Fabulous multigenerational home allows owners to comfortably age in place

May 23, 2017 by  
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Practical yet playful, the Charles House is a multigenerational home designed with an eye for detail and sustainability in Kew, Australia. Austin Maynard Architects designed the spacious home for a family of five who wanted a home they could live in for at least 25 years. The home, which is adaptable to meet the needs of a growing extended family, is one of the architects’ most sustainable homes to date and features a solar array, bulk insulation, and double stud walls. Unlike its “McMansion” neighbors, the Charles House has a unique design that references historic Edwardian and Victorian homes with a modern twist. Instead of building on top of the plot’s entire width, the architects slotted the home on the southern edge and left a long strip of green open for a garden that runs from the street to the school sports field at the rear of the site. The continuous green strip is accessible to all the living spaces of the home and blur the line between indoor and outdoor living. “Sited in Kew, where neighbouring buildings compete for attention and status, our challenge was to create a home that didn’t dominate the street and was imbedded in gardens,” wrote the architects. “We aimed to create a home that didn’t have a tall defensive fence, but instead offered openness and life to the street.” Related: Innovative House M-M Brings Three Generations of Finns Under One Roof The home is broken down in a series of interconnected volumes, each clad in a different slate pattern. The interior is designed for adaptability and rooms can be converted to accommodate different uses. The home is topped with a rooftop solar array and also includes water collection, doubled glazed windows, and adjustable sun shading and siting. + Austin Maynard Architects Images © Peter Bennetts

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Fabulous multigenerational home allows owners to comfortably age in place

Passive solar home built of recycled natural materials "floats in the Australian bush

May 22, 2017 by  
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At first glance, the delightfully sinuous roof that tops the Lauriston house makes the building look more like sculpture than a home in the Australian bush. But a closer look reveals that the building truly is a welcoming retreat meticulously detailed with the luxurious comforts of home and more. Designed by Seeley Architects , the Lauriston house is a beautiful dwelling that embraces the outdoors as well as passive solar principles for an environmentally friendly footprint. Designed for a client who sought intimacy with the outdoors, the 380-square-meter Lauriston house’s rectangular volume is predominately covered in floor-to-ceiling glazing to overlook the landscape of olive groves and gum trees. To protect the glass home from the elements, the architects carefully sited the building and topped it with an undulating roof that protects against rain and sun. The roof’s wavy shape also references the hilly landscape near Kyneton, Victoria. “The geometrically aligned rows of olive trees set against a voluptuous landscape evoke a quiet, unspoken tension,” wrote the architects, referencing the contrast between the indigenous flora and the structured olive groves. “The house mimics this tension with the relationship of a meticulously detailed and structured frame against a seemingly effortless floating, sinuous roof.” The building’s glazed form is given a heightened sense of lightness with its bold cantilever . Related: Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback Local natural materials and textures give the home a sense of warmth, from the Messmate timber lining to the colonial-inspired French pattern bluestone. The interior is organized around a centrally located alfresco entrance that separates the private areas on the east end from the public spaces to the west. The open-plan living and dining area opens up to the cantilevered deck with stunning landscape views of hills, dams, and olive groves. The home’s integration of passive solar principles and rainwater capture systems ensures a lower energy footprint. + Seeley Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Peter Hyatt

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Passive solar home built of recycled natural materials "floats in the Australian bush

Prefabricated lakeside cabin is a beautiful exercise in restraint

May 22, 2017 by  
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Family reunions can be loud affairs, a fact that one Torontonian family patriarch with ten energetic grandkids knows well. To secure peace and quiet while staying close to visiting family, a homeowner on Ontario’s Lake Simcoe hired Superkül architects to design a retreat within a retreat—a modern kid-free cabin separate from his existing bungalow. Dubbed Pointe Cabin, the prefabricated modern dwelling is a beautiful exercise in restraint that fully embraces the outdoors. The two-bedroom, 840-square-foot Pointe Cabin is sited close to the client’s original log cottage, purchased in the 1970s, at the edge of Cook’s Bay on the southern tip of Lake Simcoe. Although the new addition contrasts with its predecessor in its contemporary design, both cabins are linked by their predominant use of timber that blends the buildings into the wooded surroundings. Natural, locally sourced , and low maintenance materials were used in the indoor and outdoor living areas and include a mixture of cedar, white oak, and spruce-pine-fir. Related: Superkül Designs Canada’s First Active House To meet cost and efficiency targets, the single-story cabin was prefabricated offsite. The factory-built wall, floor, and roof panels were trucked to the site and the home was assembled in just a few days. The two-bedroom home is connected to the original cabin with a glazed passageway and contains a private entry, kitchenette, bathroom, and wrap-around deck. Floor-to-ceiling glass frames views of the lake and the landscape. + Superkül architects Images via Superkül architects , by Shai Gil

