concept is that of adaptive reuse , essentially reusing an old building for something that it originally was not used for. More importantly, this approach gives new life to existing structures rather than deploying the extensive resources needed for new construction. Originally built spanning a time frame between 1673 and 2009, the old structures were used for the city’s bridge keepers, those who were responsible for the opening and closing of the bridges as boats and water traffic came through. In modern times, where the bridges are now controlled electronically, the houses eventually became vacant and unused. Related: Studio Puisto transforms an old bank into a modern hostel in Finland To avoid the structures falling into dangerous disrepair, the architects gave new life to the buildings. Even better, the hotel suites continue to respect the early architecture by each representing the history of the specific building through different architectural styles. Interiors of each house distinctly match the exterior in terms of style and architectural period. The suites became, in essence, tiny homes, marked by a distinctive minimal footprint with some floors originally as small as 21 square feet in size. The designers were forced into unique creativity, accomplishing tasks such as transforming small structures with just a few square feet of floor space into two-person, multilevel suites with a bathroom, a double bed, a seating area and a pantry. As of 2018, 11 of the homes were available to book, with the 17 remaining structures set to be remodeled in the coming years. Because the suites are connected through the canals, as the original bridge houses were, the concept is new to both visitors and locals alike. The project is an ode to the industrial and cultural heritage of Amsterdam and brings to light the importance of water to the area. The suites, spread all throughout the city, are a love letter to Amsterdam architecture, from Amsterdam School to Modernism. + SWEETS hotel + Space&Matter Via Dezeen Photography by Mirjam Bleeker and Lotte Holterman via SWEETS hotel

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These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses

Microplastics accelerate cell death at 3 times the normal rate, study says

October 3, 2019 by  
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Researchers from the University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht recently announced that cells exposed to microplastics experience cell death three times faster than those that are not. With microplastic pollution everywhere, the findings are sobering. UMC Utrecht scientists presented their research at the Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam on Thursday, warning that immune cells that attack microplastics are three times more likely to be damaged beyond repair, consequently prompting an immediate inflammatory response. This rate of cell death is in excess of normal immune cell behavior, such as engulfing bacteria or foreign bodies. Related: One plastic teabag can release billions of microplastics into your cup “These results raise serious questions about what microplastics are doing to our immune health ,” explained Nienke Vrisekoop, assistant professor of quantitative immunology at UMC Utrecht and lead author of the study. “Urgent further research is needed to paint as full a picture as possible.” The term microplastics has steadily crept into contemporary literature. Plastic does not readily biodegrade , but rather splinters into progressively smaller pieces, or microplastics. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the size of microplastics as less than five millimeters in length, making them invisible to the naked eye. As an emerging field of study, only recently have microplastics been the subject of research, spurred by their ubiquity as pollutants . They contaminate the oceans and threaten aquatic life. They are also small enough to bypass water filtration systems and find their way into drinking water. There is growing concern that when a person consumes microplastics, the particles are tiny enough to enter through the gut wall and eventually the circulatory system. “The demonstrated impacts, along the life cycle of plastic , paint an unequivocally toxic picture: plastic threatens human health on a global scale,” said David Azoulay, Environmental Health program director at the Center for International Environmental Law. “It’s high time businesses across the world took responsibility for the plastic they produce.” + UMC Utrecht Image via Shutterstock

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Microplastics accelerate cell death at 3 times the normal rate, study says

New Animal Endangerment Map shows global distribution of threatened animal species

October 3, 2019 by  
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Today’s wildlife are in peril, facing a variety of threats that test their survivability.  To illustrate the crisis magnitude, a new Animal Endangerment Map has been presented that reflects the conservation status of globally threatened species . Species survival is vital to preserving biodiversity and a region’s unique natural history but progress has not been kind to flora and fauna of late.  What’s causing species endangerment? Some threats are natural, like disease, for instance. However, the main culprits are because of human activities alone. Climate change , habitat loss (deforestation, urban/suburban development, agriculture, livestock farming), illegal trapping and poaching for wildlife trade, invasive species, overexploitation (excess hunting, overfishing, over-harvesting of aquatic resources) and pollution all have the human footprint.  Related: US and Canada in drastic crisis with 3 billion birds lost since 1970 Human population growth fundamentally leaves less room for wildlife species.  And as ecosystems are weakened, many species are forced to adapt quickly or face extinction in the decades ahead.  The newly devised Animal Endangerment Map collates and analyzes data from both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).  The map classifies global animal distributions as vulnerable, endangered or extinct .  How the species are assigned into the various categories is based on two factors standardized by the IUCN and WWF – the population size, as well as the amount of population decline over the previous 10 years or three generations. The Animal Endangerment Map has determined that the United States currently has 1,283 total species at risk. They are further sub-categorized as follows: 237 extinct, 4 extinct in the wilderness , 214 critically endangered, 277 endangered and 551 vulnerable. It is hoped data provided by the Animal Endangerment Map can assist in efforts to secure habitats and to sustain entire species. With this information, researchers and governments can address target areas for preservation.  The map, interestingly, has a toggle feature that displays data from 10 years ago to correlate with present day results, thereby allowing users to longitudinally compare conservation status of various species. Hence, the information provided can reveal efficacy and long-term feasibility of programs as they develop and are implemented.  More importantly, past initiatives have proven that well-managed protected areas can escape from the brink, allowing species to recover.  It is hoped therefore that the Animal Endangerment Map can inspire well-informed conservation action to safeguard the wildlife that currently need help.  + Animal Endangerment Map

