Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community

December 11, 2018 by  
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The beautiful beach town of Camburi, Brazil, has gained a new community center that not only serves as a communal gathering space, but is also an inspiring social development project that was built for and by the local low-income community. Belgium and Brazil-based design practice CRU! architects provided the design as well as technical assistance and financial support, however, it was the community that decided all of the programming. The project started in 2004 and its first completed building is the community center, a low-impact building primarily built of bamboo and rammed earth. Located on the Brazilian coast not far from Sao Paulo , the community center at Camburi is a multi-phase project that includes a computer room, library, preschool, office space, assorted storage space and a bakery that is currently undergoing construction. CRU! architects was careful not to interfere in all of the decision making behind the programming and scope of the project beyond the design and technical details. The firm’s final design was shaped by the local association of Camburi’s brief for a centrally located communal space with space for classrooms and storage that would be visually integrated with the surrounding landscape and the neighboring school. “The entire Bamboostic project was foreseen as an educative training for this cooperative to perfect their techniques, whilst building community infrastructure,” explains the firm of the project, which spans 175 square meters. “The community decided all of the content and program of the building and its different parts built in different times over the last 10 years.” Related: Community hub built of recycled materials spotlights exploitation of nature in Vietnam Set 50 meters in land from the beach, the community center is oriented towards the sea to take advantage of cooling cross breezes that flow unimpeded through the building thanks to the raised roof and minimized perpendicular walls. The rammed earth bricks provide natural insulation and thermal mass, while bamboo was used for the structural frame and on the exterior doors and windows to help shield the interiors from harsh sunlight. + CRU! architects Images by Nelson Kon

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Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community

A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home

December 5, 2018 by  
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As adults, receiving gifts to adorn a home or apartment is one of the greatest joys in life. Whether you’re searching for a unique furniture piece for your parents, adorable trinkets for a friend or something extra special for yourself, these gifts top our list of favorite presents for a green home this year. Natural Escape Mattress This holiday season, give the best gift of all: the gift of a good night’s sleep. Free from the toxic VOCs and chemical flame retardants that lurk in most traditional mattresses, the Natural Escape mattress from My Green Mattress is organic and USA-made, making it the perfect gift for just about anyone on your list. We certainly won’t judge you for purchasing it for yourself — once you’ve slept on the contouring, supportive layers of organic cotton and latex as well as natural wool, it will be even harder to leave your bed each morning. Smart thermostats This green technology will allow its recipient to keep their home cozy and comfortable year-round while saving energy and lowering utility bills. Check out the high-tech options by Nest or ecobee . Related: 4 things you need to know about smart thermostats Cork and bamboo coffee press Made from cork, bamboo and glass, this eco-friendly French press is a stylish gift that will look beautiful on any kitchen counter. The wood is left unstained for food safety, and the simple device is just as quick and easy to use as any other coffee maker but without throwaway filters or electricity. Best of all, each purchase helps the company, GROSCHE, provide more than 50 days of safe, clean drinking water for those in need. Bidet Is a bidet attachment for a toilet the most romantic or exciting gift? Maybe not. But it is incredibly useful and better for the environment, considering people around the world flush the equivalent of about 27,000 trees daily . Nomadix Many people have towels for different purposes: bathing, camping, swimming, yoga. But  one towel from Nomadix  can do it all, and these brightly patterned towels are even made from post-consumer  plastic  bottles. It’s a win-win. Terra Klay If you really want to take someone’s breath away, snag some impressive dishware from Terra Klay . From bowls and mugs to teapots and casserole dishes, this pottery is handcrafted with care by women artisans in Manipur, India. They make a striking addition to any kitchen. Fan-folded paper lights Really wow someone you love with these luxurious (but budget-friendly) pendant lights . The fixture of each light is made from upcycled vinyl records, while the intricately folded shade is made from scrap cardboard paper. It also includes LED bulbs and comes in four colors, from neutral to flashy. Rio sofa from Stem At first glance, this is a simple couch that can blend into any living room. But this sofa also features eco-friendly and customizable materials from colors and fabrics to fillings and legs. The sofas are made with FSC-certified timber frames and avoid harsh chemicals. Inmod Azara dresser This stylish dresser is made from 100 percent Moso bamboo and features six soft-close drawers to hold plenty of clothing, accessories or extra blankets. The finish is distinct enough to stand out, but subtle enough to match the recipient’s existing furnishings. Wool comforter We spend a lot of time sleeping or snuggling in bed. Make that time count with these warm, snuggly wool comforters that are made with 100 percent organic wool and cotton. This is also a durable comforter that will last and last. Melrose furnishings from Urban Woods You can’t go wrong with the Melrose set from Urban Woods . Each piece uses reclaimed wood as well as low-VOC and non-toxic materials. These furnishings are also made in L.A., reducing the environmental impact of shipping (compared to ordering items shipped from outside the country). This collection is bold and modern, but you can also find many other sets or make a custom order to suit your gift recipient’s style. Teak wood bowls and salad servers Made from reclaimed teak wood, these bowls and salad servers are a must-have for anyone who loves to entertain. Each is hand-formed with distinct graining, leaving no two items the same. From salads to fresh fruits, anything served in these bowls will be the star of the show. Recycled pouf The incredibly relaxed lounge chair, or the pouf, is becoming a staple for modern living rooms. Choose a unique, sustainable option like this eye-catching black pouf made from recycled textiles like leather and cotton. Each pouf uses a different blend of materials, making each one an original. Organic crinkled percale sheets It’s no secret that well-loved (read: old) sheets are the most comfortable to sleep in, so imagine the joy of opening a set of brand new, organic sheets that already have that worn-in softness from the start. These sheets come in soothing neutral shades to match any bedroom, and the soft, slightly crinkled cotton will make your bed even cozier than normal. Images via My Green Mattress , Nest , GROSCHE , Amazon , Terra Klay , Nomadix , ABCD , Stem , Inmod , Haiku Designs , Urban Woods , CB2 ( 1 , 2 ), Coyuchi and Amira Hegazy

