A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere

May 24, 2019 by  
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Combining art, architecture and technology, Los Angeles-based architectural firm Montalba Architects recently completed a temporary pop-up pavilion for the annual Bex & Arts sculpture triennial that’s designed to be easily disassembled and reused for future events. Set on a movable foundation that allows for minimal site impact , the Bex & Arts pavilion briefly served as a fabrication studio, exhibition space and information center on a clearing surrounded by the dramatic Swiss mountains. The lightweight structure was prefabricated in about ten days and installed with a crane on site in less than a week. Measuring just 430 square feet in size, the Bex & Arts Pavilion is one of several small-scale projects of Montalba Architects, which was recently recognized as Los Angeles’ Best Contemporary Architecture Firm in 2019 by Angeleno magazine. “ Small structures and compact spaces present an unparalleled opportunity to exquisitely, and rigorously, realize the interplay between form and substance, and intersect architecture with art,” the firm says. Montalba Architects’ Bex & Arts pavilion was prefabricated with high-performance Kerto wood panels made from peeled spruce, a custom perforated panel facade— comprising narrow, black vertical panels with voids— that lets natural light in while adding visual interest, and mineral-based Swisspearl floor panels selected for their lightweight qualities, durability, fire resistance and sustainability. The lightweight structural wood panels have also been applied to the floor and open shelving, which not only provide exhibition space but also help support the structure. Related: This minimalist timber writer’s studio in Switzerland is suspended in mid-air For the 2017 Bex & Arts sculpture triennial, the pavilion served as a visitor’s center, exhibition space for the work of invited designers and working fabrication studio where FabLab, a small-scale workshop , was open to the public for rapid prototyping. The pavilion received awards from the AIA California Council and American MasterPrize. + Montalba Architects Images by Delphine Burtin

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A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere

Cambridges first co-housing development fosters sustainable living

May 23, 2019 by  
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Marmalade Lane, the first cohousing development in Cambridge, has recently been completed in Orchard Park and serves as a promising solution to the critical undersupply of houses in the market. Cambridge-based architectural firm Mole Architects designed the development that comprises 42 contemporary homes with shared facilities and garden space for a mixed and integenerational resident group. Billed as a “sustainable neighborhood,” the cohousing community was designed in accordance to passive design principles and with the Trivselhus’ Climate Shield prefabricated timber frame panel system for superior thermal efficiency and airtightness. Marmalade Lane’s 42 homes include a mix of two- to five-bedroom terraced houses as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments. Designed to foster a community spirit and sustainable living, the development has shared public spaces for growing food , playing, socializing and quiet contemplation. The residents— members of K1 Cohousing who have a stake in the common areas and contribute to community management— also have access to a flexible “common house” that serves as the community’s social heart and houses a play room, guest bedrooms, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and a large hall and kitchen for shared meals and parties. A separate workshop and gym are also onsite. “As a custom-build development, each K1 Cohousing household selected one of five ‘shell’ house or flat types which they then configured through the floor-by-floor selection of floorplans, kitchen and bathroom fittings, and one of four external brick specifications,” according to the press release. “Wide and narrow house and ‘paired’ flat shells share a 7.8m-deep plan, allowing them to be distributed in any sequence along a terrace. Homes have been tailored to individual requirements without the risks or complexity of self-build, while balancing personalisation with the harmony of a visually cohesive architectural style based on repeating wall and window proportions, porches and balconies.” Related: LILAC: UK’s First Strawbale Co-Housing Project Opens in Leeds For energy efficiency and flexibility in floorplan configuration, the brick-clad cohousing structures are built with Trivselhus ’ Climate Shield closed panel timber frame system that was prefabricated in southern Sweden. The triple-glazed composite aluminum and timber windows along with electrical ducting were also factory-fitted so that a single house can be quickly assembled on site in just two days. Each home is also equipped with mechanical ventilation and heat recovery as well as air source-heat pumps. + Mole Architects Images by David Butler

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Cambridges first co-housing development fosters sustainable living

Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

May 23, 2019 by  
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The world’s largest and perhaps most destructive mining industry is rarely discussed. Approximately 85 percent of all material mined from the earth is a simple and widely available resource: sand. Because it is so cheap and readily available, it is mined by everyone from guy with a shovel, to multi-million dollar machine operations. The majority of sand is used to make concrete, but the displacement of sand leads to the catastrophic destruction of coastal, sea bed and river ecosystems and topography. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 40 billion tons of sand are mined every year, but since the market is corrupt, hidden and decentralized there have been no comprehensive studies to date. In order to get a rough number, the United Nation’s used global cement production and sales figures to approximate how much sand is collected. For example, every ton of cement requires six to seven tons of sand and gravel in order to make concrete. Related: Mining in Tasmania raises water pollution concerns to a new high The environmental impact Sand mining, especially when done without regulation or oversight, can damage rivers, cause beach erosion and destroy coastal ecosystems . At least 24 Indonesian islands disappeared off the map just to build Singapore. Since sand dredging occurs primarily for construction purposes, miners target river and coastal ecosystems where the sand is ideal. River sand is particularly perfect for concrete because it is coarse and does not contain salt that would otherwise corrode metal and other building materials. In addition to disturbing riverbed and river bank ecosystems, altering the flow and capacity of rivers can cause drought or disastrous flooding– though rarely recognized as a contributing factor. In Kerala, India, flooding was found to be partially caused by sand dredging that took 40 times more sand out of the river bed than the river could naturally replace. Dredging sea grass habitat can also cause sediment to drift for miles causing both coastal erosion and smothering ecosystems like coral reefs . Erosion, land subsidence and the introduction of heavy machinery and vehicles into delicate habitats also threatens the integrity of nearby infrastructure such as roads and bridges. One study found that every ton of sand taken from a river in California cost taxpayers $3 in infrastructure damage. Cities’ demand for sand Development and urbanization are expanding rapidly in every corner of the world to accommodate an exponentially growing population and our insatiable rates of consumption and expansion. According to the United Nations, the number of people living in cities is more than four times what it was in the 1950s. Over 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas with nearly three billion additional people expected to migrate to cities in the next 30 years. In addition to new buildings, sand is also used for land expansion projects. In China , it is a common practice to dump sand on top of coral reefs to speed the process of building land. Dubai is also famous for its man-made islands, which required millions of tons of sand. Singapore has added over 50 square miles of land in the past four decades and more skyscrapers in the last 10 years than all of New York City— a feat that required over 500 million tons of sand. The creation of Singapore was so rapid that Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam all banned the export of sand, but miners simply moved to Lake Poyang on the Yangtze River. The WWF calls this Lake the largest sand mine in the world, but it is tragically also Asia’s largest destination for migratory birds . Sand dredging activities have more than doubled the river’s capacity in certain areas, draining parts of the lake and reducing key fisheries. “It’s the same story as over-fishing and over-foresting,” says Pascal Peduzzi, from the United Nations Environment Program. “It’s another way to look at unsustainable development .” The scale of the problem is enormous and the consequences of moving massive amounts of life-and land-sustaining material from one place to another is glaring but the world remains functionally oblivious, blinded by the desire for new buildings and up-and-coming neighborhoods. Related: NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change Can sand dredging be done sustainably? River ecologists suggest that sand dredging in rivers should only be done up to a pre-determined quota that allows the river to annually replenish sediment. However, this sustainable number will never equal humanity’s unsustainable need for development. There are a number of suggestions to improve the sustainability of the industry, but none are perfect: Offshore sand mining Britain now sources much of its sand further offshore in order to protect river and coastal ecosystems, however, much of this sand is only used for land reclamation projects where the salt content is not a concern. Sandy bottom reservoirs Another untapped source is the sand that collects at the bottom of reservoirs. Dredging reservoirs could not only provide sand but also helps to expand storage capacity. Ecologists, however, argue that this sand should technically be put back into the rivers that feed into reservoirs. Recycling glass and rubble Rubble from demolished buildings can be used to produce concrete, reducing the need for fresh sand. Glass can also be recycled , which again reduces the need for sand. Mining on flood plains Limited mining on floodplains, rather than riverbanks and riverbeds, is thought to be less destructive. However, floodplains also have fragile ecosystems. In Australia, floodplains are home to rare carnivorous plant species that are now at risk from mining activities. Replacing sand in concrete Ash from incinerators and dust from stone quarries can be used in the production of concrete to reduce the demand for sand. Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Shutterstock

