Hostel highlights local Japanese cedar along an ancient road

February 12, 2021 by  
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Kumano Kodo, the historic network of pilgrimage trails found throughout the Kansai region of Japan , just gained a unique new option for accommodations. Completed in April 2020, Sen. Retreat Takahara is an inclusive hostel converted from a former home in Wakayama by KURU and Coil Kazuteru Matumura Architects. The project features three separate buildings designed to promote interaction between guests, and all of the structures are wrapped in local Japanese cedar wood. One of the more extraordinary world heritage sites protected by UNESCO, the ancient network of trails making up Kumano Kodo is surrounded by nature and is often used for spiritually enlightening journeys. The hostel design does its part to blend into these important surroundings through building materials, especially by its use of local Kishu cedar. The architects were careful to avoid giving the buildings an “old fashioned log cabin” look by keeping structural details sharp. Related: Tiny mobile dwelling celebrates local Shinshu larch in Japan While the local wood appears bright and new at the time of completion, the boards will weather naturally over time, giving the structure a chance to match its rustic, forested environment. To make the project more sustainable, the architects chose to use what materials they could from the old, existing home in parts of the exterior. The hostel is anchored by a large, main building that acts as common area and a reception for guest check-ins, while the second and third buildings house shared bathroom facilities and guest rooms. Guest rooms contain a private bathroom and sink and are designed in authentic Japanese style, which promotes minimalism and simplicity. Gravel paths help connect the structures to each other and lead guests to other parts of the property. The common space opens up to an outdoor terrace with access to a bonfire pit and barbecue facilities. Just next to the exterior patio, you’ll find a communal garden , where guests can participate in tending and harvesting. + KURU + Coil Kazuteru Matumura Architects Photography by Keishiro Yamada YFT via Coil Kazuteru Matumura Architects

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Hostel highlights local Japanese cedar along an ancient road

Stockholm offices repurposed into apartments with green roof

February 9, 2021 by  
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When it comes to sustainability,  reusing  something that already exists is usually better than creating something new. The same goes for architecture, a fact that a local Stockholm firm exemplified with its newly unveiled project, which turned a 1990s office building into a series of apartments with a green roof. Dubbed “Vintertullstorget,” the project was able to preserve the existing concrete  structure rather than knocking it down and starting from scratch, reducing the need for excessive construction materials and labor. Instead, they chose to remodel the building and add three new stories, a first-level grocery store and a parking garage meant for both cars and bicycles. Related: A disused factory becomes an office with a landscaped bamboo roof terrace The result was a transformed building with 77 new apartments. The green roof combines wood, grass and plants to create a hidden oasis for residents. Inside, the main lobby hallway highlights black and white tiles and ample lighting with glass entrance doors. Individual apartments feature a shared portion of the wrap-around outdoor balcony as well as spacious, dark  marble  bathrooms, massive windows and a full kitchen. To give residents a better view, the balconies face a green courtyard. The exterior is painted in neutral shades of beige and dark gray, though the unique shape of the cascading  terraces  and windows helps give it a contemporary look. According to the architects, they responded to challenges from the recent coronavirus pandemic by allowing future residents to influence designers with custom features for individual apartments.  The project also  recycled  existing elements of the building. Designers found ways to disassemble and reuse marble from the tiles, iron from the railings, glass from the doors and lighting fixtures in multiple applications throughout construction. Apart from the repurposed character of the project, however, the sustainability aspect is most apparent in the building’s green roof; it works as an outdoor space, but also as a rainwater buffer for the building.  + Urban Couture Arkitekter Photography by Johan Fowelin

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Stockholm offices repurposed into apartments with green roof

Himalayan glacier breaks off in India, causing a deadly avalanche

February 9, 2021 by  
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An intense rescue mission has been underway in India since Sunday morning, following the break of a Himalayan glacier. The glacial breakoff triggered an avalanche of mud, water and rock debris that swept away a hydroelectric dam. At the time of writing, 26 people had died with at least 171 more people still missing. The disaster started at about 10:45 a.m. local time, when part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke away from a fragile area of Uttarakhand, the northern India state that borders China and Nepal. The region is known to be prone to landslides and flooding , a situation that has caused environmentalists to warn against development there. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Those who witnessed the event from across the valley say that it happened in a flash. “It came very fast. There was no time to alert anyone,” Sanjay Singh Rana, an eye witness, told Reuters . “I felt that even we would be swept away.” It is believed that of the nearly 200 missing individuals, most were workers at the dam. According to the Uttarakhand state chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, the number of those reported missing could rise as more information is gathered. Additionally, 180 sheep washed away in the avalanche. It is still not clear why the glacier broke, especially when northern India is still experiencing winter. Global warming has increased ice melt in the Himalayas, but the region is still typically quite cold this time of year. The split glacier was part of the Nanda Devi peak at an altitude of 25,643 feet. The mountain is revered in India, with its name translated to mean the blessed goddess. Some locals even worship the mountain. Currently, the national park surrounding the peak, Nanda Devi National Park, is listed as an  UNESCO  World Heritage Site. Via NPR and Reuters Image via Avalok Sastri

