‘Indestructible’ Arctic seed vault flooded after permafrost melts

May 22, 2017 by  
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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is supposed to protect all of the world’s seeds, but climate change has other ideas. The vault was built inside the Arctic Circle to protect a diverse seed collection from natural disasters, war, and other calamities, but meltwater from thawing permafrost recently flooded the vault’s entrance tunnel. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault , tucked in a mountain on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, was thought to offer failsafe protection, according to The Crop Trust , the organization behind the facility. Nearly a million packets of seeds can be found within, ready to offer a measure of food security for the world. But record high temperatures melted permafrost around the seed vault, and water breached the vault’s entrance. Related: 50,000 new seeds deposited in Arctic Circle’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault The seeds weren’t harmed, according to a statement on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault website, and the facility wasn’t damaged either. The water that did enter froze and has since been hacked out. But the seeds’ future safety is suddenly in question. Hege Njaa Aschim, Director of Communications at Norway’s construction and property agency, Statsbygg, told The Guardian, “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that [the vault] would experience extreme weather like that…It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day.” Vault managers have already taken steps to fortify the vault, such as digging trenches to channel water away and working to waterproof the tunnel that stretches into the mountain. They’ve installed pumps inside the seed vault to help get rid of water in case of flooding in the future. They also took out some electrical equipment that generated heat in the tunnel. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s statement on the incident said, “Globally, the Seed Vault is, and will continue to be, the safest backup of crop diversity .” Via The Guardian Images via Global Crop Diversity Trust on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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‘Indestructible’ Arctic seed vault flooded after permafrost melts

$63k tiny home manages to feel open and airy in just 188 square feet

May 22, 2017 by  
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As much as we love  tiny home  living, it can be undeniably cramped sometimes. The home builders from Tumbleweed Houses are rising to meet the challenge of creating a spacious-feeling living space in a compact footprint. The company just unveiled their latest compact home, the Roanoke, which uses a 10-foot-high ceiling topped with a shed style roof to add flexible space to the 188-square-foot, off-grid home. The compact trailer was built to provide flexibility in terms of space and location, but also has a charming aesthetic. A wood paneled exterior gives the home a traditional cabin feel on one side, while a sophisticated black metal roof and backside adds a touch of modernity to the design. The Roanoke is built on a RVIA Certified, Low-Wider trailer, which means it can be transported virtually anywhere. Although it comes with standard water and electricity connections, it can be equipped to be 100% off-grid. Related: This amazing light-filled tiny house packs big style for just $35k The sophisticated feel of the tiny cabin continues on to the all-wood interior. The highlight of the space is undoubtedly its 10-foot-high ceilings which, along with tons of natural light, gives the home an open, airy quality. Various storage system s such as built-in storage nooks and various cubby holes keep the space clutter free. The bottom floor houses a spacious kitchen, bath and master bedroom or office space. Thanks to the slanted roof, a space was carved out for an upstairs sleeping loft, which can be reached by ladder. This flexible sleeping arrangement was designed so that young couples could use the loft as a bedroom and the master as an office space in their younger, more agile years. As the couple ages, the loft space can be used for storage space and the office can be converted into a master bedroom. + Tumbleweed Houses Images via Tumbleweed Houses  

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$63k tiny home manages to feel open and airy in just 188 square feet

50,000 new seeds deposited in Arctic Circle’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault

February 23, 2017 by  
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Nearly 10 years ago, a group of scientists got together to build the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle , to prepare for a world threatened by climate change , wars, and natural disasters. According to The Crop Trust , an organization that supports the storage facility, the vault holds the world’s largest and most diverse seed collection – and just received a major investment of 50,000 new seeds . The Svalbard Global Seed Vault works to ensure food security and biodiversity for the future, and it appears many countries value that mission. The Crop Trust reported around 50,000 samples from seed collections in the United States, United Kingdom, Benin, Belarus, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Morocco, and Bosnia and Herzegovina recently arrived at the seed vault, which lies between Norway and the North Pole. Related: Syria withdraws seeds from Doomsday Vault as bombs disrupt crop research The Crop Trust executive director Marie Haga said at the vault, “Today’s seed deposit at Svalbard supported by The Crop Trust shows that despite political and economic differences in other arenas, collective efforts to conserve crop diversity and produce a global food supply for tomorrow continue to be strong.” The seed vault helps countries today too – in 2015 a research center in Syria had to withdraw some seeds they’d stored as war plagued Aleppo, but they were recently able to return some of the seeds to the vault along with the rest of the recent deposit. The seed vault could store as many as 4.5 million seed varieties; until the recent deposit, there were over 880,000 samples stored, and the total has now reached 930,821 seed samples, including potato, wheat, sorghum, rice, lentil, barley, and chickpea seeds. The vault’s extreme location helps protect the seeds; permafrost and thick rock keep the samples frozen. The Crop Trust describes the facility as the ultimate insurance policy, saying it “will secure, for centuries, millions of seeds representing every important crop variety available in the world today. It is the final backup.” Via The Crop Trust ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Global Crop Diversity Trust on Facebook and Wikimedia Commons

