Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C.

July 13, 2017 by  
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Incredible sights and sounds have popped up at the National Building Museum in the heart of our nation’s capital. Thousands of giant paper tubes have been stacked together to construct soaring mountain-like structures in the Hive, an interactive sculpture created by Studio Gang Architects for the museum’s annual Summer Block Party. Read on to see the interior of the stunning installation and to hear the Hive come alive. Every year, the National Building Museum invites a different architecture firm to craft a large-scale, immersive installation for its Great Hall. Past projects included BIG’s concave Maze , Snarkitecture’s massive BEACH ball pit , and James Corner Field Operations’ cool ICEBERGS . Studio Gang Architects created the museum’s tallest installation yet that comprises 2,551 Sonotubes, wound paper tubes typically used to pour concrete. If laid end-to-end, the recyclable tubes would measure over a mile in length and have a combined weight of 72,961 pounds. A giant Hive has popped up in D.C.! Explore the National Building Museum's summer installation by Studio Gang Architects. It's made with #recyclable materials, interactive, and absolutely massive. #hivedc @nationalbuildingmuseum @studiogang #architecture #dc #washingtondc #ecofriendly ?: @landscapevoice A post shared by Inhabitat (@inhabitatdesign) on Jul 11, 2017 at 9:10am PDT To complement the National Building Museum’s neoclassical Great Hall, Studio Gang Architects used a silver shade for the tube exterior. The tube interior and the Hive floor were painted magenta, a color inspired by the pink used in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. last January. Ninety different tube sizes were used to construct the three interconnected chambers and allow filtered light into the spaces to create beautiful patterns of light and shadow that change throughout the day. Related: ICEBERGS immerse visitors in a beautiful underwater world in Washington, D.C. “We’ve also incorporated a lot of sound elements in here,” Emma Filar, NBM’s Interim Director of Marketing & Communications told Inhabitat. “Jeanne Gang, the founding principal of Studio Gang, is really interested in the way that people move through spaces and how they interact with space here, so that’s why we have instruments inside. Sound travels in a really interesting way through these paper tubes; they both absorb sound and reflect it in different ways.” Visitors at the Hive are free to play with the installation’s many instruments, which range from hanging wind chimes constructed from a variety of materials including wrenches, CDs, and metal pipes. Some paper tubes are used as drums, while others are combined with other common building materials like pipes to create more complicated instruments. Round openings at the top of each chamber allow natural light into the chambers and frame views of the Great Hall’s ceilings and columns. The Hive also has a hands-on building area, where people can play with paper diskettes to build their own structures. The National Building Museum will host a full slate of programs that complement the installation, from concerts to late-night events with food. The Hive is open to the public July 6 through September 4, 2017. + Studio Gang Watermarked photos © Lucy Wang , non-watermarked photos © Tim Schenck

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Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C.

The Sax: MVRDV-designed towers to create a striking modern icon in Rotterdam

July 13, 2017 by  
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Prolific architecture firm MVRDV has won a competition to design new mixed-use towers for Rotterdam that are sure to turn heads. Designed for the Wilhelminapier port development, the project, called The Sax, comprises two interconnected towers with an eye-catching contemporary facade. The Sax will house a mix of residential, retail, restaurant space, and public areas and function like a “vertical city.” The 51-story Sax will cover a total surface area of 82,000 square meters across two structures—the Philadelphia and Havana residential towers—connected with an air bridge, where a 150-room hotel will be located. The new high-rise is set to rise between the New Luxor Theater and the Boston & Seattle residential areas. The Sax will include 450 apartments , a hotel, wellness center, parking, public viewing platform, and a lively plinth with numerous commercial facilities such as restaurants, shops, bars, and cafes at street level. Related: MVRDV to upgrade historic French city with modern, ecological design “Rotterdam is more and more a city of towers and The Sax will add a new element to this collection,” says Jacob van Rijs, co-founder of MVRDV. “The façade features a contemporary reinterpretation of the bay window, providing views for each unit with the advantage of allowing individual and unique apartments in this large collective complex. This windowed effect adds an extra dimension in experiencing the view onto Rotterdam. The plinth and the bridge which contains a hotel will be open to the public making Wilheminapier even more lively.” All apartments will be filled with natural light and have access to 270-degree panoramic views of Nieuwe Maas and city. The public viewing terrace is located on top of the hotel at 80 meters high. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV, WAX Architectural Visualizations, Wikipedia

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The Sax: MVRDV-designed towers to create a striking modern icon in Rotterdam

