Over 200 nations commit to ending ocean plastic waste

December 7, 2017 by  
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Over 200 countries signed a United Nations resolution in Nairobi, Kenya to eliminate plastic waste in the world’s oceans. The resolution is an important step forward to establishing a legally binding treaty that would deal with the global oceanic plastic pollution problem. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there will be more plastic by weight in the world’s oceans than fish by 2050 if current trends continue. The resolution offers hope for the future. “There is very strong language in this resolution,” said Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister, in an interview with Reuters . “We now have an agreement to explore a legally binding instrument and other measures and that will be done at the international level over the next 18 months.” Although plastic pollution is a global problem, Norway was the country that initiated the UN resolution. “We found micro plastics inside mussels, which is something we like to eat,” said Helgesen. “In January this year, a fairly rare species of whale was stranded on a beach because of exhaustion and they simply had to kill it. In its tummy they found 30 plastic bags.” Even the most remote parts of the globe have not escaped the plastic menace. In the final episode of the acclaimed  Blue Planet II ,  plastic pollution is documented in isolated areas of Antarctica . Related: Scientists discover cheap method to identify “lost” 99% of ocean microplastics China is the world’s largest producer of plastic waste and biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, the world’s most populous country has taken the global lead in addressing these environmental crises. “If there is one nation changing at the moment more than anyone else, it’s China … the speed and determination of the government to change is enormous,” said Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, according to Reuters . Meanwhile, the resolution, which was originally intended to have legally binding targets and timetables, was weakened by the United States , after Trump Administration officials rejected the stronger language. Current American intransigence notwithstanding, Solheim envisions a future in which products and manufacturing systems are redesigned to use as little plastic as possible. “Let’s abolish products that we do not need … if you go to tourist places like Bali, a huge amount of the plastic picked from the oceans are actually straws,” said Solheim. Although there is much work to be done before a treaty is signed, several nations are already moving ahead to protect the environment. To mark the signing of the UN resolutions, 39 countries, including Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa, adopted new commitments to reduce plastic pollution . Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos and  Trevor Leyenhorst/Flickr

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Over 200 nations commit to ending ocean plastic waste

Soles of world’s first graphene sports shoes are 50% more resistant to wear

December 7, 2017 by  
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British sportswear brand inov-8 decided to take footwear a leap further: with graphene . Working with the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester , they developed rubber enhanced with the game-changing material for running shoe outsoles that are, according to University of Manchester reader in nanomaterials Aravind Vijayaraghavan, “50 percent stronger, 50 percent more stretchy, and 50 percent more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber without graphene.” Is there anything graphene can’t do? inov-8 created their forthcoming G-series with flexible graphene-enhanced rubber for footwear – you guessed it – far superior to shoes with regular old soles. Vijayaraghavan said when graphene is added to rubber for the product, it imparts its groundbreaking properties like strength. The improved material offers a long-lasting grip for sneakers without rapidly wearing down. inov-8 product and marketing director Michael Price said the shoes offer durability and traction never before seen. Related: Newly discovered property of graphene could lead to infinite clean energy Price said in a statement, “Off-road runners and fitness athletes live at the sporting extreme and need the stickiest outsole grip possible to optimize their performance, be that when running on wet trails or working out in sweaty gyms. For too long, they have had to compromise this need for grip with the knowledge that such rubber wears down quickly. Now, utilizing the groundbreaking properties of graphene, there is no compromise.” Graphene is the thinnest, strongest material on the planet, and can be folded or twisted without damage. The University of Manchester has worked on graphene-enhanced airplanes, medical devices, and sports cars – and now sports gear. inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey said the company is positioned “at the forefront of a graphene sports footwear revolution,” and hinted this is just the beginning, saying graphene’s potential is limitless. The G-series shoes will hit the market in 2018. Via inov-8 and the University of Manchester Images via the University of Manchester

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Soles of world’s first graphene sports shoes are 50% more resistant to wear

Origami-like alpine cabin brings contemporary style to Chile’s mountains

March 22, 2017 by  
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Alpine architecture has evolved far beyond traditional chalets, as can be seen in this contemporary cabin perched high above in Chile’s Valparaíso Region. Architect Gonzalo Iturriaga completed the blackened pine cabin, named RF C9, on a rocky site near the commune of San Esteban. Like a piece of origami, the angular refuge has numerous folds, some of which are turned into glazed openings that frame spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Elevated off the uneven ground, the 60-square-meter RF C9 cabin comprises two bedrooms and a bathroom at one end of the home, while an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen are located on the other in the larger part of the building. The pine-clad retreat features an asymmetrically pitched roof that evokes the image of a tent evolved into a timber form. The steep angles of the roof shed snow effectively and the retreat is designed to handle the extreme climates. Related: Century-old WWI bunker is reborn as a contemporary alpine shelter “Using a ventilated facade on all sides and a system of piles, the shelter functions as a hermetic element suspended on the ground which, from specific openings, uses the rising current of the mountain to ventilate its interior,” wrote the architect. The interior is clad in untreated pine contrasted with black window frames, blackened pine cabinetry, and a black wood-burning stove . Large windows of varying shapes punctuate the retreat, with the largest panes set on the east façade where they frame stunning views of the mountain enjoyed from the master bedroom and the living area. + Gonzalo Iturriaga Via Dezeen Images via Gonzalo Iturriaga