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50,000 new seeds deposited in Arctic Circle’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

February 23, 2017 by  
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Last year, during the 2016 Summer Games , it would have been hard to imagine the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro sitting empty in the hot Brazilian sun. Sadly, this is what has become of the space today. Despite having been officially reopened in January as a public recreation area, the park is treated to only a few visitors and a longstanding bad reputation. The $800 million Olympic Park was constructed in the months prior to last year’s Summer Games in a process that displaced residents and enraged others. Clare Richardson of Vice visited residents of the old Vila Autódromo favela, a community that was forced to move, later granted new public housing in the area. The city’s promises have fallen short of the agreed upon vision of building playgrounds, a court for sports, and a community center, leaving people with plain housing in an asphalt jungle. Residents have even resorted to creating their own speed bumps out of stones and trash cans to keep nearby roads safe. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Visitors to the area feel shortchanged, as well. Vital services that were available during the park’s grand opening event, such as running water and electricity, are no longer available. The typical two-hour journey from the center of the city greets commuters with a sad skatepark , playground, and the ghostly spectacles of towering arenas. Bigger events, like the Rock in Rio music festival, are planned, but the park has become an inconvenient eyesore for the rest of the year. “I’ve seen about 12 people here since I arrived five hours ago,” Vinicius Martini, a beer vendor at the park, told Vice. “And I haven’t sold any beer.” Via Vice Images via Clare Robinson

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Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

Snhettas luxury cabin with Aurora Borealis views opens at Treehotel

January 18, 2017 by  
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If a room with Aurora Borealis views sounds like the perfect getaway, you’ll love what’s popped up at Sweden’s Treehotel . The boutique hotel, which comprises designer treehouses near the Arctic Circle, just welcomed its first guests to the 7th room, a luxury elevated cabin designed by architecture firm Snøhetta. Hovering ten meters off the ground, the elevated dwelling is a contemporary take on the traditional Nordic cabin and comfortably immerses guests in the beautiful Lapland landscape. Nestled within the evergreen canopy of a tall pine forest, Snøhetta’s 7th room offers stunning views of the Lapland treetops and the Lule River. The cabin is clad in dark-colored pine and thrust into the air by twelve columns. The architects blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living by adding large panoramic windows , a netted terrace suspended above the forest floor, an opening for a tree to pass through the cabin, and even an optical illusion: the cabin’s bottom surface is covered with a large black-and-white print of pine trees to make the cabin appear invisible from below. The elevated cabin is accessible via a staircase and a small lift. In contrast to the dark facade, the 55-square-meter interior features light-colored ash wood floors and birch plywood walls. Built to accommodate five, the cabin comprises two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, and terrace spread out across two floors. The bedrooms are located on the upper level. Ample glazing allows copious amounts of natural light to pour in and frame landscape views. Expansive, openable skylights in the bedroom as well as a north-facing floor-to-ceiling window in the living room offer prime viewing opportunities of the Northern Lights. Related: Stunning Swedish Treehotel Opens This Weekend! “The design of the 7th room aims to bring people and nature closer together, extending the cabin’s social spaces to the outside and further blending the distinction between indoor and outdoor,” writes Snøhetta. “With its wooden characteristics and unique location in the treetops, the 7th room is a celebration of the Nordic cabin and the pine tree forest.” + Snøhetta Images © Johan Jansson

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How one family thrives in the Arctic with a cob house inside a solar geodesic dome

