CRA proposes reconfigurable roads and a floating garden to revitalize Luganos waterfront

January 21, 2020 by  
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Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) and Mobility in Chain (MiC) have unveiled a technologically savvy plan to better connect the Swiss city of Lugano with the beautiful Lugano Lake. Informed by studies on mobile and traffic data, the proposed regeneration of the waterfront will introduce dynamic public spaces that can take over parts of the roads, which can be reconfigured with zero, one or two lanes at different times of the day. This new, reconfigurable road system would be combined with smart signage, responsible street furniture and even renewable energy-generating infrastructure to facilitate a greener and more pedestrian-friendly environment. Currently, Lugano suffers from a disconnect to its lake due to a busy thoroughfare along the waterfront. To visually and physically provide pedestrians with better connections to the lake, the architects propose overhauling this main traffic artery with the addition of a dynamic road system that can turn sections of the street into pedestrian-only public spaces, such as playgrounds, a basketball court or other social gathering areas. At the same time, the intervention aims to preserve the historical value of the lakefront as designed by Pasquale Lucchini in 1863. Related: CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks The architects have also proposed a floating, rotating island for the lake that would be accessible to the public via a series of boardwalks. A garden would be planted on the floating island to highlight and preserve the biodiversity and native flora of Lake Lugano. The dynamic waterfront would also includes smart signage, responsive street furniture, heat-absorbing renewable energy technology and a series of mobility hubs that promote shared transit. “Lugano is committed in redesigning the front lake and the city center for the future citizens, focusing on a growing attention to dynamic public spaces , the coexistence of different mobility vectors, the development of green areas, the role of the water in city life, the impact of the landscape and much more,” said Marco Borradori, mayor of Lugano. “The path began in 2018, when the municipality went public with its vision and objectives, identifying innovation as one of the key points for urban development. The next step will hopefully be an open competition to create a new masterplan for the city of tomorrow. Our wish is that the vision could soon take the form of a realized project.” + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via Carlo Ratti Associati

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CRA proposes reconfigurable roads and a floating garden to revitalize Luganos waterfront

China plans to phase out single-use plastics by 2025

January 21, 2020 by  
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As the world’s most populous country, with close to 1.5 billion denizens, China also produces the largest quantity of plastic . In fact, the University of Oxford-based publication Our World In Data (OWID) has documented China’s plastic production rate at 60 million tons per year. To mitigate the resulting plastic pollution , the Chinese government is set to enact a plastic ban, phasing out the production and use of several single-use plastic items by 2025, thanks to a detailed policy directive and timeline from the country’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Three avenues are currently available for plastic waste disposal: recycling , incinerating or discarding. Only an estimated 20% of global plastic waste is recycled, 25% incinerated and a whopping 55% is discarded, according to OWID. The more shocking statistic is that only 9% of 5.8 billion tons of plastic no longer in use has been recycled since 1950. Related: Ireland plans to ban single-use plastics Interestingly, of all the regions across the globe where mismanaged plastic is prevalent, East Asia and the Pacific alarmingly outrank all regions at 60%, followed distantly by South Asia at 11%, Sub-Saharan Africa at 8.9%, the Middle East and North Africa at 8.3%, Latin America and the Caribbean at 7.2%, Europe and Central Asia at 3.6% and North America at 0.9%. Discarded plastic accumulates in landfills, but some also enters the oceans, threatening marine life and ecosystems. OWID explained, “Mismanaged plastic waste eventually enters the ocean via inland waterways, wastewater outflows and transport by wind or tides.” Thus, China’s new initiative to curtail single-use plastic production might help substantially in solving the Pacific regions’, and by extension the planet’s, crisis with plastic waste. The plastic ban calls for several components, including a ban on China’s production and sale of plastic bags that are less than 0.025 mm thick; a ban on plastic bags in major cities before 20201, then all cities and towns by 2022 and all produce vendors by 2025; a ban on single-use straws in restaurants before 2021, and a reduction of single-use plastic items by 30% in restaurants by 2021; a phase-out of plastic packaging in China’s postal service; and a ban on single-use plastic items in hotels by 2025. Via BBC , EcoWatch and Our World In Data (OWID) Image via Lennard Kollossa

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China plans to phase out single-use plastics by 2025

Welcome to the roaring 2020s, the artificial intelligence decade

January 2, 2020 by  
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The applications being made possible by breakthroughs in machine learning, image recognition, analytics and sensors are profoundly practical.

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Welcome to the roaring 2020s, the artificial intelligence decade

Welcome to the roaring 2020s, the artificial intelligence decade

January 2, 2020 by  
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The applications being made possible by breakthroughs in machine learning, image recognition, analytics and sensors are profoundly practical.

