The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

December 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Beijing-based design studio People’s Architecture Office has proved yet again its knack for innovation and socially conscious design with its recent project, the Shangwei Village Plugin House. Made with a modular building system of prefabricated panels, these customizable homes can slot into existing structures to make formerly uninhabitable spaces both livable and attractive for far less than the cost of a typical renovation. The experimental dwellings were installed in the Chinese village of Shangwei near Shenzhen and can be assembled with unskilled labor using just one tool in less than a day. The local government, the Shangwei Village Cooperative, along with local nonprofit Leping Foundation and Future Plus, tapped People’s Architecture Office to renovate a series of centuries-old structures into houses for supporting a budding community of local artists and craftspeople. Having been left vacant for decades, the structures had become uninhabitable ruins with caved-in roofs. Since renovation could adversely affect adjacent buildings, the architects decided to rehabilitate the spaces by inserting new construction — with added structural reinforcement — inside the existing structures, a typology that the firm calls the ‘Plugin House.’ “Industrial manufacturing allows the use of high quality materials that drastically increase energy efficiency and economies of scale ensure the Plugin House remains inexpensive,” the architects explained. “Although the Plugin Panels are mass produced, each Plugin House is customized to fit its particular site.” The Huang Family Plugin House, for instance, slots into a tiny 160-square-foot space. The space-saving construction features a mezzanine bedroom with a corner window cantilevered over a collapsed wall as well as a new skylight where the original roof once was. The Fang Family Plugin House, on the other hand, is slightly larger at 215 square feet. Related: Hydroponic gardens and a “mini mountain” promote fun and well-being in this creative office The architects added, “For both locations, the Plugin House System raises living standards by adding efficient mini-split units for heating and cooling, modern kitchens and off-the-grid composting toilet systems.” + People’s Architecture Office Images by ZHAN Changheng and People’s Architecture Office

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The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

Mecanoo unveils stunning glass lake house that harmonizes with nature

December 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Dutch firm Mecanoo has just unveiled Villa on the Lake — a stunning example of contemporary home design that sits in perfect harmony with its natural surroundings. Tucked against a lake near the U.K. city of Lechlade, the cube-like home features facades of floor-to-ceiling glass panels and a massive rooftop terrace that offers optimal views over the water. At just over 6,000 square feet spanning three floors, the Villa on the Lake is a mammoth of a home. Despite its large size and predominantly glass facade, however, the bold design creates a strong harmony with its all-natural forest and lake surroundings. The entrance is connected to a long bridge that winds through the lake’s edge of thick forest. Curving the bridge allowed the architects to avoid felling trees, leaving the landscape in its natural state. Related: Mecanoo to update Washington’s MLK Library with massive green roof According to the architects, the home was designed from the inside out, so the homeowners could enjoy unobstructed views from anywhere in the home while still maintaining a sense of privacy. Glass panels make up the front and side facades, giving off the appearance that the home is floating on the water. Inside, white walls and sparse furnishings, along with an abundance of natural light, brighten the space. The main living area is on the second floor while the bedrooms and private areas are on the top floor. A large staircase joins the three stories, one of which is actually underwater. The sunken basement houses a cinema, game area, bar and wellness spa. Of course, for truly enjoying the stunning panoramic views, the home boasts two open-air terraces . The rooftop terrace is more than 800 square feet, and the second deck, which leads out from the living space, wraps around the home’s volume, hovering just over the water. + Mecanoo Via Archdaily Photography by Mariashot.photo and Blue Sky Images via Mecanoo

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Mecanoo unveils stunning glass lake house that harmonizes with nature

