South Africa declares national disaster amid water crisis

February 14, 2018 by  
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South Africa’s has declared a national disaster over the country’s devastating drought . Although Cape Town has pushed back day zero – the day that the city runs out of water – until June 4, the country re-assessed the magnitude of the drought and determined that it has reached disaster proportions. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’gQyO9-pJQGFviQfJxV_bFA’,sig:’ZFbITQcOBf5-Gis86VmKk0R1VwsYtyop1Ko3KaFtFK4=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’917662626′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); A drought triggered by El Nino and driven by climate change has ravaged parts of the country, with the city of Cape Town, home to over 4 million, facing a water shortage that will require residents to line up to obtain water rations. Related: Cape Town’s water pipes could run dry by April Water consumption in South Africa has declined by about 139 million gallons per day thanks to residents who have worked hard to reduce usage. Residents are asked to use just 13 gallons of water a day. The hospitality industry has also gotten into the fight by asking hotel guests to keep showers under 2 minutes, and restaurants have stopped using linens and glassware to help reduce laundry needs. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’rTDF3ifzRwdZBuD23l-WlQ’,sig:’DZkRSoj0MiowFTKTU535y179iz34k_oHqiagdJUDbLc=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’917662584′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Even still, on June 4, residents will need to line up at military-guarded locations to obtain water rations. There are also fears that the ongoing drought could harm the country’s industrial and agricultural output. Declaring the situation a national disaster allows the central government to take over relief efforts, which also means more money is available to address it. Via Reuters Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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South Africa declares national disaster amid water crisis

46 tons of Mardi Gras beads found clogging New Orleans catch basins

February 1, 2018 by  
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In New Orleans , clean-up crews have found 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads in the catch basins on St. Charles Avenue between Poydras Street and Lee Circle. These festive plastic staples were clogging 15,000, or fully one-quarter, of the city’s basins, which are used to drain and protect the city from flooding . As part of a $7 million contract, crews from Baton Rouge-based EnviroSystems used nearly two-dozen vacuum trucks to extract 7.2 million pounds of debris, of which 93,000 pounds were Mardi Gras beads. “This is a staggering number,” interim director of the New Orleans Department of Public Works Dani Galloway told the Times-Picayune . In response to the massive amount of Mardi Gras beads posing a threat to the city’s ability to drain itself in case of flooding, the Public Works and Sanitation departments are currently brainstorming ways to prevent further damage from beads, including installing temporary “gutter buddies” to keep the beads out. During a press conference, Galloway also emphasized the need of ordinary citizens to step up and clear catch basins in their own neighborhoods. Dozens of residents in every city district have already received training on how to properly clean the catch basins. Related: New Orleans doesn’t need a hurricane to be inundated with water The clean-up operation comes after extensive flooding during the summer of 2017, which was blamed in part on the city’s backlog of clogged catch basins. This backlog existed despite $3 million having been allocated to deal with the problem. Following last summer’s flooding, the New Orleans City Council approved a $22 million emergency plan to address the issue . Although external contractors were hired to do the work, much of the labor was sourced within the city. “They are our own people doing this work,” said Galloway . “This is important because it maximizes economic impact on the city’s contracts for the people that live and work here.” Via the Times-Picayune Images via Depositphotos and Flickr/Infrogmation of New Orleans

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46 tons of Mardi Gras beads found clogging New Orleans catch basins

