The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

December 14, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based design studio People’s Architecture Office has proved yet again its knack for innovation and socially conscious design with its recent project, the Shangwei Village Plugin House. Made with a modular building system of prefabricated panels, these customizable homes can slot into existing structures to make formerly uninhabitable spaces both livable and attractive for far less than the cost of a typical renovation. The experimental dwellings were installed in the Chinese village of Shangwei near Shenzhen and can be assembled with unskilled labor using just one tool in less than a day. The local government, the Shangwei Village Cooperative, along with local nonprofit Leping Foundation and Future Plus, tapped People’s Architecture Office to renovate a series of centuries-old structures into houses for supporting a budding community of local artists and craftspeople. Having been left vacant for decades, the structures had become uninhabitable ruins with caved-in roofs. Since renovation could adversely affect adjacent buildings, the architects decided to rehabilitate the spaces by inserting new construction — with added structural reinforcement — inside the existing structures, a typology that the firm calls the ‘Plugin House.’ “Industrial manufacturing allows the use of high quality materials that drastically increase energy efficiency and economies of scale ensure the Plugin House remains inexpensive,” the architects explained. “Although the Plugin Panels are mass produced, each Plugin House is customized to fit its particular site.” The Huang Family Plugin House, for instance, slots into a tiny 160-square-foot space. The space-saving construction features a mezzanine bedroom with a corner window cantilevered over a collapsed wall as well as a new skylight where the original roof once was. The Fang Family Plugin House, on the other hand, is slightly larger at 215 square feet. Related: Hydroponic gardens and a “mini mountain” promote fun and well-being in this creative office The architects added, “For both locations, the Plugin House System raises living standards by adding efficient mini-split units for heating and cooling, modern kitchens and off-the-grid composting toilet systems.” + People’s Architecture Office Images by ZHAN Changheng and People’s Architecture Office

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The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

Zaha Hadid Architects completes highly complex Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre

December 6, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects  completed the Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre, a striking mixed-use facility that blends the firm’s iconic sinuous architecture with elements from traditional Chinese culture. Billed as China’s first completely top-down/ bottom-up tower construction, the entire center was constructed in just 34 months and is the largest glass-reinforced concrete development in the country. Sustainability is woven into the highly complex design from the optimization of natural ventilation and lighting to the use of a self-cleaning facade system. With gross floor area totaling over five million square feet, the Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre boasts two tapering towers—Zaha Hadid Architects’ tallest completed towers to date—linked by a five-story mixed-use podium that contains the Cultural Centre. At 315 meters in height, the taller tower houses offices and the new Jumeirah Nanjing Hotel, while the shorter 255-meter tower includes a four-star hotel. The Cultural Center is divided into four main programs: a 2,100-seat Conference Hall, a 500-seat Auditorium, a Multifunctional Hall and Guest Zone; the independent volumes are organized around a central courtyard. Optimized for riverfront views, the development is located along the river in Hexi New Town as part of Nanjing’s new central business district. “The Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre harnessed the energy of the 2014 Youth Olympic Games to create a project with a lasting legacy that has enhanced and also regenerated its setting—acting as both an anchor and a catalyst for future investment in Nanjing’s Hexi New Town,” says Zaha Hadid Architects in a press release. “The cultural centre’s design is a three dimensional calligraphic composition that resonates with Nanjing’s 1,600-year-old tradition of Yunjin— the name given to the intricate brocade threading used by local craftsmen to weave the region’s acclaimed gold and silver fabrics. Like Yunjin thread, a continuous line interweaves throughout the cultural centre connecting it with its earthquake-resistant towers and beyond to the new central business district, riverside park and Jiangxinzhou Island.” Related: Zaha Hadid unveils futuristic designs for “New Moscow” To reduce the development’s energy footprint, the architects optimized the layout to funnel natural light deep into the buildings. Passive design strategies were used, as were efficient cooling and heating systems and a flexible floor plan to maximize the project’s design life. + Zaha Hadid Architects Photography by © Hufton+Crow via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Zaha Hadid Architects completes highly complex Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre