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Prefabricated lakeside cabin is a beautiful exercise in restraint

Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

May 18, 2017 by  
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As global temperatures increase due to global warming , ice caps and glaciers continue to melt at an increasing pace. While this reality disturbs some, it is being regarded as positive news by the National Advisor Bureau Limited, based in Dubai, India. This is because the firm seeks to harvest icebergs in the southern Indian ocean and tow them 5,700 miles (9,200 kilometers) away to the Gulf, where they could be melted and sold to local businesses or marketed as a tourist attraction. However ambitious, the Dubai firm faces many challenges in its ambition, including opposition from environmental activists . Phys reports that to accomplish the task of harvesting icebergs, the firm would send ships to Heard Island, an Australian nature reserve , and steer between massive icebergs the size of cities in search of truck-sized chunks. Then, the smaller icebergs would be secured to boats with nets and dragged thousands of miles back to the intended destination. Managing director of the company, Abdullah al-Shehi, believes that the icebergs would not melt significantly during the voyage as the majority of an iceberg’s mass is underwater. Al-Shehi is largely excited about the payday that could await someone who successfully transports an iceberg capable of holding 20 billion gallons of fresh water to the Gulf’s region water. This is because in Norway, for instance, one distillery sells 750 ml bottles of melted Arctic iceberg for $100 each. However, ice sourced from Antarctica is the driest in the world, therefore, yields much less water. If all the permits required are obtained, harvesting will begin in 2019. According to Robert Brears, the founder of Mitidaption, the project would require an initial investment of at least $500 million. Additionally, the firm faces a variety of obstacles. For one, Australia strictly limits access in order to preserve the diverse ecosystem of migratory birds, penguins, seals and fish. This could be disrupted by large ships. Additionally, Antarctica is subject to global treaties that mandate strict environmental regulations and ban mining and military activities. Said Christopher Readinger, head of the Antarctic team at the U.S. National Ice Center, “There are thousands and thousands of icebergs drifting around and they can move without warning. Storms down there can be really brutal, and there’s really not anyone that can help.” Environmentalists are also offering staunch resistant to the Dubai firm’s plan, as they argue there is a simpler method to address climate change in the Middle East. Examples given include drip-irrigation, fixing leaks and water conservations. Hoda Baraka, spokeswoman for the climate advocacy group 350.org , said , “This region is the heartland of the global oil industry, it will be at the forefront of experiencing these massive, insane heat waves, and there’s only one way to avoid this—reducing emissions and keeping all fossil fuels in the ground.” Related: 70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg Because the project is “an exceptionally futile and expensive way” to combat climate change and “seems to run counter to all ideas of climate change adaptation,” says Charlotte Streck, director of the consultancy firm Climate Focus, the Dubai firm is unlikely to receive financing from green investment groups. Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

100-million-year-old dinosaur remains discovered in Canada look ‘weeks old’

May 15, 2017 by  
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A group of miners in Canada accidentally stumbled upon what is possibly the most intact dinosaur carcass science has ever seen. They discovered the fully-preserved nodosaur, a herbivore that stretched 18-feet-long and weighed nearly 3,000 pounds, in 2011 while working on a project 17 miles north of Alberta, Canada . Even though the dinosaur died over 110 million years ago, scientists say because they were preserved in just the right conditions, the remains appear to be only a few weeks old. The unexpected discovery was primarily made by heavy equipment operator Shawn Funk, who was carving through the Earth in Millennium Mine when his excavator contacted something hard. What looked like walnut brown rocks turned out to be the fossilized remains of an 110-million-years-old nodosaur. The imposing herbivore was intact enough for the front half (from the snout to the hips) to be recovered. To date, the specimen is the best fossil of a nodosaur ever found. According to Michael Greshko of National Geographic , the petrified dinosaur is a wonder to behold. “Fossilized remnants of skin still cover the bumpy armor plates dotting the animal’s skull. Its right forefoot lies by its side, its five digits splayed upward. I can count the scales on its sole,” writes Greshko. Related: World’s largest dinosaur footprint found in Australia’s “Jurassic Park” The dinosaur appears similarly to how it would have millions of years ago because of a rapid undersea burial. The fact that its tissue did not decompose but was instead fossilized is extremely rare, according to paleontologists. Said Paleobiologist Jakob Vinther, an expert on animal coloration from the U.K.’s University of Bristol, the dinosaur is so well-preserved it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never seen anything like this.” When the nodosaur was alive, it didn’t have shin-splitting till clubs like its cousin, the Ankylosauridae. Instead, it wielded thorny armor to deter predators. Alive during the Cretaceous period, the 18-foot-long dinosaur could have been considered the rhinoceros of its day. In other words, it was a grumpy herbivore that kept to itself. Rarely would it be messed with, as it had two 20-inch-long spikes jutting out of its shoulders. Head over to National Geographic for more images! . Via National Geographic Images via Don’tMessWithWildDinosaurs , TwoFeed