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Himalayan glacier breaks off in India, causing a deadly avalanche

Trump hotel in Chicago guilty of environmental law violations

February 9, 2021 by  
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This probably won’t shock anybody familiar with former President Trump’s disdain for eco-friendly policies, but Judge Sophia H. Hall ruled last Friday that the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago violated Illinois’ environmental laws. The hotel’s heating and cooling systems sucked almost 20 million gallons a day from the Chicago River with no concern for the 30 types of fish that call the river home. The case started in 2018, when it came to public attention that the Trump hotel was the only downtown Chicago high-rise that had failed to follow regulations to protect fish in the waterway. All large facilities that draw water directly from lakes and rivers are required to follow both state and federal regulations that limit fish killed by changes in temperature or pressure as well as deaths of fish that become pinned to intake screens. The speed at which Trump International Hotel & Tower was siphoning out water could fill an Olympic-sized pool in under an hour. To make matters even more dire for river life, the hotel later pumped the water back into the river 35°F hotter. Related: Local communities want Trump’s border wall torn down At an upcoming hearing on March 11, officials will debate how the hotel will be penalized. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is going for $50,000-a-day fines, plus an extra $10,000 for every day the hotel continued to violate the law. This could add up to a whopping $12 million. Unfortunately, defendants usually manage to settle with the state for a lot less. “No one is exempt from compliance with the laws that protect Illinois’ environment and most valuable natural resources, and we will continue to seek to hold the defendants accountable for violations of state environmental laws that jeopardized the quality of the Chicago River ,” Raoul said in a statement. In the past, Trump Towers’ representatives have dismissed the lawsuit as politically motivated. The bluegill , white perch, walleye and largemouth bass were unable to comment, as they were busy fighting for their lives against the hotel’s filtration system. Via Chicago Tribune and Huffington Post Image via Ashleigh Nushawg

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Trump hotel in Chicago guilty of environmental law violations

Luxe, solar-powered home boasts a green soul in Brazil

January 29, 2021 by  
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Brazilian architecture firm Studio CK Arquitetura has recently completed the Casa Doce Vida, a custom luxury home that emphasizes sustainable design. Dubbed a “residence with a green soul,” the house embraces views of and connections to nature from every room to give the homeowners a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience. The eco-friendly dwelling is also entirely powered by solar panels installed onsite. The structure captures rainwater for irrigating lush horizontal and vertical gardens as well for cleaning purposes. Casa Doce Vida is located in Aspen Mountain Lawn, an upscale condominium complex in Gramado, the southern Brazilian mountain resort town famous for its year-round temperate weather and idyllic environment. The residential development highlights the region’s wealth of green space with its naturalistic layout of winding roads, gently rolling hills and abundance of tall, mature trees. As a result, the architects surrounded the home with full-height glazing and operable windows to pull views, natural light and fresh air indoors. Related: CRA unveils designs for Biotic, a high-tech district in Brazil “With brutalist contemporary architecture, the organic facade, with a huge vertical garden permeating both sides, presents a total connection with nature!” the architects said. “An extraordinary environment to connect with the outside and with yourself, and enjoy the time and the absolutely beautiful landscape.”  A natural materials palette of stone and timber further blurs the boundaries between indoors and out, while a muted color scheme keeps focus on the lush outdoor environment. In addition to the solar panels, rainwater harvesting system and large expanses of glazing that help reduce the building’s energy footprint, Casa Doce Vida is also equipped with double-combustion fireplaces. These fireplaces rely on ethanol and certified firewood to reduce the use of vegetable-based fuel by over 50%. The architects offset the building’s carbon footprint by planting native trees on site. + Studio CK Arquitetura Photography by Roberta Gewehr via Studio CK Arquitetura

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Luxe, solar-powered home boasts a green soul in Brazil

