WOHA to transform polluted swamp into green university

March 20, 2020 by  
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For nearly 50 years, Bangladesh-based nonprofit  BRAC  has championed change for good, and now the NGO will take its do-gooding a big step forward with the establishment of BRAC University in Dhaka. Designed by Singaporean architecture firm  WOHA , the university will be a beacon of environmental and social sustainability as well as a catalyst for positive change in the local community. Slated for completion in 2021, the development will accommodate over 10,000 students on a site that has been remediated from polluted swampland.  In addition to serving as a place of learning, BRAC University will become a showcase of sustainable low-tech solutions for mitigating Bangladesh’s intense summers and heavy monsoons. Key to the design will be the abundance of greenery that blankets the building, which translates to over 26,000 square meters of landscaping that grows both vertically and horizontally to help cut out glare and dust and promote natural cooling to reduce dependence on air conditioning. The architects will also remediate the swamp grounds into a bio-retention pond filled with lush native landscaping that will further enhance a comfortably cool microclimate through evaporate cooling.  Due to Dhaka’s density, the roughly 88,000-square-meter university will rise to a total of 13 stories. Rooms will be based on nine-by-nine-meter structural  modules  to ensure flexibility so that classrooms can combine to former larger units or be subdivided as needed. A “single-room-thick design” also gives every classroom easy access to cross ventilation and daylighting. Gathering spaces will be open and airy yet sheltered from the elements.  Related: WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’ A large recreational sky park known as the “University Green” will crown the roof of the university and comprise a recreational field, a swimming pool and a 200-meter running track beneath a large photovoltaic canopy. Harvested  solar  energy will be used to power giant High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans, common area lights and student laptops.  + WOHA Images via WOHA

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WOHA to transform polluted swamp into green university

A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

March 20, 2020 by  
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In Brisbane’s leafy suburb of Paddington, Australian architectural practice Shaun Lockyer Architects has created a contemporary and sustainable addition that provides a striking contrast to the original cottage it sits beside. Dubbed Sorrel Street, the concrete-clad extension is a deliberate counterpoint to the local vernacular while respecting the scale of the neighborhood. Sustainability and the client’s desire for limited maintenance also informed the design, which features green roofs, substantial thermal mass, LED lighting and low-E glass throughout. Completed in 2016, Sorrel was commissioned by clients who wanted their suburban home reworked to better meet the needs of their children, one of whom has limited mobility. As a result, the architects altered the sloping site to create a flat lawn that opens to the northwest side. The need for flat land also led the architects to place the contemporary addition to the north of the cottage so that the main living spaces could flow out to the level garden. Related: A 1920s cottage gets a new lease on life as an urban barnyard house “The project explores the juxtaposition between historical context and contemporary architecture within a broader subtropical paradigm,” Shaun Lockyer Architects explained. “In a somewhat controversial decision, the call was made to ‘leave well enough alone’ and make a clear distinction between the small, original cottage and the new work, keeping their respective personalities distinct.” The renovated, predominately single-story home is centered on the kitchen and comprises all the main sleeping and living areas on the upper level, while only the garage, storage, offices and media room are on the lower floor. To minimize energy use, the home is equipped with deep eaves and strategically placed windows and skylights for cross-flow ventilation and natural lighting. The insulating green roof and thick concrete walls help maintain stable indoor temperatures, while timber flooring and furnishings lend a sense of warmth throughout. + Shaun Lockyer Architects Photography by Scott Burrows via Shaun Lockyer Architects

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A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

Repurposed shipping containers turned into solar-powered Cycle Hubs

June 4, 2019 by  
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Bustling urban areas around the world are seeing a major increase in bicyclists cruising through their streets, some of them on very expensive electric bikes. To offer extra security for these pricey rides, savvy company Cyclehoop has come up with the an innovative solar-powered bicycle storage center made out of repurposed shipping containers — Cycle Hub. A leader in the world of bicycle parking solutions and infrastructures, London-based Cyclehoop is constantly working to provide cyclists with secure storage and proper infrastructure. They work in a wide range of products, from locks and racks to solar-powered riding paths. Related: An elegant car center in Thailand is made from 8 repurposed shipping containers The company’s most recent addition is the Container Cycle Hub, a repurposed shipping container that safely stores bicycles. The cube-shaped container is small enough that it just takes up a single car parking space, but is still spacious enough to hold 24 bikes. The interior of the bike hub is installed with “gas assisted two tier racks” that pull out so that the bike can be easily wheeled into place before being elevated up to the top rack. The hub’s sliding doors open and close with a mechanical lock for easy, keyless access. The doors are made out of perforated panels and allow natural light to filter through the interior, but are opaque enough to reduce the visibility from the outside. The containers are also equipped with solar-powered motion-sensor lights for added visibility and security. + Cyclehoop Via Treehugger Images via Cyclehoop