Sasaki designs Chengdu Panda Reserve to protect the giant panda

October 31, 2018 by  
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Thoughtful urban development and wildlife conservation go hand-in-hand in Sasaki’s winning proposal for the Chengdu Panda Reserve, a series of three sites spanning 69 square kilometers in the western Chinese city also known as the panda capital of the world. With approximately 1,800 pandas left in the wild, the city leaders of Chengdu have launched an ambitious plan to grow their city — partly in hopes of making a bid to host the Olympics — and provide greater tourism infrastructure to fund research and protection of the giant panda. The Chengdu Panda Reserve project will aim to enhance conservation of the giant panda habitat, advance research and promote educational outreach. The winner of an international competition, Sasaki’s designs for the Chengdu Panda Reserve will accommodate an estimated visitor count of more than 20 million — a figure that surpasses current annual visitors to Disneyland. The masterplan will consist of three sites: Longquanshan Panda Village, Beihu Panda Park and Dujiangyan Panda Wilderness. Related: China is creating a giant panda park three times the size of Yellowstone Longquanshan Panda Village will be located near Chengdu’s new airport and will offer a glimpse into conservation efforts as well as provide an educational overview of the city. Beihu Panda Park, an expanded version of the existing “Panda Base” visitor experience, will be placed close to downtown and provide a chance for guests to view pandas up close. The Dujiangyan Panda Wilderness, the most remote of the three sites, will primarily focus on research, including breeding techniques and assimilation of the giant pandas into the wild. “The city needs the panda and the panda needs the city,” said Sasaki principal, landscape architect and urban designer Michael Grove. “The reserve creates a series of destinations around Chengdu which increase public awareness of the giant panda, educates about its habitat  and highlights ongoing research efforts to protect this complex ecosystem. Our plan reconciles Chengdu’s urbanization with a conservation strategy for the panda, providing a sustainable framework to allow both to thrive.” + Sasaki Images via Sasaki

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Sasaki designs Chengdu Panda Reserve to protect the giant panda

7 tiny homes to get you in the Halloween spirit

October 31, 2018 by  
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Tiny homes are a popular trend that allows people to live simply and affordably. But just because they are compact spaces doesn’t mean there isn’t room to get creative. To get you into the Halloween spirit, here are seven homes and resorts that don’t need any spooky decorations, because each tiny home itself represents the holiday perfectly with whimsy, imagination and larger-than-life personality. Travel to space in the Lunar Lander If you have dreams of going to outer space , you will love this tiny home inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to the moon . Located in Central Washington at the edge of the Columbia River, this tiny house — named the Lunar Lander — is elevated on steel pillars for minimal site impact and is only 250 square feet. Naval architect Kurt Hughes designed and built this home using boat-building techniques and materials like plywood, epoxy and fiberglass. The result is a unique and futuristic tiny home that is also environmentally friendly. Take a trip to the shire in the Hobbit House This 170-square-foot tiny house on wheels has a circular front door and an ivy-clad roof that will make you feel like you are living in the shire . Located at the WeeCasa Resort in Lyons, Colorado outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors can choose to stay at one of the 22 tiny homes at the resort, but the Hobbit House is the most popular. The structure features handcrafted wood in the interior, plus a relatively spacious kitchen and living area. If you love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, this might be the perfect place for you. Visit an enchanted forest in these owl tiny homes Who would have thought you could build a house in the shape of an owl? These original wood cabins are located in Bègles, France. The tiny homes are designed to look like three owls sitting together. Full of whimsy and magic, each 160-square-foot home  is free to tourists and campers visiting the Bordeaux region. The dwelling operates completely off the grid; there is no electricity or water access, but there are enough beds for nine people. The idea is to promote urban hiking by offering free nights in shelters. The project is an initiative of Bruit du Frigo in collaboration with  Zébra3 , financed by Bordeaux Métropole and with participation of the hosting municipalities. Related: Artist transforms parents’ home into the ultimate monster house Sail the seven seas in this pirate ship This steampunk tiny house has a wooden ship’s wheel and a pulley system, and the owners said that it “grew out of the movies.” Chloe Barcelou and Brandon Batchelder work in film, and they wanted to build a tiny home on wheels that they could take anywhere in the country — wherever the film jobs were. The all-black home looks like a mix between a pirate ship and 19th-century stagecoach, and Barcelou and Batchelder also added a steel blue door and ornately stenciled steps for easy access. Live like a mermaid in the Nautilus House The tiny house trend has become insanely popular in recent years, but Javier Senosiain of Arquitectura Organica was way ahead of the tiny home boom when he built the Nautilus House in 2006. Located near Mexico City, Senosiain said that he used “bio-architecture” to design the home, meaning the form is based on a living creature. Senosiain went all out with his shell idea and used stained glass in an unexpected and gorgeous manner while creating a living room that doubles as an indoor garden . Experience a real life fairytale in The Boot There was an old woman who lived in a shoe … but now, you can live in this magical boot in New Zealand. Available to rent on Airbnb , The Boot is a tiny home with a huge personality. Despite its quirky exterior, this fairytale-inspired home is a romantic retreat complete with crackling fireplaces, chocolates, homemade goodies and a private courtyard designed for snuggling. It’s the perfect vacation spot for Halloween or Valentine’s Day! Go back to the Wild, Wild West in these covered wagons Travel back to the Wild, Wild West at the Yosemite Pines RV Resort . Offering the ultimate glamping retreat, these covered wagons can accommodate up to six people each. Nearby, guests will find a community fire pit and swimming pool; the resort also offers year-round outdoor activities. Nature walks, hayrides, outdoor movie nights and hiking take place in the fall, making this retreat ideal for autumnal enjoyment. Images via Kurt Hughes , WeeCasa Tiny House Resort ,  Zébra3 , B&C Productions , Javier Senosiain , Neil Smith and Yosemite Pines RV Resort

