Ingenious Chlorella Oxygen Pavilion helps city dwellers breathe clean, unpolluted air using algae

October 31, 2016 by  
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Air quality is a serious issue that needs to be addressed as more and more people move to large cities . At the same time, we are losing the forests that help us combat air pollution, which means that pollution promises to be a major health threat in coming decades. The Chlorella Pavilion  addresses that need, taking inspiration from the air purifying process that occurs in nature. The design emphasizes the  symbiotic relationship between animal and plants. Miklosi conceived a system of tubes that run throughout the interior and exterior of the structure, filled with algae soaking up energy from the sun and “exhaling” oxygen into the space by way of a central fountain. The fountain is surrounded by seating so that people can relax enjoy the fresh air. Visitors coming to this futuristic oxygen bar will feed the algae by converting oxygen into CO2 with their breath, creating a continuous cycle. The entire system is run by solar panels, which provide power for artificial lighting that supports photosynthesis. Photobioreactors create a network of transparent plastic tubes, each of which is filled with 5 cubic meters of algae. The algae sucks in dirty air, cleans it, and sends out purified air. Surrounding this central algae “fountain” are a series of chairs in a circle, facing the center. Related: Biodesign Competition winners announced – algae takes center stage Called a “temple of relaxation,” the Chlorella Pavilion could be placed just about anywhere, including metropolitan areas where bustling city dwellers could use a natural boost of oxygen-driven energy – or just some fresh air. The innovative structure is built with molded beech wood and an isolating teflon film on the exterior to help create a space for relaxation and recovery. The project was inspired by Russia’s Controlled ecological life support system , in which a self-supporting life system was created using algae to provide oxygen.  Miklosi’s design recently won Inhabitat’s  Biodesign Competition . +Chlorella Oxygen Pavilion

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Ingenious Chlorella Oxygen Pavilion helps city dwellers breathe clean, unpolluted air using algae

Are algae-powered oxygen bars on the horizon?

October 18, 2016 by  
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While the idea may seem strange at first, these pods could actually be the answer to the increasing problem of urban pollution and carbon emissions . The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in big cities, and a recent study from WHO found that a staggering 92% of the human beings on the planet are already being exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution . That’s a lot of people who could benefit from a quick daily dose of purified air. The design of the structure does more than simply purify the air. It also uses semi-transparent Teflon membranes to reduce noise and visual stimulation – creating a quiet, isolated escape for tired visitors who want to relax and recharge. The algae fountain in the center consists of a series of photobioreactors filled with five cubic meters of water and algae. Surrounding the core photobioreactor would be ten rail-bound relaxation chairs placed in a circle, to allow quiet time for study and reflection – it’s sort of an oxygen bar meets library. The chairs can be shifted individually in order to facilitate social gatherings or to create a more private personal space. This innovative design impressed us so much that it took both the Grand Prize and the Healing Spaces Prize in Inhabitat’s recent Biodesign Competition . Related: Biodesign Competition winners announced – algae takes center stage An urban escape from pollution wouldn’t be the only benefit to this design. We could also harness elements of this design to help reduce overall atmospheric CO2 – a pressing issue at a time when existing carbon sinks worldwide are disappearing. Deforestation could potentially lead to a massive increase in unabsorbed carbon dioxide pollution. Researchers predict that deforestation in the Amazon, has already led to a 12% increase in carbon emissions worldwide since the 1960s, and that will only increase as farming and logging continue in the region. Environmental changes such as drought have severely impacted the ability of trees to store carbon and have even caused them to release it into the atmosphere instead. + Ádám Miklósi

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Are algae-powered oxygen bars on the horizon?

