The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060

November 7, 2018 by  
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Finally, some good news about the environment. Earlier this week, the United Nations announced in a report that the ozone layer is on the mend. If the current recovery rate continues, parts of the ozone could be fully repaired by the 2030s. The entire layer — even the highly damaged parts over the North Pole and South Pole — could be completely healed by 2060. The study, Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018 , monitors ozone recovery, and it is the latest in a series of reports that the UN releases every four years. This year, it shows that the ozone has been recovering at a steady rate of 1 to 3 percent since 2000 because of the global efforts made to reduce CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals. Related: Levels of ozone-destroying CFCs are mysteriously rising Over the past few decades, humans have done significant damage to the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. But through global agreements like the 1987 Montreal Protocol, we have made huge steps toward healing it. The protocol mandated that countries phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals. The EPA has described it as the most successful environmental global action in history, with 197 countries signing the agreement. “If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that,” said Paul Newman, a NASA scientist and co-chairman of the new UN report. Newman added that if we hadn’t made these changes, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065. Scientists have cautioned against claiming victory too soon. Banned CFC emissions are increasing in China , but the Chinese government has promised to fix the problem. Newman said we need to wait until 2060, and let our grandchildren do the celebrating. Still, these recent findings could help contribute to future climate action. In 2019, the Montreal Protocol is set to be enhanced with the Kigali Amendment, which hopes to tackle climate change by targeting greenhouse gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration. + Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018 Via Huffington Post Image via Shutterstock

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The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060

MAD brings a surreal sports campus that mimics a green, martian landscape to China

October 5, 2018 by  
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Architect Ma Yansong and his Beijing-based firm MAD Architects ’ surreal designs often look as though they come from outer space — and the new masterplan for the Quzhou Sports Campus in China is no different. The massive development just broke ground in the historic Chinese city in Zhejiang province and will bring with it an undulating green landscape with mixed programming. Inspired by the traditional Chinese painting style called ‘shan shui,’ MAD Architects conceived a park-like setting with green roofs draped over buildings to mimic mountains and waterways. The first and second phases of the Quzhou Sports Campus will span a little over half of the development’s total size and include a 30,000-seat stadium , a 10,000-seat gymnasium, a 2,000-seat natatorium, a national sports complex, an outdoor sports venue, a science and technology museum, a hotel, a youth center and various retail spaces. The large heft of these buildings will be hidden under an undulating green landscape that the architects liken to an “earth-art landscape in the center of the city — a poetic landscape that falls somewhere between that of Earth and Mars.” The Quzhou Sports Campus is ringed with a dense forest that hides the martian landscape and adds to its mysterious nature. At the heart of the park is a lake that serves as a sunken garden surrounded by buildings shaped as climbable green mountains. In another example of landscape mimicry, the architects designed the stadium in the likeness of a crater that’s crowned by a translucent cloud-like “halo.” The building interiors will also reinforce a connection to the environment with ample glazing so that visitors always feel as though they are immersed in nature. Related: Futuristic “spaceship” Lucas Museum breaks ground in Los Angeles Yansong said, “We dream not only of creating an urban space about sports and ecology but also turning it into a unique land art park for the world, establishing a relationship between the city’s heritage and history of Shanshui culture.” + MAD Architects

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Historic Chinese granary is transformed into a chic mountain resort

August 27, 2018 by  
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A cluster of historic, rural Chinese buildings has been saved from the ravages of time by Shanghai-based architecture and interior design studio Ares Partners . The architects transformed six granary structures into the new MIYA | LOSTVILLA Huchen Barn Resort, an elegant and modern hotel tucked in the mountains of Ningbo’s Huchen township. Surrounded by stunning views, the sensitively restored architecture is complemented by modern furnishings and new buildings, covering a total site area of 5,430 square meters. Set between Tiantai Mountain and Siming Mountain, the old granary station was built in 1956. Five of the seven existing buildings were mainly built with stone masonry ; the lower part of the white-painted exterior featured rock stone, and the upper part was constructed with brick. The original buildings were fitted with very small windows located on the upper part of the facade. The remaining two buildings featured timber construction. The team’s goal was to preserve the architectural integrity as much as possible yet make the interiors more comfortable and inviting for human habitation. To that end, the architects stripped the white paint from the facade to reveal the beautiful stone masonry underneath and added large windows to let in more natural light and breathtaking views of the mountains. The structures were reinforced, and the utility pipes and conduits were hidden. Interior walls were inserted to create 21 guest suites. The architects also added a new building to house the reception and meeting facilities, and one of the former buildings from the 1970s was replaced with a new-build as well. Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen wins bid to design new Ningbo Library in China “We believe the project is well accomplished to transform between two extreme opposite function spaces,” said the architects, who completed the project in 2017. “The architecture form of the new building is modern and abstract. The contemporary architecture language is yet to be respectful to the existing buildings around as well as to nature. Architecture, people and nature are in harmony.” + Ares Partners Images by Su Shengliang