A bamboo meditation center overlooks sunset views in Chiang Mai

January 14, 2021 by  
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Locally sourced bamboo and adobe bricks make up the new Meditation Cathedral & Sunset Sala, a cluster of organically shaped buildings on top of a hill in northern Chiang Mai. Commissioned by Khunying Noi, a member of the Thai royal family, the net-zero carbon project provides the client with a space to enjoy the sunset with loved ones as well as a meditation cathedral for the Buddhist community. Chiangmai Life Architects designed the mountain-inspired buildings with construction carried out by Chiangmai Life Construction craftspeople who mainly comprise locals as well as Thai Yai who fled the Burmese army’s minority prosecution campaigns. Completed in 2018 in the small town of Mae Rim, the Meditation Cathedral & Sunset Sala was initially planned as a simple ‘sala’ — a type of open pavilion in Thai architecture — for enjoying the sunset from a hilltop location. Because Khunying Noi is a practicing Buddhist and active member in the Buddhist community, she later asked the architects to add a dedicated meditation space along with a freestanding bathroom area. This area includes showers and toilets; the architects also inserted a smaller, mushroom-shaped structure to house the mechanical and electrical systems, including a water tank. Related: Giant bamboo arches shield Haduwa Arts & Culture Institute from the sun “The design of all buildings emulates the mountain range and the rolling hills,” said the architects, who constructed the project with adobe walls and bamboo roofs. “Thus, the buildings mold into the scenery as if they grew there themselves.” The Buddhist meditation space features lofty arched ceilings built of bundled bamboo to mimic the domes of Roman or Gothic cathedrals. The architects mainly used bamboo of the Thyrsostachus genus along with Dendrocalamus asper and Bambusa spp species. The bamboo stalks were selected by age and then preserved with a borax/boric acid solution. Once treated, the bamboo is left to dry and cure to ensure long-term durability as a construction material. + Chiangmai Life Architects Photography by Markus Roselieb via Chiangmai Life Architects

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A bamboo meditation center overlooks sunset views in Chiang Mai

Adidas Outdoor line furthers brand’s push for sustainability

January 14, 2021 by  
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While many big businesses and brands cause overwhelming environmental problems, Adidas works to clean up its act. In a bold move last January, Adidas acknowledged its contribution to plastic waste, noting the waste’s negative impacts on the world’s oceans. The brand followed up this acknowledgment with plans to move forward with the environment in mind. Adidas’s new Outdoor line stays true to this environmental commitment with clear sustainable features. The Outdoor line includes shirts, pants, jackets, shoes and, of course, face masks. You can wear head to toe Adidas while still dressing sustainably. Adidas accomplishes this by using recycled materials and PRIMEGREEN technology. The company describes PRIMEGREEN as a “performance fabric” containing absolutely no virgin plastic. This fabric looks and feels good, all while helping Adidas work toward its goal to end plastic waste. But if the fabric contains no virgin plastic, what exactly is it made of? Hitting on the third R in the “reduce, reuse, recycle” trifecta, PRIMEGREEN contains 100% recycled polyester. Related: Adidas unveils lightweight hiking shoe made from ocean plastic Several products in the Outdoor line use these sustainable materials, but one that stands out is the MyShelter Parley RAIN.RDY Jacket. Using 100% recycled polyester and Parley Ocean Plastic made from recycled marine plastic waste, the MyShelter Parley RAIN.RDY Jacket exemplifies Adidas’s efforts to reduce plastic waste. You can grab this eco-friendly jacket along with vests, parkas and insulated hooded jackets in both men’s and women’s styles on Adidas’s  website . This line serves as just part of Adidas’s sustainability work. While the use of recycled polyester demonstrates Adidas’s work toward its commitment to shift to recycled polyester in all products by 2024, the brand has additional environmental goals in sight. As stated in an  article  from January 2020, Adidas plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% by 2030 and be climate neutral by 2050. An influential brand like Adidas making such strong strides toward sustainability encourages competitors to adopt green initiatives, too. Hopefully, this green trend can make a real impact on the world’s plastic waste problem. + Adidas Images via Adidas

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Families turn old police station into sustainable co-housing