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Welcome to the roaring 2020s, the artificial intelligence decade

The climate case for construction

January 2, 2020 by  
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Buildings have an outsize impact on the environment. But there are solutions to make construction more efficient, resilient and safer.

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The climate case for construction

MVRDV to transform Seouls concrete-dominated waterfront into a vibrant, green oasis

December 18, 2019 by  
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Seoul has announced yet another inspiring eco-oriented urban project — a waterfront revitalization scheme designed by Dutch firm MVRDV . Dubbed “The Weaves,” the new public space will transform the Tancheon Valley and a portion of the waterfront along Seoul’s Han River from a concrete-dominated landscape into a thriving pedestrian-friendly destination defined by lush green landscapes. The highlight of the project will be a ribbon-like pedestrian bridge connecting the Gangnam district to Olympic Park, which comprises a series of intersecting white pathways. The government of Seoul selected MVRDV’s project as the winner of a design competition for its “great balance between ecology and the creative program.” Located between the former Olympic Stadium in the Jamsil district and Gangnam district in southern Seoul, the project will transform a 1-kilometer-long stretch of the Tancheon River as well as a significant portion of the Han River waterfront, which stretches east to west across the city. The design was created in collaboration with local firms NOW Architect and Seoahn Total Landscape Architecture. Related: MVRDV introduces a psychedelic blend of art and architecture in Paradise City “The central concept of ‘The Weaves’ was to intertwine three aspects of the landscape: natural ecosystems, access for pedestrians and elements of public program where activities can take place,” MVRDV explained in a statement. The three-part plan will begin by returning the river and waterfront to a more natural state that includes changing the river from a straight canal to a meandering stream flanked by green riverbanks with native vegetation. The second part involves developing a network of winding, interconnected paths — a form inspired by tangled silk threads in reference to Jamsil’s history of silk production — that also includes the repurposing of sections of highway into pedestrian thoroughfares. The third element of the design will be the park’s public program, which ranges from viewing points and an amphitheater to space for cafes and other amenities. The new public space will cater to locals and visitors alike and even includes a city branding opportunity in the Seoul Water Path, a pathway that extends out over the Han River to spell the word “Seoul” in looping script. Construction on The Weaves is expected to begin in 2021 and completion is planned for 2024. + MVRDV Images via Atchain and MVRDV

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MVRDV to transform Seouls concrete-dominated waterfront into a vibrant, green oasis

From coffee to cosmetics, companies are looking for ways to protect the plants their products are made from

December 6, 2019 by  
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As crop varieties disappear, boosting biodiversity becomes smart business.

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From coffee to cosmetics, companies are looking for ways to protect the plants their products are made from

Alliance of more than 11,000 scientists warns that our planet faces a climate emergency

November 6, 2019 by  
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At our current climate trajectory, humanity will likely face “untold suffering,” as reported in a new study signed by more than 11,000 scientists around the globe. Moral obligation has prompted this Alliance of World Scientists to “tell it like it is,” by issuing a warning that human activity is accelerating the climate emergency “faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.” The First World Climate Conference, which took place in 1979 at Geneva, recognized disturbing trends in climate change , sounding the first alarm. Several other warnings were made again during the 1992 Rio Summit, 1997 Kyoto Protocol and 2015 Paris Agreement. However, the climate crisis has continued to worsen. The study laments, “Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament.” Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis “Business as usual” and human consumption threaten our world biosphere, the study continues. “Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic ‘hothouse Earth,’ well beyond the control of humans. These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.” To mitigate the climate crisis, the study recommends changing economic and energy policies. Thus, energy conservation practices can be enhanced by fossil fuel divestments and shifts toward cleaner renewable energy sources. Wealthier nations likewise need to assist less affluent countries in transitioning away from fossil fuels. Doing so can help reduce short-lived pollutants like black carbon (soot), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane, thereby slowing climate feedback loops and minimizing any warming trends. The scientists also urge for more effective protection and restoration of our planet’s ecosystems on both land and sea. Habitat and biodiversity losses must be avoided by curtailing forest overharvesting and mismanagement. Besides, forests rapidly sequester and capture carbon, so increasing reforestation measures is advantageous to the environment and climate. Similarly, socioeconomic shifts regarding food and population can be natural climate solutions. For instance, shifting to plant-based diets reduces carbon footprints . Slowing the human population boom via improved family-planning and better access to education can help reverse the climate crisis, too, by not overwhelming our ecosystems. Essentially, the study states that a more sustainable future for all living things on our planet can be secured by altering “how we live.” + BioScience Image via NASA

