An old mall becomes an urban lagoon and public square in central Tainan

March 18, 2020 by  
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In downtown Tainan, Taiwan, MVRDV has transformed a former shopping mall into the Tainan Spring, an urban lagoon and park. Commissioned by the city government as part of an urban revitalization masterplan, the adaptive reuse project not only provides a new public space that reconnects residents with nature, but also sets an inspiring example for how defunct malls can be given new, sustainable lives. Created as part of a masterplan to rejuvenate a “T-Axis” to the East of the Tainan Canal, the Tainan Spring project includes the transformation of the former China Town Mall as well as the beautification of a kilometer-long stretch of the city’s Haian Road, now redesigned to reduce traffic and improve pedestrian access . In replacing the old mall, the architects have “meticulously recycled” the building and turned the mall’s underground parking level into a sunken public plaza with an urban pool, planting beds, playgrounds, gathering spaces and a stage for performances. A glass floor exposes part of the structure of the second basement level below to connect visitors to the history of the site.  Related: MVRDV-designed market in Taiwan will grow food on a massive green roof “In Tainan Spring, people can bathe in the overgrown remains of a shopping mall. Children will soon be swimming in the ruins of the past — how fantastic is that?” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “Inspired by the history of the city, both the original jungle and the water were important sources of inspiration. Tainan is a very grey city. With the reintroduction of the jungle to every place that was possible, the city is reintegrating into the surrounding landscape. That the reintroduction of greenery was an important thread in our master plan can be seen in the planting areas on Haian Road. We mixed local plant species so that they mimic the natural landscape east of Tainan. I think the city will benefit greatly from this.” In two to three years, the newly planted beds will grow into a lush garden comprising native trees, shrubs and grasses to form a tropical jungle-like environment that will help offset the urban heat island effect . Visitors can also find relief from Tainan’s tropical climate in the urban pool and mist sprayers in the summer. The pool’s water level will rise and fall in response to the rainy and dry seasons.  + MVRDV Photography by Daria Scagliola via MVRDV

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An old mall becomes an urban lagoon and public square in central Tainan

Solar-powered community hub in Australia emphasizes green design

March 18, 2020 by  
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Residents of the Australian suburb of Bayswater now have a new community center to enjoy. Designed by Melbourne-based firm K20 Architecture , the Bayswater Early Years Hub is a building that was strategically designed to minimize its impact on the environment via green design, which includes solar power, rainwater harvesting systems and more. At 20,000 square feet, the massive building offers residents a range of services including early learning spaces as well as several health centers. To blend in with the existing residential area, the structure was built with fairly humble features, such as red brick cladding and a gabled roof, which is covered in solar panels . Related: Green-roofed community center champions sustainable design in London It was imperative to the designers to include a functional layout with enough space for multiple services without sacrificing convenience to visitors. Accordingly, the resulting design is a dynamic volume comprised of two U-shaped masses “turning toward the sun,” which gives the project its nickname, Sunflower. As one of its primary functions, the center is a space for learning. Therefore, the project includes several learning classrooms that are spacious and well-lit by large windows. Additionally, an expansive courtyard was strategically landscaped to include a variety of greenery as well as adventurous play areas including a sand pit, swings, crawling spaces, slides and bridges. Along the border of these sites, parents and grandparents have several areas to sit down and enjoy the fresh air while the kids run around freely. From the onset of the project, the architects worked with the local government to ensure that the new structure would be incredibly energy-efficient . With the objective of a 100+ year building lifecycle, improved ecology and reduced environmental impact, the designers added several sustainable features to the building. The roof boasts an array of solar panels, which generate a substantial amount of clean energy for the building. The roof is also equipped with a rainwater harvesting system. Baywater uses several passive features to further reduce energy use, such as ample natural light. + K20 Architecture Via ArchDaily Images via K20 Architecture

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New affordable housing in Silicon Valley boasts net-zero emissions