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Exotic pets are most likely to be released in the wild and become invasive species

August 24, 2018 by  
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With imports of Fish and Wildlife-regulated reptiles exceeding one million individuals each year, it is no surprise that many of these animals are finding their way into the wild, where they are threatening natural ecosystems. Exotic pets can be extremely endearing and are bought at a low cost when they are babies. But when these animals get too large to handle or are cast off by wavering attention spans, they invade native ecosystems. This is the case for iguanas, Chinese water dragons and ball pythons, which have become the most commonly released pets in the wild, according to new research. The massive exotic pet trade, which isn’t fully regulated, has become the leading cause of invasive amphibians and reptiles in the wild. Whether as predatory hunters or as spreaders of “alien” diseases and pests to native populations, the discarded exotic pets are wreaking havoc that ecologists and animal control workers are endlessly working to offset. Oliver Stringham and Julie Lockwood, leading ecologists at Rutgers University in New Brunswick,  researched the prevalence of specific exotic species. The paper was published on Wednesday and cross-references attributes of species that are commonly released versus those that are typically kept by their owners. The study compared data from  citizen scientists  on numbers of species that were introduced into the wild with figures of imports and sales from online pet stores. Related: It’s finally illegal to own wild animals in the UAE In total, the researchers documented 1,722 species of reptiles and amphibians that were sold on the U.S. market between 1999 and 2016. They found that species that grow to large sizes were most likely to be released. Some of the animals also have long lifespans for pets, as in the case of the boa constrictor, which requires costly care over its 30+ year lifespan. “These species are so abundant in the pet market, they’re potentially more likely to be bought by impulsive consumers that haven’t done the proper research about care requirements with some small fraction of these consumers resorting to releasing these pets when they become difficult to care for,” Stringham said in an interview with Earther . “Even if released exotic pets fail to become established, they still cause harm to wildlife by spreading new diseases.” The effects have been catastrophic for many ecosystems . The animal trade-driven chytrid fungus plague alone has devastated amphibian populations on a global scale. In the Florida Everglades, where released exotic pets are the most prevalent, Burmese pythons and tegu lizards continuously scavenge native populations. Stringham and Lockwood hope that their research will deter importers from selling these wild animals from impulsive buyers in the future; a more likely scenario is the regulation of the amount of animals or the prices for which they are sold. Via Earther Images via Paul Hudson and Thai National Parks

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Shanxi combats air pollution in China with smog curbs to 2020

August 9, 2018 by  
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Shanxi province is China’s primary coal mining hub and a major industrial manufacturing region. The province is now planning to voluntarily curb production of its goods over the course of the next three winters in an effort to cut down on smog pollution and improve air quality. This is part of a 2018 to 2020 anti-pollution crackdown, which hopes to take proper measures in improving the environmental state and reputation of the world’s second-largest economy. Twenty-eight northern Chinese cities have been issued a draft guidance on pollution reduction during winter months, and four of these cities are in Shanxi. The province is home to about 36 million people, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics of China , as well as a thriving coal mining industry. Related: Reforestation in China heralds the return of rare animals Local authorities in China are hoping to back their promises to the national and international communities by stepping up actions to reduce pollution and start protecting the environment. “Each level of officials must make anti-pollution tasks a significant stance in their work,” the Shanxi government said in a statement. “Those who neglect their duties, forge monitoring data or fail the targets will be punished.” In addition to production restrictions, efforts will include cutting down coal consumption by relying more on natural gas for heating as well as replacing some of the region’s coal-fired power plants. Local officials seem to be taking the mandate very seriously. “Each city [in Shanxi] should set up plans on production restrictions in steel, construction materials, non-ferrous and chemicals by the end of September each year,” officials announced. The province is hoping to go beyond the 15 percent reduction in emissions — compared to levels recorded in 2015 — that has been mandated by the national government, setting its own goal of a 20 percent decrease in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 2020. Via Reuters Images via Kleineolive and Tim Quijano

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BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen