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A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home

A London office boasts biophilic design for a healthier, happier workplace

November 12, 2018 by  
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A new experimental office on the 12th floor of The Shard in London offers a breath of fresh air … literally. Wrapped in bamboo surfaces and punctuated by living plants, facilities management company Mitie’s headquarters in London was created by local practice DaeWha Kang Design . The biophilic project — dubbed the Living Lab at The Shard — mimics nature from its natural materials palette to the circadian lighting system linked to an astronomical clock. As its name suggests, the Living Lab at The Shard will be used as a pilot study to measure the impact of biophilic design on worker wellness and productivity. In addition to the client, the project was created in collaboration with Dr. Marcella Ucci (head of the MSc in Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings at the University College of London). A post-occupancy study will compare daily surveys of Mitie employees who will work at the Living Lab desks for four weeks at a time followed by a four-week work period in a “control area” on the same floor with similar environmental conditions but without biophilic design. “Biophilia refers to human beings’ innate need for a connection with nature,” DaeWha Kang Design said in its press release. “Human physiology is wired to seek qualities of light, view, material and other factors common in the natural world. The Living Lab is fully immersive, with rich and intricate patternization, natural materials  and interactive and dynamic lighting.” Related: This dreamy cluster of cabins houses light-filled live/work spaces in Hokkaido The project comprises two main spaces: the “Living Lab” immersive work environment and two “Regeneration Pods” for short-term rest and meditation. Bamboo was used for the sculptural privacy screens that curve up at the ceiling; different textures and shades of bamboo were also used for the floor, desks and task lights providing a warm contrast to The Shard’s cool glass-and-metal palette. The Regeneration Pods, also built of bamboo, were created by combining digital fabrication with hand-finishing techniques and feature plush built-in seating that faces walls of glass for city views. A subtle circadian lighting system uses color-changing lights to mimic the sun — a cool blue is cast in the morning that changes to bright white in the afternoon and finally reaches a fiery orange near sunset. + DaeWha Kang Design Images by Tom Donald for Aldworth James & Bond and Kyungsub Shin via DaeWha Kang Design

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A London office boasts biophilic design for a healthier, happier workplace