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children

December 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

While it’s obvious that we want the children in our lives to have only the most natural, clean, organic clothes and toys , it’s also important to our planet that we introduce sustainable goods from the start. As children grow up with eco-friendly items at their side, they will naturally grow up to respect the Earth, seeking out these types of green products for the rest of their lives. To get them started on the right foot, here are some of our favorite sustainable gifts for kids and babies. Veggie Crayons These crayons , which are made from organic herb and vegetable powders as well as food-grade soy wax, are safe for babies and children to use. While they shouldn’t be eaten, they are safe for hand to mouth transfer, and they do not contain toxic ingredients like petroleum. Plus, the square shape also makes them fun for stacking and playing. “Adopted” animals Support organizations like WWF , Oceana , The Nature Conservancy and more, and in return, your child will have an opportunity to learn more about our planet and the animals that roam it. Many organizations will allow you to symbolically adopt an animal , and for your donation your child will receive a plush animal, coloring books, educational materials and more. Related: 20 sensory table activities that offer creative ways to teach kids through play Plush toys Kids love their “stuffies,” so gift them their new favorite this year. These options from Ouistitine are adorable yet minimalist, so they’ll still look chic lying all over your living room floor. Plus, each toy is handmade from the scraps of natural, eco-textiles like wool, linen and cotton . Sustainable clothing Clothing is a gifting staple in many households, but conventional fashion often relies on unsafe fabrics and unethical production processes. If you’re looking to give the little ones clothing this year, be sure to choose options that are organic , non-toxic and responsibly made. Gardening kits Most kids love to get messy, so add in the benefits of growing their own food and teaching them the importance of gardening, and you have quite a gift! Surprise the kids with a gardening kit (like this one ), which is fun for children of all ages. You can also check out this website for educational resources to go along with the gift. Images via  Wee Can Too , WWF , Christopher Michel , Ouistitine ,  Phichit Wongsunthi and Shutterstock

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children

Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape

December 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

A family’s wish to spend time in a self-sufficient weekend home has resulted in a beautiful modular design. Located just southeast of Melbourne, the solar-powered Fish Creek Home is a prefab design, comprised of two Archiblox modules that boast various sustainable features that make the home completely energy efficient. The large home, which is 1,371 square feet, is clad in corrugated Colorbond in a slate grey color. A wooden pergola and wrap-around deck are made out of natural timber panels . Built to reduce impact on the landscape, the interior space is comprised of just two elongated modules, the main living area and the bedrooms. The sleeping module was oriented to the northwest to protect it from the wind. Strategic skylights allow for stunning night sky views. Butting up to a lush green forest, this part of the home is calm and quiet, the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a soak in the private outdoor bathtub that sits on the deck. Related: Australia’s first carbon-positive prefab house produces more energy than it consumes The living module was orientated to the North to make the most out of the amazing sea views. Multiple floor-to-ceiling glass facades and windows flood the interior living space with natural light . A pair of large sliding doors open up to a wrap around deck, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. The two spaces are connected by sliding doors that can close to provide a noise barrier between the rooms. Additionally, closing the wall allows the home to minimize heat loss in the wintertime. The home’s beautiful design is not only pleasing to the eye, but also hides a powerhouse system of sustainability . The home runs on a rooftop solar power array. Operable windows and doors throughout the home provide optimal cross ventilation while a wood-burning fireplace keeps the energy use down in wintertime. Additionally, the home was installed with a rainwater collection system to reduce water waste. The landscaping around the home was left in its natural state, with expansive stretches of greenery that lead out to the sea. The homeowners plan to use this space to create a permaculture edible garden so that their home is 100 percent sustainable. + Archiblox Via Dwell Images via Archiblox

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Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape

Shipping container food halls slated to revitalize Southern California neighborhoods

December 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Californian firm  Studio One Eleven has unveiled a massive new project that includes using various shipping containers to install modern versions of traditional food halls throughout various neighborhoods in Southern California. The food hall project will see a number of shipping containers being converted into vibrant social areas, where locals can enjoy a variety of small-scale food venues, breweries, organic gardens, playgrounds and entertainment spaces. In Orange County, Studio One Eleven — in collaboration with developer Howard CDM — is just about to complete the SteelCraft Garden Grove. Slated to open in 2019, the Garden Grove will be a multi-use complex built out of 10 shipping containers that will house various food and beverage options with ample seating located on a second level. Within the 20,000-square-foot space, a working organic farm will provide fresh produce for the chefs on site. Related: A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers Another project, Leisuretown, is also slated to open next year in Anaheim. In collaboration with developer LAB Holding, the architects are currently building a 32,000-square-foot complex comprised of two levels of shipping containers that will house a Modern Times craft brewery, a coffee roaster and a vegan Mexican food restaurant. LAB Holding Founder Shaheen Sadeghi explained that one of the project’s main goals is to preserve local structures while breathing new life through community-driven urban design . “When communities tear down history and build all new products, it takes away the soul and the heartbeat of the city,” Sadeghi said. “By preserving as many of these buildings as possible and blending with new products built in the area, we hope to create an even better-balanced neighborhood.” Last but not least, downtown Santa Ana will also be getting a vibrant new community area. The Roost is an existing complex made up of several renovated pre-war buildings. By adding shipping containers to the development, the Roost will have a new central beer garden and outdoor dining space. As one of Orange County’s first shipping container complexes, the food hall will serve as a new social center for the area. + Studio One Eleven Images via Studio One Eleven