Australia’s largest commercial timber building rises in Sydney

July 12, 2017 by  
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Timber constructions are rapidly carving their rightful place in urban environments all over the world, and now, beautiful Sydney is home to the Australia’s largest commercial all-timber building. The International House by Tzannes Architects is a beautiful seven-story building constructed entirely with engineered or cross laminated timber . Located between the Barangaroo South area and the historic heart of the city, the International House is a beautiful all-wood design. With the exception of the single ground retail level, which is made out of conventional concrete, the striking building was constructed with engineered or cross laminated timber , including the floors, columns, walls, roof, elevator shafts, etc. The building is the first timber commercial building of its size in Australia. Related: Nation’s largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability The architects chose to go with timber for its many sustainable features , but were also determined to create a design whose all-wood aesthetic would serve as an iconic landmark for the city. According to the architects, “We have turned the structural limitations imposed by the use of timber to advantage and celebrated them, forming a unique colonnade form evocative of a forest of trees which gives the building its distinctive character.” The project used a massive 3,500 cubic meters of sustainably grown and recycled timber . Using timber instead of concrete resulted in saving thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. + Tzannes Architects Via Archdaily Photography by The Guthrie Project

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Australia’s largest commercial timber building rises in Sydney

Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system

July 12, 2017 by  
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Before long, passengers will be able to travel at airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket to destinations around the world. How so? By boarding the Hyperloop One, which uses magnetic levitation technology to transport objects in a vacuum. The concept, which was first proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, is finally becoming a reality – today Hyperloop One announced that it has completed its first full-scale test. The company’s hyperloop vehicle reached 70 mph while pulling 2Gs on the test track. The Verge reports that the aerodynamic pod is 28 feet long and is made of structural aluminum and carbon fiber. It relies on electromagnetic propulsion and mag-lev technology to carry both human and cargo passengers at near supersonic speeds. The company wrote on its website , “The world is ready for a new mode of transportation that will change the way we live. We’re in the business of selling time, the most precious resource there is.” After Hyperloop One’s first full system test, co-founder Shervin Pishevar and chief engineer Josh Giegel appeared on CBS This Morning. A video of the low-speed test was also released to the public (above). Pishever described the test as the company’s “Kitty Hawk Moment” and said it is their “first in flight ” milestone. Related: Hyperloop One exhibits exciting first images of full-scale test track Hyperloop One is now entering its next phase of testing with a goal of reaching 250 mph. Eventually, it hopes to reach speeds up to 750 mph. The founders wrote, “We’re developing routes in five countries . The goal is to be moving cargo by 2020 and passengers by 2021.” + Hyperloop One Via Verge Images via Hyperloop One

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Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system

Tesla to start taking solar roof orders in April

March 28, 2017 by  
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is continuing in his quest to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by announcing via Twitter on Friday that the electric carmaker and clean energy storage company will start taking orders for its solar roof shingles in April. The solar roof shingle product will be offered by Tesla’s SolarCity division. Tesla aquired the solar panel maker last November. Musk’s vision of a Tesla-powered home includes the solar roof turning sunlight into renewable electricity used for immediate use or storage in a Powerwall battery used to charge a Tesla electric vehicle in the garage and provide residential power when the sun sets. The solar tiles integrated into the roof include three layers — the color louver film in the middle that makes the solar tiles invisible from the street level but fully able to take advantage of the sun from above; the tempered glass on top that is durable and impact resistant; and of course on the bottom layer the high efficiency solar cell . The glass comes in four tile styles — tuscan glass, slate glass, textured glass and smooth glass. Related: Elon Musk says Tesla’s solar roof will be cheaper than ordinary roofs “The base of the proposition would be, would you like a roof that looks better than the normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less, and by the way, generates electricity?” Musk told investors in November. “It’s like why would you get anything else? Maybe there’s a reason. I’m not sure why.” According to an estimate in Consumer Reports , an installed textured glass tile solar roof should cost around $73,500. However, Consumer Reports added $2,000 a year to the value of the roof from the free electricity generated with solar. Over the 30-year solar roof lifespan, that is a $60,000 value, significantly offsetting the upfront costs. + Tesla Solar Via Greentech Media Images via Tesla

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Tesla to start taking solar roof orders in April

Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

March 24, 2017 by  
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Semi-arid regions of Africa face unique obstacles in their efforts to address a growing housing crisis . For years people built roofs with bush timber, but thanks to climate change and deforestation , those building methods are no longer feasible. And sheet metal is simply too expensive for most rural families. So the Nubian Vault Association is bringing back an ages-old sustainable building material: mud bricks . Back in 2000, Burkina Faso farmer Seri Youlou and Frenchman Thomas Granier started the association, which is also known by its French name Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN). They resurrected what they call the Nubian Vault technique, or the process of constructing sturdy vaulted roofs with mud bricks similar to processes employed centuries ago in ancient Egypt. The brings are simply formed with earth and water and then dried in the sun. Houses with these vaulted roofs last for at least 50 years, or even more if they are well maintained. They’re also cheaper than tin or timber, and stay warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Related: Bioclimatic Preschool Built with Rammed Earth and Mud Bricks Keeps Cool in the Moroccan Heat The association also works for economic growth by training local apprentices and supporting village masons in multiple West African countries. They aim for a self-sustaining Nubian Vault market, and according to Curbed, their A Roof, A Skill, A Market program has made a $22 million economic impact. They’ve trained over 380 masons, with hundreds more learning as apprentices. The group has now helped homeowners build over 1,800 homes across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. A Nubian Vault home costs around $1,000, and families can lower costs by making their own mud bricks. Not only has the technique helped put a roof over families’ heads and driven economic development, it’s benefited the environment as well. According to AVN , since September 2015 Nubian Vault homes have saved around 55,000 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere. + The Nubian Vault Association Via Curbed Images via The Nubian Vault Facebook