Hong Kongs greenest school champions environmental stewardship

October 22, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects has unveiled images of its recently completed French International School of Hong Kong – Tseung Kwan O, a colorful and energy-efficient development that the firm has declared as the city’s “greenest school.” Designed to promote sustainability, the new primary and secondary school serves as a green oasis in the city. Boasting significant water savings and sewage reduction, the school is designed to meet Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM) Plus Gold standards, a Hong Kong rating tool for green construction. Completed in September, the new campus of the French International School serves 1,100 students in a multicultural learning environment — the student body represents 40 nationalities — that champions collaboration and sustainability. Its distinctive facade speaks to the diverse campus vision and features a grid of 627 multicolored ceramic tiles. In addition to the primary and secondary classrooms, the campus includes a library, a canteen, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, an auditorium with a multifunctional arena, multiple gardens and a 400-meter-long track called “The Loop” that connects the campus playgrounds and gardens. A healthy environment is promoted through ample green space, which improves urban air quality, provides natural shading and creates a green refuge in an urban environment where access to nature is limited. A total of 42 native trees grow within the campus, and the Native Garden offers educational opportunities. The interior is dressed in eco-friendly surface materials including natural rubber floors, bamboo ceilings, non-toxic paints and fabrics made from pure wool. The buildings are oriented to optimize access to natural daylight and seaborne winds to minimize the need for air conditioning and artificial lighting. Low-flow fixtures offer up to 30 percent water savings. Related: Henning Larsen unveils green, mountain-inspired buildings for Shanghai The learning environment is further enhanced with improved room acoustics, reduced background noise and a layout that encourages team building. “We dissolved the traditional classrooms,” said Claude Godefroy, design director and partner at Henning Larsen Hong Kong. “We pushed boundaries on how learning spaces can allow teachers and classes to work together in a more collaborative, open space.” + Henning Larsen Photos by Philippe Ruault

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Hong Kongs greenest school champions environmental stewardship

This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

July 20, 2018 by  
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Blessed with serene mountain vistas and a rich history, Moganshan also boasts a wide array of beautiful resorts including Anadu, a new rural retreat designed by local architecture firm Studio 8 . Located at the northern foot of the Mogan Mountain in Huzhou, about two hours from Shanghai , the luxury resort embraces its enticing surroundings comprised of lush bamboo forests, tea fields and ancient villas. Constructed with natural materials throughout, the hotel is undeniably connected to its rural setting while still offering a contemporary edge. Completed in 2017, Anadu covers nearly 13,000 square feet spread across three floors. Studio 8 was commissioned to oversee the architecture, interior design and visual identity of the luxury resort, which highlights  local resources from the ingredients used in the restaurant to the selection of construction materials. Following the brand’s motto of “Find yourself in nature,” every floor embraces the outdoors through large windows and stunning water features. “Water itself, and especially a very calm water surface, generates immediately a sense of relax,” explained Studio 8 in a statement. “[We] decided that this element would be the core of the hotel, a connection between the rooms that articulates the structure of the entire building. For that purpose, the roof of each floor was turned into an infinity water feature. By bringing natural elements into the architectural spaces, the design fosters a connection between the building and the outside.” Related: Heatherwick Studio wants to build a tree-covered mountain in the middle of Shanghai The resort’s various rooms are organized in four major narratives inspired by the immediate surroundings. The Tea Room, for instance, faces the white tea fields and is dressed in a material palette echoing the tea theme. To the south, the Mountain Room features a dark gray color palette and a water feature that reflects the distant mountain range. On the east side, the Bamboo Room mimics a bamboo forest with its bamboo wood furnishings and a rice-pink palette. The penthouse suite on the third floor follows the theme of Sky and is surrounded by an infinity pool to create the effect of a “floating island.” + Studio 8 Images by Sven Zhang ???

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This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