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Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

eVolo announces winners of the 2019 Skyscraper Competition

May 10, 2019 by  
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eVolo Magazine has announced the winners of its 2019 Skyscraper Competition from a pool of 478 projects. A jury of architects and designers selected three winners and 27 honorable mentions. The annual award recognizes “visionary ideas for building [high-rise] projects that through [the] novel use of technology, materials, programs, aesthetics and spatial organizations, challenge the way we understand vertical architecture and its relationship with the natural and built environments.” Methanescraper, an energy-producing “vertical landfill” city district concept was crowned the first place winner. Serbian designer Marko Dragicevic placed first in the 14th iteration of eVolo’s Skyscraper Competition with “Methanescraper,” a proposal for a city district in Belgrade that serves as a “vertical landfill” for waste and recycling. The district’s towers would be built mainly of waste capsules, modular units that contain sorted trash. Methane gas produced by the decomposition of waste would be extracted by pipes, pumped into storage tanks for filtering and then sent into the generator, where the gas is burned and transformed into electricity used to power the tower and the city. In second place is the “Airscraper” by Polish designers Klaudia Go?aszewska and Marek Grodzicki. Taking inspiration from Le Corbusier’s philosophy of houses as “machines for living,” the Airscraper was proposed to help fight air pollution in Beijing. At 2,624 feet, the mixed-use building is envisioned as the Chinese capital’s tallest tower and would contain three types of modules — an Air-Intake module, a Solar-Gain module and a Green-Garden module — arranged around an inner chimney that uses the stack effect to suck in outdoor polluted air for treatment. Related: The Fire Prevention Skyscraper brings sustainable housing to areas affected by forest fires U.K.-based designers Zijian Wan, Xiaozhi Qi and Yueya Liu designed the third place winner, the “Creature Ark: Biosphere Skyscraper.” Inspired by Noah’s Ark, the designers created a vertical conservation skyscraper for fauna and flora that consists of five simulated ecological environments, from the bottom up: arid, tropical, temperate, continental and polar. + eVolo 2019 Skyscraper Competition Images via eVolo

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eVolo announces winners of the 2019 Skyscraper Competition

Sunflower-inspired tower design envelopes urban residents in mini forests

May 7, 2019 by  
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Concerned by the rampant growth of cities across Latin America and the loss of endemic species, Ecuadorian design studio oficina de Diseño (odD+) has proposed the Sunflower Tower, a conceptual residential building inspired by the seeds and petals of a sunflower. Proposed for Quito , the Sunflower Tower has been envisioned as a “vertical ecosystem” with lush, self-sustaining planters located on every floor of the high-rise. As a result, the building would offer year-round interest and natural air purification as well as food and habitat for local birds and insects. Currently in the design development phase, the Sunflower Tower was created as a residential high-rise spanning a little over 77,000 square feet. The multifaceted facade is defined by a series of arches backed by floor-to-ceiling glazing for panoramic views of the city. The balconies directly in front of the arches support lush gardens, while the facade’s protruding opaque elements provide protection from the sun. “Sunflower Tower utilizes its equatorial context to become a depository of plant and animal life in the city,” the architects explained. “With the ability to thrive all year round, incorporating a self-sustaining ecosystem into the built environment reduces the tower’s carbon footprint  and creates a constant and direct connection with nature, as every apartment is surrounded by its own mini forest in the midst of a dense urban setting. This creates a unique user experience, and changes the typical urban backdrop by adding a layer of nature to the lens.” Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito The interiors have been envisioned with a minimalist and contemporary aesthetic where even the private rooms, such as the bedroom and bathroom, look out across views of the gardens and city. The material palette’s muted colors keep the focus on the outdoors. The building is topped with a landscaped terrace and lounge space. + oficina de Diseño (odD+) Photography by Julia Bogdan via oficina de Diseño (odD+)

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Floating treehouse inside Mexican forest is a dreamy escape from city noise

