How Barcelona "superblocks" return city streets to the people

August 9, 2016 by  
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An increase in pedestrian-friendly public space and the reduction of traffic are big benefits of Barcelona’s Urban Mobility Plan, but even more important is the plan’s potential in reducing premature deaths. Studies have attributed air pollution as the driving cause behind 3,500 premature deaths a year in Barcelona’s metropolitan area; the staggering number doesn’t include the injuries or deaths caused by traffic. By removing space for motorized traffic and increasing attractive alternatives—the city plans to add 200 kilometers (124 miles) of bicycle paths and make bus stops more easily accessible to residents—urban planners hope that people will ditch the car to walk and bicycle. To understand the superblock, one can start with the 400 meter by 400 meter nine square blocks of the famous gridded Eixample, a neighborhood that will also be one of the first areas to implement the plan. In the current nine square blocks, motorized traffic passes through all roads at 50 kilometers per hour (around 30 miles per hour). Under the superblock plan, however, the inner four intersecting roads will be reclaimed for public space . Private vehicles may use those roads but will be restricted to speeds of 10 kilometers per hour (6.2 miles per hour). Higher speed traffic and public transport will be confined to the outer roads. Related: How to Create Community Through Quality Public Spaces If all goes to plan, the scheme could free up 160 intersections. “This plan sums up the essence of urban ecology,” Janet Sanz, city councillor for ecology, urbanism and mobility, told The Guardian . “Our objective is for Barcelona to be a city in which to live. Also, as a Mediterranean city, its residents spend a long time on the streets – those streets need to be second homes, or extensions of one’s residence, at all times … Public spaces need to be spaces to play, where green is not an anecdote – where the neighbourhood’s history and local life have a presence.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Tech Insider ; all other images via BNC Ecologica

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NASA builds more advanced shelters to protect firefighters from wildfires

August 9, 2016 by  
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Back in 2013, 19 firefighters died in Arizona because their emergency shelters didn’t protect them. NASA scientists realized materials in a space project they were working on might be useful, so they teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to help design a safer emergency fire shelter that would better protect firefighters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgiPZbtbaOQ NASA engineer Mary Beth Wusk said in a press release, “The huge loss of those firefighters made some of us at NASA think about how our research might help improve firefighter survivability.” NASA researchers were working on ” flexible thermal protection systems for inflatable heat shields ,” and realized the material that could someday help astronauts enter the atmosphere safely could also save lives here on Earth. They contacted USFS and initiated the CHIEFS program, or Convective Heating Improvement for Emergency Fire Shelters, to adapt the space technology for fire shelters firefighters use if they get trapped while battling wildfires . Related: 7 NASA discoveries that will blow your mind It’s not as simple as just turning heat shields into shelters. Emergency fire shelters have to be small and lightweight so firefighters can carry them easily. Shelters have to guard against flames, heat, and gases. USFS Fire Shelter Project lead Anthony Petrilli used to be a firefighter. In 1994 he and seven others successfully used fire shelters to survive a fire, but 14 other firefighters died. Petrilli said, “Our project is trying to take advantage of advances in materials that may offer better protection by slowing the transfer of heat through the shelter layers.” NASA fire shelter designs have already undergone several tests, including in a controlled burn in Canada forests. While prototypes are still being tested, engineers anticipate turning in results to USFS early next year. Shelter prototypes could be delivered to firefighters in the summer of 2017, and if all goes well an updated shelter will be ready in 2018. + NASA Images via U.S. Forest Service/Ian Grob

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NASA builds more advanced shelters to protect firefighters from wildfires

Stylish coffeemaker repurposes used grounds to grow fresh mushrooms

July 14, 2016 by  
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As it turns out, the concept of using spent coffee grounds as a substrate for mushroom farming isn’t new. The used grounds—an abundant resource in university districts, creative urban centers, and in pretty much every American household—are basically the perfect material for growing mushrooms. Coffee grounds from cafés are ideal, because the forced steam of espresso machines sterilizes the grounds, but many a casual mushroom farmer has been successful using home-brewed grounds as well. Related: HOW TO: Grow your own mushrooms from recycled cardboard and coffee grounds So, how does this all-in-one coffeemaker and mushroom planter work? The top of the HIFA unit houses the coffee brewing portion of the device, which is not unlike a French press. Grounds are placed in the carafe, followed by just off-boil water, allowed to steep (many say three minutes is the golden time limit), and then a mesh strainer is plunged down into the carafe to separate the soaked grounds from the divine java. The double-walled carafe can be lifted off the base for pouring, leaving behind the used coffee grounds in a little yellow cup. The coffee aficionado/mushroom farmer then pours the used grounds into the divided lower portion of the unit. Add a little mycelium (think “mushroom roots”), spray periodically with water, and watch and wait for tiny mushroom caps to appear. The cultivation of mushrooms in the HIFA system is very similar to other mushroom-growing kits , which often come preloaded with mycelium. Because the HIFA unit fills the mushroom planter from the bottom up, it could be used as a potentially endless source of edible fungus. When the substrate compartment is full, used grounds could simply be redirected to other destinations, such as a compost pile or outdoor garden beds. + Adrián Pérez Via Yanko Design Images via Adrián Pérez

