Naturally cooled funicular offers spectacular views of the French Alps

June 8, 2020 by  
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In 2019, French design agency Atelier 360 gave the iconic Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular a dramatic makeover by developing two new funicular cars with wide panoramic windows to frame spectacular views of the French Alps. As with its predecessor, the newly completed funicular traverses 800 meters of vertical distance in a 7-minute climb to connect the village of Bourg Saint Maurice to the Arcs 1600 resort, an area near Mont Blanc renowned for skiing and mid-century architecture by French modernist architect Charlotte Perriand. The interior of the funicular was also designed to take advantage of natural ventilation to avoid installation of an electric air conditioning system. Originally built in 1989, the Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular was renovated and relaunched in 2019 in commemoration of the Les Arcs ski resort’s 50th anniversary. The refreshed funicular comprises two trains, each capable of accommodating 270 passengers, with all-new equipment manufactured entirely in France. The funicular allows visitors — approximately 600,000 people are estimated to use the transport system annually — to reach slopes at 1,600 meters above sea level. The design and construction process took about a year to complete; Atelier 360 collaborated with the Poma / Sigma teams for the interior design. Related: Canada’s newest funicular makes one of North America’s largest urban parklands more accessible “The new version imagined by Atelier 360 is not just a simple transport tool that should offer a large capacity, it is a real immersion experience in the landscape that we discover at as the ascent,” the designers explained. “The original funicular did not offer a view of the outside landscape because of its massive structure, the opaque roof and the ends reserved for the conductors prevented this. Today the roof of the vehicle is fully glazed and an intermediate relief creates a new panorama of the mountains.” The trains have been specially designed to optimize views of the breathtaking scenery from both ends. A system of operable windows and air vents, also located at the end of the trains, promote natural cooling . + Atelier 360 Photography by sylvain THIOLLIER via Atelier 360

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Naturally cooled funicular offers spectacular views of the French Alps

Worlds first car-free IKEA store to open in Austria

February 11, 2020 by  
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IKEA Austria has announced plans to open the world’s “most innovative and green” IKEA store — a car-free, BREEAM Excellent-targeted, mixed-use complex located in the heart of Vienna. Dubbed IKEA Westbahnhof, the ambitious store will be modeled after a public square to not only attract IKEA shoppers but also local residents and tourists with its many amenities and abundance of green space that will include approximately 160 trees planted atop the building. The ambitious project was designed in collaboration with Vienna-based architectural firm querkraft architekten .  Located at the end of the major shopping street Mariahilferstrasse, about 3 kilometers from the historic city center, IKEA Westbahnhof will be easily accessible by public transit. The shift to a car-free IKEA location was partly born from research on consumer behavior, which points to the increase of e-commerce and convenience of home delivery. Approximately two-thirds of residents in Vienna’s inner city districts do not own a car and instead prefer to take public transit, walk, bike or use a scooter to reach their destinations. Related: IKEA renewable electricity plan could save customers £300 per year In addition to its car-free concept, IKEA Westbahnhof will target BREEAM Excellent certification with sustainable materials, energy-saving systems and an abundance of greenery, such as the publicly accessible roof garden , which will help mitigate the urban heat island effect. The architects plan to plant 160 trees atop the building to help lower the temperature of the structure by at least two degrees. “The new store aims to be an iconic meeting place in Vienna,” IKEA’s press release stated. “IKEA Vienna Westbahnhof is going to be the most unique and green IKEA store. It will be inviting, human scale and standing out as a landmark.” Likened to a bookshelf, the multistory building uses a flexible, grid-like system that emphasizes transparency and openness. IKEA will occupy the first four floors of the building, while a hostel will be located on the upper two floors. Four additional retail shops will be placed along Mariahilferstrasse. + querkraft architekten Images via IKEA

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Worlds first car-free IKEA store to open in Austria

Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

February 11, 2020 by  
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Since 1974, Taylor Guitars has been a champion guitar brand, renowned for its signature sound and instrument-manufacturing innovations. In this feature, Inhabitat goes behind-the-scenes at the company’s headquarters and factory in El Cajon, California, where tour guide Ryan Merrill shares the Taylor Guitars approach to  sustainability , sourcing  wood  and making guitars.   Inhabitat:  What can you share about the process of making a Taylor Guitar? Merrill:  The very first step of building our guitars is housing them in this outdoor tent when the wood arrives. What we’re seeing here is mostly mahogany. When we bring in wood from around the world, they’re accustomed to other types of climates, places that are generally a lot more humid – Cameroon, India, Hawaii. When it gets here, we therefore need to make sure that wood acclimates to our  weather , temperature and  humidity . If we don’t, then as that wood is drying out in the factory, and we’re working on the guitar, it’s going to start bending and warping in different ways. We want all that bending and warping to happen here outside rather than during the process when we are building guitars because we have some tools in there that have high accuracy. And with that level of accuracy in cutting, if the wood is warping, it’s going to cause some problems. So we leave this wood outside here to acclimate. Water that’s sitting inside the grain of the wood, you want to bring down to about 10%. Sometimes that takes two weeks, sometimes that takes a month. Related: YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees Inhabitat:  What does Taylor Guitars do with any leftover wood cuttings? Merrill:  The first measure of our sustainability endeavors is that after we’ve cut wood for our guitars, the scrap wood — instead of us throwing them into the trash bin — we actually utilize it by giving them to other companies that need them, like toymakers, people who make birdhouses, even companies that turn the wood into  mulch . Inhabitat:  Forest management,  reforestation  and the sourcing of ethically harvested tonewoods — the wood used to build acoustic guitars — are important values to Taylor Guitars. Tell us more about that. Merrill: We understand that in order to make our products, we have to cut down trees. But we make sure to plant more trees  than we are taking out of forests every year, and we’ve continued to be dedicated to that goal. A pipe dream Taylor Guitars has is to plant all of the trees we use for all of our guitars on the land we own. That way, we won’t have to source our wood anywhere else in the world, but just focus on effectively using that one piece of land that is ours with all our trees on it. Of course, that’s still what we are working toward. For now, the two places we are focused on are in Cameroon, where we have our ebony, and in Hawaii, where we have our koa. Out in Hawaii, for instance, we own over 570 acres on the Big Island, where we are planting koa trees. Now, koa trees take about 40 to 60 years to grow — that’s a long wait for us to be able to use those trees for guitars. Ebony is even longer, taking 100 to 200 years to fully mature. Inhabitat:  Now, on display here in the corporate headquarters gallery are an array of signature Taylor Guitars, made from various types of wood. What’s the importance of wood type, or tonewood? And, why are certain ones chosen over others for guitar-making? Merrill:  The type of wood affects the instrument sound. First, it’s important to know that woods flavor the sounds. And, historically, there’s hundreds of years’ worth of experimentation on what types of woods are best for what is now the modern guitar . And the main ones that have been settled on are rosewood and mahogany, which are the hardest woods.  So, in a mahogany guitar, you’re going to hear a lot of mid-range sounds, not a lot of bass, not a lot of treble. In rosewood, you’re going to get a lot of bass, you’re going to get a lot of treble, but not as much of the mid-range. You’ll probably notice we’ll get more deep tones and more sparkle with rosewood. Inhabitat:  These are some exotic-sounding names of tonewoods lining this guitar gallery wall. Tell us more about them. Merrill:  Cocobolo is a South American rosewood, so it has a very similar tone to a rosewood guitar. Ovangkol is an African relative of the rosewood. Sapele is an African relative of mahogany. Most tonewoods are going to fall within those two very broad categories. There are some exceptions — we have  maple , which is a very bright wood. It’s the only wood that’s distinct from mahogany and rosewood. We have something like koa as well, which has the mid-range of mahogany and the sparkle of rosewood, but it doesn’t have the bass of rosewood.  Koa guitars have become increasingly popular amongst guitarists. And that’s because as koa wood ages, it gets more dense, which means it will start to produce a better low-end sound. So, if you buy a koa, it might sound one way, but then five years down the line, someone might pick up that same guitar and go, “Wow! This has way more bass than I ever heard out of this instrument!” And that’s one of the very unique things about koa — just the amount that it opens up over time. Inhabitat:  Taylor Guitars has been recognized as a leading guitar-making pioneer. What are some things you can share about what makes you stand out from other guitar manufacturers ? Merrill:  We’re the only company making sapele guitars. We’re the only company making ebony bodies. And we’re the pioneers of the V-bracing, whereas all other guitars elsewhere are still employing the X-bracing. Inhabitat:  What’s the difference between your V-bracing and the conventional X-bracing in guitars out there? Merrill:  One of the beautiful things about the V-brace is that it’s very forgiving of notes that aren’t quite in tune. With an X-brace, the notes start to warble — you can hear the notes bouncing back and forth. You can kind of hear the decay there — decay is just the note fading out. When you compare that with something like a V-brace, the notes just keep ringing — we call it bloom, where it almost grows into a larger chord after you first strum it. You can hear the difference, it sounds fuller, and a lot of that comes down to the sustaining, and that’s the V-bracing being a little more forgiving with those notes. It was fitting for Merrill to say the word “sustaining” to describe the V-brace and what it does to guitar notes, because it circularly tied into Taylor Guitars’ sustainability initiatives. As the tour winded down, a large plaque — entitled “Taylor’s Commitment to Sustainability” — was visible on the way out, reminding everyone of the quality the company stands for in the soundness of its products and  supply chain . Images via Mariecor Agravante

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Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

October 2, 2017 by  
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Pedestrians and cyclists cheered yesterday as Paris closed all of its streets to cars. The government held a Car Free Day and the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