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100-million-year-old dinosaur remains discovered in Canada look ‘weeks old’

Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death

April 10, 2017 by  
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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef offers dramatic evidence of the reality of climate change . Scientists have found an astonishing two-thirds of the reef undergoing mass coral bleaching as warmer ocean temperatures are basically boiling them to death. James Kerry, a scientist with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies , told CNN when ocean temperatures are hot for long periods of time, corals don’t simply bleach but “cook and they die very quickly.” 2016 saw a bleaching event that was the worst coral die-off we’ve ever recorded, and now a 2017 event makes matters worse. ARC Centre director Terry Hughes said the impact of back-to-back bleaching sprawls across 900 miles; only the southern third of the Great Barrier Reef is unharmed. It’s the second time in only 12 months scientists have recorded mass bleaching in the reef after aerial surveys. Related: Great Barrier Reef bleaching is the “worst coral die-off” in recorded history And 2017’s bleaching can’t be explained away by El Niño . Hughes said the bleaching “is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming .” The Great Barrier Reef has experienced severe bleaching in 1998, 2002, and now 2016 and 2017, according to scientists. Kerry said bleached corals don’t always die, but take at least a decade to make a full recovery, so with back-to-back bleaching they expect coral loss. Tropical Cyclone Debbie didn’t help either. The storm may have left damage in its wake when it hit part of the Great Barrier Reef at the end of March. Hughes said in a statement, “Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts. Without a doubt the most pressing of these is global warming. As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events: one degree Celsius of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years. Ultimately we need to cut carbon emissions , and the window to do so is rapidly closing.” Via the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and CNN Images via Bette Willis and Ed Roberts/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

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Tiny Scottish island powers itself with community-owned off-grid energy system

March 31, 2017 by  
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When you think of the future of electricity in the world, you probably don’t envision a small island off the coast of Scotland leading the way. But the 12-square-mile Scottish island of Eigg has become a shining example of how communities that aren’t connected to larger grids can do it themselves with clean energy . As the BBC reports, Eigg made the revolutionary move in 2008 to shed its noisy diesel-generated power in favor of an off-grid electric system that uses only wind, water and solar power . It was the first community in the world to make this bold move, and what’s more, the clearly self-reliant residents pretty much taught themselves how to build and run the system. Since the diesel generators they previously used only ran for a small part of each day, getting rid of them in favor of clean energy also meant the community had power available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first time. The community-owned system, Eigg Electric , keeps energy flowing on a regular basis by integrating three power sources from wind, solar and hydroelectric. A set of four wind turbines feed up to 24 kilowatts into the grid, while a set of solar panels contribute an annual average of 9.5 percent of their rated output of 50 kilowatts. Shoring up the rather unreliable wind and solar power components are three hydroelectric generating stations spread throughout the island. One puts out up to 100 kilowatts, while the others generate 5 to 6 kilowatts each. Related: Australia announces massive $1B solar farm with the world’s largest battery Working together, these three power sources provide 90 to 95 percent of the island’s electricity. Occasionally they have to fire up their two backup generators when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and sometimes they produce more power than they need. In the latter case, the excess power benefits the community by automatically turning on heating systems in shared spaces like the community hall—so everyone benefits. Their system and public ownership model has already reached other communities around the world that a face the same challenge of not being connected to the grid. Community Energy Malawi , a sister organization to Community Energy Scotland , sent representatives to Eigg last year to study the system. They were encouraged by the fact that people with a non-technical background could learn to build and operate a reliable renewable energy system. Via BBC Images via W. L. Tarbert , Wikimedia Commons and isleofeigg , Flickr Creative Commons