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People for Bikes is making cycling safer with Ride Spot

April 22, 2019 by  
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People for Bikes is doing its part to make  cycling safe. The non-profit organization now has two networking projects to help keep cyclists safe across the country: a city ratings database and a guide on the best city biking routes called Ride Spot. With safety being a top priority, People for Bikes  works diligently to urge cities to make it safer for people to ride bikes, whether for commuting or just for enjoying the ride. The non-profit’s database ranks cities based on cycling safety and community. Per the ratings map, the best place to ride a bike is Fort Collins, Colorado. Some of the worst places for cyclists, meanwhile, include cities in North Dakota, Missouri, Louisiana and Hawaii. Fortunately, People for Bikes is currently lobbying for these areas to pass  legislation  that promotes road safety. Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly The company has also started a program called Ride Spot , which features the best bike routes based on location. The routes are user-generated with help from local cyclists and owners of bike shops. People can use the app to find the safest routes in cities all across the United States. The company strongly encourages bike shops to contribute data to its platform, as they often know which areas of town feature the best routes. In addition to showing routes, the app also connects users with each other. In fact, cyclists can use the program to share stories about their daily commutes and new routes they have discovered as well as upload photos of their journeys. As more people get involved, Ride Spot could become a viable place for riders to share information on safe and recreational urban  cycling . People for Bikes hopes its new initiative will address three major issues many beginning cyclists face: knowing the safest routes, connecting with other riders and getting past the intimidation factor. + People for Bikes Via TreeHugger Image via Pexels

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How to make American cities bike-friendly

June 19, 2018 by  
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If you live in a city, riding a bike can be a great option to get you where you need to go. More and more people are opting for bicycles instead of cars, but most American cities are lagging behind when it comes to offering safe roads for bicyclists. Many cities ban cyclists from riding on the sidewalk and expect them to share the road with passing cars. What can we do to encourage American cities to be more bicycle-friendly? America’s best cycling cities Not all cities fall short when it comes to bike-friendly roads — some of the best cycling cities in the world are right here at home. Atlanta took some of its unused urban railways and created “The BeltLine,”  a 22-mile-long loop for pedestrians and bicyclists. City planners are extending it another five miles in the coming year, and more than a million people have used it since its opening. Chicago has dedicated bike routes to help keep cyclists safe and out of the way of passing drivers. Baltimore has an electric-assisted bike-sharing program to make it easier for riders to navigate the sometimes-hilly terrain. Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike Moving away from car dependence Most people don’t think twice about hopping in a car and driving to work, even if work is only a few miles down the road. We need to change our underlying infrastructure to move away from car-dependent transportation. That’s not to say we all need to stop driving our cars — people who commute long distances, carry cargo or transport other passengers will find it difficult or impossible to do these things on a bicycle. Infrastructure changes give cities more control over traffic — both vehicles and bicycles — and allow them to separate or prioritize one or the other, depending on the conditions. Just adding bike lanes to the sides of existing roads isn’t enough — nor is expecting bicyclists to share the road with nothing to separate them from motorized vehicles. Related: 6 cycling accessories every bike commuter needs Separating cars and bikes When it comes down to it, a bicycle is never going to win in a fight with a car. In 2015, more than 800 cyclists were killed in accidents with vehicles. That’s more than two accidents every single day. The easiest way to prevent these collisions is to keep cars and bikes separate. Bike lanes with planters or plastic bollards provide a barrier between cyclists and drivers and may help keep people safe. Cities can install a temporary setup for a reasonable amount of money to study how well it works, and if it turns out to be a good option for the city, city planners and officials can move forward from there. Learn from cycling cities When transitioning American cities to be safer for cyclists, planners can turn to cities around the world for inspiration.  Europe has great ideas when it comes to making cities more cycling-friendly. For the Netherlands recently opened an 11-mile cycling highway that connects the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen. This is a “fast path” for bicycling commuters between the two cities. There are slower roadside paths as well for intercity travel. It isn’t just the infrastructure that the Netherlands has changed — it’s the “ psychology of the commute .” By giving cyclists a direct and convenient route that keeps them separate from cars, it has allowed more people to ride bikes. The bicycling highway has even encouraged people to reconsider transportation for their regional trips. Cycling is one of the best things we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint , so it’s important to make crowded cities safer for people who choose to leave their cars at home and opt to use bicycles. It’s better for your health and better for the environment, as long as we can keep cyclists safe during their daily commutes. City planners should stop thinking about cars and start focusing on public transportation and cycling as the primary forms of transportation for their citizens. Via  Atlanta ,  Biz Journals ,  Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center ,  Wired  and  CityLab Images via Vishal Banik , Paul Krueger (1 , 2) , Daniel Lobo  and Jonny Kennaugh

