Eco-friendly Everlasting Forest Pavilion champions circular living in Bangkok

May 13, 2020 by  
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For this year’s Bangkok Design Week, which took place in February 2020, Thai design firm Plural Designs created the Everlasting Forest Pavilion, a temporary, tunnel-like structure built of biodegradable materials that promotes sustainable ideas and products to the public. Created in collaboration with a team of multidisciplinary experts, the pavilion champions the idea of environmentally friendly architecture and circular living as part of a larger vision for sustainable urban living. Installed in front of Bangkok’s Grand Postal Building, the Everlasting Forest Pavilion follows a “BCG” concept named after its three zones of Bio Economy, Circular Economy and Green Economy. Each zone is a showcase of innovative products and ideas and seamlessly connects to the next space. The pavilion’s circular form reinforces the idea of circular living with its tunnel-like architecture; the pavilion is centered on an “Everlasting Forest”, a densely planted green space with a walkway. All materials used in construction are eco-friendly, biodegradable and made from waste material. Related: Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis The first zone visitors encounter is the Green Economy, which introduces a variety of eco-friendly materials including lightweight fiber rebar, or glass-fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP), as a durable and low-carbon alternative building material to steel. The second zone is the Circular Economy , where examples of plastic waste upcycled into new, value-added products are showcased. Examples of uses for biodegradable and eco-friendly bioplastics are shown in the third zone, Bio Economy. The pavilion also includes a rest zone. As an extension of the project, a Smart Recycling Center was installed nearby to show the public how to responsibly sort and manage waste generated at the event. The architects said, “Everlasting Forest Pavilion is a space demonstrating the co-habitation between man-made structures and their surrounding environment including buildings, green spaces and daily life objects, whose resources and waste are all sustainably managed and utilized.” + Plural Designs Images via Plural Designs

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Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

March 18, 2020 by  
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According to the World Air Quality Index of 2019, the city of Bangkok suffers from unhealthy levels of air pollution most of the year. In a bid to raise awareness about air quality and the urban heat island effect, Thai design collective Shma Company created Safezone Shelter, an ephemeral pavilion filled with air purifying plants and technology to create a welcoming gathering space for passersby. Shaped like a cloud, the sculptural intervention was briefly installed in front of the Grand Postal Building during Bangkok Design Week 2020.  In contrast to the brutalist architecture of the Grand Postal Building, the 150-square-meter Safezone Shelter features a futuristic, organic shape with a white nylon covering to evoke the appearance of a cloud. The white textile allows light to diffuse through while hiding the interior from outside views. Inside, the designers created an unexpected oasis filled with tropical plants, informational signage and seating, which also includes part of the postal building’s steps.  Related: Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhi’s air pollution To create a cooling microclimate, the designers engineered the pavilion to pull in hot, polluted air with fans and pass it through dense vegetation to capture dust particles. This “pre-filtered wind” is then passed through a dust filter plate and a cooling plate to purify the air . In addition to the cool air flow generated by fans, the trees, shrubs and ground cover help keep the pavilion’s interior temperatures to between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A humidifier maintains humidity levels of 50% to 70%. Recorded nature sounds, such as the sounds of water and birds, are also played inside the space. “All of these inventive methods could further be applied to solve air pollution in other kinds of design,” the designers explained. “Looking wider at an urban scale, bus stops, recreational space under expressways and skywalks also have a potential to be revitalized with such purification systems. At the end, even high-rise buildings might become old-fashioned when a better choice like an air purifier tower could be constructed.” Safezone Shelter was put on display from December 2019 to February 2020.  + Shma Company Images via Shma

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Shmas Bangkok Green Link wants to add over 30 miles of greenways to Bangkok