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7 tiny homes to get you in the Halloween spirit

Endangered Malayan tigers are threatened by the demand for durian

October 24, 2018 by  
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The habitat of the Malayan tiger — one of the world’s most endangered tigers — is being threatened by a strange fruit. Because of a growing demand in China for durian, a ‘smelly’ and controversial fruit, Malaysian forests are being cleared to make room for growing the crop. This deforestation could destroy the chances of survival for the Malayan tigers, of which only 300 remain in the world. Forests in the Malaysian region of Raub, home of the Malayan tiger , have become a popular destination for “durian tours.” As such, this forested land is being burned and cleared to make room for plantations to grow the Muang King variety of durian. Related: Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhtstan after 70-year absence According to Siti Zuraidah Abidin from WWF Malaysia, the Hulu Sempam area of the country had been named an “expected tiger habitat.” Now, plans for a new durian plantation in this region are in place, despite its proximity to the habitat of most of the planet’s 300 remaining Malayan tigers. Perbadanan Setiausaha Kerajaan, a company with ties to the government, has plans to cut down more than 1,200 hectares of land in Hulu Sempam for a durian plantation. The Pahang Forestry Department said that the company does not need permission for the project, even though Malayan tigers exist only on the Malay Peninsula and southern Thailand . “Land clearing at Hulu Sempam can cause the wider forests to be fragmented, which in turn can affect the wildlife movement,” Abidin warned. As The Guardian reported, the durian market has become incredibly profitable. In just the last year, demand has increased the cost of the fruit in China, leading to a surge in durian farming in Malaysia. Some experts even predict that it could replace palm oil as the country’s largest export. Over the past decade, the value of China’s durian imports has jumped about 26 percent each year, reaching $1.1 billion in 2016. Environmental groups are afraid that durian will be just like palm oil and lead to the same destruction of endangered wildlife habitats, particularly of the Malayan tigers. Via  The Guardian Images via Kent Wang and Rennett Stowe

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Endangered Malayan tigers are threatened by the demand for durian

California becomes the first state to ban animal-tested cosmetics

October 1, 2018 by  
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A new California law banning the sale of animal-tested cosmetics is the first of its kind in the U.S. The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday soon after its inception by colleague and Senator Cathleen Galgiani. The regulations will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, restricting manufacturers wishing to “import for profit, sell or offer for sale” all cosmetics produced with animal testing. Violators will incur a base fine of $5,000, plus $1,000 for each day they continue their illicit activities. Currently, several  animals are manipulated in the cosmetics industry including mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs. A large proportion of these test subjects are killed after experimentation, but not before they have been exposed to possibly irritating or even deadly substances. Susceptibility to hazards is determined by force-feeding or causing the animals to inhale chemicals in order to evaluate toxicity levels. Related: LA City Council unanimously agrees to ban the sale of fur The new California law makes the Humane Cosmetics Act, a federal bill that would eliminate the practice of animal testing in the cosmetics industry, all the more significant. The vital legislature was introduced to Congress last year, but has yet to be passed. Unfortunately, the greatest loophole that remains in the groundbreaking law is an exception for products for which no alternative experimentation procedures exist. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been very lax thus far, simply asking companies to “employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective” to eliminate adverse effects for consumers. California joins a list of governments, such as the EU, India, Israel and Norway, that have already adopted such a ban. But some countries, including China , require animal testing on all imported cosmetics. These animal-tested products could also funnel through the California legislature’s loopholes — as long as animals weren’t used to determine the safety of a product for sale in California specifically. While there has been a push in China to move away from animal testing, there is also greater incentive for companies to stop animal testing. Companies hope to avoid having to pay for two sets of testing, one set of animal tests for China and another to be able to sell the same products in the EU or California. “It gives greater impetus for [the cosmetics] industry to push for changes in other countries,” said Vicki Katrinak, program manager for animal research issues at the U.S. Humane Society. “We’re hoping that California will just be the start of resolving this issue.” + The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Via The Huffington Post Image via Siora Photography