8 inexpensive earth homes almost anyone can afford

October 18, 2016 by  
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1. Dome-shaped earth bag house keeps residents cool in Colombia La Casa Vergara’s uncommon dome shapes may captivate the eye, but what’s underneath is most impressive. The Bogota home, built by architect Jose Andres Vallejo , is made from “ earth bags ,” or tubular bags stuffed with – you guessed it – earth. These bags are stacked atop each other and encased in concrete on both sides, which work together to prevent both earthquake and water damage. Exposed timber beams and plentiful daylighting make everyday living a bit greener and the $28 per square foot price tag puts the home within many buyers’ price range. 2. A green-roofed Hobbit home anyone can build in just 3 days These charming hobbit-like dwellings are prefabricated by Magic Green Homes and can be constructed in just three days. Sized at 400-square-feet, the green-roofed living spaces are so easy to assemble, practically anyone can do it. They require no heavy equipment to build, instead utilizing perforated flaps that are screwed and sealed together. Magic Green Homes adapt to any topography around the world, making this a dream come true for nearly anyone. 3. Build your own disaster-proof earth home using materials of war For anyone who is interested in building their own earth home, yet doesn’t know where to start, the guidance of Cal-Earth might come in handy. The California-based group teaches others DIY methods for creating your own dwelling using sustainable and disaster-proof materials. The group specializes in reusing materials of war and fortifying homes located in areas at risk of natural disasters. Sandbags packed with earth, barbed wire for tension, and stabilizing materials such as cement, lime, or asphalt emulsion all come together in a comfortable home that can withstand the elements. 4. Passive solar orphanage constructed with earth bags Orkidstudio , an organization that specializes in humanitarian design, opened up an orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya that is made entirely out of earth bags. The passive solar structure absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night, creating a comfortable space for the children and staff inside. The orphanage is clad in recycled timber and features running water sourced from an on-site rainwater collection system. Not only did the project come together to produce an inviting and efficient facility, but it was put together in only eight weeks by a team of UK architecture students. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=522&v=U9b-h_cCdO8 5. Earth Home Builder machine “3D prints” entire homes from bags of earth Building low-cost, environmentally friendly homes is a sign of moving in the right direction and the Earth Home Builder makes the process amazingly efficient. Working similarly to a 3D printer , the skid-operated machine can fill bags of earth at a rate of 400 bags per hour. Given that only 30 bags can be filled at the hands of humans, the machine could revolutionize access to affordable and responsible housing. United Earth Builders , who developed the technology, are working to find non-profit partners to help bring earth homes to the masses. 6. Budget-minded rammed Earth home in Mexico One family in Mexico opted to create a multi-colored home on a budget with the help of architect Tatiana Bilbao ’s expertise. The rammed earth dwelling is mesmerizing inside and out, thanks to the clever practice of adding pigment to the material before layering the walls from the ground up. The distinct effect only adds to the temperature control qualities of the home, which is essential during the hot Mexican summers. Ajijic House features floor-to-ceiling windows and two open terraces to take advantage of the breathtaking coastal views. Indoors, the use of locally-sourced pine wood flooring allows the family to enjoy beautiful details in their home without breaking the bank. 7. Luxurious Triksa Villa combines rammed earth, bamboo and recycled wood When building using earthen materials, it is possible to create a home that would rival the most luxurious of vacation spots. Chiangmai Life Construction has built the Triksa Villa in northern Thailand, a stunning structure made from part rammed earth, and part mixture of clay and concrete for the foundation. Adobe brick walls keep the space a comfortable temperature while the bamboo roof gives the company sustainable material bragging rights. Recycled hardwood and a lavish outdoor pool setting shatter any preconceived notion that green building materials cannot produce an eye-catching slice of paradise. 8. Rural Ghana home built from rammed earth and recycled plastic In the countryside of Ghana lies this unique home made from rammed earth , recycled plastic, and fortified against the elements using natural materials. The home was constructed from student Anna Webster’s winning design through a Nka Foundation building competition. She states, “We aimed to overcome the negative associations of these materials and move away from the primitive image of building with earth by applying a modern design aesthetic.” Plastic waste is repurposed into window screens and roof materials and the sturdy rammed earth walls are covered in a cassava starch sealant to prevent exterior water damage. The home cost just $7865 to construct and serves as an example of what can be done with found materials and a little creativity. Images via Nka Foundation , Chiangmai Life Construction ,  United Earth Builders ,  Jose Andres Vallejo ,  Cal-Earth ,  Tatiana Bilbao ,  Orkidstudio , Green Magic Homes

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Ron Arad designs the modular Armadillo Tea Pavilion for indoor and outdoor use

October 18, 2016 by  
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As a modular structure, the Armadillo Tea Pavilion can be expanded as needed and reconfigured to suit a variety of needs. The base model measures 18 square meters and comprises five molded shells connected together with fixings crafted from hand-patinated brass and bronze. Made from timber , the shells can be completed using the buyer’s choice in a set range of finishes depending on the pavilion’s intended use. Durable PVDF-coated timber composite is offered for outdoor applications, while oiled hardwood-veneered plywood is suggested for internal use. Related: The Nest Pod is futuristic prefab home that can pop up anywhere in the world “The Armadillo Tea Pavilion is designed as an independent shell structure, for use indoors and outdoors, which provides an intimate enclosure, shelter or place of reflection within a garden, landscape, or large internal space,” says the description on Revolution Precrafted. Interested buyers can submit a form on Revolution Precrafted’s website to inquire about availability and price. + Armadillo Tea Pavilion Via Fubiz Images via Revolution Precrafted