August 9, 2018 by  
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Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group , the new home for the Shenzhen Energy Company has just reached completion in the business center of Shenzhen , China. Conceived as a new social and sustainable landmark in the heart of the city, the striking office development comprises two towers — one rising 220 meters to the north and the other to a height of 120 meters in the south — both of which are linked by a 34-meter-tall podium. Dubbed the Shenzhen Energy Mansion, the skyscraper is wrapped in an undulating facade that optimizes solar orientation while minimizing energy consumption. Created in collaboration with ARUP and Transsolar, BIG’s Shenzhen Energy Mansion design was selected the winner of an international design competition in 2009. Spanning an area of 96,000 square meters, this new headquarters for the Shenzhen Energy Company includes a pair of office towers and a mixed-use podium comprising the main lobbies, a conference center, a cafeteria and exhibition space. Circulation for visitors and workers are divided; the commercial spaces can be accessed through sliding glass walls on the north and south ends of the buildings while office workers enter from the front plaza to the lobby. Instead of the traditional glass curtain wall, BIG designed a pleated building envelope specially engineered to reduce solar loads and glare. Site studies and passive solar principles optimize the building’s orientation, which includes maximized north-facing openings for natural light and minimized exposure on the sunnier sides. Green roofs top the building. Related: BIG unveils designs for LEED-certified skyscraper in NYC “Shenzhen Energy Mansion is our first realized example of ‘engineering without engines’ — the idea that we can engineer the dependence on machinery out of our buildings and let architecture fulfill the performance,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “Shenzhen Energy Mansion appears as a subtle mutation of the classic skyscraper and exploits the building’s interface with the external elements: sun, daylight, humidity and wind to create maximum comfort and quality inside. A natural evolution that looks different because it performs differently.” + BIG Images by Chao Zhang

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Heres your chance to stay at the first Airbnb on the Great Wall of China

August 3, 2018 by  
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If the climbing the Great Wall of China is on your bucket list, here’s your chance to check it off and take part in a one-of-a-kind overnight experience. Airbnb has teamed up with the Beijing Tourism Development Committee to bring the Great Wall onto the hospitality service site as a temporary lodging option. However, making a booking is not as easy as it typically is on AirBnB—hopeful guests will have to enter a contest for a chance to win. Working together with historians and preservations groups based in Beijing , the Airbnb team sensitively transformed a centuries-old Great Wall watchtower into a temporary suite complete with a bedroom, bathroom, dining area and living space. The elevated structure offers 360-degree views of the wall and lush scenery. “Known as one of the greatest architectural feats in human history, the Great Wall was built as a border to protect Chinese states against raids thousands of years ago,” reads a statement from Airbnb. “Today, it is widely considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world, bringing visitors from all walks of life together.” This unique Airbnb was created to bring attention to tourism to China by spotlighting its most famous icon and one of the world’s great wonders. Related: The Great Wall of China is slowly disappearing Airbnb will select the four winners (who can bring a guest) from the contest based on their responses to a prompt that asks about boundaries and human connections. During the stay, each winner will have the chance to experience different aspects of Chinese culture, from seal engraving to learning calligraphy. Guests will also have the opportunity to hike the Great Wall and enjoy a multiple-course gourmet dinner accompanied by Chinese music. Winners will be announced after August 11, 2018. + Great Wall of China Airbnb

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Heres your chance to stay at the first Airbnb on the Great Wall of China

Stay in a dreamy treehouse inside an ancient English forest

August 3, 2018 by  
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A magical treehouse retreat has opened its doors in the village of Lee in England’s stunning North Devon region. Built largely by hand, this luxurious one-bedroom rental is dressed in a combination of reclaimed and modern materials. Set within remote woodland, the Treehouse Retreat immerses guests in a private paradise in nature without sacrificing modern comforts. Built to sleep two, the two-story Treehouse Retreat is clad in locally sourced cedar charred using Shou Sugi Ban , a Japanese technique that enhances the grain of the wood and naturally protects it from rot, pests and the elements. Timber is used throughout the interior as well to tie the treehouse to its surroundings. Reclaimed flooring from an old U.S. factory was used for the bookcase and windowsills, and the stairwell banister was constructed using locally salvaged branches. Large windows, indoor plants and an outdoor terrace also emphasize the getaway’s indoor-outdoor living experience. The spacious hexagonal terrace overlooks sweeping valley views and is furnished with a solid teak dining set as well as with a wood-fired pizza oven and gas-powered barbecue. Glazed French doors connect the terrace to a bathroom, living space, dining nook and a charming kitchen with a restored 19th-century oak sideboard. Upstairs, a bedroom occupies the entire second floor and offers views of the tree canopy as well as the ‘botanical fleur’ feature wallpaper. “Designed as the ultimate escape, this unique destination also boasts a wide range of features to help guests disconnect from their day-to-day lives, with everything from a Zen-inspired meditation corner to a thoughtfully-styled reading nook lovingly dressed to help visitors distress,” said Nadia McCowan Hill, Resident Style Adviser at Wayfair U.K. , which dispatched an in-house team of stylists to dress the treehouse’s interior. The Treehouse Retreat can be booked exclusively on TripAdvisor Rentals with nightly rates starting from $271. + Treehouse Retreat Images by David Cotsworth Photography