March 16, 2020 by  
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In one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets, a new multifamily community has sprung up to provide 66 affordable rental apartments in Silicon Valley. Named Edwina Benner Plaza after the first female mayor of California, the affordable housing project designed by Caifornia-based architecture firm David Baker Architects also boasts net-zero emissions for operations thanks to the use of all-renewable community utilities and rooftop solar panels. Located in the city of Sunnyvale next to Highway 237, Edwina Benner Plaza occupies an underutilized site where a single-story commercial building once stood. The 110,612-square-foot affordable housing project was strategically oriented and arranged to shield the residential areas and common spaces away from traffic noise and pollution. The massing strategy also helps to encourage an active and healthy community life by placing the shared areas — such as activity rooms, laundry, service programs and an after-school center — around a central outdoor play space.  Related: The Union Flats is a LEED Platinum-certified housing community To further promote an environment for healthy living, Edwina Benner Plaza offers diverse supportive services such as an after-school program, adult education and mediation support. The 66 affordable rental units, which comprise one-, two- and three-bedroom units, are made available to families earning up to 60% of the area median income as well as to individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Onsite case management reserves 13 apartment units for formerly homeless individuals and 10 units for those at risk of homelessness. Solar panels cover the building’s roof and power the common loads of the residents. Each residential wing is also served by a custom, high-efficiency central heat pump. “An all-electric building, Edwina Benner Plaza is among the first affordable housing projects in the nation to have zero operating emissions,” the architects added. The project has earned a Platinum certification under the GreenPoint rating system. + David Baker Architects Photography by Bruce Damonte via David Baker Architects

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Roaming shipping container museum brings contemporary art through Panama

March 6, 2020 by  
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Panamanian architect Héctor Ayarza has figured out a cool and sustainable way to bring art to the masses. His fantastic Wandering Museum is a roaming structure made out of two reclaimed shipping containers . The project helps bring certain works of art from the Museum of Contemporary Art throughout neighborhoods in Panama City. The project began as a collaboration between the Panama City-based Museum of Contemporary Art and Ayarza. Hoping to showcase certain pieces that may not have permanent space in the museum itself, the team decided to create a sustainable way to bring a selection of contemporary art collections to people in various locations throughout the city. They did this by turning to recycled shipping containers. Related: Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall Towed on the flatbed of a truck, the lightweight Wandering Museum travels easily through the city streets. While it is on the road, the traveling museum is instantly recognizable thanks to its multicolored design. Bright stripes of red, orange and green cover the shipping containers’ exteriors, bringing a fun, vibrant feel to the project. Once parked, the shipping containers are laid out in a perpendicular formation. The entrance is through one end of the first shipping container, which is painted black inside. This is the main exhibition space, with a  minimalist atmosphere that emits the same contemporary style of the permanent museum. The second shipping container has interior walls that are clad in a low-cost particle board with various shelves. There is also a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard, where visitors can leave messages. An entire side of the container can be completely left open, inviting art-lovers to explore the interior contents while also socializing in the make-shift courtyard space between the two structures. + Héctor Ayarza Via ArchDaily Photography by Fernando Alda via Héctor Ayarza

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The Expandable House helps adapt to rapid urbanization

March 5, 2020 by  
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Singapore-based design firm  Urban-Rural Systems  has developed an innovative housing prototype that fights urban sprawl while simultaneously providing better infrastructure for rural-to-urban migrants. Implemented in phases, the project recently completed its second phase this year in Indonesia with the construction of its first Expandable House prototype. True to its name, the dwelling can be flexibly expanded to increase its built area from a single-story, 36-square-meter unit to a three-story, 108-square-meter  mixed-use  building equipped with sustainable decentralized systems such as rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic systems.  The Expandable House (“‘rumah tambah’ in Bahasa Indonesia, or ‘rubah’ for short”) targets rapidly urbanizing regions on the fringes of cities and towns. As the designers explained in a project statement, these are regions where the impact of rapid urbanization “is most directly felt: where land is still relatively cheap, new industrial jobs are springing up, rural migrants often first arrive in the city, and infrastructure is often inadequate to support them.” Additionally, the designers said, “The expandable house tries to respond to this dynamic situation by allowing the dwelling to be flexibly configured around the fluctuating patterns of resource consumption and expenditure, or metabolism, of its residents.” To meet these needs, the Expandable House features a roof that can be raised as well as a floor and foundations strong enough to support up to three floors. This model not only allows for flexible financing — owners can expand their home from a single-story unit to a multi-story unit as needed — but also encourages vertical growth to reduce urban sprawl. The adaptable housing system also incorporates  rainwater  and solar harvesting systems, passive design principles, on-site sewage systems, as well as food production systems to promote self-sufficiency and small-scale business growth.  Related: Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape Developed in three phases, the Expandable House project began with the Phase 1 design at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. Phase 2 oversaw construction of the prototype in  Indonesia  that began in 2018, with the first floor of 36 square meters, and concluded earlier this year after all three floors were built along with the technical systems, including rainwater harvesting and photovoltaics. Phase 3 will involve piloting the Expandable House on a larger-scale in a project dubbed Tropical Town, also in Indonesia.  + Urban-Rural Systems (URS) Images © Carlina Teteris