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These new airless 3D-printed bicycle tires never go flat

May 7, 2018 by  
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Will cyclists pedal bikes with airless tires in the future? BigRep just unveiled a new set of 3D-printed bike tires and took them out for a whirl in Berlin, Germany. The airless tires are made from PRO FLEX Filament – a new thermoplastic elastomer that introduces flexibility to 3D-printing . Designer and test cyclist Marco Mattia Cristofori described the ride as “very smooth”. PRO FLEX Filament can be used with the BigRep One industrial 3D-printer and it boasts “high temperature resistance, low temperature impact resistance” and durability “with excellent damping behavior and dynamic properties.” Related: NASA’s new airless titanium tires are almost indestructible Possible applications for the material include skateboard wheels, sporting shoe shells — and bicycle tires. The flexibility of PRO FLEX is what enables it to work for the airless tires. Maik Dobberack of BigRep told CNET the idea behind the tires is that users could print and customize the treads and internal patterns for varying needs: mountain biking, cycling on roads or handling various weather conditions. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy the airless bicycle tires in a store at this point. Dobberack told CNET the tires were an “in-house industrial application design” not intended for large-scale production right now. “The main goal of the design was to inspire and explore the endless possibilities of large-scale 3D-printing,” Dobberack said. We printed the world's first 3D printed airless bicycle tire using our new PRO FLEX material – a TPU-based filament – and took it for a spin in Berlin. Stay tuned for some exciting news! #3dprinter#prototype #bigrep #design #3dprinting#additivemanufacturing #italiandesign #tpufilament A post shared by BigRep 3D Printers (@bigrep3dprinters) on May 3, 2018 at 7:52am PDT The company has also played around with 3D-printed wheel rims , also designed by Cristofori, in “a meeting of advanced design and industry.” Cristofori said, “With 3D printing you can prototype organic forms… It allows you to envision more complex shapes, because you don’t really have any limits.” Last year, Michelin unveiled concept tires that were also 3D-printed and airless; their Vision tire was printed with organic, recyclable materials and was completely biodegradable . + BigRep Via CNET Images and video courtesy of BigRep.com

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These new airless 3D-printed bicycle tires never go flat