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Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

March 24, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking to greenify your home, look no further than the plant-filled Living Table . At first glance, the table appears to be a simple square planter covered in a glass top, but an integrated capillary system within the design actually mimics how plants naturally grow, while eliminaing the need for drainage. The high-tech system offers an attractive low-maintenance planter that even those without a green thumb can manage. The Living Table has an integrated passive sub irrigation system that creates a capillary action where water flows upwards. This system, along with the ideal balance of moisture to aeration in the base, results in an attractive planter that doesn’t need drainage. The low-maintenance design, which allows the plants to auto regulate, is perfect for those who find themselves constantly killing their plants because of too much or too little water. Related: Give your succulents their own spacesuits with this 3D-printed planter As far as planting, the  Living Table system is designed for low-growing, ground cover type plants that won’t grow tall enough to touch the glass. Standard 4” plant containers or smaller can be placed directly onto the Habitat Horticulture Growtex capillary mat or plants can be directly planted into the table base using any standard potting soil. Although the planter design is meant to be low-maintenance, the manufacturers are careful to point out that the plants’ specific needs should be considered before planting. The Living Table comes in two sizes with either a stainless steel or powder white finish, and can be all yours for as little as $850.00. + The Living Table

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Inflatable spiky pinecone-shaped roofs top this forest resort in Latvia

March 21, 2017 by  
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Spiky ETFE roofs  top this airy forest resort and spa in the historic region of Kurzeme, Latvia. 3GATTI Architecture Studio and OFL Architecture teamed up to design the Pinecones Resort using sustainable construction techniques and prefabrication , resulting in a fairytale-like woodland setting in harmony with its natural surroundings. The resort comprises cone-shaped units with inflatable roofs made from 100 percent recyclable ETFE that has a minimal carbon footprint . Lightweight and flexible, this material offers the possibility of creating dynamic building forms. The roofs will be inflated by a recyclable SPF sprayed eco foam with superior insulation and structural qualities. The laminated lightweight frames, made from locally-sourced wood, support the roof membrane and allows it to withstand snow loads. Related: Labyrinthine resort in Bangladesh lets nature take over The resort will focus on providing Blue Clay treatments based on organic and naturally abundant material. Different programs will be distributed across the site, with wooden bridges connecting the units housing winter tubs, saunas, therapy rooms and dining areas. In addition to the aforementioned sustainable features, the resort will also include a water filtration system, geothermal loops, and solar window technologies. + 3GATTI  + OFL Architecture Via Archdaily

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Inflatable spiky pinecone-shaped roofs top this forest resort in Latvia

Casa Sanchez combines urban living with the lush Bolivian rainforest

February 9, 2017 by  
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Looking like a modest, one-story building when seen from the road, the Sanchez House actually boasts three spacious floors that offer stunning views of the Bolivian Amazon. Young Bolivian architect Juan Carlos Menacho designed the residence, named after its owners, to fit perfectly into a sloping site in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in eastern Bolivia. The 10,674-square-foot house is located in an exclusive gated community in Santa Cruz, and was designed to provide shade and protect from the region’s tropical sun. It utilizes the sloping site to create an illusion of small scale. Its wings are designed around the existing trees, with each room enjoying views of the surrounding greenery. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture Several sustainable features incorporated into the design of the residence, including rainwater harvesting and the use of natural building materials , ensure an eco-friendly performance. The location itself combines urban living and proximity to nature. + Juan Carlos Menacho

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Casa Sanchez combines urban living with the lush Bolivian rainforest