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Shipping container food halls slated to revitalize Southern California neighborhoods

Energy-producing pavilion proposal for Expo 2020 mimics Brazil’s biomes

December 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

? ? Architect Gabriel Kozlowski has proposed a stunning, energy-producing structure for the Brazilian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Created in collaboration with Gringo Cardia, Bárbara Graeff and Tripper Arquitetura, the conceptual design showcases a variety of sustainable systems, from construction materials like rammed earth to passive solar design strategies. Although the competition entry was not ultimately chosen for the Expo, the design does offer an inspiring look at the integration of Brazilian identity into sustainably minded architecture. “Our pavilion is inspired by one of the greatest technological achievements of Brazil: the improvement of the Direct Planting System over straw,” Kozlowski explained in a project statement. “This agricultural technique protects the soil and maintains the ideal thermal conditions for cultivation. The pavilion conceptually mimics this scheme through its layered arrangement — soil, entanglement of protection, productivity — presenting itself as both a building and a symbolic image of one of our progresses.” In addition to its nature-inspired form, the pavilion proposal subtly references Brazil’s previous Expo pavilions including those of Paulo Mendes da Rocha at Osaka 1970 and from Sérgio Bernardes at Brussels 1958. The building would have been built primarily of laminated timber as well as rammed earth mixed with reinforced concrete. The ground floor would serve primarily as exhibition space and is designed to host the ‘Together for Nature’ exhibition organized around six walls, each symbolic of Brazil’s six main terrestrial biomes: the Amazon Forest, the Cerrado, the Atlantic Forest, the Caatinga, the Pampa and the Pantanal. Each wall would be made from the soil of each biome and surrounded by totems housing the seeds of native species. Related: RIBA crowns Children Village in Brazil as the world’s best new building A massive, nest-like structure made from woven tree branches would appear to float above the ground floor and is accessed via a spiral staircase. The upper level would house the ’Together for People’ exhibit with images showcasing Brazil’s ethnic diversity along with the ‘Together for Tomorrow’ exhibit that explores water-related, biotechnological advancements, such as desalination and aquaculture . The upper level would have also included an auditorium and gathering spaces as well as a landscaped rooftop with a lookout terrace and restaurant. The proposed pavilion would have been engineered to produce its own energy, recycle its own water and stay naturally cool without the need for air conditioning. + Gabriel Kozlowski Via ArchDaily Images via Gabriel Kozlowski

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Energy-producing pavilion proposal for Expo 2020 mimics Brazil’s biomes

Get away from it all in this off-grid concrete cabin just steps away from the Appalachian Trail

December 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

For those looking to disconnect from the chaos of life, this off-grid retreat is just the place. Tucked into a rocky ridge along the Appalachian Trail, the 160-square-foot Lost Whiskey Cabin was created by the team at GreenSpur  to be a self-sufficient off-grid getaway – with a edgy twist. Clad in raw concrete with large steel-framed windows, the tiny solar-powered structure eschews the traditional log cabin aesthetic for a contemporary industrial vibe. The stunning cabin is the latest addition to the Lost Whiskey Club, an eco-friendly complex that includes a communal farmhouse, mobile whiskey bar, and various off-grid lodging options . Surrounded by 5,800 acres of incredibly scenic protected public land?, the complex is the perfect location for a low key escape from city life. Related: These Australian tiny cabins are designed to help us disconnect The Lost Whiskey Cabin is a unique design that opts for a tough industrial look. Inspired by Scandinavian minimalism , the structure is designed around its primary use: to reconnect with nature. The walls of the cabin are made out of pre-cast concrete panels manufactured in GreenSpur’s own warehouse and later transported to the site. This method allowed the team to not only reduce construction time, but also reduce impact on the land . In addition to the concrete panels, the cabin was has a series of thick steel window frames that provide stunning views. The same steel was used on the cabin’s chimney. The interior design was kept minimal to put the focus on the amazing surroundings. The living space is comprised of a Murphy bed made out of reclaimed wood . The bed doubles as a dining table when not in use. Two singular chairs face a pair of massive floor-to-ceiling glass doors, which open out to an open-air deck that cantilevers out over the landscape. The heart of the cabin, the concrete platform was installed with a Dutch hot tub that, along with a chair and a hammock, lets guests soak up the breathtaking views in complete tranquility. The rest of the home is equipped with all of the basics, mainly furnishings that have multiple uses and were chosen for their flexibility and durability. “With a crackling fire that heats the hot tub, solar panels, cisterns, Murphy bed, shower and compost toilet, this off-grid structure is virtually maintenance-free, and should look and function the same 100 years from now,” says GreenSpur founder Mark Turner. + GreenSpur Via Dwell Photography by Mitch Allen via GreenSpur