December 31, 2016 by  
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Life inside the Arctic Circle is by no means easy, unless you’re a Hjertefølger. We first heard about Benjamin and Ingrid Hjertefølger four years ago when they began building Nature House , a three-story cob house wrapped in a solar geodesic dome . Located on the island of Sandhornøya in northern Norway , the ultra-green home was designed to enable the family of six to eek out a sustainable existence despite challenging climatic conditions – they even grow most of their own food. Inhabitat recently caught up with the Hjertefølgers, who have now lived in their home for three years, to learn about their challenges and victories. The Hjertefølgers, which translates to Heartfollowers, live in Nature House with their four children – they’ve added one to their number since Inhabitat last wrote about them . After constructing their cob home topped with one of Solardome’s single-glazed geodesic domes with the help of friends and neighbors, the family moved in on December 8, 2013. Related: Gorgeous Solar Geodesic Dome Crowns Cob House in the Arctic Circle “The house works as we intended and planned. We love the house; it has a soul of its own and it feels very personal. What surprises us is the fact that we built ourselves anew as we built the house,” Ingrid Hjertefølger told Inhabitat. “The process changed us, shaped us.” The family had to design their home with extreme temperatures and wind in mind. It’s impossible to grow food in the dome in winter – Hjertefølger said there are three months without sun at Nature House – but the design does enable the family to grow food five months longer than they could outside. They grow apples, cherries, plums, apricots, kiwis, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, squash, and melons. Growing their own food is just the beginning of sustainable living at Nature House. Hjertefølger said all of their grey and black water is reused for fertilizing and watering the plants they grow. The family composts food scraps. They make sure to use clean, biodegradable household products, as elements in those products could end up in the food they eat. The home will have a long lifespan too – Hjertefølger said cob “lasts forever if you keep it dry,” and as their dwelling is always covered with the glass dome, it hasn’t been worn down by weather. She also said there’s no need to paint or even maintain the cob structure’s walls. Improvements could be made to the house, but for the most part the family seems incredibly satisfied with the design. “If we were to build a new Nature House, the ideal thing would be double glass on the green house so that we could have a tropical garden and no dripping in the winter,” said Hjertefølger. “But that is a bit unrealistic because it is very expensive with all that glass.” She also said they’d like to make a few changes to how the plant beds are set up “to get more usable space and better placement for different plants.” Overall, though, the family says they thrive inside Nature House. “The feeling we get as we walk into this house is something different from walking in to any other house,” Hjertefølger told Inhabitat. “The atmosphere is unique. The house has a calmness; I can almost hear the stillness. It is hard to explain. But it would have been impossible getting this feeling from a house someone else has planned and built for us, or a house with corners and straight lines.” + Nature House Images courtesy of Ingrid Hjertefølger

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How one family thrives in the Arctic with a cob house inside a solar geodesic dome

How one family thrives in the Arctic with a cob house inside a solar geodesic dome

December 31, 2016 by  
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Life inside the Arctic Circle is by no means easy, unless you’re a Hjertefølger. We first heard about Benjamin and Ingrid Hjertefølger four years ago when they began building Nature House , a three-story cob house wrapped in a solar geodesic dome . Located on the island of Sandhornøya in northern Norway , the ultra-green home was designed to enable the family of six to eek out a sustainable existence despite challenging climatic conditions – they even grow most of their own food. Inhabitat recently caught up with the Hjertefølgers, who have now lived in their home for three years, to learn about their challenges and victories. The Hjertefølgers, which translates to Heartfollowers, live in Nature House with their four children – they’ve added one to their number since Inhabitat last wrote about them . After constructing their cob home topped with one of Solardome’s single-glazed geodesic domes with the help of friends and neighbors, the family moved in on December 8, 2013. Related: Gorgeous Solar Geodesic Dome Crowns Cob House in the Arctic Circle “The house works as we intended and planned. We love the house; it has a soul of its own and it feels very personal. What surprises us is the fact that we built ourselves anew as we built the house,” Ingrid Hjertefølger told Inhabitat. “The process changed us, shaped us.” The family had to design their home with extreme temperatures and wind in mind. It’s impossible to grow food in the dome in winter – Hjertefølger said there are three months without sun at Nature House – but the design does enable the family to grow food five months longer than they could outside. They grow apples, cherries, plums, apricots, kiwis, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, squash, and melons. Growing their own food is just the beginning of sustainable living at Nature House. Hjertefølger said all of their grey and black water is reused for fertilizing and watering the plants they grow. The family composts food scraps. They make sure to use clean, biodegradable household products, as elements in those products could end up in the food they eat. The home will have a long lifespan too – Hjertefølger said cob “lasts forever if you keep it dry,” and as their dwelling is always covered with the glass dome, it hasn’t been worn down by weather. She also said there’s no need to paint or even maintain the cob structure’s walls. Improvements could be made to the house, but for the most part the family seems incredibly satisfied with the design. “If we were to build a new Nature House, the ideal thing would be double glass on the green house so that we could have a tropical garden and no dripping in the winter,” said Hjertefølger. “But that is a bit unrealistic because it is very expensive with all that glass.” She also said they’d like to make a few changes to how the plant beds are set up “to get more usable space and better placement for different plants.” Overall, though, the family says they thrive inside Nature House. “The feeling we get as we walk into this house is something different from walking in to any other house,” Hjertefølger told Inhabitat. “The atmosphere is unique. The house has a calmness; I can almost hear the stillness. It is hard to explain. But it would have been impossible getting this feeling from a house someone else has planned and built for us, or a house with corners and straight lines.” + Nature House Images courtesy of Ingrid Hjertefølger