MVRDV unveils solar-powered Milestone building that looks like a crystal rock

January 31, 2018 by  
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MVRDV just unveiled designs for a new mixed-use building in Esslingen, Germany that looks as if it were unearthed from a crystal mine. Dubbed The Milestone, the 6,500-square-meter tower “will literally be a milestone,” say the architects, due to the structure’s crystalline facade that and eye-catching design that symbolizes the city’s future ambition. The building also incorporates sustainable building elements, such as photovoltaic panels and fritted glass to reduce solar gain, and is expected to become partly self-sufficient in the future. Located in Stuttgart in the south of Germany , Esslingen boasts a robust historic core as well as a number of recent regeneration projects in the area of “Neue Weststadt” around the main railway station. The Milestone was commissioned to draw attention to the town and its ambitious projects in the center of the newly developed district that will accommodate a university, housing, and retail. “MVRDV’s ambition is to generate a building that shows the city of Esslingen and at the same time, opens up to its surrounding and its users,” write the architects. “To the people who pass by on the train, and to those that look at the city from the hills ‘Here We Are.’ It shows its pride, its history and its future.” Related: China’s new futuristic library is unlike any we’ve seen before The Milestone’s part-mirrored, part-transparent facade will feature an interactive surface that communicates the area’s topography and history. Each square “pixel” panel on the facade is embedded with technology and integrated QR codes to show stories of the city and users will be able to learn more through an accompanying smartphone app. The large gap in the pixelated facade, called the “Essingler Room,” is for public use and made up of stairs, terraces and platforms that provide views of vineyards and surrounding hills. Public amenities will include a restaurant cafe and meeting areas, while the upper levels are occupied by modern office spaces. Construction is slated to begin in 2020. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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Copper-clad Copenhagen landmark boasts Denmarks most energy-efficient laboratories

January 19, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen’s recently completed Maersk Tower boasts the nation’s most energy-efficient laboratories, where waste energy is captured and reused. Designed by C.F. Møller Architects , this new city landmark is a pioneer within energy-efficient laboratory construction and boasts a variety of sustainable design elements from an innovative facade with movable climate shields to multiple green roofs. The copper-clad building was created as an extension of Panum, the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Seven years in the making, the 42,700-square-meter Maersk Tower sports a triangular and organic form clad in glass and copper-covered shutters that reference the city’s many copper church steeples. The vertical massing also leaves space for a new publicly accessible campus park with a zigzagging ‘floating path’ providing pedestrian and cyclist access to different parts of campus. Laboratories make up over half of the building, which also houses offices, shared facilities, an 18,000-square-meter foyer, canteen, auditoriums, and classrooms. “To create architecture for world-class health research, it is important to design a venue with many opportunities to meet—both across different professional groups and across the public domain and the research community,” wrote the architects. “This will help to disseminate the research activities, leading to knowledge sharing and inspiration for new and groundbreaking research.” To that end, all the shared facilities are grouped together in the low base on which Maersk Tower sits. An open atrium with a continuous spiral staircase joins 15 floors and promotes views of the outdoors and visual connectivity indoors. Every floor features an open “Science Plaza” that serves as natural gathering spaces. Related: Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food Natural light and ventilation are optimized throughout the building and views of greenery can be enjoyed from every floor. Copper shutters that adjust as needed provide protection from solar heat gain. Lush green roofs that top the tower and the low base help combat the urban heat island effect . + C.F. Møller Architects Images by Adam Moerk

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Panasonic is building an incredible smart city outside of Denver

January 8, 2018 by  
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Panasonic is just about everywhere you look these days, from car batteries to airplanes, and now the company is building one of their most ambitious projects yet: an entire smart city . Called CityNow, the futuristic city is rising up outside of Denver and will be a living lab experiment for creating towns that can survive a disaster, run on clean, renewable power, and contain sustainable infrastructure that improves people’s lives. The development has been underway for the past two years in a desolate patch of land near the Denver airport. The 400-acre project will be a transit-oriented city, with light rail connecting it to Denver and the airport, smart roadways that are perfect for autonomous vehicles, parking management, and autonomous shuttle routes, which roll out this spring. Related: Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’ The city also has a bevy of sustainable features, like a solar panel microgrid that can power the city for days in the event of a disaster. Streets lights consist of power-saving LEDs and a carbon neutral district. “Since early 2016, when we started on Denver CityNow, we’ve vetted 11 technology suppliers, developed an open API, established a carbon-neutral district, got approval from the public utility and installed the first microgrid, with solar panels on Denver Airport property, in partnership with Xcel Energy, which can power this area for 72 hours in the event of a natural, or manmade, disaster,” Jarrett Wendt, EVP of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions told PC Magazine . Panasonic’s first foray into a sustainable smart town in Fujisawa, Japan, has resulted in a city with 70 percent less carbon dioxide than normal, a return of 30 percent back to the grid, an EV charging grid, and enough renewable energy to power the city for five days off-grid. Denver’s smart city is slated for completion in eight years, and Panasonic hopes to see the same, if not better, results. Via PC Magazine Images via Panasonic