May 7, 2019 by  
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In the heart of Mexico City, local architectural firm Talleresque has completed Casa Flotante (Floating House), a treehouse-like oasis in the forest. Elevated on nine stilts, the three-story home and work studio stands tall and narrow, mimicking the surrounding trees. As a celebration of indoor-outdoor living , the house is built of locally sourced materials and large glazed windows that pulls the outdoors in. Raised above sloped terrain, Casa Flotante floating house is anchored into the forest floor and spans a total area of 936 square feet. The base, which consists of nine pillars organized in a grid layout, supports a large timber platform above and has space for storage and a water cistern below. A short flight of stairs leads to the first floor, where nearly half the area is used as an outdoor living room edged in with planters. Inside is a compact living space with a workspace that faces the outdoors, a kitchenette and dedicated area for the drum set. An outdoor staircase wraps around the slender home to the second floor where the bathroom and shower is located, and then winds up once more to the final floor where the bedroom is found. Timber is the predominate material used in the project, from the exterior cladding and stair treads to the interior walls, floors, ceilings and furnishings. Floor-to-ceiling windows , large glazed openings and skylights illuminate every the floating house like a lantern, creating a constant connection with the outdoors. Related: This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views “Casa Flotante is much more than all its spaces,” says Juan De La Rosa of Talleresque. “It’s a bridge between nature and shelter, which invites all trees and plants inside. The behavior is not to dominate but to reflect. To give into the landscape… like a mirror. Made of light and reflections, the atmosphere multiplies its views and sensations. Size and proportion lets one ascend in a spiral, through the house between the studio and the bedroom: Between pleasure and creation; through thoughts and dreams.” + Talleresque Images by Studio Chirika

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Floating treehouse inside Mexican forest is a dreamy escape from city noise

Studio NAB proposes rebuilding Notre Dame with a greenhouse and apiary

May 2, 2019 by  
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After a devastating blaze consumed the Cathedral of Notre Dame’s wooden roof and iconic central spire, architects around the world have been putting forth their visionary ideas for rebuilding the Parisian landmark. One such architectural firm is Paris-based Studio NAB , which has made headlines with its proposal to modernize the 13th-century cathedral with a massive educational greenhouse and apiary. Dubbed “In Green For All of Us,” the design builds on the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s hopes that the cathedral rehabilitation be “adapted to issues of our time.” Rather than simply restore the Cathedral of Notre Dame back to its former state, Studio NAB has suggested recreating the original silhouette with new materials. Instead of timber-frame construction, the new roof and spire would be constructed from gold-painted steel with large glass panels. The rooftop greenhouse would be used to provide professional training for the poor and education for the general public on topics of urban agriculture , horticulture and permaculture. “On this fire and in the period of crisis that the country and the world are currently going through, we are lucky to build a place of reference where conservation, enrichment of an exceptional heritage and taking into account societal challenges in ecology and equal opportunities,” the architects explained. “Protecting the living, reintroducing biodiversity , educating consciences and being social, are all symbols, faithful to the values of France and those of the church, that we could defend and promote for this project.” Related: SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient Inspired by the nearly 200,000 honeybees that survived the fire on Notre Dame’s lower roof, Studio NAB wants to transform the central spire into a glass-walled apiary with a larger number of hives capable of producing honey for sale. In homage to the roof’s original framework — nicknamed “the forest” after its many ancient timbers — the architects will also reuse salvaged wood as planters and other structures within the greenhouse. + Studio NAB Renderings via Studio NAB; photos via Wikimedia ( 1 ,  2 )

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Studio NAB proposes rebuilding Notre Dame with a greenhouse and apiary

Tibetan antelope are being decimated to produce opulent shahtoosh scarves

May 2, 2019 by  
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Poachers are taking advantage of a fashion trend to turn Tibetan antelope into expensive scarves. It takes four Tibetan antelopes to make the single opulent wrap known as a shahtoosh, and the hunt is decimating the antelope populations. These scarves, once used as dowry items in India, are seeing an increase in demand by Westerners willing to pay upward of $20,000 a piece. Over the past century, conservationists have measured a 90 percent drop in antelope numbers, mostly due to increasing wool demands . Experts believe there was once a million antelope that roamed the Tibetan landscape, but their numbers fell to around 75,000 in the 1990s. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife According to National Geographic , population numbers started to recover in the 2000s after China enacted tough laws against trading the antelope wool, but the demand for shahtoosh has increased poaching over the past 10 years. Since 2010, border agents in Switzerland have confiscated 295 scarves, which represent the deaths of more than 1,000 Tibetan antelopes. In light of the alarming numbers, officials are asking for other countries to keep a close eye on shahtoosh trafficking with the hope of curbing some of the fashion demand. It takes a trained eye to identify a shahtoosh. The biggest key in properly locating a shahtoosh is looking for antelope guard hairs. These long pieces of hair are difficult to remove in the manufacturing process and are easy to identify under a microscope. Once it is determined that a scarf is a shahtoosh, the owner is fined a few thousand dollars, and the piece of clothing is confiscated. The shahtoosh trade appears to be less of an issue in the United States, at least on the surface. Since 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not confiscated a single shahtoosh, though it is possible that the material has simply flown under the radar. Either way, experts do not believe Tibetan antelopes will be able to make sustained recoveries until the demand for the luxurious scarf is significantly reduced. Via National Geographic Image via McKay Savage and Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Tibetan antelope are being decimated to produce opulent shahtoosh scarves