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The Expandable House helps adapt to rapid urbanization

First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

February 24, 2020 by  
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Move over steel and concrete — a pioneering cross-laminated timber (CLT) project that’s set to break ground in Boston could spearhead a greater adoption of mass timber across the country. Local startup  Generate Architecture + Technologies  has teamed up with progressive developer Placetailor to lead the project — the city’s first-ever CLT Cellular Passive House Demonstration Project — and provide live/work spaces in Lower Roxbury. Developed with the startup’s Model-C system for prefabricated kit-of-parts construction, the building will forgo conventional concrete and steel materials in favor of carbon-sequestering engineered wood products. Expected to break ground in June of 2020, the CLT Passive House demonstration project will comprise five floors with 14 residential units as well as innovative and affordable co-working spaces for the local community on the ground floor. In addition to introducing low-carbon, mixed-use  programming to the neighborhood, the project will be a working prototype for Generate’s Model-C, “a replicable system for housing delivery methods designed to address climate and community.”  The Model-C system is not only designed to function at net-zero carbon levels, but is also Passive House certified and built to the new Boston Department of Neighborhood Development “Zero Emissions Standards,” which were developed with Placetailor. As a result, the demonstration project is expected to have a significantly reduced carbon footprint as compared to traditional construction. The  CLT  rooftop canopy is also engineered to make it easy to mount solar panels. Modular units, like the bathrooms, can be prefabricated offsite and then plugged into the building to reduce construction time and waste.  Related: This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere Thanks to  prefabrication  methods and the reduction of interior framing, the Model-C prototype is expected to completed by the end of 2020 and will be available for tours at the Industrial Wood-Based Construction (IWBC) conference in Boston on November 4. Generate is also exploring the possibility of applying the Model-C system to projects that range from six to 18 stories across the U.S. + Generate Images by Forbes Massie Studio

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First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

New tiny home for glamping on Governors Island offers guests the best views of NYC

January 21, 2020 by  
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Finding a little serenity in NYC is never an easy feat and often requires New Yorkers to head outside of the city to take in a little quiet time. But thankfully, Big Apple residents and visitors alike can now enjoy a relaxing stay in a fabulous new tiny home retreat on Governors Island . Just a 7-minute ferry ride from downtown Manhattan, Outlook Shelter offers guests a high-end, luxury glamping experience with city vistas they won’t find anywhere else. Previously, adventurers looking to spend the night on Governors Island were limited to sleeping in glamping tents located on a campsite known as the Collective Governors Island Retreat . Now, the campsite has broadened its accommodation offerings with five contemporary tiny cabins, designed by tiny home specialists, Land Ark RV . Related: Kennebunkport campground offers tiny cabins, Airstreams and more Designed to blend the features of a luxury hotel with the serenity of a quiet glamping experience, the tiny homes boast a contemporary design. Clad in corrugated metal and Brazilian hardwood on the exterior, each 400-square-foot structure includes two decks. These outdoor spaces provide unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty and the harbor. Once inside, guests will be able to enjoy some down time in living spaces inspired by Scandinavian design . Furnished with items from Danish design brand Hay, the tiny homes feature high ceilings and ultra-large windows that create a bright and airy atmosphere. Each cabin has a small living space and kitchenette along with a bedroom featuring either one king-sized bed or a king-sized bed plus a double bed upon request. The en suite bathroom comes with a rain shower and a luxurious tub that sits under a massive window, so guests can take in one of the best views in New York while soaking their cares away. The unique tiny home retreat is a short ferry ride from downtown Manhattan, yet this peaceful oasis is tucked into hills of the historic island. Sleeping up to three guests, each tiny home comes with a number of high-end features that may or may not justify the rates, which start at a whopping $595 per night. + Glamping Hub + Outlook Shelter Via Tiny House Talk Images via Glamping Hub