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Stay in a dreamy treehouse inside an ancient English forest

Historic Zhuhai sugar factory to be reborn as a low-carbon cultural hub

June 4, 2018 by  
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A new adaptive reuse project is looking to save a sweet piece of history in China. International design firm Woods Bagot  unveiled plans to revitalize the disused Hongqi Zhen Sugar Factory in Zhuhai’s Jinwan District, turning it into a spectacular new cultural park. Designed to include a sugar industry museum and a chocolate factory (among other facilities), the mixed-use development will aim to offset its carbon footprint with solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. Located in the Pearl River Delta in south China’s Guangdong province, Zhuhai is one of China’s premier tourist destinations and has even been nicknamed the Chinese Riviera. The revitalization project will tap into the existing tourist infrastructure and offer a wide suite of attractions on a 78,877-square-meter plot. A large park will occupy the heart of the project and will be ringed by landscape features including a floral garden walk, a sculpture garden, a farming experience, and scenic waterscapes and wetlands transformed from former industrial waterbodies. The development is divided into different thematic zones that range from the bustling retail street to the tranquil wedding lake and wetland boardwalk. “It is a privilege to create a place where a whole community can capture and celebrate their proud industrial history,” said Charlie Chen, Studio Leader at Woods Bagot. “At the heart of our strategy is a desire to inspire and engage the diverse people that will enjoy the site – from locals and former factory workers to tourists, families and children alike. The result will be a showcase of old and new, and provide Zhuhai with a rich cultural landmark for generations to come.” In addition to diverse retail and restaurant offerings, the firm plans to add a boutique hotel , wedding venue, and start-up offices. Related: MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center One of the firm’s major design goals is to repurpose as many of the existing sugar factory buildings as possible. New buildings will be designed to match the industrial aesthetic and will only rise two to three stories in height in order to differentiate themselves from taller historic architecture. Murals and other artistic installations will commemorate the site’s history. + Woods Bagot Images via Woods Bagot

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Chinas first Slow Food Village will promote local foods and traditions

May 24, 2018 by  
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Rural-urban migration in China is at an all-time high, with experts estimating an influx of 243 million migrants to Chinese cities by 2025 . In a bid to combat this wave of migration and raise living standards for farmers, Stefano Boeri Architetti  designed Slow Food Freespace, China’s first Slow Village that follows the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement. The Slow Village pilot project will be presented this week at the 16th Venice Biennial. Founded in Italy in 1986, the Slow Food Movement has grown into a worldwide campaign that promotes local food, traditional cooking and sustainability in agricultural economies. Inspired by this vision, Stefano Boeri Architetti created a Slow Village program for China that comprises three cultural epicenters — a school , a library and a small museum — that would be built in each village and serve as hubs for disseminating farming knowledge and celebrating each area’s unique cultural characteristics. “We easily forget that the rural areas provide sustainability to our daily lives,” Stefano Boeri said. “It is an inevitable necessity of architecture to confront the speed of evolution while also feeding it with the richness of the past. For this reason, we have proposed to enhance the agricultural villages with a system of small but precious catalysts of local culture, able to improve the lives of the residents.” Related: NYC Design Collaborative Shows Communities How To Cook with Ingredients from the Sidewalk The first Chinese Slow Village will be located in Qiyan, in the Southwest province of Sichuan. Stefano Boeri Architetti China will provide its services pro-bono for the design and construction of the first pilot system, including the library, school and museum. Likened to a “single organic accelerator,” the three buildings will teach about the preparation, consumption and supply of food, as well as ancient and deeply rooted food traditions. The Slow Villages are also expected to spur and accommodate tourism. The Slow Food Freespace presentation will take place at the Venice Biennial  on May 25, 2018. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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