Energy-neutral House of Eemnes is a sustainable culture house

October 21, 2020 by  
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Thirty minutes east of Amsterdam , the municipality of Eemnes has recently welcomed a beautiful community center for everyone in the town to gather, play and learn. Created by Dutch firm MoederscheimMoonen Architects in collaboration with construction company Vaessen B.V., the mixed-use project — named the House of Eemnes — combines a library, theater, sports facilities and a restaurant all under one roof. Impressively, the project has also been engineered to be future-ready and sustainable with solar panels that generate more energy than the building consumes as well as a responsible stormwater management plan that captures rainwater runoff. Conceived as a meeting point in the heart of the town, the House of Eemnes was crafted with an inviting character that is achieved with a partly perforated facade inspired by the pattern in the city’s coat of arms as well as a light-filled interior dressed in warm materials. The library and restaurant are located at the center of the building and branch out to the various multifunctional areas, from the theater to the massive sports hall that can accommodate multiple recreational activities at the same time. Related: Amsterdam’s new circular archives building sustainably generates all of its own energy Large expanses of glazing, a natural materials palette and a vibrant mix of colors and patterns used throughout the interior executed by Aatvos and MARS interior architects help create a cohesive and inviting feel despite the diverse programming. Much of the interior follows an open layout for direct sight lines and easy social distancing; however, cozy nooks and intimate spaces have also been incorporated for more passive activities. A tall bookcase runs through the building to not only unite the floors but to also represent the identity of the House of Eemnes. As an energy-neutral building, the House of Eemnes features a roof entirely covered with solar panels that can even generate more energy than the building requires. The highly pervious landscape is optimized for water absorption while the skate park at the entrance can double as a water square for retaining overflow during heavy storms. + MoederscheimMoonen Architects Photography by Luuk Kramer via MoederscheimMoonen Architects

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Energy-neutral House of Eemnes is a sustainable culture house