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Tiny Scottish island powers itself with community-owned off-grid energy system

This tiny bamboo and steel shelter lights up like a lantern at night

March 31, 2017 by  
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Chinese studio C.DD took their love for their hometown of Foshan, China and created a tiny shelter that lights up like a lantern at night. Built for Guangzhou Design Week , the Origin of Everything is a perforated steel cube that features the Chinese character for “Hui,” which means “return to the origin.” C.DD’s art installation was developed for an event that asked designers to submit a small-scale representation of a city. Designers HE Xiao-Ping and LI Xing-Lin developed the cubic building to express their hometown’s compact, yet dynamic nature. Related: Handmade MPavilion will be the largest bamboo structure ever built in Australia A wall of bamboo rods froms a small rectangular zone in the center of the steel cube. Although at first glance the small 9-square-meter installation may look like a simple design, when looking at the cross section from above, the two independent squares created by the bamboo wall and exterior wall form the Chinese character “Hui.” Once on the inside, visitors are encouraged to follow the building’s narrow path, which the architects describe as “the road for the journey.” The path winds around the four walls of the cube, leading guests to walk the path alone while background music corresponds to flashing lights. On the exterior, the cube projects a series of maps of Foshan, China through perforated spaces on the steel facade. These holes provide the interior of the tiny space with ventilation and natural light . Via Sunshine PR Photography by OUYANG Yun

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This tiny bamboo and steel shelter lights up like a lantern at night

It’s raining tequila from a cloud in Berlin

March 31, 2017 by  
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Berlin winters see a lot of rain, but this is the first time it’s rained tequila. The Mexico Tourist Board wanted to lure Germans to Mexico by combining one of the things they hate most: rain , with one of the things they love best: tequila. The result is a puffy cloud of happiness that rains tequila any time it rains outside. The Mexico Tourist Board teamed up with Lapiz USA to create a cloud that rains tequila. Lapiz took ultrasonic humidifiers to turn tequila into a mist, which they shot into the air to create a tequila-based cloud. Once that mist condensed, it created droplets of tequila that you can actually collect and drink. It’s an ingenious way to turn the winter blahs in Germany into a party. Related: San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater Unfortunately, tequila clouds won’t be filling the skies anytime soon. The exhibit is being featured in an art space in Berlin called Urban Spree, but if you can’t make it there, you can still grab a glass of tequila next time it rains and dream. Via The Daily Mail Images via Lapiz USA

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It’s raining tequila from a cloud in Berlin

Integrated $1B solar farm in South Australia includes world’s largest battery

March 30, 2017 by  
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South Australia is about to get a huge clean energy boost with a $1 billion solar farm . The farm will pump and store 300MW and 100MW of clean energy respectively with 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries . It is expected to start running later this year. The Lyon Group , a partnership of three companies, is building the massive solar farm in the Riverland region of South Australia. Construction should commence within months. The Riverland initiative will allow for 330 megawatts (MW) of power generation and at minimum 100 MW of battery storage . In a video Lyon Group partner David Green said it will be the largest integrated project and the largest single battery on Earth. The solar system will be built on privately owned land and paid for by investors. Green said the solar farm will be a significant stimulus for the region. Related: South Australia Projected to Reach 50 Percent Renewable Energy Within the Next Decade Green told The Guardian, “We see the inevitability of the need to have large-scale solar and integrated batteries as part of any move to decarbonize. Any short-term decisions are only what I would call noise in the process.” Lyon Group plans to build a similar system near Roxby Downs as well. Greens said the battery and solar combination will greatly enhance South Australia’s capacity. Jay Weatherill, premier of South Australia, praised the effort, saying, “Projects of this sort, renewable energy projects, represent the future.” The South Australia government recently announced a power plan that will be bankrolled by a $150 million renewable technology fund. They will consider bidders for a 100 MW battery in upcoming weeks; Weatherill said Lyon Group is among the companies interested in constructing the battery. But the Riverland farm will be constructed no matter the results of the government’s tender for the large battery, according to Lyon Group. Via The Guardian Images via Australian Renewable Energy Agency Facebook and screenshot

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