Foster + Partners-designed Apple Store glows like a paper lantern in Macau

July 10, 2018 by  
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Foster + Partners has unveiled a new Apple Store in Macau  — and it’s very different from the all-glass buildings we’ve come to expect from the company. In response to the hustle and bustle of the port city known as the “Las Vegas of Asia,” the British international architecture studio crafted Apple Cotai Central as an oasis of calm housed in a glowing cube surrounded by bamboo. Instead of the Apple brand’s iconic full-height glazing, the architects applied a “first-of-its-kind” glass-stone composite facade that appears to glow from within. Located in the Sands Cotai Central resort, the Apple Cotai Central store opened late last month and is the second Apple store in Macau. Foster + Partners created the design in collaboration with the Apple design team led by chief design officer Sir Jonathan Ive as well as with senior vice presidency of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts. The new store continues Apple’s embrace of POPS (privately owned public spaces) in that the grounds also include a large new event plaza nestled within a bamboo forest. “We wanted to create something very simple and pure — a beautiful and elegant building that complements the sounds, sights and colors of Macau, while embodying a sense of clarity and quietude,” said Stefan Behling, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners. “The design creates two distinct spaces, one inside and one outside, imbued with a sense of authentic beauty arising from the innovative use of natural materials .” Related: Foster + Partners’ Apple Park Visitor Center opens to the public The Apple Cotai Centra gets its “paper lantern” effect from the glass-stone composite facade made up of extremely thin layers of stone attached to five layers of glass, which creates the effect of translucent stone walls evocative of stained glass. To achieve a sense of lightness, the structural frame is only supported on three corner columns clad in mirrored stainless steel. The airy interior features a glazed facade with a skylit central atrium surrounded by bamboo. A pair of grand stone staircases leads to the upper level that is also flooded with natural light. + Foster + Partners Images by Nigel Young/Foster+Partners

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Foster + Partners-designed Apple Store glows like a paper lantern in Macau

Krill fishers partner with Greenpeace to protect Antarctic wildlife

July 10, 2018 by  
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An unlikely alliance has formed between krill fishing companies and environmental protection groups over a common cause: protecting the Antarctic Ocean and its marine life. Greenpeace is teaming with members of the Association for Responsible Krill Harvesting (ARK) to ensure wildlife sustainability of the southern ice cap. The agreement was announced during the Greenpeace Antarctic 360° event in Cambridge. The individual fishing companies honoring the agreement are all ARK members, representing 85 percent of the Antarctic krill harvesting industry. Related: The world’s largest wildlife sanctuary proposed for Antarctica Under the pact, the fisherman will honor “buffer zones” in known penguin breeding grounds in order to protect the wildlife. In addition, major portions of the Antarctic Peninsula will be out-of-bounds for the ARK membership. The partnership will also see ARK support scientific endeavors to study the area’s natural inhabitants. Working with scientists and environmental organizations, the groups will end fishing operations in environmentally sensitive areas, permanently closing these locations to fishing in 2020. The prohibition is part of a plan to create permanent protection zones throughout the Antarctic and reduce the potential for wildlife damage . The movement to protect Antarctic wildlife has grown in popularity in the last decade. According to Greenpeace, more than 1.7 million people worldwide have signed the organization’s petition to create stricter protections and maintain wildlife conservation in the southernmost waters. Krill is an important part of the Antarctic ecosystem . The shrimp-like crustacean is a food source for many of the South Pole’s animals, including whales, penguins and seals. By creating the wide protection zones, both Greenpeace and ARK hope to ensure long-term sustainability for animals. “Through our commitment we are showing that it is possible for no-fish zones and sustainable fisheries to co-exist,” Kristine Hartmann, executive vice president at krill fishing company Aker BioMarine, said in a statement. “We are positive that ARK’S commitment will help ensure krill as a sustainable and stable source of healthy omega-3s for the future.” The ARK-Greenpeace partnership is one part of a global plan to help preserve marine life. The multi-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will meet in October to decide on sanctuary status for parts of the ocean. + Greenpeace Via  The Guardian Image of krill via Uwe Kils

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Krill fishers partner with Greenpeace to protect Antarctic wildlife

Massive handmade bamboo-and-rattan "fish trap" springs up in Taipei

May 31, 2018 by  
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A giant handmade pavilion created in the image of an ancient fishing tool has popped up at the entrance of Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Rising to a height of nearly 30 feet, The Trap is a temporary installation designed by Taiwanese artist Cheng Tsung Feng that pays homage to the fishing tools and materials used by various ethnic groups in Taiwan. The movement of people through and under the structure is meant to evoke the crowds of fish caught in a fish trap. Completed this month, The Trap was commissioned as part of MOCA’s “The Charismatic Rebirth of Yore” exhibition. Artist Cheng Tsung Feng , who has a history of working with natural and locally-sourced materials, found inspiration in fish traps, an ancient Taiwanese fishing tool made of bamboo and rattan. During his research, FENG discovered huge variations in the traps created by different ethnic groups because of differences in available materials, culture and the type of catch. Despite these differences, he found that the site-specific fish traps were united by common production practices. Handmade from thin strips of bamboo, rattan and steel, The Trap is anchored over the MOCA’s entrance and features arched openings to mirror the historic building’s existing arches. Gaps between the rattan strips give the piece a lightweight feel and let dappled light shine through. The artwork measures nearly 92 feet long and more than 65 feet wide. Related: A twisting infinity-loop roof tops this prefab bamboo pavilion “These intangible cultures hidden behind tangible objects are like living things that can grow in response to the environment,” Cheng Tsung Feng said. “In this installation art, we relocated the fish trap from thousands of natural rivers to Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, a 100-year-old man-made building. And replaced various kinds of fishes with the crowd of people. What will this traditional wisdom evolve after adapting to distinct environments and prey?” The installation will be on display until July 22, 2018. + Cheng Tsung Feng Images by Sheng Da TSAI

