UNStudio completes sustainable all-in-one urban hub in Hangzhou

September 20, 2017 by  
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UNStudio has completed a stunning new LEED Gold -certified project in China that we hope will be a model for mixed-use development for years to come. Described by the Dutch studio as “a sustainable urban hub for living, working, and leisure,” the enormous complex in Hangzhou is the latest Raffles City to be erected in China. Located in the city’s new central business district in Qianjiang New Town, this nearly 400,000-square-meter development is made iconic with its pair of 250-meter-tall interconnected towers—the largest single building completed by UNStudio. UNStudio designed Raffles City Hangzhou using its ongoing research into Superliving, a set of strategies to create sustainable, healthy cities with streamlined services and amenities to provide a higher quality of life. “Raffles City Hangzhou will be a point of confluence, a hub for business conduct and a new destination for visitors and residents alike; an ‘all-in-one’ destination for working, living and leisure in a highly sustainable environment,” said Ben van Berkel , the founder and principal architect at UNStudio. Located near and oriented for views of Hangzhou’s Qiantang River, the towers derive inspiration from the waterway with its organic form. A shimmering scale-like skin of aluminum tiles clad the building and are paired with an outer layer of rotated, vertical solar shading fins . Curvilinear shapes and undulating lines are echoed in the light-filled interior as well as the landscaped plaza and podium that connect the pair of sleek, sinuous towers. Related: UNStudio and Heerim unveil lush, garden-filled development for Seoul Conceived as a “lively vertical neighborhood and transit hub,” the sixty-story high-rises comprise residential units, Grade A offices, the Conrad hotel, and a rooftop helipad. The 116,000-square-meter six-story podium includes retail, restaurants, leisure facilities, parking, and access to the metro. “The building is designed with a carefully considered mix of programmes – like those found in a good city – that bring together a wide range of users,” wrote the firm. “Besides working and living at Raffles City, people can stay at the hotel, or pick up groceries, enjoy a meal, do exercise, watch a movie or even get married there, all in one interconnected environment.” + UNStudio Images © Hufton + Crow

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UNStudio completes sustainable all-in-one urban hub in Hangzhou

This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

September 18, 2017 by  
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Zhou Yusong is a dog’s best friend. Over the last eight years, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs and given them homes at his animal protection center China’s Henan Province. Though he didn’t intend on becoming the “Guardian of Dogs,” this is what he is called in his home city of Zhengzhou. It all started in 2008, when Zhou Yusong was walking down a road in Zhengzhou and noticed a stray dog that had clearly been hit by a car. It was fighting for its life, yet was ignored by those who passed by. Yusong was unable to ignore the frightened animal, so he picked it up and took it to a nearby dog shelter as he could never care for it in his tiny apartment. When the man reached the shelter, he was overwhelmed by the large number of stray dogs that had already been collected. To ease the shelter’s burden, he began donating 200 yuan ($30) every month to support the dogs’ food and medical treatments. Inspired to do more, Yusong later convinced his friend to invest 800,000 yuan ($122,000 USD) in a new animal shelter . It would be located on the banks of the Yellow River and care for the abundance of stray dogs. His friend agreed and allowed Yusong to be in charge of the facility. Within a short period of time, the animal lover quit his job and began managing the rescue center full-time. Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade To date, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs, as well as a number of other small and medium-sized animals. Over the past eight years, he hasn’t taken a single vacation, as he is dedicated to ensuring all of the dogs are well taken care of. To reduce the shelter’s costs, Yusong also manages maintenance work, which includes fixing fences and trimming the bushes. He spends the remainder of his time feeding the dogs, cleaning up their kennels, and administering various medical treatments . Though Yusong wasn’t seeking recognition for his work, the world couldn’t help but give it to him after photographs of him and hundreds of dogs went viral on social media. Via Oddity Central ,  Xwtuotiao Images via  Xwtuotiao

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This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

China announces plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars and shift focus to EVs

September 11, 2017 by  
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China has announced a plan to ban the sales of fossil fuel -burning vehicles. They don’t have a date set yet – vice minister of industry and information technology Xin Guobin said regulators and the government are working on a timetable. A ban would be a boon for China’s electric car industry, and could have a huge impact on the country’s notoriously awful air quality . Xin spoke about China’s plan to stop sales and production of the polluting vehicles at an automobile forum over the weekend in Tianjin. He said such a step would impact both the environment , and the growth of the country’s electric car industry. Bloomberg noted China would be the largest market to end sales of fossil fuel-powered cars should they go through with the plan. Related: Scotland to phase out new gas and diesel cars by 2032 Liu Zhijia, assistant general manager at China’s largest passenger car exporter Chery Automobile Company, said, “The implementation of the ban for such a big market like China can be later than 2040. That will leave plenty of time for everyone to prepare.” Chery recently unveiled battery-powered and hybrid vehicle models at a Frankfurt motor show. China has the second largest economy in the world, and have said they’ll cap carbon emissions by 2030. Their impending fossil fuel vehicle sales ban could encourage automakers to focus on emissions-free electric cars instead. Large car maker GAC Motor broke ground on a $6.5 billion electric vehicle park earlier this year. BYD , China’s biggest electric vehicle manufacturer, counts actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio as brand ambassador , and have already delivered 46,855 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles this year. They’re also backed by Warren Buffett. Bloomberg noted government subsidies have helped local car manufacturers find success in the electric vehicle market, even as United States companies like Tesla , Nissan, and General Motors are hustling to claim a piece of the market. Via The Verge and Bloomberg Lead image via Depositphotos , others via Redd Angelo on Unsplash and Vivian Chen on Unsplash