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New tiny home for glamping on Governors Island offers guests the best views of NYC

Immersive, dystopian exhibit shows what life could be like post-climate change

January 16, 2020 by  
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As a wake up call to the possible effects of global warming, London-based multidisciplinary design studio Superflux has created “Mitigation of Shock, Singapore,” an immersive exhibition that explores the possible consequences of sea level rise for city dwellers in coastal areas. Created as part of 2219: Futures Imagined — a new exhibition at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum to commemorate the city’s bicentennial — the installation takes the shape of a dystopian Singaporean apartment. Set in the first half of the 23rd century, 100 years from now, Mitigation of Shock, Singapore explores the narrative of a family fighting to survive in a post- climate change future. Central to the exhibition is the theme of food insecurity, which is hinted to by the placement of a ration card alongside books titled Pets As Proteins and How to Cook in a Time of Scarcity . The immersive installation also includes handmade hunting tools made from old circuit boards and other repurposed electronics , food computers, mealworm incubators, indoor gardens with grow lights and a kayak and snorkeling equipment for navigating the flooded city. Aluminum covers the windows to keep the structure resilient against extreme weather. Related: Obra Architects stimulates climate change discussion with a “climate-correcting machine” “The ambition of ‘Mitigation of Shock, Singapore’ is to show us what we cannot see today — a future where extreme weather conditions, economic uncertainty and broken global supply chains have changed the world as we know it,” the designers said in their project statement. “But there is hope. The resourcefulness of people, and their radical adaptations to survive and prosper in a changed world, shows us the possibilities of creating new worlds and new ways of living.” Mitigation of Shock, Singapore opened on November 23, 2019 at the ArtScience Museum Singapore and will remain on display here until April 5, 2020. It marks one of Superflux’s most ambitious projects to date. + Superflux Images via Superflux

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The best eco tourism spots in Montreal