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Ron Arad designs the modular Armadillo Tea Pavilion for indoor and outdoor use

These floating jellyfish gardens purify polluted water and air while growing food

October 13, 2016 by  
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Janine Hung created the Jellyfish Lodge as a solution to problems plaguing the world’s waterways. The solar-powered structures feature interior gardens that flourish while filtering polluted water. The jellyfish’ long tentacle arms collect drifting trash without harming wildlife. They also test water for toxicity and begin the process of treating water though unique microbial digestion chambers. Once it is purified, water is returned to the surrounding environment. Related: Biodesign Competition winners announced – algae takes center stage The aquaponic gardens grow food while purifying the air with an electrostatic system. The project would encourage nearby residents to maintain the lodges while reaping the benefits of the food grown inside. The Jellyfish Lodge received an Honorable Mention in this year’s Biodesign Competition . + Janine Hung Images via Janine Hung

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These floating jellyfish gardens purify polluted water and air while growing food

Designers, get ready for the BioDesign Competition – cash prize of $1000

August 5, 2016 by  
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Calling all future-looking designers and architects! We’ve got a cool new design competition coming up for you — for the X-Prize — with some great cash prizes. We’ll be launching this competition the week of August 15th. When it comes to design, Mother Nature clearly knows best . The buildings that humans currently design – homes and skyscrapers which consume tons of energy to produce and maintain – pale in comparison to the elegant, complex and efficient design solutions that can be found in the natural world. What if, like forests, our buildings could grow over time to accommodate changes in the environment? What if they could produce their own energy instead of constantly sucking energy from pollution-generating fossil fuels? What if they could heal and help their occupants instead of making them sick? The prestigious X-Prize Foundation is developing a new competition for Regenerative Buildings, and we’re teaming up with Organic Architect Eric Corey Freed to assist its ideation X-Prize by launching a new design competition on Inhabitat: BioSesign Futures ! We’ll be launching the competition on the week of August 15th with a $1000 cash prize. If you’re interested in entering, read on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVEqIDR-_TI&feature=youtu.be We’re calling on you to mark your calendars for the BioDesign Futures Competition — an opportunity to imagine the future of the built environment — with a shot at winning $1000 and getting your work in front of the X-Prize Foundation . If you could use any material in the world to design the buildings of the future, what would you use? Do you think buildings one day could be grown instead of assembled ? Launching the week of August 15th, the BioDesign Futures Competition is calling on “bold and innovative visions for the future of construction at the intersection of the physical, the digital and the biological.” Visions for the following categories will be considered: A. Spaces for living – Single family home in the suburbs – Multi-family apartment in the city – Informal settlement or slums in the context of an emerging economy – In situ revitalization of abandoned buildings in the context of cities with declining population B. Spaces for learning or healing Inhabitat will be announcing the launch of the competition later this month, so stay tuned for details. In the meantime, you can start dreaming up your visions for the future of the built environment right now. We’re going to be asking for high-resolution PDFs and JPGs in A3 size, so if you’re interested in entering, get started on your renderings now! + X-Prize + Eric Corey Freed + Organic Architect Illustration by Redmer Hoekstra

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Designers, get ready for the BioDesign Competition – cash prize of $1000

This timber installation challenges students to think about new ways to design homes

August 5, 2016 by  
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The structure was built during a 5-day workshop, involving over 200 students who worked under the guidance of 12 studio directors and the wood engineer Rémy Meylan. Meant to unfold as a series of successive spaces, the structure aims to “invoke questions, contains possibilities, and is open for interpretation. The project was a collaboration meant to challenge the designers to think outside of the architecture box, and helped the students explore how design could take place not from the top down, but as a mutual effort. The space acts as a sort of “genetic code” for future construction concepts. Related: Rintala Eggertsson’s MILU is a Sculptural Wooden Pavilion Made from Locally Sourced Timber One of the main topics explored through the project is the feasibility of architectural design that brings forth a multilayered discourse on space, culture, and ideas. The project has been recently completed and is open to visitors on the EPFL campus in Lausanne . + EPFL | École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne + ALICE Studio Architects Lead photo by Aloys Mutzenberg

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This timber installation challenges students to think about new ways to design homes