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New Animal Endangerment Map shows global distribution of threatened animal species

MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

August 12, 2019 by  
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After meticulously renovating a 1920s houseboat into a home for two, a pair of clients reached out to multidisciplinary studio MASS Design to craft the houseboat’s crowning achievement — a bespoke interior for the old wheel house at the top of the boat. The clients asked for a bold interior that would match the wheel house’s spectacular 360-degree views over the harbor. Taking inspiration from the water, the designers created The Lighthouse, a sculptural and multifunctional space defined by an organic, wave-like bench and ceiling structure made from CNC-milled timber panels that were assembled into modules without any screws or glue. In its heyday, the early 20th-century houseboat originally served as a day cruise on the rivers and canals of Eastern Germany with an estimated max capacity of 700 people. Today, the houseboat is stationed on the waters of Amsterdam, where it’s become a new home for two people. Having saved the old, 10-square-meter wheel house as the last piece of their renovation project, the clients emphasized their desire for a striking design with “the boldness of an art piece.” Related: A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer The wave-like design that MASS Design created makes the most of the room’s small footprint and efficiently carves out space for a writing shack , reading room and champagne bar — all while keeping focus on the surrounding 360-degree views of the harbor. “The interior mimics the waves it used to travel on, undulating throughout the room,” said MASS Design designers Krishna Duddumpudi and Henry Roberts. “Everything flows together; seating to tables, tables to walls, creating one continuous surface in which even the ceiling participates.” A total of 648 individual vertical wooden panels were CNC milled, processed and assembled to form the organic bench and ceiling structure modules without screws or glue at Contact Makerspace in Amsterdam. The modular design allowed the designers and clients to easily and quickly install the pieces into the room without a builder. A voice-activated and app-controlled LED “sun-light” was installed at the center of the room, which makes the space glow like a lighthouse at night. + MASS Design Photography by Maylan van der Grift via MASS Design

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MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam

July 25, 2019 by  
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A new facility for researching sustainable technologies and green business models is coming soon to the heart of Amsterdam Science Park. MVRDV recently unveiled designs for Matrix 1, an office and laboratory complex that will be home to the University of Amsterdam’s Sustainalab, a specialist research facility aimed at stimulating creative cooperation between academia, government, and businesses on sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Sustainability will also be woven into the design of the building, which will target BREEAM excellent certification and be powered with rooftop solar panels. Located on the east side of Amsterdam , Matrix 1 at Amsterdam Science Park will span 13,000 square meters. The SustainaLab will occupy a quarter of the building footprint. To open the new facility up to the existing buildings on campus, which include the six existing buildings of the Matrix Innovation Center as well as the University of Amsterdam’s Facility of Science, Mathematics and Computer Science buildings, the architects will clad a large portion of Matrix 1 in glass to ensure that the building will be “open and social.” The focal point of the building will be a spacious zigzagging staircase that’s fully visible from the outside. Prominently located at the entrance, the stairwell serves as the social heart of the building that stimulates interaction and “provides a balance in the building between the standardized laboratories and a playful, people-oriented architecture— an important consideration in a building where tech workers, who have high expectations for the quality of their office spaces, will share with science workers, for whom laboratories are unable to provide the same perks,” say the architects in a press release. “Matrix 1’s stairwell will thus allow scientific workers to feel pampered in the same way that has been normal in the tech sector.” Related: Amsterdam announces plan to ban all polluting cars by 2030 To meet BREEAM excellent standards, the six-story building will be optimized for flexibility and reusability. Office spaces can be easily transformed into laboratory spaces and vice versa. The building’s steel structure and concrete floors can also be dismantled for reuse in the future. In addition to solar panels, landscaping will top the roof to contribute to biodiversity and water buffering. + MVRDV Images by MVRDV

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MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam

Amsterdam Announces Plan to Ban All Polluting Cars by 2030

May 8, 2019 by  
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On Thursday, the city of Amsterdam announced its plan to replace all gasoline and diesel-powered cars and motorcycles with electric vehicles by 2030. The plan is an attempt to address unhealthy and alarming rates of air pollution in the city due to high traffic. Currently, toxic air pollution in Amsterdam exceeds European Union standards. In 2018, the Dutch health council called on the government to develop a plan to address toxic amounts of nitrogen dioxide and particle matter, specifically in the congested cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Related: Lyft vows to help customers find electric vehicles with Green Mode “Pollution often is a silent killer and is one of the greatest health hazards in Amsterdam,” said Sharon Dijksma , the city’s traffic councilor. According to Dijksma, Amsterdam residents lose an average of one year off their life expectancy due to air pollution. The Dutch government’s goal is to replace all polluting cars, buses, boats and motorcycles with electric vehicles or hydrogen powered vehicles. The plan will be rolled out in phases over the next decade, including: By 2020: All cars built before 2005 will be banned from the city. By 2022: All polluting public buses and taxis will be banned. By 2025: All polluting boats and mopeds will also be banned. The city will also increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations in order to reach a total of at least 23,000. Although climate activists are mostly supportive of the initiative, some groups fear that this car ban will unfairly affect poor families who cannot afford electric vehicles. The loudest voice of dissent comes from the Rai Association, an automotive industry lobbying group, which argues that the ban will shut low income families out of the city. However, supporters argue that electric vehicles have become increasingly less expensive and that the price is expected to steadily decline over the next 11 years. The government also plans to use subsidies and parking permits to incentivize drivers to switch to cleaner cars. Via Ecowatch Image via Shutterstock

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Amsterdam Announces Plan to Ban All Polluting Cars by 2030

A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

May 8, 2019 by  
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Amsterdam-based architectural firm bureau SLA and Utrecht-based ZakenMaker have transformed a one-hectare potato field in the rural area of Oosterwold Almere, the Netherlands into nine connected homes for a group of pioneers seeking a sustainable communal lifestyle. Initially, Frode Bolhuis had approached the architects to construct his dream home, but the very limited budget prompted him to ask eight of his like-minded friends to join to make the project possible. The nine homes—each 1,722 square feet in size—are all located under one roof in the Oosterwold Co-living Complex, a long rectangular building with a shared porch, landscape and vegetable garden. The client’s tight budget largely drove the design decisions behind Oosterwold Co-living Complex. Not only did the project morph into a co-living complex as a result of limited funds, but the architects also decided that only the exterior would be designed and left the design of the interiors up to families. Elevated off the ground for a reduced footprint and to allow residents to choose the location of the sewage system and water pipes, the rectilinear building extends nearly 330 feet in length and appears to float above the landscape. “The façade is designed to give maximum freedom of choice within an efficient building system,” explain the architects. “Each family received a plan for seven windows and doors, which can be placed in the façade. The space between the frames is vitrified with solid parts of glass without a frame. This creates an uncluttered but diverse façade. Oosterwold Co-living Complex demonstrates that it’s possible to achieve a convincing design within a tight budget and which, most importantly, manages to meet the expectations of nine different clients.” Related: How shared space makes four micro apartments in Japan seem much larger For a cost-effective solution to insulation, the architects built the floor, roof and adjoining walls out of hollow wooden cassettes that were then filled with insulating cellulose. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a long, communal porch that overlooks the shared landscape and vegetable garden. The windows also bring ample amounts of natural light indoors while the roof overhang helps block unwanted solar gain. The Oosterwold Co-living Complex won the Frame Awards 2019 in the category Co-living Complex of the Year. + bureau SLA + ZakenMaker Images by Filip Dujardin

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A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone

January 4, 2019 by  
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In response to Amsterdam’s increasing housing demands, prolific Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has designed Westerpark West, a sustainable proposal to transform the former ING office complex into a new residential zone flush with green space. Located in the Amsterdam Brettenzone, directly west of the city’s popular Westerpark, MVRDV’s master plan envisions a neighborhood of approximately 750 homes that will range in size, building typology and price. Westerpark West will also follow an “innovative energy master plan” that combines district heating with seasonal thermal energy storage. Spanning an area of 70,000 square meters, the Westerpark West master plan will include twelve buildings, five of which will be designed by MVRDV. To reconnect the isolated area to its surroundings, the architects will work with London-based landscape architecture firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman to extend the landscape of the Westerpark onto the site and align the plot structure with the street patterns found to the south. MVRDV has also enlisted architecture firms TANK, Blauw, KRFT, Studio Maks, and DoepelStrijkers to design the architecture of Westerpark West. A number of existing office buildings on site will also be transformed into comfortable, energy-efficient housing. An abundance of outdoor green space will tie together the buildings and include front gardens and loggias as well as balcony gardens and roof terraces. The master plan also includes catering facilities, a child daycare center, as well as three underground parking garages with charging points and car sharing. Related: Shipping container village for startups pops up in Amsterdam “Amsterdam urgently needs housing in all sorts of sizes and price ranges, for both purchase and rental,” says Nathalie de Vries, co-founder of MVRDV. “Given the large number of homes that this project adds to Amsterdam-West, we have focused entirely on architectural diversity. The public space will be green and closely connect with the Westerpark. The combination of park and urbanity is unique to Amsterdam. Where else can you live in a park in the middle of the city?” + MVRDV Images © CIIID

