A gorgeous events center in Pennsylvania is built almost entirely out of eco-friendly timber

June 6, 2019 by  
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Residents of Nappanee, Indiana now have a beautiful timber events center to enjoy thanks to the Pennsylvania-based builders at Mid-Atlantic Timberframes . The Sammlung Platz (The Gathering Place in German) is a massive, multi-use center that is made out of natural timbers that give the space a unique structural strength as well as an exceptionally warm atmosphere. The Mid-Atlantic Timberframes company has established itself as a leader in the design of timber structures. Working directly with clients, the company crafts homes and commercial buildings using timber frames to create naturally strong structures that eliminate the need for load-bearing walls. Related: Green-roofed timber dwelling in Austria is built with recycled materials The Sammlung Platz is a pegged mortise and tenon-style timber construction that pays homage to traditional barns. Designed to accommodate up to 1,000 people, the two-level, 26,000-square-foot open floor plan can be used for any number of community or private events . From the sophisticated cabin-like exterior, guests enter the interior space through large wooden and glass doors. Inside, the spacious community center is clad in beautiful timber walls that cover the ground and upper levels, giving the space a warm, cozy atmosphere. To open up the space further, a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams hovers over the room. Using timber in the construction also allowed the building to be more eco-friendly. According to Mid-Atlantic Timberframes, the company’s timbers come from sustainably managed forests, and their suppliers plant as many as 10 times the number of trees they cut down. Building with timber also means significantly less carbon emissions are released during construction, as opposed to steel and concrete. Additionally, there is minimal waste, because the timber logs are used in their entirety, rather than using numerous specialty-cut lumber panels. + Mid-Atlantic Timberframes Images via Mid-Atlantic Timberframes

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A gorgeous events center in Pennsylvania is built almost entirely out of eco-friendly timber

TRS Studio turns shipping containers into low-cost Pachacutec housing

June 6, 2019 by  
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Improved housing could soon be coming to Pachacutec, a dusty shantytown on the outskirts of Lima. Peruvian architectural practice TRS Studio has proposed low-cost cargotecture dwellings that not only are sensitive to the local vernacular, but also offer improved comfort and safety as compared to existing housing. The single-family homes would be made from shipping containers and recycled materials, including oriented strand board, wooden planks and polycarbonate panels. For the marginalized populations living in the “Pesquero II” settlement of Pachacutec, education and basic services can be difficult to obtain. A stable and comfortable house could give families greater stability and empower them to improve their living conditions. Thus, TRS Studio designed cargotecture housing adaptable to different family situations and would be built with community participation to give inhabitants a greater sense of ownership over their homes. Related: Is cargotecture the future of construction? What you need to know for your next project Each modular house consists of two floors. The first floor comprises the main living areas, including a kitchenette, as well as the master bedroom in the rear and an 18-square-meter space for a side garden or flexible recreational space. The second floor houses two additional bedrooms and a study that could be converted into a fourth bedroom. The natural finish of the construction materials would be left exposed yet reinforced for long-term durability. The shipping container frame, for instance, would be reinforced with steel columns, while unpainted OSB boards would be used for dividing walls. Recycled polycarbonate roofing would let in plenty of natural light indoors. “The construction in the first habitable modules will have educational purposes; we will have with the experience in this project, an exponential training in the construction process of the following habitable modules, helping to the future replicas will be even more effectives,” say the architects. “A fundamental aspect in this experience will be the change in the urban image of Pachacutec city, as a demonstrative zone in the field of sustainable construction in the long run, this differential implies that they will have formed in this district entrepreneurial people of the self-built sustainable architecture with the ability to teach other members of their community and to provide their services in other districts. Then, the attention will not be only in the project as architectural design, but also in the formation of future and sustainable constructors, improving their quality life and strengthening their values.” + TRS Studio Images via TRS Studio

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TRS Studio turns shipping containers into low-cost Pachacutec housing

Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs

May 30, 2019 by  
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A large study of the world’s rivers found that out of 711 sites tested, the majority are dangerously contaminated with antibiotics. The study , conducted by the University of York, is the largest of its kind and involved a team of international scientists testing for water pollution. Last month, British Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sally Davies argued that the rising prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is just as much an existential crisis as climate change and called on widespread awareness, protest and action. According to the United Nations , antibiotic resistant bacteria could be responsible for 10 million deaths by 2050. This most recent study confirms that environmental bacteria are a major pathway to resistance among bacteria, with over 65 percent of all sites recorded with dangerous levels of antibiotics. The prevalence of bacteria in rivers and ecosystems allows bacteria to develop immunity to the drugs over time, rendering them useless for human saving purposes. Related: Supreme Court will make historic Clean Water Act ruling “It’s quite scary and depressing. We could have large parts of the environment that have got antibiotics at levels high enough to affect resistance,” said Alistair Boxall, who co-led the study. Drugs enter waterways primarily through human and animal waste that contain the antibiotics and cause water pollution. In addition to health care, antibiotic use is alarmingly high in the farming industry. Waste can enter directly into waterways in low-income countries, or through leaks in wastewater facilities. In some cases, drug manufacturing sites might also leak or illegally dump waste into watersheds. According to the study, the Danube river in Austria contained clarithromycin at four times the level considered safe, while the Thames river contained ciprofloacin at three times the safe level. In Bangladesh a river was reported to be the most severe site, with metronidazole at 300 times the safe level. The researchers plan to follow their study with further research on how the antibiotic prevalence is further contaminating waters and affecting fish and wildlife . Via The Guardian Image via pxhere

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Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs

Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape

April 10, 2018 by  
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Lovers of minimalist architecture will swoon over Innauer-Matt Architekten’s Höller House, a beautiful modern home built mainly of wood in Austria’s picturesque Bregenzerwald valley. Set in a steep hillside, the dwelling combines inspiration from traditional farm buildings with a more contemporary vibe evidenced in its gabled form and restrained minimalist palette. Light timber is used throughout the home, inside and out, and is complemented by the structural framework’s exposed concrete columns. Built of timber felled from the homeowner’s forest, the 1,428-square-foot Höller House celebrates its timber construction with exposed wooden beams and surfaces left unpainted. Natural light fills the home through large openings and skylights , but privacy is also preserved by the slatted wooden facade and intentionally hidden entrance. Related: Handsome Austrian house is clad in a latticed facade made from local spruce To satisfy the client’s desire for a private outdoor space, Innauer-Matt Architekten added covered terraces that wrap around the home, a feature the architects call the “outermost shell.” The light-filled living and dining area serves as the inner “shell” and is organized around a core of exposed concrete comprising the staircase, toilet, and storage room. “This way we created a wide spectrum of translucence and transparency which we gradually and individually adapted to each room, its purpose and the level of desired intimacy, preventing unwanted insights while making beautiful outlooks part of every day life and living,” wrote the architects. + Innauer-Matt Architekten Images © Adolf Bereuter

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Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape

Sustainable circular economy principles inform Amsterdams flexible Circl pavilion

April 10, 2018 by  
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Interdisciplinary design studio DoepelStrijkers designed the interiors of the Circl pavilion, a sustainably minded space founded on the principles of the circular and inclusive economy. Located on the lower floors of Dutch banking group ABN AMRO’s headquarters in Amsterdam, the Circl pavilion emphasizes reusability throughout, from material choice to spatial design. Thanks to multifunctional and movable furnishings, the interior can be adapted for a variety of functions including a day care, performance venue, meetings, indoor market, exhibitions, or film screenings. Open to the public, the Circl pavilion can be tailored for different uses with the rearrangement of its movable walls that are remotely operated with the push of a button. The movable partitions are built of recycled aluminum and expanded metal mesh layered with recycled denim jeans for acoustic insulation. Similar examples of reuse and recycling can be seen throughout the interior. The textile plaster on the basement walls for instance, were made with recycled ABN AMRO business clothing. Select furnishings were sourced from ABN AMRO’s storage, while others were built from recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. Related: World’s first circular-economy business park mimics nature to achieve sustainability “The challenge for us as an office lies in translating our sustainable ambition into objects and spaces that transcend the traditional image of sustainable design,” wrote DoepelStrijkers. “We search for a spatial translation of sustainability criteria into an image that does not directly refer to reuse for example, but rather by incorporating the positive attributes of sustainable building principles into objects, spaces and buildings that reflect our contemporary design idiom.” + DoepelStrijkers Via Dezeen Images by Peter Tijhuis

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Sustainable circular economy principles inform Amsterdams flexible Circl pavilion