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Oiio Oto transportation pods that climb buildings – the solution to LA traffic?

December 21, 2017 by  
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Oiio’s ingenous Oto pods are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The bubble-like cabins sit on a swappable wheelbase that can follow roads or climb up buildings to help people get around Los Angeles . The see-through autonomous pods could someday be part of the solution to addressing the city’s notorious congestion and air pollution.   The idea behind the pod is that traditional cars take up too many resources for transporting one or two people. Unless your car is packed full, you are driving around with a trunk, excess engine capacity and rear seats that you don’t need. The Oto pod is bare bones transportation that eliminates the waste. The concept was conceived for the Automobility Designer/Developer Challenge at the LA Auto Show this year. The challenge asks designers to create concepts for the future of transportation. Each Oto pod is broken down into three components: a cabin, wheel base and shuttle. An individual could own the cabin, but the wheel base and shuttle would be shared and are interchangeable. The pods could affix to a track system that runs along roads or up walls. Related: Petal-shaped stations and rapid transport pods are an elegant green mobility solution for Dubai “It is possible that, in the future, LA people would be able to own only the cabin and, through AI centrally controlled circulation, they could create a temporary assembly-unit, an ephemeral design, which would serve their ‘exact’ needs on demand,” said Oiio. + Oiio Via Dezeen

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Oiio Oto transportation pods that climb buildings – the solution to LA traffic?

Gorgeous green-roofed studio features a rainwater reflecting pool

December 21, 2017 by  
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There are some designs that just make your jaw drop – and the Sun Rain Room is definitely one of those. Designed by London-based Tonkin Liu Architects , the spectacular curved studio is clad in glass panels and topped with a green roof . It’s is also equipped with one awesome feature – a grey water system that showers collected rainwater over the patio at the push of a button, transforming it into a beautiful reflecting pool. The studio, which is just over 800 square feet, is a two-story home addition used as a studio and guest cottage. According to the architects, the design was created to provide a calming, nature-infused space would be “a good place to be on a bad day.” Related: Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings The elongated curved shape mimics the curvature of the sun and allows optimal light to pass through into the interior. Covered in stunning greenery , the roof acts as an extension of the surrounding landscape, which culminates in a vibrant, multi-layered urban garden . On the interior, the ceiling is spotted with round coffered skylights that “echo” a pattern of raindrops on water. Clad in floor-to-ceiling windows, natural light floods the interior spaces, which include a studio, a bedroom, and two bathrooms, as well as a garden room that opens up to the outdoor patio. The beautiful design implements a unique rainwater system which includes filtering rainwater into a large storage tank. At the touch of a button, this water is used to “rain” over the sunken patio, converting it into a reflecting pool. + Tonkin Liu Architects Via Archdaily Images via Tonkin Liu Architects

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Gorgeous green-roofed studio features a rainwater reflecting pool