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How one family thrives in the Arctic with a cob house inside a solar geodesic dome

Lumberjill hacks stylish bench out of a felled tree trunk

December 30, 2016 by  
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When the designers from Practice of Everyday Design were looking for a unique seating option for a client, they threw out the conventional design process and turned to a professional lumberjill to carve out seats on a reclaimed felled log . Hacked out of pure brute strength and surgical precision, the deep notches on the log were then covered in beautiful red upholstery hand-sewn by a local motorcycle seat maker. Now that’s what we call true artisanal furniture. The bench was a one-off concept piece that the designers had in mind for a specific client. Without relying on drawings or measurements, designers David Long & Antoine Morris came up with an abstract idea to turn a simple log into a physical and functional sculpture . Related: Hilla Shamia casts tree trunks in aluminium to create dramatic furniture They began their material search by contacting the City of Toronto to find out the best places to find local felled wood . After checking out the options at the various tree graveyards and tree nurseries, the team went with a rough log that matched the general dimensions they were looking for. Enter the professional lumberjill, who, working on little-to-no specifics, instinctively used her axe (at competition speed, no less) to strip off the tree bark and hack out three seating spaces. The carved spaces were then covered with a hand-sewn upholstery by a local motorcycle saddle maker, essentially creating a truly one-of-a-kind, reclaimed wooden bench . + Practice of Everyday Design Via Yanko Design

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Lumberjill hacks stylish bench out of a felled tree trunk

Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round

December 2, 2016 by  
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Sweden’s famed ICEHOTEL , perhaps the “coolest” hotel in the world, has just unveiled a permanent luxury lodge made entirely of ice. The newly-designed ICEHOTEL 365 has all of the chilly charm of its sister hotel, but will be open 365 days a year thanks to state-of-the-art solar-powered cooling technology that will keep the structure frozen during summer months. Located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle in the Swedish village of Jukkasjarvi, ICEHOTEL rose to fame thanks to its unique igloo structure made out of “snice”, a mixture of snow and ice collected from the Torne River. The fantastical structure has been built and rebuilt every year since 1989. Related: World-Famous Swedish Ice Hotel Forced to Install Fire Alarms Despite Sub-Freezing Temperatures Now the new ICEHOTEL 365, which sits adjacent to the other temporary structure, has just been unveiled. Thanks to the solar-powered cooling technology , guests can now enjoy either cold or warm rooms year round, along with a cocktail room, saunas, and even an ice church. The cold rooms are kept between -5 and -8 degrees Celsius, and although the beds are made from blocks of ice, they have thick mattresses on top of wood crates for added comfort. Reindeer hides and thermal sleeping bags keep guests warm and comfy during the night. Like the original hotel, the 365 version has a series of thematic rooms called Art Suites. Each room has carved ice detailing created by artists from around the world. And if you really want to splurge, go for the Deluxe Suites. The largest suites in the hotel, the Deluxe Suites also have individually designed carvings as well as a private heated relaxation area, sauna, shower, and en suite bathrooms. + ICEHOTEL 365 Via Contemporist Photographs by Asaf Kliger and ICEHOTEL

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Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round

Sweden’s legendary ICEHOTEL taps solar power to stay open year-round

September 13, 2016 by  
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The sparkling, chilly beauty of northern Sweden’s ICEHOTEL brings in thousands of visitors each year, only to melt away each spring. That will all change with a new addition projected to open this December, which will stay open into the sunny summer months thanks to a rooftop solar panel addition. Guests will be able to enjoy both the fire of the midnight sun and their icy accommodations at the same time. The ICEHOTEL has been operational for 26 years, with the same routine of preparing the destination each winter and shutting down each spring. The new hotel wing will be open 365 days a year in response to customer demand for a cool place to stay after a late night hike or dogsled adventure in the sun. Related: ICEHOTEL unveils breathtaking rooms carved from solid ice During the summer months, the addition will generate power from the sun day and night via photovoltaic rooftop panels provided by partner Solkompaniet. When the seasonal sun sets, the collection of 20 suites, ice bar, and gallery will join the rest of the ICEHOTEL, which is three times its size, for the winter rush. “We’ve created many temporary ice experiences in the past, and we’ve seen an increasing interest for visiting ICEHOTEL not just in winter,” stated founder Yngve Bergqvist. “Every summer we have international visitors who arrive in Jukkasjärvi and ask us where they can see ICEHOTEL – I look forward to being able to point it out to them!” + ICEHOTEL Via Design Curial Images via Asaf Kliger

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Sweden’s legendary ICEHOTEL taps solar power to stay open year-round

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