INTERVIEW: 8 Questions with Architect Tom Kundig

May 7, 2018 by  
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Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects is one of our favorite architectural firms, championing the fight for sustainable design. Founded in the late 1960s, the firm has created a collection of structures that rise from the ground as natural extensions of their sites, acting as bridges between nature, culture, and people. We sat down with principal architect Tom Kundig who shares his thoughts on his design process, what it’s like to be a Seattle-based firm, where he finds his inspiration and more. Read on for our exclusive interview with Tom, as well as a look at some featured projects that are as green as they are gorgeous! Inhabitat: Many well-known architects make it a point to establish offices in large cities, but even with your success Olson + Kundig  operations remains in the (arguably) more remote Pacific Northwest. What impact do you think being a Seattle-based firm has had on your work? Tom Kundig: Not entirely sure. I’m sure there are impacts that we are not aware of – are we ‘mysterious’ because we are remote, or are we ‘removed from the action’? My guess is that it might be both, but the most important consideration is how we do our work.  In a large landscape like the Pacific Northwest – and in a relatively large city like Seattle that is connected internationally – we might have the best of both worlds. Irregardless, our work is context based – cultural, environmental, craft, tectonics, and so forth – and we are in an ideal location where all these elements converge. Inhabitat: Are you concerned about environmental and social sustainability in your buildings? If so, what role does green building play into your work? Tom Kundig: I am absolutely concerned about it. And I’m not speaking strictly of the environmental, because the process of building and what’s required to maintain a building consumes not only a significant amount of natural resources but also has a huge influence on cultural and social sustainability. Ultimately architecture is cultural and social – it is shelter at its most basic human level, and within the spirit of that notion, it is a deeply humanistic endeavor. Inhabitat: What do you feel is the greatest challenge when it comes to designing for environmental sustainability? Tom Kundig: The greatest challenge is designing to an authenticity that recognizes the true issues of sustainability, not just treating it as a checklist of items or simplifying it to accommodate to scorekeeping. Sustainability takes on a true, holistic understanding of all the implications of a design. Inhabitat: You were the sole N. American representative in Toto Gallery MA’s “Global Ends – Towards the Beginning” an exhibit that hopes to inspire architects to break away from the architectural uniformity resulting from past movements. Modernism has clearly been the most dominant and continues to permeate design – what are your thoughts on its value today? Tom Kundig: Modernism at its core is a humanistic value. It is about shelter , about culture, and about equality, safety, and nurturing for a better future for EVERYBODY. Unfortunately today, many of these values have been lost in stylistic fashion.  I am hopeful that the next movement will be about a meaningful search for a humanistic architecture . This is an idea that will never go out of style. Inhabitat: Why do you think sustainability remains largely outside of theoretical discussions of architecture?  Sustainability can be clever, innovative, it can justify designs, but by in large it is not a realm of theoretical review.  Themes such as space, aesthetics, and cities are constant avenues for debate, speculation, and experiment, but sustainability still seems thin. Thoughts? Tom Kundig: Sustainability has been relegated to the ‘science’ side of the practice, both by the practitioners and in academia. Architecture at its core is the  intersection of the rational and the poetic. If architecture , academics and practitioners can embrace that idea and respect the two realms of the practice, this question would not have to be asked. Unfortunately, the question is a good one.   Inhabitat: Can you tell us about the house you grew up in? Tom Kundig : It was a 1918 classic two-story bungalow with a porch facing the street. However, it was its location near a large city port that had more effect on my childhood than the house itself. Spending my formative years in and around the lake cabins of the areas probably had the most impact on my career. Inhabitat: Who inspires you? Tom Kundig: So many architects , both living and dead, inspire me. It’s difficult to list. But certainly, individuals within the architectural, art and music realm are the most inspirational. And when I speak of artists, what I’m focusing in on are those willing to truly put their souls on the line for their art.  They are working ‘out there’, many times without a net, vulnerable to the second-guessing of polite society, bureaucrats, academics, and mainstream media – it’s a lonely place to be. Inhabitat: What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to be remembered for? Tom Kundig: I hope that my work is meaningful and it that it resonates in people’s lives – architecture at its core. + Olson Kundig Architects

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INTERVIEW: 8 Questions with Architect Tom Kundig

Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

April 2, 2018 by  
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Bike-sharing took off in China , where many city dwellers battle smog and bikes offered a potential clean alternative. Now, without the infrastructure to support them, and an over-saturation in the sharing market, abandoned bikes have piled into massive graveyards in cities like Shanghai and Beijing  – forcing us to ask: are bicycles polluting metropolises they were intended to aid? The Atlantic reported  bike sharing growth surpassed demand and  Deutsche Welle (DW) said  that bikes are piling up into massive graveyards. 16 to 18 million bikes hit streets in China from around 60 companies, TIME said , and most cities weren’t prepared to handle the influx. There aren’t any set docking stations or bike stands, so most bikes are just parked on the side of the road, according to the publication. Back in December, Fortune reported the co-founder of bike-share startup Ofo , Zhang Siding, said, “The bike-sharing phenomenon has grown very quickly in the last few years, but the layout and infrastructure [of] cities in China aren’t something that can be changed as quickly to accommodate this new trend.” Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Bike graveyards have grown as some bike-sharing companies fold, and their surplus bicycles sprawl in vacant lots. DW said police now have to gather unwanted vehicles from roads and parks, and pile them in fields out of city centers. According to Fortune, last year Ofo launched a credit score system: users would be penalized for antisocial behavior like traffic violations or bike dumping, and rewarded for positive behavior, like reporting damaged or lost bikes. If users’ points were all deducted, they’d be barred from the service. They were also reportedly working with interest groups in cities to come up with new strategies — for example, in Guangzhou, traffic wardens or local groups can send feedback to the company if bikes are accumulating and Zhang said, “we’ll send people down to deal with it.” Health and air quality benefits are still present with bike-sharing, and The Atlantic said the trend is still popular, and bike-sharing will likely keep growing — just maybe at a slightly more sustainable rate. Via The Atlantic , TIME , Deutsche Welle , and Fortune Images via Philip Cohen on Flickr , Chris on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