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Alliance of more than 11,000 scientists warns that our planet faces a climate emergency

Ski atop the worlds cleanest waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen

October 9, 2019 by  
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Six years after breaking ground, CopenHill — a waste-to-energy plant topped with a year-round ski slope — is officially open, marking a major milestone in Copenhagen’s journey to becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. Bjarke Ingels Group , SLA, AKT, Lüchinger+Meyer, MOE and Rambøll designed the new architectural landmark that they describe as the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world. The building includes an environmental education hub as well as a landscaped roof for urban recreation including skiing, hiking and climbing. Designed to replace the neighboring 50-year-old waste-to-energy plant, the 41,000-square-meter CopenHill — also known as Amager Bakke — boasts state-of-the-art technologies in waste treatment and energy production. BIG, which won the 2011 international competition for the power plant, drew inspiration from the industrial waterfront of Amager that is now a hub for extreme sports. “CopenHill is a blatant architectural expression of something that would otherwise have remained invisible: that it is the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world,” says Bjarke Ingels in a press release. “As a power plant, CopenHill is so clean that we have been able to turn its building mass into the bedrock of the social life of the city — its façade is climbable, its roof is hikeable and its slopes are skiable. A crystal clear example of Hedonistic Sustainability — that a sustainable city is not only better for the environment — it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens.” Related: Are bioenergy facilities the solution to the growing garbage problem? In addition to the 9,000-square-meter ski terrain, visitors can enjoy hiking the building’s summit with the 490-meter-long hiking and running pathway landscaped with 7,000 bushes and 300 trees to mimic the look of a lush mountain trail. Soaring to a height of 85 meters, the 10,000-square-meter green roof also includes a rooftop bar, cross-fit area, climbing wall and observation area that can be reached via lift or glass elevator that provides views inside the 24-hour operations of the waste-to-energy plant that converts 440,000 tons of waste annually into enough clean energy to power 150,000 homes. The building also houses ten floors of administrative space for the ARC team and a 600-square-meter education center for academic tours, workshops and sustainability conferences. + BIG Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu, Aldo Amoretti, Dragoer Luftfoto, Rasmus Hjortshoj. and Soren Aagaard

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Ski atop the worlds cleanest waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen

30 of world’s largest cities have hit peak greenhouse gas emissions milestone, C40 analysis shows

October 9, 2019 by  
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The international community has collaboratively crusaded to quickly reach peak global greenhouse gas emissions . By doing so, they hope to alleviate worldwide temperature rise and related climate disasters. A recent report confirms that 30 of the world’s largest cities — all members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group — have completed their peak greenhouse gas emission milestones. What does it mean when a country or city “peaks” its greenhouse gas emissions? As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement , first enacted in 2016, countries across the globe — and their respective cities, some of which are members of the C40 — have agreed to decrease global warming by keeping the collective planet-wide temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. To ensure this, the countries that have signed the Paris Agreement have set goals to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. When a country’s emissions levels have reversed substantially, they are described as having “peaked” at last, so they are now capable of industrially operating at emissions levels far below their “peak” point. Related: Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) , “peaking” really began even before the Paris Agreement was established. For instance, by 1990, 19 countries were documented to have peaked their greenhouse gas emission levels . By 2000, an additional 14 countries reached their critical milestones. A decade later, in 2010, 16 more countries joined the list of countries that have peaked, including the United States and Canada, which both peaked in 2007. Meanwhile, in 2005, the multinational organization now known as C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, or C40 for short, was founded when representatives from 18 mega-cities cooperatively forged an agreement to address widespread pollution and climate change. The group began with 18 cities and has grown significantly since then. Interestingly, the C40, on its 10th anniversary back in 2015, was instrumental in shaping the Paris Agreement prior to its 2016 ratification. Now, ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit, a new analysis just revealed that 30 of the world’s largest and most influential cities — all members of C40 — have each achieved their respective peak greenhouse gas emissions goals. The 30 cities include Athens, Austin, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Venice, Warsaw and Washington, D.C. The C40 analysis further disclosed that these 30 influential cities have helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 22 percent, which is encouraging. “The C40 cities that have reached peak emissions are raising the bar for climate ambition, and, at the same time, exemplifying how climate action creates healthier, more equitable and resilient communities,” said Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities.  To further its endeavors, C40 has launched the C40 Knowledge Hub . It is an online platform dedicated to informing and inspiring policies to ramp up global climate initiatives that can encourage even more sustainable changes to protect the planet. + C40 Image via Anne Hogdal

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30 of world’s largest cities have hit peak greenhouse gas emissions milestone, C40 analysis shows

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