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Get away from it all in this off-grid concrete cabin just steps away from the Appalachian Trail

Simple DIY upcycled holiday decor

December 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Traditional Christmas decorations can quickly get expensive and extremely wasteful. But you can change that in your home this Christmas season by turning everyday household items into holiday decor. All you have to do is take a shopping trip through your house and upcycle old stuff into Christmas decorations. With just a little time and creativity, you can create these holiday decorations for just pennies, and keep the waste at a minimum. Pasta Christmas tree All you need for this project is some raw bowtie pasta, cardboard plates, a hot glue gun, and spray paint. Choose a color of paint that will match your holiday decor, like silver, gold, or green, and paint your pasta before gluing the pieces together to make a tree. This is just the beginning. You can also use penne rigate, fusilli, rotelle, radiatori, ditali lisci, or pasta shells to make a variety of different ornaments. When you watch the video tutorial for this craft, it will give you a creative spark. And, the surprising thing is, the holiday decorations and ornaments don’t even look like pasta when you are done. Toilet paper Santas This is a craft idea that you can do with the kids. All you need is some toilet paper rolls, colored paper, a marker, glue, scissors and string. First, measure and cut a piece of red paper that will fit around the toilet paper roll, then use your marker to draw bricks. Glue the red bricks to your toilet paper roll, then use the red paper again to cut out Santa’s legs and part of his hat. You will need white paper for the “fur trim” of Santa’s hat and pants, and black paper for the toy bag, feet and mittens. Sock monkey ornaments If you have some old sock monkeys hiding in the bottom of the closet, or have some sewing skills, you can create some cute sock monkey ornaments to put on the tree. All you need to make your own sock monkey is a pair of socks, two buttons, cotton stuffing or polyester fiber, scissors and some needle and thread. Wine bottle cork Christmas tree Another super easy idea for upcycled holiday decor is a Christmas tree made from wine bottle corks. You can paint the corks or decorate them with buttons, glitter, and textiles before tying them in red ribbon. Or, you can keep it simple and arrange plain corks (possibly with some red wine stains) into the shape of a tree. Then glue them together and add a decorative ribbon. Bottle light tree With some rebar, wine and/or liquor bottles, and a few strings of Christmas lights, you can create your own bottle light tree to light up your front yard. The possibilities are endless with this project, and the bonus is you have to drink some booze to make it happen. Cinnamon stick candle holder All you need for this idea is some cinnamon sticks, hot glue, some ribbon or lace, and a few holiday embellishments that you can find in your yard, like pine cones. And, in just a few short minutes you will have custom candle holders that will make your house smell amazing throughout the holiday season. Recycled Christmas village You can take this idea and run with it any way you like. You can use plastic containers or mason jars to house trees you can make from paper. And, you can use cereal and snack boxes like BettiJo at Paging Super Mom to create your village . Tech lover wreath Do you have some old computer parts, cell phones, and cords taking up space in your home? Well, stop letting them collect dust and turn them into a holiday wreath. All you need is a wreath form and some old tech to create this cute, geeky decoration. Light bulb garland and ornaments This upcycled holiday decor idea uses old light bulbs, paint, and some ornament hangers. You can add them to some garland or hang them on your tree. And, if you want to take this idea to another level  — and you have some art skills — you can turn the light bulbs into reindeer, snowmen, Santas, or even a grinch with the right paint and crafty accessories. Lanterns It doesn’t get much easier (or cheaper) than this. You will want to start by creating a holiday image with vintage angels and stars, or any other Christmas-inspired thing you can think of. Then, print out your design and cut out a piece that will fit around a soup can and another that will fit a box of matches.  Finally, glue or tape the pieces to the can and matchbox, just don’t cover the striking surface on the box! Images via Personal Creations , Elin B , Diana_rajchel , Shutterstock

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Simple DIY upcycled holiday decor