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China announces plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars and shift focus to EVs

Magical artworks place lamps, books, and chairs in the middle of nature

September 11, 2017 by  
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Norwegian artist Rune Guneriussen uses everyday objects to create extraordinary art installations in remote and rural locations. The artist’s magical works illuminate old books, chairs, and lampshades in settings ranging from lush green forests to barren frozen lakes. Guneriussen has spent years creating extraordinary scenes out of ordinary objects – and he continues to find beautiful backdrops for his work. For his most recent work, the artist has precariously placed objects on frozen lakes and icy mounds. Related: Rune Guneriussen Creates Magical New Artworks by Placing Everyday Objects in Natural Landscapes Guneriussen is the only first-hand witness to his artworks – after each installation, he takes photos of his work , which he then turns into collections of photographs. “It is not as much photography as it is about sculpture and installation,” explains Guneriussen, “This process involves the object, story, space and most important the time it is made within. It is an approach to the balance between nature and human culture, and all the sublevels of our own existence.” Guneriussen publishes images of his work on his website and Facebook page. + Rune Guneriussen Via This is Colossal Images via Rune Guneriussen

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Magical artworks place lamps, books, and chairs in the middle of nature

China plans to build nearly 300 new eco-cities

September 5, 2017 by  
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China broke ground on a 40,000-tree-filled Forest City earlier this summer – but apparently one isn’t enough. The country, infamous for their environmental pollution , plans to construct 285 eco-cities , according to Forbes. But what exactly an eco-city constitutes – and the standards to which it will be held – is still in question. Individual buildings can be held up against LEED standards, or even China’s Three Star system. But Forbes pointed out there’s no such criteria for entire cities . The publication quoted Austin Williams, Jiaotong-Liverpool University professor and author of a book on eco-cities, who said, “There is no definition of an eco-city, which makes them incredibly easy to invent.” Related: China plans its first “Forest City” to fight air pollution The country has urbanized more rapidly than any other country in history. In the last 30 years, more people than America’s entire population have moved to urban areas of China. The country has prioritized development over the environment in many cases, with dangerous air quality found in 90 percent of cities. According to Forbes, as the public has become educated about the pollution, environmental conditions in the country could pose the largest destabilizing force to the Communist Party. Will China’s eco-cities recycle , be powered by renewable energy , produce less carbon emissions , and be built with energy-efficient structures – a few hallmarks we might expect in an eco-city? Williams said, “In the West, eco-cities are supposed to save the world; in China they are simply meant to provide a decent quality of urban environment…China’s eco-cities are simply intended to be much-needed urban improvements and infrastructural development with an eco-prefix.” 80 percent of prefectural-level cities are estimated to have at least one eco-city in the works. One estimate suggests in the near future, more than 50 percent of new urban developments in China will be labeled green, smart, low-carbon, or eco. It remains to be seen whether these eco-cities will genuinely benefit China’s environment – and the people who live in them. Via Forbes Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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China plans to build nearly 300 new eco-cities

China takes on the Hyperloop with a supersonic ‘flying train’

September 4, 2017 by  
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Hyperloop mania has been heating up with the recent news that Elon Musk is planning to build one of the systems himself . Now China has their own answer: T-Flight, a “flying train” they say could travel even faster than a Hyperloop. This proposed mode of transportation could also reportedly shatter the sound barrier at 2,485 miles per hour (mph). China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) is working on the flying train that could travel at supersonic speeds, according to chief engineer Mao Kai, speaking to the state-run China News Service (CNS). A Hyperloop would travel at speeds of around 760 mph, just below the sound barrier. Related: Hyperloop One exhibits exciting first images of full-scale test track The flying train doesn’t truly fly. Instead, CNET described it as basically a Maglev train in a vacuum tube, quoting the South China Morning Post which said it draws inspiration from bullet trains, supersonic flight, and, of course, the Hyperloop. Kai told CNS people don’t need to worry about passenger safety since as acceleration speed wouldn’t even be as fast as an airplane taking off. He also said the flying train wouldn’t run on fossil fuels and wouldn’t be impacted by weather conditions. The train could also connect with subways. According to CNS, the project team is working with more than 20 research institutes to realize this project. Experts have their doubts. Beijing Transport University professor Zhao Jian told South China Morning Post the human body can only endure acceleration speeds of up to 4,000 kilometers per hour, or 2,485 mph, for a very brief time period. He told the news outlet, “In that case, are the passengers going to be astronauts only?” Other people say there’s no braking system in the world that would be able to halt the flying train in an emergency stop and have the passengers live. Internet users said the government should focus on other important issues. One Beijing commenter wrote on social media network Sina Weibo, “Can the government please invent technology to solve traffic jams first?” There’s no time frame for when a flying train might materialize, although according to CNET, it’s among the first serious concepts for supersonic ground transportation. Via CNET , China News Service , and South China Morning Post Images via screenshot