A welcoming healthcare center in New Delhi follows passive design principles

May 1, 2019 by  
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New Delhi-based architecture and interior design firm VYOM has completed the Dental Care Centre, a recently opened healthcare facility in New Delhi that offers much more than a teeth cleaning. Designed to follow passive solar principles, the light-filled facility immerses patients in a spa-inspired environment with views of nature from every room. A natural materials palette also helps tie the bright and airy building to the landscape. Built to embrace nature, the Dental Care Centre was carefully laid out on a linear site so as to avoid removing any mature trees. The thoughtful design not only reduced site impact , but also helped maximize access to shade while reducing heat load on the structure. The shaded areas also informed the team’s decision to add an outdoor deck and outdoor seating for patients and visitors, while bamboo screens provide privacy to the staff quarters. Views of the preserved canopy are swept indoors through large glazed openings and include clerestory windows , walls of glass and skylights. The most dramatic opening can be found at the heart of the Dental Care Centre, where an open-air courtyard is punctuated by a square fishpond enclosed in glass on four sides. A raised wooden roof with deep overhangs helps mitigate glare from southern sunshine while allowing natural daylight to flood the interior. Related: Light-filled dentist clinic shows how good design can calm patient fears “Addressing the functional, medical requirements while always keeping the focus on positive patient care has resulted in a scheme where the colors and materiality harmoniously enhance the spatial quality,” the architects explained of the healthcare facility, which is dressed in off-white walls and timber accents. “The Dental Care Centre is a singular and exclusive design that enhances the levels of patient care, while mitigating patient stress levels by giving them an environment which is close to nature, dynamic, cheerful and full of natural light .” + VYOM Photography by Yatinder Kumar via VYOM

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A welcoming healthcare center in New Delhi follows passive design principles

Taichung Discovery Pavilion champions biodiversity in new "Half Earth" multimedia art installation

April 26, 2019 by  
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In Taichung , Taiwan, the recently completed Discovery Pavilion at the Taichung World Flower Expo explores what life could be like if humans returned half of the Earth’s habitable surfaces to nature — a concept known as “Half Earth” proposed by the “Father of Biodiversity” Edward Wilson in 2016. Taipei-based Cogitoimage International Co., Ltd designed the pavilion to advocate such preservation with a large-scale exhibition that covers the ecology of the Taichung Dajia River as it flows from high to low altitudes. In keeping with the eco-friendly ethos of the project, the main materials used in the project include recycled glass and cork, sustainably sourced timber and other natural materials. Created with the theme of “Viewing Half-Earth through Taichung’s Ecology,” the Discovery Pavilion uses mixed multimedia — from poems and crafts to art installations and new media — to promote environmental stewardship  and biodiversity preservation. Spanning an area of 31,861 square feet, the exhibition covers the vertical ecology along the Dajia River, the main river in Taichung city, as it morphs from the low-lying estuary to the snow-topped mountains at 12,740 feet above sea level. Endemic species are highlighted in the exhibition, from native flora to the endangered leopard cat and the Formosan Landlocked Salmon. “With the theme of “Viewing Half-Earth through Taichung’s Ecology”, Discovery Pavilion advocates to preserve half of our planet for other species and reinterpret the ecology of Dajia River,” read the Discovery Pavilion press release. “Edward’s “Half-Earth” concept has two main points. On the one hand, we should be aware that human beings are not the only masters and inhabitants of the earth. On the other hand, we need to think about how to reserve more spaces for other inhabitants of the earth, i.e. flora and fauna in the ecosystem .” Related: A disused railway will become a sustainable green corridor in Taiwan The Discovery Pavilion consists of nine exhibition areas that are independently crafted with different styles that come together as a cohesive whole. To create a multi-sensory experience, the designers used a variety of materials and technologies to reproduce different landscapes, from the pyramidal glass and hand-woven rice straw roof that evokes the low-lying rural areas in Lishan to the use of imaging technology that creates the sensation of being underwater with the Formosan Landlocked Salmon and reproduce the overall biodiversity of Taiwan. + Cogitoimage Images by Te-Fan Wang

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Taichung Discovery Pavilion champions biodiversity in new "Half Earth" multimedia art installation

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