Futuristic eco-city powered with renewable energy is unveiled for the Maldives

December 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Beijing and New York-based design studio CAA Architects has placed first in the “Maldives Airport, Economic Zone Development” competition with their design of a futuristic, energy-producing eco-city on the east coast of the reclaimed island Hulhumalé, Maldives . Named Ocean’s Heaven after its nature-inspired design connecting the ocean with the city, the project features striking, sinuous buildings covered in green roofs and solar panels and will be capable of producing almost all of its own energy on-site. Commissioned by the Beijing Urban Construction Group Co. in partnership with the Maldives central government, the eco-city is yet another example of China’s increasing influence over the archipelago country. Global warming and rising sea levels are serious concerns for the Maldives, a tropical paradise famed for its pristine beaches and aquamarine waters. In response to the climate change threats and to celebrate the island country’s natural beauty, CAA Architects crafted Ocean’s Heaven with organically inspired buildings integrated with energy-producing systems to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The mixed-use development will cover nearly two-thirds of the 100,000-square-meter site and include residences, an airport company service center, international trade center, convention center, island transport hub, shopping centers, a business hotel, dining, along with a centralized cultural center that will serve as the island’s “nervous system”. Ocean’s Heaven will promote high-density urban living and public transportation that includes both surface and water commuting. Ample green space, including sky gardens, will strengthen the community’s ties with nature. Related: This stunning underwater art museum is now open in the Maldives In addition to the solar photovoltaic arrays mounted on the buildings and the sculptural canopy elements along the boardwalk, Ocean’s Heaven will also draw power from tidal waves to generate over 70 percent of the electricity needed to power the development. Rainwater harvesting and passive cross ventilation are also woven into the design. The project, which will be carried out in two phases, is slated for completion in 2021. + CAA Architects Via ArchDaily Images via CAA Architects

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Futuristic eco-city powered with renewable energy is unveiled for the Maldives

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for foodies

December 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

Food is an important aspect of our daily lives, but many of the treats we love are wrapped in single-use plastics or come from pesticide-ridden conventional farms . This year, show the foodies in your life how much you care with sustainable gifts that improve their cooking skills and make the planet a better place to live. Stainless steel straws After reviewing several types of reusable straws, we fell in love with the stainless steel variety. As the war on plastic straws wages on, give everyone you know a pack of stainless steel straws to keep on them anywhere they go. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is the best for the future? Yogurt maker Many people love yogurt, but the individually packaged options on the market only contribute to the global waste crisis. Instead, create your own flavor combinations in reusable glass jars using this handy yogurt maker . Make yogurt-making part of your weekly routine, and you’ll see it is as easy as “set it and forget it.” Stasher bags Although quite wasteful, you have to admit that plastic, resealable baggies are incredibly handy for storing extra food and other miscellaneous items. Luckily, Stasher has taken this idea and made it even more useful and sustainable. These reusable , resealable bags are made with BPA-free silicone and can be boiled, frozen, baked in the oven, microwaved and more. They last much longer than their single-use counterparts, but when they reach the end of their life, Stasher will recycle them into playground pebbles. Beeswax food wrap Avid cooks and bakers can find many uses for plastic wrap, but unfortunately, it is a single-use item that goes straight to the landfill. Gift your favorite foodies these reusable food wraps made using beeswax. These are a natural, zero-waste alternative to plastic wrap, and they come in an adorable pattern for wrapping sandwiches, leftover produce, cheeses and more. Reusable water bottles If you’re friends or family still haven’t converted to carrying reusable water bottles over plastic, it’s time to make the change. With a wide variety of colors and patterns, these S’well bottles make a great gift for everyone on your list. CSA subscriptions For the most serious foodies, nothing is better than cooking with fresh, local produce . Get in touch with farmers in your gift recipient’s area to set up a CSA subscription, which will deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to your loved one’s door. Start your search here . Fair trade chocolate Chocolate always makes a great gift, but make sure your present is being harvested ethically and sustainably. Check out some of these brands to add to stockings this year. Metal tea strainer A hot cup of tea soothes the soul… or at least warms you up during these cold, chilly days. Put together a cute and functional gift for every foodie you know with a mug, some local and organic tea (packaged sustainably, of course!) and one of these metal tea strainers , which eliminate the need for single-use tea packets. Images via Amazon ,  Stasher , Abeego , S’well , Jill Wellington , Nawalescape , Drew Coffman , Pexels and Shutterstock

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for foodies

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