8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

January 30, 2017 by  
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Hemp isn’t just for hackin’ the sack at Phish shows or making rope. This amazing plant, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis grown specifically for industrial purposes, has a vast number of applications for a greener planet. Cultivated hemp grows quickly in a wide variety of climates and does not degrade the soil in which it is grown. Tune in, turn on, and read this feature to learn the latest developments in the magical (yet still illegal in most countries) world of hemp. Housing Hemp can processed into a durable material that was once used by Henry Ford to construct a car that was lighter, less expensive and consumed less power than traditional metal cars. These principles have also been applied to housing throughout the world. In the United Kingdom, farmer Nick Voase turned his own grown hemp into an amazing eco-house, held together by lime, that is cool in summer, warm in winter, and even features a walk-in fridge made out of hemp. In South Africa, hemp advocate Tony Budden is working hard to demonstrate the value of the wonder plant; he and his partner built the country’s first hemp home. Northern Ireland’s Bevan Architects  used hemp to construct a simple low-impact cottage on a riverside apple orchard for an environmentally friendly retreat from urban living. Lastly, in Australia, Mihaus Studio built a prefabricated hemp-based modular space that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes. Plastic Traditional plastic is derived from non-renewable resources and is non-biodegradable, which means that disposed plastic usually ends up in ever expanding landfills. Enter our hero, hemp, a renewable resource which can be used to produce biodegradable plastic. A shift to the greener hemp would not require a sacrifice of quality . Hemp plastic may be up to 5 times stiffer and 2.5 stronger than traditional plastic made from polypropylene and unlike glass fibers, hemp plastic would not pose safety and health risks. Designers, such as  Studio Aisslinger , have incorporated this fine bioplastic into its products, such as the chair shown above. Pet Toys Hemp isn’t only for humans. Dogs, cats, and other furry, feathered, or scaly friends can also benefit from the plant. Honest Pet Products has created a line of pet toys made from sustainable hemp and organic wool. The method by which these toys are produced is also beneficial for the environment and community. The toys are manufactured by adults with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin and women living in the Gobi Desert and Nepal, who simultaneously support their family with their work and vow to protect the local snow leopards as a condition for their employment. Energy Storage Graphene  has received a great deal of attention for its superstrength and its astounding ability as a superconductor of electricity. Lost in this storm is the fact that hemp may be able to replicate graphene’s function as a supercapacitor, a revolutionary energy storage device, at a radically lower cost . David Mitlin of Clarkson University , New York discovered hemp’s superconductive properties by “cooking” plant material in a process. “Once you dissolve the lignin and the semicellulose, it leaves these carbon nanosheets – a pseudo-graphene structure,” said Mitlin. These nanosheets are then fabricated into electrodes, infused with an ionic liquid as an electrolyte, and function as supercapacitors that work in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Mitlin founded a small company, Alta Supercaps , with the goal of producing hemp-based supercapacitors on a small scale. Insulation Not only is hemp a durable material for housing structure, it also is an excellent insulator. In Belgium,  Martens Van Caimere Architecten  renovated a local home with a sustainable hemp-based insulation material known as hempcrete . Hempcrete is a mixture of lime, hemp, and water that is superior to concrete in its sustainability and cost while also offering better insulation. “In our projects we try finding solutions to lower the building costs,” said architect Nikolaas Martens. “In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Belgians were building houses that were badly or not insulated. So renovating these houses in a sustainable way tends to be expensive. Hempcrete combines the insulation and finishing in one layer, reducing building costs. Plus it is durable and sustainable, because it is made from a waste product.” Airplanes Fly high in the sky with hemp! In 2014, Canada-based Hempearth  contracted with a Florida-based plane manufacturer to build an airplane almost entirely out of hemp material . The plane will seat four people and have a wingspan of 36 feet. Approximately 75 percent of the plane will be constructed of industrial hemp. Originally scheduled for its first flight (appropriately out of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina) in 2015, the plane has yet to fly. Hempearth is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their project. Biofuel Not satisfied with simply being made from hemp, the designers at Hempearth also plan for their plane to be powered entirely by hemp-based biofuel . While hemp biodiesel has great potential, there are currently legal and economic barriers to widespread adoption . “That particularly, is very much an issue of economies of scale,” said Arthur Hanks, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. “We are still very much a specialty crop.”  The limited production of hemp is primarily geared towards the health food market, in which hemp provides the greatest return to farmers. “Every pound that’s being produced goes into the food chain,” Paul Bobbee, a Canadian hemp grower. While hemp production is legal in Canada, the continued haziness surrounding hemp policy in the United States suppresses the market.  If hemp production were legalized nationwide, “it would help regularize hemp in America, and help to increase markets,” said Hanks. Food Bring on the munchies. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, sprouted, or ground up while the iconic hemp leaf can be thrown into a salad. Hemp seeds are high in protein and have a similar amino acid profile to meat, milk, and eggs. Often cold-pressed into oil form, hemp seeds are a rich source of Vitamin B, iron, dietary fiber, magnesium and zinc. Although illegal to produce in most American states, hemp can be imported as a food product. As of 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products. Images via  The Event Chronicle , vhcmor/Flickr , Christina Griffin ,  Cedric Verhelst , Hempearth , FluffyMuppet/Flickr , Wikimedia Commons   (2) , Don Goofy/Flickr , Studio Aisslinger   and Bob Doran/Flickr

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