How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

March 29, 2018 by  
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Tropical islands might boast pure natural scenery, but their energy sources are often anything but pure. Many power-hungry resorts in the Maldives rely on diesel, a notorious pollutant, for their energy needs. Swimsol , a solar power company based in Austria, is working to change that. Because many of the islands in the Maldives are tiny — you can walk across some of them in under 10 minutes — there isn’t much space for solar power , but Swimsol has solved the problem by turning to the seas. Inhabitat caught up with founder and managing director Martin Putschek to find out more. Sunshine is plentiful in the Maldives; land, not so much. To make matters more challenging, rooftop solar has limited potential – tropical buildings often aren’t made for bearing heavy loads like buildings in colder locations that must withstand snow. “But what you have is huge atolls, around 10 to 20 kilometers wide, roughly. You’ve got the outer reef around this atoll and inside this outer reef, it’s a little like a lake,” Putschek told Inhabitat. After a business trip to the Maldives, the idea came to him while practicing the violin: what if he could install floating solar panels on that water? Related: The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea Swimsol’s SolarSea systems are the result of that spark of inspiration – and their first commercial pilot has been operating for just over three years. Solar panels are mounted atop a patent-pending marine-grade aluminum alloy framework designed to let waves pass through. The system, which the company says will last 30 years or more, can withstand waves of around six and a half feet high and winds of around 75 miles per hour. Each platform, which is about 46 by 46 feet, can power around 25 households. Swimsol says the systems assemble much like IKEA furniture, and three people could build one platform on a beach in under a day — no heavy machinery or welding necessary. And it turns out solar panels drifting on the sea are actually more productive than those on land, thanks to water’s cooling effect. “We measured the temperature difference between solar panels on a roof and on a floating structure which were installed very close to each other, like 200 meters apart, and at lunch time you can see a temperature difference of 20 degrees,” Putschek told Inhabitat. He said they can obtain as much as 10 percent more power from floating panels, depending on the time of day. But do floating solar panels impact marine life? Putschek said they clearly need to keep systems away from coral reefs , which need sunlight. Fortunately, there are swaths of water with sandy seabeds where they can install solar. “Regarding the fish , they actually like it. They like the shade and places where they can hide. The whole thing serves as a fish-aggregating device, which is a term for floating platforms with no purpose other than just attracting fish. Ours are solar platforms, but that’s a side effect,” Putschek said. He said corals even grow on the platforms, turning them into artificial reefs. Right now, Swimsol is not selling the floating systems, but the electricity they produce — and they’re able to sell it cheaper than diesel, without a government-subsidized feed-in tariff. “We installed a little over a megawatt last year. This year we’re probably installing about three or so, and in terms of money that’s between $3 and $6 million,” Putschek said. They’re planning a crowdfunding campaign in Austria and Germany in a couple of months, and are looking for a strategic partner for further growth and to help them get access to more funding. “If you install one kilowatt of solar, so that’s four panels, you can save 400 liters of diesel a year. So 100 kilowatts would be 40,000 liters; one megawatt would be 400,000 liters. The point is, it makes sense to go big,” said Putschek. “The idea would be to install dozens of megawatts because the space is there, the need is there. In 2014, the Maldives spent one fifth of their gross domestic product on fuel. That means every hour you work, 12 minutes you only work for diesel. People talk about tidal energy or wind energy and that’s all fantastic but it doesn’t work in the tropics. In the Caribbean, yes; there you have wind. But in the Maldives or Singapore you don’t have enough wind, and you also don’t have big waves. The renewable energy of choice is solar. Because what they do have is a lot of sun. They also have a lot of sea. We’re just combining the two.” + Swimsol Images courtesy of Swimsol

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How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

Alpine meadows extend onto the roof of the renovated Lanserhof Lans health center

November 2, 2016 by  
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Nestled at the foothills of Tyrolean Alps, the luxurious Lanserhof health facility offers a serene environment with stunning views of the mountainous landscape. Undergoing major expansion helmed by international firm ingenhoven architects , the complex will soon include a beautiful new oval building will 16 rooms, topped by a terraced alpine meadow on the roof. Image by bloomimages The Lanserhof Lans combines the luxury of a hotel and modern patient care on par with the most advanced medical facilities in the world. The three-part complex comprises a main building and several annexes and extensions . According to the design, a brand new building will replace one of the guest houses, while several structural adjustments will be needed for the entrance building which houses the reception, restaurant, shop, fireplace lounge and library. The addition will include a bathroom area with saunas , showers, expanded medical rooms in addition to an indoor and outdoor swimming pool . Related: Prefabricated green residential building is slated for Berlin’s new ‘live-work city’ Image by bloomimages Natural materials and simple forms dominate the design of the extension. Its facade will feature balconies of varying depths that create an interesting rhythm and offer optimal wind protection. A green roof featuring seven private terraces will extend the surrounding Alpine meadow to the roof of the new building. + ingenhoven architects Images by bloomimages and Alexander Schmitz

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Alpine meadows extend onto the roof of the renovated Lanserhof Lans health center