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Origami-like alpine cabin brings contemporary style to Chile’s mountains

Off-grid clinic uses renewable energy to support health services in Chile

January 25, 2017 by  
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The quiet coastal enclave of Caleta El Sauce is as beautiful as it is remote, which means the sleepy fishing village only receives regular medical assistance every 30 days. To assist visiting doctors, SAA arquitectura + territorio designed a small health clinic for the community—a rather difficult task given the hard-to-reach location and absence of readily available potable water and electricity. Thus the building was equipped with solar panels and prefabricated offsite to reduce construction time to just seven days. The 25-square-meter Rural Health Clinic sits on a rocky ledge overlooking the ocean in Ovalle, north of Fray Jorge National Park. Elevated off the ground, the kinked prefabricated structure comprises two main volumes connected together at an angle. One half of the building houses a waiting room and medical room and is mostly opaque, save for a few small square windows, to preserve privacy. In contrast, the other half of the building is completely open on one side and functions as a terrace. A slatted black solar screen was installed on the ocean-facing facade of the building. Related: Solar-Powered Camel Clinics Carry Medicine Across the Desert “Site layout was determined in relation to achieving a connection with the sea, while also generating connectivity with existing homes, but which, given its scale, was capable of projecting itself toward the coast as just another element of the landscape,” write the architects. A support shed for the rural health clinic includes photovoltaic panels that power lighting and charging equipment, a water tank and drain, as well as a small storage space. The clinic’s simple design is conducive to easy disassembly and relocation. + SAA arquitectura + territorio Via ArchDaily Images © Sergio Araneda

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Off-grid clinic uses renewable energy to support health services in Chile

Meandering 2y House in Chile immerses inhabitants in its wooded surroundings

December 30, 2016 by  
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Few things in life produce the kind of peace and serenity found in a forest. This meandering treehouse in Chile provides a complete immersion into its wooded surroundings. Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos designed 2y House as a solitary retreat that enhances the unique experience of being surrounded by trees. The house is located near Lake Colico, some 470 miles south of the Chilean capital, Santiago . Locally-sourced timber anchors the house to the place and references the sense of infinity that is present in forests. Natural light filters through broad windows and wooden screens, mimicking the effect created by tree tops. Related: Gorgeous Robin’s Nest Treehouse Hotel immerses you in nature This arboreal aesthetic is further enhanced by the use of red-painted wood on the exterior. Using a natural palette of reds, browns and greens marks a departure from the concrete and glass architecture that tends to dominate Chilean residential design. + Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos Via Curbed

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Meandering 2y House in Chile immerses inhabitants in its wooded surroundings

Meandering 2y House in Chile immerses inhabitants in its wooded surroundings

December 30, 2016 by  
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Few things in life produce the kind of peace and serenity found in a forest. This meandering treehouse in Chile provides a complete immersion into its wooded surroundings. Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos designed 2y House as a solitary retreat that enhances the unique experience of being surrounded by trees. The house is located near Lake Colico, some 470 miles south of the Chilean capital, Santiago . Locally-sourced timber anchors the house to the place and references the sense of infinity that is present in forests. Natural light filters through broad windows and wooden screens, mimicking the effect created by tree tops. Related: Gorgeous Robin’s Nest Treehouse Hotel immerses you in nature This arboreal aesthetic is further enhanced by the use of red-painted wood on the exterior. Using a natural palette of reds, browns and greens marks a departure from the concrete and glass architecture that tends to dominate Chilean residential design. + Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos Via Curbed

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Meandering 2y House in Chile immerses inhabitants in its wooded surroundings