December 6, 2019 by  
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At the 2019 Thai Urban Designers Association exhibition, landscape architecture studio Shma unveiled the Bangkok Green Link, an urban revitalization proposal for boosting the livability of the Thai capital with over 30 miles of greenways. In a bid to reconnect the city to nature and encourage residents to adopt healthier lifestyles, the project links major neighborhoods and transportation nodes with lush linear parks with diverse programming. Vibrant and chaotic, the city of Bangkok is infamous for its urban sprawl and haphazard city infrastructure that resulted from rapid growth and lack of urban planning. To accommodate rapid development, many of the city’s green spaces and canals were paved over; an inadequate transportation network has made the city of 8 million people a victim of intense traffic congestion and air pollution . To make Bangkok a greener and more sustainable city, Shma developed the Bangkok Green Link project with the concept of “Revitalize City Infrastructure to Relink Urban Life.” Related: Thailand’s first LEED Platinum “vertical village” to rise in Bangkok Proposed for the heart of the city, the Bangkok Green Link scheme includes 54 kilometers of new greenways with up to 10,800 large trees that can absorb approximately 1,620 tons of carbon dioxide a year and filter 3,580 tons of dust annually. The designers also believe that the greening effort can boost land prices, inspire residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and counteract the urban heat island effect. The greenways — which would be developed alongside canals, railways, existing sidewalks and under expressways — would provide much-needed public spaces. Shma has organized the proposed greenways into a set of 28-kilometer-long outer ring greenways and 26 kilometers of crossover greenways. The outer ring would consist of four main links: a 10-kilometer-long Mixed Urban Activity link split into six sections for different programming; the Sathorn Link that passes through a major road in Bangkok’s central business district; the Rail link that turns the space beside an underutilized railway into a bicycle expressway ; and the Vipawadee link that provides a linear parkway and bikeway that connects inner Bangkok to the north side of the city. The 26 kilometers of crossover greenways comprise eight sub-links to better connect formerly disconnected neighborhoods. + Shma Designs Images via Shma

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Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

March 1, 2019 by  
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A new study shows that close to 2,000 sites across the U.K. have poor air quality due to excess pollution. The cities most affected by high levels of toxic gas were in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, all of which were tested well beyond what is considered safe. One of the main culprits behind the alarming numbers is nitrogen dioxide, a gas that is considered one of the most harmful of urban pollutants. Kensington, Chelsea, Leeds and Doncaster all tested high in nitrogen dioxide in 2017. This gas irritates lungs and creates breathing issues. One of the main sources of nitrogen dioxide is vehicle emissions. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Earlier this week, London’s mayor announced a pollution alert as residents in the country enjoyed a rare warm spell for February. The warning was the first of its kind since last summer and was precipitated by light winds and lack of storms, which usually help drive away harmful gases. While poor air quality is a major issue across the country, London is about to initiate a plan to help clean things up. The city is establishing an ultra-low emission area in central London that will vastly improve air quality. The initiative is expected to remove around 45 percent of emissions by this spring. The researches who conducted the study are part of a group called Friends of the Earth. Based on their findings, the group called for better emission standards throughout the country and are urging ministers to tighten up government control. “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly 2,000 locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air,” one of the researchers, Simon Bowens, explained. Air pollution has been previously linked to major health problems in human populations, including heart disease, dementia and even miscarriages. Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution, which can damage lungs and even impact intelligence levels. If London’s new program is successful, hopefully other cities will follow suit and start improving air quality before it becomes an even bigger problem. Via The Guardian Images via Foto-Rabe

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Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

February 7, 2019 by  
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Environmentalists are concerned by the number of students using transportation services like Lyft and Uber to get to classes. Students at UCLA specifically use these alternative means of transportation around 11,000 times per week, and that is troublesome for a city that is already dealing with significant smog issues. “The  pollutants  coming out of the tailpipe heavily contribute to Los Angeles’ smog problem,” Yifang Zhu, a professor at UCLA, explained. Transportation staff at the university said that the majority of these trips are short in duration. Students who oversleep are also more likely to use Lyft or Uber, because they need to get to class in a hurry without being tardy. School officials believe this increase in traffic plays a part in the growing smog problem in Los Angeles. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Part of the issue with these services is that the vehicles are idling for a significant portion of time before picking up passengers. In fact, the idling can sometimes contribute more smog that actually driving to the destination, which is troublesome for a densely populated city like  Los Angeles . According to The Washington Post , younger generations are more apt to use services like Lyft or Uber , because they have an aversion to owning their own vehicles. These services can be more affordable than purchasing a car, especially on a student’s budget. While economics is clearly a factor to consider, previous research shows that millennials are the driving force behind these ride-hailing apps. For example, a 2016 study conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered that around 25 percent of young adults between 18 and 29 years old had used services like Lyft or Uber. Adults over the age of 65, meanwhile, barely register at only 4 percent. Although it may be more environmentally friendly to not own a car or truck, using alternative transportation services can be just as damaging. The transportation staff at UCLA gathered the information by combing through data from Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely used services on campus. Via The Washington Post Image via Josh Saldana

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Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok

January 31, 2019 by  
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Officials in Bangkok have closed schools for the rest of the week amid growing concerns of toxic smog . The Ministry of Education in Thailand announced the closing of around 450 schools in Bangkok and the surrounding area this week as the government tries to deal with a massive pollution problem. The air quality in the city of Bangkok has dipped to unacceptable levels. The amount of dust particles — also referred to as PM2.5 — deemed dangerous to health has far exceeded acceptable standards. This fine particulate matter is hazardous to health , because it is tiny enough to enter the body and do considerable damage to organs. Related: Scientists find air pollution leads to a significant decline in cognition According to The Guardian , the massive amount of pollution is caused by poor construction standards, car exhaust, factory fumes and crop burning. The pollution is so large in scale that it is unable to escape the city, leaving people trapped in a toxic environment. To combat the situation, residents in Bangkok have been wearing respirator masks to avoid inhaling the fine particles. The government, which has been under considerable criticism for not actively fighting pollution , has attempted to make it rain in the city by seeding clouds. The rain helps fight pollution by trapping the toxic particles. Officials have also sprayed water in strategic locations to help decrease the amount of dangerous particles in the air . Residents have been avoiding burning incense, which is a popular activity over the Chinese New Year. Despite their efforts, authorities were forced to close down 437 schools in Bangkok. They also declared a “control area” around the city that is over 580 square miles in size. Officials hope that closing schools will help alleviate some of the traffic and reduce vehicle emissions. “The situation will be bad until February 3 to 4, so I decided to close schools,” Aswin Kwanmuang, the governor of Bangkok, shared. School authorities plan to look at the situation next week to determine if the closing should be extended. The air quality index in Bangkok was measured at 171 this week, which is the highest it has been in more than a year. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Brilliant home made out of cascading concrete planter boxes grows more than 40 types of edible plants

January 31, 2019 by  
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Built for a retired couple who loves to grow their own food, this home design by Kuala Lumpur-based firm FormZero is comprised of several concrete blocks planted with more than 40 types of edible plants on every floor. With various patio spaces that double as mini home gardens , the Planter Box House oscillates between garden, farm and living space. The home’s overall design was heavily influenced by Kuala Lumpur’s vernacular. Being that the area is a tropical region, the homes are often built with split bamboo, a practice that goes back to the area’s indigenous people. By using bamboo as form work for the concrete cladding, the architects not only paid homage to the local history and culture, but ensured a durable design that would last years. Using the two durable and low-maintenance materials added extra resilience to the design so that the three-story home could withstand heavy rain storms and local pollution. Related: Giant bamboo planters protect a Ho Chi Minh City home from the sun and rain In addition to the home’s resilient features, the architects worked closely with the homeowners to create a design that would enable the couple to grow their own food . Accordingly, the design is a 3,650 square feet building that spans over three stories, with every level outfitted with various concrete planters that provide ample space for growing a variety of plants. A custom-made irrigation system, a joint endeavor between the couple and the architects, enables the boxes to store and reuse rainwater. The cascading design was a strategic feature that helps each box enjoy optimal natural light , but also adds a system of natural air ventilation throughout the interior. On every floor of the home, large sliding glass doors that lead out to the balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows create a strong connection to the exterior. All-white walls and minimal furnishings, along with the abundance of greenery, will allow the homeowners to enjoy a healthy, self-sufficient lifestyle as they age. + FormZero Via Archdaily Photography by Ameen Deen via FormZer

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Budweiser’s Super Bowl LIII commercial focuses on renewable energy

January 31, 2019 by  
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Millions of fans and spectators around the world are expected to watch Super Bowl LIII this Sunday, and with secured viewers accounted for, Budweiser has gone above and beyond to announce its commitment to renewable energy in the best way possible — a Super Bowl commercial. Last year, the popular beer company announced its commitment to using 100 percent renewable electricity from wind power to brew its beer. Sticking to its promises, the company decided to focus on that effort in this year’s commercial entitled “Wind Never Felt Better” and showcase its iconic Budweiser Clydesdale with wind turbines accompanied by Bob Dylan’s classic song “Blowin’ in the Wind” as the soundtrack. “Super Bowl is one of the most exciting times of the year for our team, and people all over the country,” said Ricardo Marques, VP of marketing core and value brands at Anheuser-Busch. “Those who wait for the best commercials all year expect Budweiser to show up big, and we felt there was no better way to show up this year than to talk about our commitment to Renewable Electricity.” Related: Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola Marques added that Budweiser is proud to be the first brand in the Anheuser-Busch family — as well as the first major beer brand in the world — to be brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity from wind power and hopes to inspire others to follow in their footsteps. In addition to the commercial, Budweiser is also emphasizing the importance of its commitment to renewables by donating clean electricity to the city of Atlanta for Super Bowl week. As the largest city in the south, Atlanta has been at the forefront of building a clean energy blueprint and Budweiser’s donations to the city align with the overall goal of reducing an environmental impact. By doing its part, Budweiser is hoping to inspire communities to adopt clean electricity . It is also teaming up with Drift, a leader in clean electricity, to offer a one-month free trial of a green plan as a thank you for signing up. + Anheuser-Busch Image via Shutterstock