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China takes on the Hyperloop with a supersonic ‘flying train’

China is fighting desertification with a Great Green Wall of trees

August 31, 2017 by  
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In a major geoengineering effort to fight back against ever-encroaching desert, China is planting trees to create a “Great Green Wall” that may halt erosion, capture carbon, and provide economic benefits to the People’s Republic. By 2050, the nation of nearly 1.5 billion people aims to plant 88 million acres of woodland in an area that stretches 3,000 miles long and up to 900 miles wide. If successful, China’s reforestation project could serve as a guide for the countries of the 250 million people worldwide threatened by desertification . The vast arid land of China, which includes the historic Gobi Desert, encompasses up to 27 percent of the country’s land, and that number is growing. By 2006, nearly 1,000 square miles, an increase of 400 square miles since the 1950s, of usable land was being consumed by the desert . Desertification in China causes dust and sandstorms that contribute to poor health outcomes, the crippling of transportation routes, and economic losses, which are estimated to be in the billions of dollars every year. Related: The Great Green Wall of Africa could fight desertification and poverty The results of the project, which began in 1978, have been mixed. On the one hand, the project has provided financial stability to many previously impoverished communities located in the prospective Great Green Wall region. Government investment in infrastructure surrounding the project has also aided regional development. The Chinese government claims that the project has already yielded a decrease in sandstorms, stabilized acres of desert, and even increased precipitation . Others are more skeptical. “When it’s profitable, people tell lies,” said Cao Shixiong, a professor at Minzu University of China.  “I thought it was a very good way to combat desertification,” said Cao. However, in light of some estimates that up to 86 percent of the trees planted as part of the project have died, Cao changed his mind. “I realized it’s because of policy. We were choosing the wrong place to plant trees.” Researchers are also concerned that importing ill-suited trees into the fragile ecosystem may yield disastrous consequences in the future. “For the past 1,000 years, only shrubs and grass have grown in those areas. Why would they think planting trees would be successful?” said Sun Qingwei, a former Chinese Academy of Sciences desert researcher who now works for the National Geographic Society. “It’s not sustainable. Investing money in trees that are not supposed to be there is kind of crazy.” Time will tell if the Great Green Wall is as enduring as its stone-and-brick namesake. Via Mother Jones Lead image via Deposit photos , others via People’s Daily Online , Vaiz Ha/Flickr , and Christopher Michel/Flickr

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China is fighting desertification with a Great Green Wall of trees

Funky Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire is the perfect place for stargazing

August 31, 2017 by  
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The new Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire defies architectural tradition by rejecting the established dome form. Instead, this private astronomical observatory looks like it has been carved out of the rock on which it stands. Anmahian Winton Architects designed the building as a faceted volume that creates optimal conditions for sky observation. The building is located on a remote mountain summit in central New Hampshire. It sits on a granite outcropping, amidst a very “dark” landscape with minimal light pollution,  which would potentially obstruct views of the night sky. Related: X-Studio’s Lightweave Palm Observatory is Made Entirely From Palm Leaves Gemma’s faceted form reflects the surrounding terrain, while its zinc cladding makes it look like a single piece of stone. Its interior, on the other hand, provides warmth through the presence of fir plywood . It houses a research office, sleeping bunk, and warming room on the first floor, and an exterior observation deck accessible via a helical stair. One of the most important aspects of the design is the role its shape and cladding plays in facilitating its function. The outstanding heat transfer capability facilitates sky observation by minimizing temperature differential distortion. Furthermore, cuts in the zinc cladding create strategically placed openings oriented towards both geological and celestial landmarks. + Anmahian Winton Architects Via v2com

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Funky Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire is the perfect place for stargazing

Unilever, Nestle and other food giants team on blockchain

August 29, 2017 by  
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New consortium centers on food safety and builds on a Walmart project started last year in China.

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Unilever, Nestle and other food giants team on blockchain

Lessons from China’s ambitious green building movement

August 28, 2017 by  
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The nation seeks to grow this sector fivefold by 2030 with help from

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