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California becomes the first state to ban animal-tested cosmetics

Nature-inspired housing mimics the curvature of the landscape in Chongqing

October 1, 2018 by  
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International design practice Safdie Architects recently completed the Eling Residences, a nature-inspired housing development built to look like an extension of the highest plateau of Eling Hill in Chongqing , China. Elevated high above the Yangtze River, the residences are nestled in a densely forested environment yet enjoy close proximity to the city. In addition to optimizing residents’ access to natural light, ventilation and greenery, each unit is also equipped with a private balcony for indoor-outdoor living. Completed this year in the city’s Yuzhong District, the Eling Residences cover an area of 460,000 square feet with 126 apartments. The architects took cues from the existing slope to develop the various building designs, which change from terraced structures at the bottom of the hill to a pair of freestanding dome-shaped villas near the top. The stepped configuration and layout also helps ensure that every apartment enjoys uninterrupted views of the landscape. In addition to the apartment units, the Eling Residences also features a four-story clubhouse, multiple pools and additional recreational areas. According to the architects, these amenities not only help build a sense of community but are also reflective of the firm’s commitment to design spaces with humanizing scale and vibrant social atmospheres. Unlike the concrete jungle that defines much of Chongqing, the Eling Residences feels like a retreat into nature thanks to ample landscaping, organic curved forms and the use of a natural materials palette . Related: A sprawling green roof fuses this community center with Chongqing’s mountainous landscape “Complementing the sloped low-rise buildings is an intricate landscape system, which interweaves terraces , gardens, trellises, overlooks, stairs and promenades throughout the site,” the architects said. “The combination of landscape and architecture works together to evoke the character of lush, hanging gardens, integrating the project site with the green oasis of Eling Park. The terraced levels maximize residents’ access to light, air and greenery, while architectural screens partially shade individual apartments, extending living spaces outward into the garden landscape.” + Safdie Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Safdie Architects, by ArchExist

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Nature-inspired housing mimics the curvature of the landscape in Chongqing

Nature-inspired housing mimics the curvature of the landscape in Chongqing

October 1, 2018 by  
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International design practice Safdie Architects recently completed the Eling Residences, a nature-inspired housing development built to look like an extension of the highest plateau of Eling Hill in Chongqing , China. Elevated high above the Yangtze River, the residences are nestled in a densely forested environment yet enjoy close proximity to the city. In addition to optimizing residents’ access to natural light, ventilation and greenery, each unit is also equipped with a private balcony for indoor-outdoor living. Completed this year in the city’s Yuzhong District, the Eling Residences cover an area of 460,000 square feet with 126 apartments. The architects took cues from the existing slope to develop the various building designs, which change from terraced structures at the bottom of the hill to a pair of freestanding dome-shaped villas near the top. The stepped configuration and layout also helps ensure that every apartment enjoys uninterrupted views of the landscape. In addition to the apartment units, the Eling Residences also features a four-story clubhouse, multiple pools and additional recreational areas. According to the architects, these amenities not only help build a sense of community but are also reflective of the firm’s commitment to design spaces with humanizing scale and vibrant social atmospheres. Unlike the concrete jungle that defines much of Chongqing, the Eling Residences feels like a retreat into nature thanks to ample landscaping, organic curved forms and the use of a natural materials palette . Related: A sprawling green roof fuses this community center with Chongqing’s mountainous landscape “Complementing the sloped low-rise buildings is an intricate landscape system, which interweaves terraces , gardens, trellises, overlooks, stairs and promenades throughout the site,” the architects said. “The combination of landscape and architecture works together to evoke the character of lush, hanging gardens, integrating the project site with the green oasis of Eling Park. The terraced levels maximize residents’ access to light, air and greenery, while architectural screens partially shade individual apartments, extending living spaces outward into the garden landscape.” + Safdie Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Safdie Architects, by ArchExist

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Nature-inspired housing mimics the curvature of the landscape in Chongqing

China’s electric bus leadership

September 28, 2018 by  
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Electric buses are getting big press in America, but they’re growing in big numbers in China.

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China’s electric bus leadership

Want to cut carbon emissions? Work with Chinese suppliers

September 20, 2018 by  
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Carbon production is high from suppliers, but the emissions aren’t easily traceable when the products are exported.

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