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Budweiser’s Super Bowl LIII commercial focuses on renewable energy

Mirrored art complex in Bangkok seamlessly co-exists with the surrounding trees

June 21, 2018 by  
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A reflective facade and calculated layout blends Bangkok’s new Naiipa Art Complex into the environment. Designed by Bangkok-based Stu/D/O Architects , the mixed-use building carefully wraps around the existing trees on the property while using its mirrored cladding to camouflage the structure into the lush green backdrop. The Naiipa complex (which means “deep in the forest”) is a 25,000-square-foot building that includes an art gallery, music studio, dance studio and office space, along with restaurants and coffee shops. According to the architects, the plan was to provide a community-focused center that wouldn’t disturb the existing greenery . Stu/D/O said, “The project is named after the concept of concealing the architecture in the forest as the vision of greenery is expanded by using reflective glass all around.” Related: Gorgeous mirrored facade extension allows brick Belgian notary to blend into the landscape To create a subtle volume for the large building and its multiple uses, the design was divided into two main sections separated by a tree-filled courtyard. Building A is an elongated structure that was carefully built around an existing pink trumpet tree to protect its growth. The second building is a cube-like four-story structure. A winding multilevel walkway that connects the two buildings intertwines around the existing trees , giving visitors a chance to truly connect with nature. To disguise the complex within its surroundings, the architects used three different types of glazing to create a mirrored effect : reflective, translucent and transparent. According to the firm, the multiple glazed walls, along with the “rhythmic folding pattern” of the facade, helped accomplish the goal. The east side of the building uses a translucent double facade that helps filter direct sunlight and reduce heat on the interior. As visitors follow this facade to the entrance, the building begins to “fold,” creating a narrow entrance reminiscent of a vibrant forest. Inside, the sun’s rays are reflected off the exterior facade , creating displays of shadow and light throughout the day, again imitating a forest canopy. The structure welcomes visitors with a floating “Bird Nest” gallery that is clad in reflective glass and appears to be surrounded by trees, creating a true feeling of ‘Naiipa.’ + Stu/D/O Architects Via Archdaily Images via Stu/D/O Architects

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A striking concrete home in Ontario targets minimal environment impact

June 21, 2018 by  
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Toronto-based Teeple Architects has paired a beautiful but unusual site in Ontario with the sculptural Port Hope House, an award-winning residence that boasts a wide array of sustainable features. Located east of Toronto , the single-family rural home takes inspiration from the client’s 75-acre property that consists of a woodlot, a fallow field, an abandoned Grand Trunk railway cut and a steep cliff that falls into Lake Ontario. Built with long concrete walls, the Port Hope House appears like a rock outcropping lifting upwards. Teeple Architects carefully sited the Port Hope House to reap the advantages of the property’s four distinctive site conditions — the quiet and dark woods to the north, the open fallow field, the rail cut that hints at man’s intervention and the dramatic lake embankment to the south. The project was rendered as a “tectonic expression” that rises from the earth as a single, curving volume and then splits into two framed volumes so natural light can penetrate deep inside the home. “As an architectural composition, the project offers a unique interpretation of the domestic space — a fundamental object of architectural inquiry — based on the particular experiences and opportunities of a site,” Teeple Architects explained. “Expressed as a small handful of sculptural but restrained moves, the project breaks the mold of contemporary home design in imagining the house as a natural form, an organic but certainly not pre-ordained result of creative exchange between architect, client and environment.” Related: Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is sustainably built from CNC-milled beetle-kill timber To minimize its environmental footprint, the light-filled house features a high-performance envelope with heat-mirror film glazing and follows passive solar principles. The long concrete walls offer high thermal mass and are clad with charcoal zinc siding. Water and sewage are treated on site to reduce reliance on the grid. Rainwater is harvested for irrigation, and geothermal energy has been tapped for heating. + Teeple Architects Images by Scott Norsworthy

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