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Massive handmade bamboo-and-rattan "fish trap" springs up in Taipei

This breezy bamboo amphitheater pops up in just 25 days

February 22, 2018 by  
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A beautiful bamboo amphitheater has risen in the lush tropics of Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian studio Bambutec Design crafted the 2,150-square-foot structure with the help of computer modeling in addition to old-fashioned model making by hand. The Bamboo Amphitheater Space Structure was built for the green campus of the Pontifical Catholic University and was assembled in 25 working days. Set on the banks of the Rainha River and screened in by bamboo, this bamboo structure complements its verdant surroundings with its dark green roof and exposed bamboo frame. The 1.4-ton amphitheater was built atop a foundation previously designed by architect Carlos Pingarrilho. Low landscape impact was emphasized throughout the design and build process, which made use of mobile prefabricated modules, pantographic grids, textile membranes, and a mobile lifting device. The ultra-lightweight dome is anchored to the ground with reinforced concrete and six touch-down pylons. Related: Dumping ground reborn as a bamboo and rammed-earth community space in Vietnam “The dome employs a textile hybrid space structure formed by self-supporting treated bamboo bipods, tensile pantographic gridshells and self-stressed active bending beams, avoiding buckling of the structural members,” wrote the design team. “Gridshell modules were disposed discontinuously in overlapping steps 0.5m apart, allowing air circulation and natural lighting. Active bending beams and pantographic gridshells were subjected to prescribed external loads in a process of elastic deformation during assembly.” The project was inaugurated in 2014 and used to host events, shows, and lectures. + Bambutec Design Via ArchDaily Images via Bambutec Design

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This breezy bamboo amphitheater pops up in just 25 days

Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

December 28, 2017 by  
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Just in time for the holidays, Steven Holl Architects completed the latest Maggie’s Center, a building the U.S. firm describes as having “a new joyful, glowing presence.” The luminous building at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London is one in a network of drop-in centers with the charitable purpose of helping anyone who has been affected by cancer. Filled with natural light during the day and lit from within at night, this new Maggie’s Center is a sculptural beauty that takes inspiration from the church’s medieval heritage. Founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks and Charles Jencks in 1995, the Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Trust and the network of Maggie’s Centers seek to help those affected by cancer with free support, information, and advice. Located on the grounds of NHS hospitals, the buildings that house Maggie’s Centers also double as uplifting design destinations, having been designed by leading architects such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta. At the Maggie’s Center at St. Barts, Steven Holl Architects fashioned a curved three-story building—one of the few centers with a more vertical rather than horizontal profile—that draws the eye with its glowing matte glass facade decorated with colored glass fragments that evoke the “neume notation” of 13th century Medieval music. The glass facade is also organized in horizontal bands like a musical staff. “Interior lighting will be organized to allow the colored lenses together with the translucent white glass of the facade to present a new, joyful, glowing presence on this corner of the great square of St. Barts Hospital,” wrote the architects. Related: Light-filled cancer center harnesses the healing power of nature The architects continue to say that the building was envisioned as a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel,” referring to the glass cladding as the outer layer on a branching concrete frame that holds an inner layer of perforated bamboo . The inner bamboo shell wraps around an open curved staircase and is bathed in colored light that changes over time and by season. The ground floor welcomes visitors with a rest area, counseling room, kitchen, and dining area. The first floor comprises a library and two additional rooms, while the topmost floor opens up to a public roof garden with flowering trees and a multipurpose space for yoga, Tai Chi, meetings and more. + Steven Holl Architects Images by Iwan Baan

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Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

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