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Stylish coffeemaker repurposes used grounds to grow fresh mushrooms

Around the world in 80 days – with 11 electric cars

July 7, 2016 by  
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An electric vehicle race began in Barcelona on June 16 that is taking 11 international teams around the world in 80 days for a sustainable transportation future that includes long-distance zero emissions cars. The teams participating in the  80edays 2016 ELDURO race are currently sprinting across the United States with the Swiss in the lead somewhere in Nevada as of Thursday morning. The route runs 15,534 miles (25,000 km) across 20 countries and three continents. Most of the racers are driving Tesla EVs — one Roadster and eight Model S sedans — except for the Chinese team, which is racing in a DENZA EV, a German car manufactured in China, and the Hungarian team, which is driving the Innovative Modulo composite electric bus made in Hungary. “It’s a dream of mine to travel the world by car and what better car to do it in than in a Tesla,” Armand Figueras of team Spain told Metro News Canada. “It’s a once in a lifetime adventure for me… They’re just great grand touring cars…Fast, comfortable, silent, environmentally friendly. What else could you want?” Related: VW’s 10-year plan includes 30 new electric vehicles and a self-driving car system The participants will plant trees along the route to help offset any greenhouse gas emissions generated from the race. Of course, the fact that they are driving zero emission electric vehicles will significantly reduce any harmful carbon emissions. But they still have to fly in polluting planes, including to China after they tour California. The 80edays electric vehicle challenge is the second EV race following the first electric around the world race in 2012 that was won by Rafael de Mestre, who is serving as ambassador for the 2016 electric rally. “The hype of the (80edays) rally is justified because a lot of people believe electric cars are and should be the future,” said Mestre. “The 2012 rally proved that people can drive electric cars anywhere in the world and reduce their carbon footprint. This year we hope the industry realizes that there are no wrongs with EVs, only rights!” + 80edays Via Climate Action News Images via 80edays

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Playful renovation in Barcelona squeezes more out of a tiny home

February 1, 2016 by  
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Canadian clay kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria on contact

February 1, 2016 by  
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Aboriginal Canadians used clay from Kisameet Bay, British Columbia to treat their ailments for centuries – from stomach complaints to skin irritation. Now, researchers have found that there might just be something to the clay’s purported healing properties after all. It turns out this 10,000-year-old deposit of clay is highly effective against many serious antibiotic-resistant infections. Read the rest of Canadian clay kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria on contact

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Barcelona artists use old tires as street art to revitalize the city

June 18, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Barcelona artists use old tires as street art to revitalize the city Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: and Mateu Targa , artwork , Ús Barcelona , Barcelona , barcelona art installation , barcelona street art , Iago Buceta , OOSS , pneumatic , repurposed tires , Reused Tires , salvaged tires , street festivals , tire art , urban art

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Barcelona artists use old tires as street art to revitalize the city

Barcelona’s greenest bridge will be paved with smog-eating, glow-in-the-dark concrete

March 23, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Barcelona’s greenest bridge will be paved with smog-eating, glow-in-the-dark concrete Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green wall” , Barcelona , Barcelona City Council , BCQ , BCQ architecture , eco-friendly bridge , energy self-sufficient , glow in the dark concrete , glow-in-the-dark road , LEDs , photo-luminescent , photocatalytic concrete , Sarajevo Bridge , smog eating concrete

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Barcelona’s greenest bridge will be paved with smog-eating, glow-in-the-dark concrete

Guadi’s Sagrada Familia could be finished soon thanks to 3D printing

March 20, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is perhaps one of the longest active construction projects on the planet. Work began in 1882, when the beginnings of architect Antoni Guadi ‘s design graduated from 2D into 3D. Ironically, over one hundred years later, modern technology’s gift of 3D printing is helping the basilica get a little closer to completion as BBC’s Spencer Kelly reports. Although there is still much work left to be done to complete Guadi’s vision, the church is already structurally sound, open to the public, and completely stunning. Read the rest of Guadi’s Sagrada Familia could be finished soon thanks to 3D printing Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3d printed models , 3D printing , 3d-printed architecture , antoni guadi , Barcelona , basilica , Jordi Coll , Sagrada Familia , Spain , spanish church

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Guadi’s Sagrada Familia could be finished soon thanks to 3D printing

Alventosa Morell squeezes a narrow, day-lit home between two blocks of flats in Barcelona

December 16, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Alventosa Morell squeezes a narrow, day-lit home between two blocks of flats in Barcelona Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Alventosa Morell Arquitectes , Alventosa Morrell , Barcelona , day-lit home , maximize natural light , narrow house , narrow lot , natural light , noise buffer , skinny house

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Alventosa Morell squeezes a narrow, day-lit home between two blocks of flats in Barcelona

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