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MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone

An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrechts circular pavilion

July 27, 2018 by  
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A new restaurant celebrating sustainability has opened in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Designed by Dutch architecture firm cezeped , The Green House is a “circular” pavilion that houses a restaurant, urban farm and meeting center. Created as part of an initiative by Strukton Ballast Nedam and Albron, the experimental and temporary venue follows eco-friendly principles and features modular components so that it can be dismantled and moved to a new location in the future. The Green House was born from a larger project that saw cepezed transform the former Knoopkazerne barracks on Croeselaan into a modern government office. Next to the office building was a vacant space that wouldn’t see development for the next 15 years; the developers asked the architects to create a temporary design that could reactivate that leftover lot. With the project’s relatively short lifespan in mind, the architects crafted a design based on the “principles of circularity ” to ensure that the building could be rebuilt elsewhere in 15 years. Related: Sustainable ‘circular economy’ principles inform Amsterdam’s flexible Circl pavilion Modularity and reusability are at the heart of The Green House, a two-story pavilion with a removable steel frame. “The dimensions are derived from those of the smoke glass facade panels of the former Knoopkazerne; these have been re-used for the second skin and the greenhouse of the pavilion,” the architects explained. “The circularity of the building also lies in the choice of the right floor in the right place. Street clinkers from an old quay in Tiel replace the classic ground floor that has been poured. They are located on a compacted sand bed with underfloor heating.” Related: Vertical Gardening 101 The first floor was constructed from prefabricated and recyclable timber elements, while the roof is sheathed in a lightweight and perforated steel sheet filled with insulation and topped with solar panels. The glass curtain wall lets in plenty of natural light so that artificial lighting is minimized. The restaurant occupies the ground floor, while the meeting rooms and the 80-square-meter vertical farming greenhouse are located upstairs. Restaurant patrons can see glimpses of the greenhouse from below and also enjoy views of an indoor green wall. + cezeped Images by Lucas van der Wee/cepezed

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An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrechts circular pavilion

‘Plastic Free Trust Mark’ helps customers dodge plastic packaging

May 28, 2018 by  
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New labeling will assist shoppers in buying food  and drinks that aren’t packaged in plastic . Campaign group A Plastic Planet is behind what’s called the Plastic Free Trust Mark, adopted thus far by some supermarket chains and a tea company. The campaigners are hoping that the labeling will inspire more retailers to jump on the plastic-free bandwagon. The Plastic Free Trust Mark has been launched to support retailers which have made pledges to phase out plastic packaging. Early adopters are Tea brand @teapigs , Dutch supermarket chain @Ekoplaza and @IcelandFoods https://t.co/wmbTqQybMF — A Plastic Planet (@aplastic_planet) May 17, 2018 Sometimes it’s obvious that the food item you’re about to buy is wrapped in plastic — other times, not so much. For example, the discovery that most of the tea bags in Britain contained plastic shocked consumers. A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland told The Guardian , “Our trust mark cuts through the confusion of symbols and labels and tells you just one thing — this packaging is plastic-free and therefore guilt-free.” The new Plastic Free Trust Mark could help shoppers discern whether or not there’s plastic in packaging with a quick glance. According to U.K.-based tea brand Teapigs , one of the early adopters of the new labels, there are several alternative materials to use in accredited packaging: glass, metal, wood pulp, compostable biomaterials  and carton board. Sutherland said she hopes the move helps slash plastic waste , saying, “Finally shoppers can be part of the solution, not the problem.” Related: First plastic-free supermarket aisle opens in Amsterdam Along with Teapigs, U.K. grocery store chain Iceland is adopting the label and plans to roll it out this month on some of their own label products. They’ve already set a goal to remove plastic packaging from their label products by 2023 . Iceland managing director Richard Walker told the Guardian, “With the grocery retail sector accounting for more than 40 percent of plastic packaging in the U.K., it’s high time that Britain’s supermarkets came together to take a lead on this issue.” Netherlands-based grocery store chain Ekoplaza is also introducing the label in 74 outlets. Earlier this year, the company launched the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle at an Amsterdam location. + A Plastic Planet Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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