Instagram data uncovers the world’s top #urbanjungles

June 12, 2020 by  
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Houseplants offer any number of benefits ranging from cleaner air to aesthetic appeal. Indoor plants brighten up a space and bring the natural world indoors, something that seems especially important during the 2020 COVID lockdowns. They make excellent gifts and enhance every photo opportunity within the home, whether it be a pre-prom photo or a snapshot of dinner. Love of houseplants  seems to be universal, but Budget Direct Home Insurance wanted to know specifically what areas of the world took the biggest interest in plant adoption and which plants people had the most passion for.  To figure this out, Budget Direct analyzed the most commonly used hashtags on Instagram to locate the top 10 plant-loving countries and which plants they are capturing for their feeds. After filtering the results of 200,000 Instagram posts and cleaning up the data by removing outliers and professional plant peddlers such as florists , Budget Direct put all its findings into an easy to comprehend map.  Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home Results from the most common hashtag, #urbanjungle, show the United States as the top indoor plant hugging group with 7,592 posts. Brazil came in second, with half that number at 3,577. Europe is another plant-loving culture, with Germany posting 3,417 times and the U.K. showing a proud 2,323 posts. France followed at 1,673 posts, the Netherlands with 1,610, and Poland with 1,591 posts about appreciating indoor greenery. Rounding out the top 10 list was Italy with 1,405, pushing Europe’s total posts to over 17,000, then India with 1,327 and Canada with 1,288. The study breaks this information down further, looking at cities with the highest number of Instagram posts regarding indoor plants. NYC, London and Berlin, in that order, took the top three spots, followed by São Paulo, Paris, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Singapore, Amsterdam and Toronto. Representing an expansive geography, these posts make clear that houseplants are an essential part of  interior design  across various cultures.  While most people are familiar with product influencers on social media, you may not know about houseplant influencers. It makes sense when you think about it. You’re scrolling through Instagram, you like plants and you follow people who are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful so you can successfully grow and enjoy your indoor plants . By studying an assortment of popular hashtags such as #houseplants, #houseplantsofinstagram, #houseplantsmakemehappy and, of course, #urbanjungle, the researchers at Budget Direct Home Insurance created a top 10 list of houseplant influencers. In the results, the company stated, “According to our study, if you want to become an #urbanjungle influencer, you need a blend of houseplant knowledge, interior design flair, and friendliness.” If you’re looking for some inspiration or advice, here are a few of the houseplant influencers that made Budget Direct’s top 10 list. Coming in at number one is Canada-based Darryl Cheng ( @houseplantjournal ), author of “The New Plant Parent.” Following Cheng were U.S.-based creators The Potted Jungle ( @thepottedjungle ) and Hilton Carter ( @hiltoncarter ). Carter not only shares plant wisdom on Instagram, but also via weekly tips as the “Plant Doctor” for Apartment Therapy, plant propagating experiences on Airbnb and two books, “Wild Interiors” and “Wild at Home.” After pinpointing the most passionate Instagram plant owners and locations, the Budget Direct team took their research one step further to identify which plants are the most frequently captured on film. Greenery was identified by hashtags using proper botanical names, rather than common names. The results showed a combination of flowering indoor plants, succulents and foliage plants making up the top 10 most commonly posted varieties. Echeveria, a widely popular desert succulent, took the prize for the most photographed plant. Its striking blue-green rosette makes it a model for the camera. Plus, it is easy to grow and maintain. With 1,021,534 posts, Echeveria stands out as a clear favorite of plant lovers around the world. In second place with nearly half as many mentions (517,005) was the flowering crocus. Another easy-to-care-for succulent, Haworthia, settled into third place, likely due to its forgiving demeanor and eye-catching appeal. Indoor Fuschia and daffodils took over the fourth and fifth positions, showing that people love their flowering plants. The Swiss Cheese Plant, though many people may not recognize it by name, earned sixth place and is one of the most common houseplants in the world. The Dragon Wing Begonia, Living Stones, Freesia Flower and Chinese Money Plant round out the top 10 most frequently photographed and posted houseplants in the world. The results of this study are meant to be an enlightening report of who’s talking and what they’re talking about when it comes to houseplants. Still, Instagram may not be the best exclusive source of information considering it’s still not widely used in many areas. Instead of a comprehensive study, this data reflects overall  interior design  trends that suggest houseplants have a home anywhere around the world. + Budget Direct Home Insurance Images via Budget Direct Home Insurance 

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Instagram data uncovers the world’s top #urbanjungles

Work from home in style in these slippers made of natural and recycled materials

May 20, 2020 by  
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Footwear requirements at home are different than anywhere else you may roam. While sometimes slippers or bare feet fit the bill, other times you might need proper support, even if you’re staying indoors. The entrepreneur behind Dooeys thinks you can have the best of both worlds, with a shoe and a slipper in one that won’t hurt the planet. Founder of Dooeys, Jordan Clark, originally from Seattle, Washington, was living in Amsterdam and found herself struggling to find a proper pair of shoes for her typical work-from-home activities. Tennis shoes were too rigid, and slippers didn’t offer the support she needed nor the style she desired. So she decided to design her own footwear that women could wear while working and lounging at home. She dubbed this footwear Slipshoes. Related: Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear In addition to comfort and versatility, it was important to Clark that the shoes were made with sustainability in mind. She said, “I came up with the idea for Dooeys two years ago before I had any idea there would be a global shift forcing millions to work from home. I spent the past year-and-a-half designing and sourcing sustainable materials to make the perfect house shoes for women.” To that end, Slipshoes are made with a breathable upper portion using vegan apple leather that comes from post-processing organic apple skins grown in the Italian Alps. The insoles are produced from cork , which is harvested in Portugal and bound with natural latex from the rubber tree. The EVA soles are made from sugarcane while the footbed stems from coconut husks. Each shoe is made in Portugal using these earth-friendly materials, along with recycled plastic and recycled polyester.  Jordan hopes the shoes appeal to anyone who loves the environment and just enjoys working, lounging or entertaining at home. The Slipshoes are available as two-tone loafer or slide-in mules. Both styles are currently available for pre-order on the Dooeys website for $145. + Dooeys Images via Dooeys

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Work from home in style in these slippers made of natural and recycled materials

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

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