December 31, 2019 by  
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Montreal is a lively city where there’s always something going on. Perhaps you’ll arrive in the middle of an enormous Pride celebration, with pink balloon-festooned streets blocked off for a huge party. Or maybe you’ll play on 21 Balancoires, a set of musical swings — notes play as people swing — that appears downtown every springtime. Montreal has long been a major port city. It’s located at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which stretches from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of two million, Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city. It’s a bilingual city with a European feel. While more than half of Montreal’s residents are bilingual in French and English, quite a few only speak one language or the other, depending on their family’s native tongue and their education. Americans, especially those from the west coast, may love being in a place with Euro-style buildings dating back as far as the 1600s. It’s the mix of picturesque old and totally modern that makes Montreal so beautiful and fun. Outdoors Montreal For a more urban outdoors experience, check out one of Montreal’s many street fairs. May through June are the top months for closing off streets to traffic and turning them into party zones. Unless you’re extremely hardy, summer is the best time to partake in Montreal’s outdoors activities. Winter is long and cold here. You’ll need serious gear to have a good time outside. Mount Royal is a small mountain that overlooks the city and serves as a 692-acre city park that has it all. You can hike , rent a paddleboat, get your cardio workout by climbing the 550-step staircase on the south side, picnic or participate in a drum circle. During winter, people tube, toboggan, ski, snowshoe, or skate on a manmade lake. The Mount Royal Chalet rents winter equipment. Whatever you’re doing on Mount Royal, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the city. The Montreal Botanical Garden is lovely in every season. Check out cultural gardens within the larger garden — Chinese, Japanese and First Nations are all represented here. In autumn you can stroll beneath golden leaves, and in winter you can cross country ski inside the garden . Don’t miss the Insectarium to get a close-up look at bug life. Did you know that 91% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec? If you visit Montreal between late February and late April, get out to the countryside to experience a sugar shack. Many offer games, tastings and maple-themed meals as part of the fun. At La Cabane À Tuque , maple producers harvest maple sap the old-fashioned way, with buckets. Visitors can join in. They run an eco operation with a hempcrete -insulated house, a wall made with recycled bottles, and they even serve vegan meals. Montreal wellness scene Montreal is a secular city, but you’ll quickly notice the gorgeous churches and French Catholic influence. Nuns opened and ran the first hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, in 1645. For a historical look at the local wellness scene, at least from a European perspective, the Musee de Hospitallers chronicles Montreal’s early medical efforts. For one of the best modern spa experiences anywhere, pack your swimsuit and flip flops and head for Bota Bota , an old river ferry turned floating spa. It’s docked in the old port on Saint Lawrence River, where you can soak in a water circuit, fill your lungs with clouds of eucalyptus in the steam room, eat spa cuisine and relax in hanging chairs, all while gazing at river traffic. Bota Bota lets you choose between a quiet zone and a large area where you can visit with friends. Wanderlust Montreal , known for its Wanderlust Festival, is based in Montreal. Check out their website for current studio classes, concerts and yoga events. Eating out in Montreal When I asked local vegan activist Élise Desaulniers why Montreal has so many vegan restaurants, she said, “We hate debates in Canada . We like to find the middle ground. So, the conclusion is you should eat less meat. But being vegan 100% of the time is considered too extreme.” So that means Montreal’s omnivores support the vegan restaurants, making the city full of choices for veg visitors. Montreal has a vegan festival every fall, which Desaulniers co-founded. For some of the most interesting vegan sushi anywhere, Sushi Momo’s creations range from simple eggplant and avocado rolls to complicated concoctions full of exotic ingredients beyond my comprehension in French or English. I let the server choose for me. If you’re with a group, order the 2-foot-long wooden boat filled with assorted sushi. Lola Rosa draws people from all walks of life to its four locations for hemp burgers and international-inspired comfort food. Panthere Verte stays open late and is known for its falafel and organic vegan cocktails. Café Chat L’Heureux features a vegetarian menu of soups, sandwiches and salads, plus eight friendly kitty hosts. This is the place to get your feline fix when traveling through Montreal. Public transit Montreal’s subway system is relatively easy to figure out. Best of all, trains run every eight minutes on average, and every three minutes during rush hour. A robust bus system rounds out the public transportation network and will get you to all major landmarks. An express bus called the 747 Shuttle runs 24 hours a day between the airport and downtown, and only costs ten dollars. Ride-share services also operate in Montreal. The BIXI bike share system runs during fairer weather months, from April 15 through November 15. Since bike shares are aimed at shorter rides, consider renting a bike from Montreal on Wheels if you want one for a whole day or the duration of your stay. The bike rental shop also offers guided group bike tours. Eco-hotels For an upscale eco-hotel, stay at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth . Its impressively long list of sustainability initiatives includes employing three beekeepers , no using palm oil in its menus and turning old sheets and curtains into cleaning rags. On the more affordable, communal end of the spectrum, the Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal offers dorm or private rooms with shared bathrooms and an airy, plant-filled space with a full kitchen. The Hôtel de l’ITHQ , run by the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, is a clean, modern hotel run largely by tourism students. As a member of Canada’s Green Key eco-hotel program, it also follows many sustainability practices. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Bota Bota

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The best eco tourism spots in Montreal