This prefab floating house in Amsterdam was inspired by Japanese tatami rooms

April 2, 2018 by  
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If you’re strolling through Amsterdam and notice a houseboat with a design that doesn’t match the surrounding architecture, you’ve probably found this prefab floating house with an interior inspired by Japanese design. Architect Julius Taminiau drew inspiration from tatami rooms to create a home for himself and his family, and he introduced various space-saving features to make it comfortable and practical. The floating house was constructed in the town of Hardenberg, over 62 miles (100 kilometers) away. It was then sailed over the IJsselmeer to its final destination. “I was looking for a place where we could build a family house with a relatively small budget,” said Taminiau. “This was very difficult as housing prices are increasing very abruptly in Amsterdam, so this houseboat was a perfect match.” Related: Rusting 1950s cargo ship transformed into a stunning modern floating home Taminiau utilized a tatami grid in order to standardize the design and reduce waste. The external cladding also references tatami mats and has a reflective finish that lets it discreetly reflect the water. The house has two levels, with the lower one located partly below the water line. This level houses the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and two smaller bedrooms. The main living areas occupy the upper floor, where the occupants can enjoy views of the surroundings. A double-height space near the main entrance functions as an office space, but can easily be converted into a guest bedroom. An open staircase leads to the rooftop deck , which is partly outfitted with solar panels. + Julius Taminiau Architects Via Dezeen

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This prefab floating house in Amsterdam was inspired by Japanese tatami rooms

French company debuts hydrogen-powered bikes

January 17, 2018 by  
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Pragma Industries is now the first company to begin industrial production of hydrogen-powered bicycles for commercial and municipal purposes. Founded in 2004, Pragma has now turned its fuel-cell expertise to the development of hydrogen fuel-cell powered bikes. Based in Biarritz, France , the company has already secured 60 orders for the hydrogen bikes from French municipalities such as Saint Lo, Cherbourg, Chambery and Bayonne. While the bikes are currently too expensive for the commercial market, costs are expected to eventually drop from 7,500 euros to 5,000 euros; charging stations cost about 30,000 euros. While Pragma is not the only company interested in hydrogen-powered bicycles, they have taken production of such vehicles the farthest — so far. “Many others have made hydrogen bike prototypes, but we are the first to move to series production,” Pragma founder and chief executive Pierre Forte told Reuters . Pragma’s Alpha bike is able to travel a distance of 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a two-liter (0.5 gallon) tank of hydrogen . Although the range is similar to that of a typical electric bike , the recharge time is significantly reduced from hours for a traditional e-bike to merely minutes for the Alpha hydrogen-powered bike. Related: Floating solar rig from Columbia University harvests hydrogen fuel from seawater Pragma offers two types of recharging stations: one that uses hydrolysis of water to generate hydrogen fuel on-site, and another, more affordable station that relies on tanks of already prepared hydrogen fuel. Due to the high cost, Pragma is currently marketing its bikes to larger commercial and municipal operations such as bike-rental operators, delivery companies, and municipal or corporate bicycle fleets. After producing 100 such bikes last year, Pragma hopes to sell 150 this year to organizations in places such as Norway , the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany. In addition to developing a bike that is capable of turning water into fuel without the need of a charging station, the company plans to massively expand into the retail market within the next few years. Via Reuters Images via Pragma Industries

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