Amazon wants to build flying warehouses in the sky

December 30, 2016 by  
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We’ve all heard before about Amazon’s plans to deliver orders via drone , but a recently-unearthed patent shows the company could one day push the concept to a startling extreme. Discovered by Zoe Leavitt , an analyst for CB insights, the patent describes an “airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery” – what is essentially a giant flying warehouse in the sky. The airborne fulfillment centers would exist aboard a giant airship , floating at altitudes of around 45,000 feet. As Amazon orders came in, individual drones would be deployed to deliver the goods. Smaller airships would be used to return the drones, resupply the fulfillment center with new inventory, and shuttle workers back and forth from the facility. While drones launched from the ground have a fairly limited range, the aerial deployment would allow the drones to cover a much wider delivery area. The warehouses would also be mobile, allowing Amazon to easily shift position depending on consumer demand. For example, the patent explains one of the warehouses could be positioned near a stadium during a game to allow fans to immediately purchase team merchandise or snacks during the game. Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane The concept is just that for now – there’s no indication that Amazon will de deploying drone-carrying blimps in the near future. However, don’t be surprised if airborne drone delivery one day replaces FedEx or the postal service. Via The Verge Images via Zoe Leavitt and Wikimedia Commons

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Amazon wants to build flying warehouses in the sky

Elon Musk just confirmed plans for a new Tesla Roadster

December 30, 2016 by  
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Get excited, electric car fans – the Tesla Roadster is coming back. Elon Musk just announced plans to bring the zero emissions sports car back from the electric vehicle graveyard where it was buried at the end of 2012 after selling nearly 2,500 units during its brief four-year life. When a Twitter user asked if there will be a new Roadster , Musk replied that a new version is “some years away, but yes.” The CEO of the California-based electric vehicle maker actually said in a conference call last year that the next-generation Roadster will debut in 2019 so the tweet is further confirmation that a new Roadster is indeed being developed. The Roadster was a two-seater with an open top and a chassis based on the Lotus Elise. The EV was notable for being the first street legal electric car to use lithium ion battery cells and the first electric car to travel more than 200 miles per charge. Related: Tesla’s next Supercharger could charge electric cars in mere seconds Tesla has come a long way since the Roadster, producing the Model S and Model X and soon the Model 3 — the company’s first affordable EV. The automaker is expanding into energy storage and solar panels and most recently solar shingles . But the future wasn’t always so bright for Musk, who earlier this year during a shareholder meeting admitted that the Roadster’s rollout was anything but smooth. Musk said that when he took Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin for a test ride, the Roadster only reached 10 mph. The early Roadster “was completely unsafe,” it “broke down all the time,” and it “didn’t really work,” said Musk. While there are no details about what the second-generation Roadster will look like, there has been speculation that the name could change from Roadster to Model R so as to align with the automaker’s other models. + Tesla Via Auto Evolution Images via Wikipedia 1 , 2 and Tesla

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Elon Musk just confirmed plans for a new Tesla Roadster

Casa Quebrada is a tiny treehouse-like haven immersed in the Chilean forest

December 9, 2016 by  
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When design studio UNarquitectura was commissioned to design a house by a creek in Curacaví, they also received one more request: to make the home emulate a treehouse . The architects responded with the design of a simple modern shelter elevated over a creek and high into the canopy so to completely immerses the homeowners among the trees. Full-height windows installed in the compact home blur the line between indoor and outdoor living, and fill the interior with natural light and lush forest views. Casa Quebrada is a tiny home due to site restrictions that limited the build to no more than 40 square meters. The tiny cabin successfully fits all the living needs into one compact space but avoids the feeling of claustrophobia due to a fully glazed wall that visually extends the living room to the outdoors. The house is clad in pine wood painted black to help the home blend into the forest, topped with a tin roof, and raised on stilts so as not to interrupt the flow of water in winter. In contrast with its dark facade, the interior is painted bright white. Related: Tucked-away Norwegian island house on stilts is only accessible by boat Instead of a symmetrical gabled roof, the architects introduced a break in the roofline to install a clerestory window . The floor plan also steps up at that point, creating a level change between the living area in the front and the bedroom in the rear. The tiny home is accessed via a timber boardwalk that also connects the shelter with an older existing house. “I think the achievement of this project lies mainly in having conjugate client requests with good adaptation to the environment where it is located,” said Alejandro Urruitia of UNarquitectura. + UNarquitectura Via ArchDaily Images via UNarquitectura

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Casa Quebrada is a tiny treehouse-like haven immersed in the Chilean forest

Prefab Casa Algarrobo mimics the rhythm of surrounding trees in Chile

July 13, 2016 by  
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The volume of Algarrobo House is divided into areas housing different programs: private, semi-private and public. Its modular structure makes it easy to differentiate between open and intimate spaces, occupied areas, circulation, and terraces. Providing views of the forest on each side, the house becomes a perfect place for enjoying the Chilean natural landscapes . Related: Minimalist timber CML House in Chile features a unique pinwheel layout Moments of privacy are distributed throughout the interior, including in the living room, circulation routes and bedrooms. Prefab structure allowed the architects to play with the concept of rhythm and introduce subtle elements that break up the order to form distinct environments. + Garcia de la Huerta and Gleixner architects

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Prefab Casa Algarrobo mimics the rhythm of surrounding trees in Chile

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