San Francisco’s Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

September 29, 2017 by  
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A symphony of strange and haunting music made from the waves can be heard at the tip of a jetty in San Francisco. Part sculpture, part musical instrument, the Wave Organ is an unusual land art installation that harnesses the rhythms of the water. Created by Exploratorium artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, the wave-activated sound sculpture is set atop the salvaged remains of a demolished cemetery and is one of the city’s best hidden gems. Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening. Related: Incredible ‘Sea Organ’ uses ocean waves to make beautiful music The Wave Organ is best heard during high tide, but can still be enjoyed at other times of the day though the gurgling rhythms will be much quieter. The music of the bay, which is made by waves slapping against and pushed through the pipes, is relatively subtle. Visitors will need to sit and let their ears attune to the environment to fully enjoy the performance. Carved granite and marble salvaged from the demolished crypts of the city’s former Laurel Hill Cemetery provide plenty of seating. Times for high tides can be checked here . + Exploratorium Images via Wikimedia , Shutterstock

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San Francisco’s Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

Amsterdam is transforming a prison into a green energy-generating neighborhood

September 13, 2017 by  
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A brighter, solar-powered future is coming to Bijlmerbajes, a former prison complex in Amsterdam . The Dutch government tapped OMA to design a masterplan of the 7.5-hectare site, as well as a significant portion of the 135,000-square-meter mixed-use development. Designed in collaboration with FABRICations architects and LOLA Landscape , the new masterplan will transform the prison complex’s iconic six towers into Bajes Kwartier, an energy-neutral development powered by renewable energy and built largely from recycled materials. Built in the 1970s near the Amsterdam Amstel railways station, the Bijlmerbajes prison complex is a well-known urban landmark that permanently closed in June 2016. The former prison’s six linked towers and administrative building are located in the geographic center of Amsterdam’s new urban development, making it ripe for rebirth as a vibrant civic and cultural space. The new 7.5-hectare Bajes Kwartier development will conceptually preserve Bijlmerbajes’ “island character” and reuse building materials. Prefab elements from the existing walls will be recycled as cladding for the new residential buildings, while prison bars will be recycled into balustrades, and cell doors reused as edge panels for pedestrian bridges. Bajes Kwartier will become a mostly car-free environment and focus on elevating the pedestrian and cyclist experience. The masterplan includes approximately 1,350 residential units that include rentals and luxury condominiums, with 30 percent set aside for affordable housing. All but one of the prison towers will be demolished and the remaining building will be transformed into a “green tower” with a vertical park and urban farming . The centrally located administrative building will be turned into an arts and design center. The mixed-use development will also comprise a restaurant, health center, school, parks, water features, and underground parking lot. Related: OMA gets green light for their first major public building in the UK All the new buildings will be energy-neutral thanks to superior insulation and energy saving design, as well as hookups to solar power, wind power, and biomass power . Nearly 100 percent of the existing building material will be reused or recycled. The project is scheduled to begin in early 2018. + OMA Via ArchDaily

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Amsterdam is transforming a prison into a green energy-generating neighborhood

Smog-fighting music academy proposal uses an air purifier system as effective as 33,000 trees

February 1, 2017 by  
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The Polish city of Krakow has some of the worst air pollution in the world. In hopes of improving the city’s air quality, FAAB Architektura proposed a smog-fighting music academy fitted with a German air purification system that they say works effectively as 33,000 city trees. The music academy was designed as part of a larger “Krakow Music City” masterplan that envisions a largely car-free and environmentally friendly development atop a former military base. Located between Krakow and the Vistula River, the proposed masterplan is designed to blend into the natural landscape with its vernacular wooden lap panel cladding and use of energy-efficient technologies. Around 1,300 square meters of a Green City Solutions -developed air purification product would be embedded in the music academy’s moss-covered rooftops. The special moss culture converts air pollutants into biomass. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working The green-roofed buildings comprise an education wing, concert hall, and small guest building carefully placed around existing trees and designed to immerse students and visitors in nature. Ground heat exchangers would be used to reduce energy use. Rainwater would also be collected in an underground tank and reused wherever possible. FAAB Architektura submitted their proposal to a design competition hosted by Akademia Muzyczna w Krakowie , which will reveal the winning entry on March 31, 2017. + FAAB Architektura Via ArchDaily Images via FAAB Architektura

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Smog-fighting music academy proposal uses an air purifier system as effective as 33,000 trees

Gorgeous solar-powered and pedestrian-friendly housing development is coming to Turkey

August 10, 2015 by  
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Gorgeous solar-powered and pedestrian-friendly housing development is coming to Turkey

Luke Jerram’s Massive Blue Water Slide Stops City Traffic for a Day in Bristol

May 6, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Luke Jerram’s Massive Blue Water Slide Stops City Traffic for a Day in Bristol Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: art interventions , car free , luke jerram , Urban design , urban intervention

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Luke Jerram’s Massive Blue Water Slide Stops City Traffic for a Day in Bristol

Car-Free Skyvillage Fights Air Pollution Over Los Angeles’ Freeways

March 21, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Car-Free Skyvillage Fights Air Pollution Over Los Angeles’ Freeways Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: air pollution , car free , car-free utopia , evolo skyscraper competition , evolo skyscraper competition 2014 , freeways , green filtering towers , Los Angeles , mixed-use , modular skyscraper , skyvillage , urban fabric , ziwei song        

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Car-Free Skyvillage Fights Air Pollution Over Los Angeles’ Freeways

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