January 1, 2021 by  
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Belgian design firm  Polygoon Architectuur  and Jouri De Pelecijn Architect have brought to life the dream of four local families: a sustainable collaborative housing project that maintains sufficient privacy while providing shared functions. Dubbed Living Apart Together, the four-unit co-housing development is located within a former police station in  Antwerp . The adaptive reuse project emphasizes sustainable design by integrating energy-efficient systems, renewable materials and a green roof. Located within cycling distance of the city center, the Living Apart Together project features shared bicycle storage as well as  car-sharing . As a result, the area along the street side that was originally dedicated to paved parking spaces has now been transformed into a front garden with lush greenery for the benefit of both the inhabitants and the surrounding neighborhood.  The architecture studio converted the former Antwerp police station into four equal-sized family units that are segmented with an extra dividing wall that bisects the original middle bay. Since the environmentally friendly design was a construction goal from the very beginning, the architects took care to preserve the building’s internal arrangement as well as the  brickwork  architecture seen on the front facade. Though each dwelling is roughly the same size, each unit features a slightly different structure; the outer units, for example, include an extra extension on the first floor.  Related: Zaha Hadid Architects turn an old fire station into a sparkling port headquarters for Antwerp In addition to reusing existing materials, the architects crafted the co-housing project with a materials palette comprised mainly of renewable resources such as wood and cellulose. The multi-family residence also includes a  green roof  and rainwater harvesting systems, as well as solar water heaters to reduce the property’s environmental footprint. Garage boxes that were located in the original courtyard have also been demolished to create a spacious common garden viewable from the residents’ dining rooms, adding “a breath of fresh air in busy Deurne.” + Polygoon Architectuur Images © Frederik Beyens, Jessy van der Werff and Stijn Bollaert

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Families turn old police station into sustainable co-housing

A friendly rescue dog inspired this sustainable home remodel

December 25, 2020 by  
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This property in Lithuania is shared by “the real owner of the area,” a rescue dog named Brownie. According to the architects at Arches, the firm responsible for the sustainable home remodel , the calm dog was the first to greet them when they initially came to visit the site. Apparently, Brownie had been there longer than the current owners. Years ago, the former owners noticed a lost stray on their property and decided to feed and shelter the dog while letting him come and go as he pleased. When the owners sold the home and moved away, Brownie stayed loyal to the place, even sticking around waiting patiently through the construction period. Brownie has since become a beloved and well-known dog in the area, and he has remained on-patrol on the property with the new owners, helping to greet visitors. Related: Get away from it all in this tiny hut tucked into a Lithuanian forest The project focused on reconstructing the existing older buildings to better compliment that picturesque landscape. There is a main residential house located in the upper area of the site as well as a separate storehouse sitting on the lower part. A granite pavement connects the two with some newly planted pines to continue the undergrowth of the former trees. Only ecological and sustainable materials are used in the project. The facades, made from natural cedar , are what help give this project its name of Cedar House. The window and door details are made from copper. The materials offer a traditional and reliable option by giving long-lasting protection. Pinewood is used for the main construction of both buildings, and the designers chose natural wood wool for the heat insulation. Clay plaster , a locally sourced material, covers the inner walls. Cedar House requires minimal interventions and helps celebrate the natural context of its surroundings, including Brownie the loyal watchdog. + Arches Photography by Norbert Tukaj via Arches

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A friendly rescue dog inspired this sustainable home remodel

Proposed skating rink uses melted ice to sustain wetland habitats

December 25, 2020 by  
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Designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, the $40 million Lee Valley Ice Centre in London will feature two Olympic-sized ice rinks and use ice from the facility to benefit the sustainability and biodiversity of the building site. Along with sustainable design features like high performance insulation and rooftop solar panels , the facility’s melted ice will be filtered through reed beds to create new wetland habitats onsite. The design, which will replace an existing 36-year-old single rink, is pending second-round approval from the Greater London Authority. If the project does get approved, it will double the center’s capacity to 557,000 visits per year, providing more community access and complementing the surrounding Lee Valley Regional Park. The 26-mile-long park comprises 10,000 acres and a mixture of diverse heritage sites, natural reserves and award-winning gardens, along with another Olympic-sized venue also designed by FaulknerBrowns. Related: Renewable energy to power 2024 Olympic aquatic center The building site is in an important region for nature conservation , so the design team remained aware of the responsibility to preserve the unique, natural character of the area with the smallest possible environmental footprint. Their response was a pavilion-like structure that uses a heavy base plinth on the lower portion of the elevation to anchor the building to the flat landscape. The base forms a podium under the ice halls, which are insulated with cladding panels to create two environmentally controlled “fridges” that are wrapped by a copper-colored metal band. This band is separated from the plinth with a flowing, curved edge to create the illusion of a building floating within the landscape. The Lee Valley Ice Centre has also been rotated from its previous position to allow natural movement through the green spaces and to create a more welcoming gateway to the neighboring marsh. According to the architects, this reimagined position plus the proposed landscaping design with native plants and melted ice filtration system will result in a biodiversity net gain of 35%. + FaulknerBrowns Architects Images via FaulknerBrowns Architects

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