Your essential guide to eco-wellness in Tampa, Florida

December 23, 2019 by  
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Tampa is a big city that loves to live outside. The city of almost 400,000 has gone from old-time Florida to explosive modern growth, surprising some long-time residents to find that their city is suddenly hip. Tampa’s setting on Tampa Bay lends itself to water sports. Thanks to recent development along the Hillsborough River, including a 2.6-mile Riverwalk, Tampa is very pedestrian-friendly. It’s a winning combination of sunshine, beaches and big-city amenities. Outdoors Tampa The Riverwalk is probably Tampa’s most popular place to run, bike, or walk your dog. It’s even well-lit at night, with locals and visitors strolling until late. You can also rent a kayak or stand up paddle (SUP) board from several shops along the Riverwalk. “You get a different perspective from the water,” said Aida Perez, manager of paddle rental outfit Urban Kai . “You get that feel of a really live and active city when you’re paddle boarding on the river.” Urban Kai also offers lessons and guided expeditions. It’s fun to SUP under bridges and get your photo taken with Tampa’s tallest buildings in the background. Just north of Tampa, Thonotosassa offers a completely different view of the Hillsborough River. Rent a canoe from Canoe Escape and you’ll see alligators. A lot of alligators. Plus roseate spoonbills, herons, snakes and birds I’d never heard of, like anhingas and limpkins. “We always tell people you’re visiting their home,” said Mike Cole, general manager of Canoe Escape, as he calmly paddles by 6-foot gators drowsing on logs. Wellness Tampa’s warm weather lends itself to outdoor fitness classes. It seems like every night of the week offers free or low-cost group exercise, from Zumba in parks to weekly yoga sessions in the courtyard of Armature Works, a converted streetcar barn which is now a lively public market.  Kodawari Studios offers lots of wellness under one roof, including chiropractic care, energy work, a float tank, sauna , cold plunge and a robust yoga schedule spanning styles from power to yin. Yoga Loft Tampa has locations in downtown and Ybor, and offers aerial as well as lots of flow classes. Spa Evangeline gives facials and massages. For a specialty couples experience, soak in a two-person Jacuzzi , followed by side-by-side massages with agave rubbed into your scalps while drinking champagne. Eating out in Tampa Tampa has lots of healthy eating options. Both bowl specialist Fresh Kitchen and Taco Dirty work on the customizable plan. Pick a combo of bases, protein, veggies, and sauces. Vegans might choose kale slaw or braised lentils at Fresh Kitchen, or lime jalapeno sour cream and vegan cauli queso at Taco Dirty. Plant-based Dixie Dharma debuted in Tampa in 2019. Top vegan takes on Southern classics include Carolina jackfruit, chili dogs, and the orange bird — a sloppy joe with orange barbecue sauce and house slaw served on a toasted potato bun. Vietnamese restaurant Bamboozle has vegan pho, vegan tofu lemongrass banh mi sandwiches and three types of vegan fresh rolls — avocado , veggie and tofu. They make each roll fresh as you wait and also craft three different vegan dipping sauces. Sweet Soul SoHo is a can’t miss for vegan dessert lovers. The brownie sundae is a big bowl of soft serve topped with chocolate granola, cacao nibs, brownie chunks and your choice of drizzle. “Everything here has a nutritional benefit,” says owner and Tampa native Taylor Winter. The gray vanilla ice cream takes a little getting used to, but the charcoal adds a detox benefit without altering the flavor, Winter says. Same with the Blue Majik algae that makes the coconut soft serve a glacial blue. Public transit If you’d rather not fly to Tampa, check out the Amtrak timetable. Tampa is right on the New York-Miami Silver Star line, with two passenger trains daily. You can also take Amtrak trains or buses to many points within Florida. Tampa must have the most beautiful streetcars in the country. Streetcars were a common way to get around the city from the 1890s until just after World War Two, when cars took over. But Tampa brought back electric streetcar service in 2002. Now about ten historic replica streetcars carry folks around, plus one refurbished original that plied Tampa’s tracks from 1923 to 1946. All have gorgeous wood interiors. Take the streetcar from downtown to Ybor City, a historically Cuban neighborhood once famous for cigar manufacturing, and now known for nightlife and colorful chickens in yards. Tampa also has an extensive bus network. You can also download the Coast Bike Share app and cruise around town on one of the program’s ubiquitous blue bikes . Eco-hotels The Tampa Marriott Water Street is the top wellness hotel in town. Its Stay Well rooms, located on the 15th floor, have spectacular river views, comfy Stay Well mattresses and an air purification system. The circadian lighting system is fun to play with. You can set it to modes like “energize,” “relax,” and “play,” which makes lights cycle through shades from light pink to magenta. There’s even a special shower infuser which promises softer skin and hair. Embassy Suites by Hilton earned a 2-palm rating from Green Lodging Florida, which means they pay attention to things like waste reduction, recycling , water conservation, indoor air quality and energy efficiency. For a funkier, more communal experience, stay at Gram’s Place . This independent hostel is in a residential neighborhood, a short walk or bike ride from downtown. Dedicated to the late musician Gram Parsons, the hostel has two fully equipped kitchens, a sundeck, clothing-optional hot tub, small backyard bar, dorms and private rooms. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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