Blackened timber home draws energy from a large wood-burning stove

August 26, 2016 by  
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The House Bäumle 2 was built on a slender strip of land next to a steep incline that falls away to a small stream. Its arresting blackened timber facade is a nod to the traditional vernacular of sunburned agriculture houses that the architects say have largely disappeared in Vorarlberg’s Rhine Valley. Large square windows of varying sizes with unpainted timber frames punctuate the dark facade. A large reinforced concrete mass sits at the heart of the home to help absorb and retain heat during the day and release it during cool nights. Heat is provided through a large black wood-burning stove and heat pump. The home’s highly insulated frame also helps prevent heat from escaping. Related: Prefab C/Z House is clad in blackened timber on the island of Pico Aside from the concrete core, the interior of the home is largely lined in untreated wood for a cozy appearance. “The classic theme of a solid characterful center of the house is operated, which includes the stove, the kitchen and the bathrooms,” write the architects. “Opposite, towards the windows it becomes continuous wooden, more tender, lighter. The spatial compression of the interior widens softly, with differentiated transitions, to the exterior.” + Bernardo Bader Architekten Via ArchDaily Images via Bernardo Bader Architekten

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Blackened timber home draws energy from a large wood-burning stove

Researchers discover evidence of supernovae on the sea floor

August 26, 2016 by  
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After a long and dedicated search, scientists believe they have discovered trace elements from supernovae settled on the sea floor. Iron isotopes created from a supernova explosion 2.2 million years ago have found their way into fossilized bacteria taken from a sample of the sea bed floor – the only place they could still be found after all this time. Astrophysicist Shawn Bishop from the Technical University of Munich , Germany, published a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailing his findings and following up on the hunch he has been following for several years. According to Gizmodo , he used accelerator mass spectrometry to analyze bacteria found in core samples from the ocean floor , counting each and every iron-60 isotope atom he found. Related: NASA captures shockwave of a massive supernova for the first time ever Iron-60, or 60Fe, is one of many elements produced by supernovae during an explosion. After being dispersed around space, these elements eventually settle onto planets. Because of 60Fe’s short half-life, none of it should still be around on Earth. However, traces have been found in fossilized bacteria thought to have picked up the crystals from the sea bed long ago. When the bacteria die, 60Fe remains preserved in the fossil record . Australian National University’s Anton Wallner also published a study  in Nature earlier this year, solidifying the case for supernovae depositing 60Fe on Earth. He and his team estimate the closest explosion occurred about 326 light years away. It is thought that either this event or Bishop’s findings are related to the onset of the Pleistocene, which triggered a period of global cooling. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia , Wikipedia

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Researchers discover evidence of supernovae on the sea floor

Giant gleaming Orb deploys solar and wave energy to make clean water for California

August 26, 2016 by  
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“Now, more than ever, energy and water are intertwined. As California faces severe water shortages in the coming years, the amount of energy required for water production and transmission is sure to increase,” LAGI writes on their website about this year’s competition for Santa Monica Pier. “For this reason we expanded our definition of sustainable infrastructure artwork to include proposals in 2016 that produce drinking water—either in addition to, or in place of—clean electricity.” Related: Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California The Clear Orb is designed to be accessible from the Santa Monica Pier via the beach boardwalk. The pathway to the gleaming sphere gently tips toward the water’s surface, the outer walls harvesting wave energy from the existing breakwater. The inner walls depict a list of animals that have gone extinct, inviting visitors to reflect on humanity’s impact on its fellow inhabitants. About 130 feet in diameter, the glass orb’s surface is comprised of transparent solar concentrators that supply the energy required to circulate water into the Orb. Inside, a solar still converts seawater into fresh water through evaporation and condensation. The resulting clean water pours through a step fountain that supports the structure. The designers say this becomes “an artful interpretation of the power of light and water to give life.” Energy produced by the oscillating water column along the “contemplation walk” would supply further power to the solar distillation pumps and the grid, though, compared to some of the other designs we’ve seen this year, such as The Pipe , the design’s energy and water production goals are relatively small. For example, The Pipe would be able to produce 1.5 billion gallons of water for Santa Monica, while The Clear Orb would only have capacity to generate 3,820 MWh solar energy to distill 500,000 gallons of water. Still, if a primary goal of the design competition is to educate the community and visitors about sustainability, The Clear Orb definitely has potential to bring the conversation mainstream. A frequently-visited site, the Santa Monica Pier would be forever transformed with such a vibrant work of art – demonstrating that energy and clean water production can complement the city, both here and abroad. + LAGI 2016: Santa Monica + Heerim Architects and Planners

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Giant gleaming Orb deploys solar and wave energy to make clean water for California

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