7 plants that could save the world

August 5, 2016 by  
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Perennial Wheat Grains are the staple food of humanity: the vast majority of people on the planet eat either rice, wheat, or corn on a daily basis, and those are all annual crops. The issue with annuals, which complete their life cycle in a few months and must then be replanted, is that they require tremendous inputs of water, fertilizer and, often, pesticides, and herbicides, in order to remain productive on the same plot of land each year. The constant tillage required to plant and replant grains slowly degrades soil over time and leads to erosion by water and wind. That said, many modern plant breeders have been hard at work in recent years attempting to domesticate some of the perennial grains that are found in nature, because they require a fraction of the agricultural inputs for the amount of yield when compared to their annual cousins. Researchers at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas are leading the way and have already developed a strain of perennial wheat called Kernza , though they say it may be another ten years before they have perfected it as a crop to replace annual wheat. Azolla Azolla is a tiny floating aquatic fern that grows naturally in wetlands all over the world. Individual azolla ferns are about the size of a thumbtack, but they are considered one of the fastest growing species on the planet, as they can double their quantity every other day in warm shallow water. The reason for this is their ability to absorb atmospheric nitrogen and convert into a form of all-natural, fast-acting fertilizer. Humans have been taking advantage of this trait for millennia, incorporating azolla as a member of aquatic polycultures, primarily in the rice padis of Asia. In recent times, azolla has been grown as a form of organic fertilizer, a source of bio-energy and as a sustainable alternative to corn and soy for use in livestock feed. Its phenomenal growth rate makes it a promising plant for the purposes of carbon sequestration, which is currently under study at the Azolla Institute . Related: INFOGRAPHIC – Edible, Medicinal, or Just Bizarre, Here are 50 Amazing Facts About Plants Algae Algae range in size from unicellular organisms to giant kelp over a hundred feet in length. Like azolla, their aquatic nature allows an incredibly fast growth rate making them a prime target for biological research. Some species are edible, bringing micronutrients into the human diet that are deficient in modern agricultural crops. Some species are grown as organic fertilizer, while others are used in biological filtration of sewage. But the potential of algae as a fuel source is where it gets really exciting. They can grow in shallow water, even salty water, making it possible to produce fuel on land unsuitable for agriculture. Algae grows so fast, it is harvested weekly, rather than annually. It is estimated that 15,000 square miles of algae production could supply the United States with all of its fuel needs – that’s about 1/7 of the land currently planted in corn in this country. Some algae fuel is already being sold and experts predict that by 2025 the technology will be refined to the point where the price per gallon will break even with the cost of petroleum. Sedum Unlike algae and azolla, sedums like it dry. They grow naturally from cracks in the sides of cliffs, meaning they survive both intense heat and extreme cold equally well and have little need for either soil or water. These traits make sedums perfect for vegetating rooftops and walls — they are the preeminent species for living architecture and are already in widespread use for this purpose. Plus, they have beautiful succulent foliage that comes in an array of soft color tones, making it possible for buildings to become living works of art. Bamboo Bamboo is probably the fastest growing terrestrial plant—some species shoot up 2 to 3 feet a day, creating enchanting groves in the process. Bamboo is edible, useful for building and can be used to make fiber, paper and a biodegradable alternative to plastic. Of course, there are many other plants that fulfill these purposes, but bamboo has the advantage of being a perennial grass. It can be harvested again and again without replanting, making it useful for reforestation projects to heal land that has been degraded by conventional forms of forestry and agriculture. Bracken Fern Some plants grow surprisingly well in conditions that are toxic to others. Bracken ferns, which are a weedy fern species growing on disturbed land all over the world, have an uncanny ability to grow in soils polluted with heavy metals, like lead, nickel, cadmium, copper and arsenic. Scientists have been experimenting with using them to remove heavy metals from contaminated industrial sites, as the ferns actually absorb them from the soil and store them in their tissues. After being allowed to mature, the ferns are then harvested and incinerated. The resulting ash contains large quantities of the precious metals which are then recycled for other uses. Related: Before Supermarkets, People Foraged for Food Out in Nature (and We Still Can) Chestnuts Like perennial wheat, chestnuts have the potential to serve as a staple food source that improves environmental quality rather than degrades it, as most modern agricultural systems do. They are enormous trees that live for hundreds of years, and, unlike most nut crops, they are relatively low in protein and high in carbohydrates, with a nutritional composition roughly equivalent to potatoes. Their high-calorie, low-protein nutritional profile makes them one of the only tree nuts suitable as a staple food. In fact, they were the number one staple food in the hilly regions of the Mediterranean basin in southern Europe until the early 19 th century, where they were ground into flour and used for bread. Chestnut trees thrive in the dry, infertile soils of the region, where grains cannot be cultivated on a large scale. Thus, they have the potential to make marginal agricultural lands into highly productive forested landscapes, with all the benefits of natural forests and none of the environmental costs associated with the large-scale production of annual grains.   Images via Shutterstock

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7 plants that could save the world

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