Boeing to reveal mysterious space plane of the future

December 21, 2017 by  
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Boeing is set to release a new plane that the company claims to be “the future of air power.” In a video posted on Twitter, Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, offered a glimpse of its new creation, which seemed to bear some resemblance to the Batmobile. The plane is being developed by Phantom Works, the company’s advanced design division, and is being kept tightly under wraps until its to-be-announced reveal date. However, rumor has it that the new aircraft may be suited for space travel. This would follow Boeing’s X-37B plane, first built for the United States military, which is capable of traveling outside of Earth’s atmosphere . Boeing was recently granted another contract from the Pentagon to develop the XS-1 space plane, which would provide “short-notice, low-cost access to space”, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA ). It is possible that this new mystery plane has nothing to do with space travel , with some speculating that it could be a new electric aircraft designed to take-off and land vertically. Related: Swiss pilot plans to fly solar airplane to the edge of space The aviation giant recently acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, which last year won a DARPA contract to build the XV-24A LightningStrike VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) plane. When released, it will include new innovative features, such as “hybrid-electric propulsion ducted fans” and an “innovative synchronous electric-drive system,” according to Aurora . The plane also boasts increased hovering efficiency of 70 percent and is able to carry at least 5,000 pounds. Whatever this mystery plane is, news of it comes on an historic week for Boeing, during which the last 747 to ever fly on an American airline will make its final landing in Detroit . Via the Telegraph Images via Boeing and DARPA

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Gorgeous copper-clad home celebrates craft in the Pacific Northwest

December 21, 2017 by  
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Boasting lakeside views and a strong attention to craftsmanship, the Brook Bay Residence is a gorgeous luxury home nestled on Washington’s Mercer Island. Architect Rick Sundberg , currently Principal at Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young (SKL) Architects, designed this two-story residence that embraces the outdoors yet preserves client privacy. Copper and dark-stained cedar wrap around the handsome home that’s filled with high-end materials and the clients’ extensive art collection. Located across Lake Washington from Seattle , the 4,400-square-foot Brook Bay Residence features an L-shaped design with a cantilevered wing to take advantage of lake views. Dark-stained cedar wraps around the cantilevered wing, which houses the master suite, while copper clads the public areas. Natural light floods the cool and contemporary interior featuring wood casework and a wide array of custom designs by local craftspeople that include entry doors with antique Chinese wood panels, blackened steel staircase, a glass and metal chandelier, interior copper panels, and a dining table of wood, steel, and concrete. Related: Copper-clad chapel is a beacon of unity in one of Helsinki’s most multicultural districts In contrast to the public area’s blackened concrete floors and granite—which provide a sleek backdrop to the client’s extensive Pacific Northwest art collection—the private spaces are lined with lighter-toned materials. Inviting timber wraps around the master bedroom and the office, while the spa-like bathroom is surrounded with beautiful limestone and eucalyptus cabinetry. “It’s about thinking where you are during the course of the day and how we can make you feel more calm or comfortable,” said Sundberg. + Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects Images by Ben Benschneider

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German city offers ingenious alternative to single-use coffee cups

December 5, 2017 by  
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What do you do when you arrive at a coffee shop and realize you’ve forgotten your reusable mug ? Many of us, in need of caffeine, would guiltily accept the disposable cup that may or may not be recyclable. But the city of Freiburg, Germany came up with an inventive solution. They created the Freiburg Cup , which coffee lovers can snag for one Euro and return to participating stores to be cleaned and used again – up to 400 times. In Germany, over 300,000 disposable coffee cups are consumed every single hour, according to Freiburg representatives . And the 2.8 billion disposable cups consumed a year require 43,000 trees, 320 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 1.5 billion liters of water, and 3,000 tons of crude oil – not to mention many aren’t even recycled . And these resource-intensive cups are typically used for a mere 13 minutes before being tossed out. The city launched the Freiburg Cup around a year ago, and there are now around 107 bakeries and cafes participating. The cups are manufactured in southern Germany. Related: Vancouver on track to kill wasteful single-use packaging Coffee drinkers can obtain the plasticizer- and BPA-free cup comprised of recyclable polypropylene at participating cafes, identifiable by a green sticker in the window. When they’ve finished the beverage, they can return it to any one of those cafes, which will disinfect the containers. The city doesn’t offer a reusable lid, for financial and hygienic reasons, they said. But they seem to think the disposable lids have a good chance of being recycled – when the cup is returned for cleaning, the lids are placed in a yellow bag for recycling. So far the Freiburg Cup has been incredibly successful, according to TreeHugger , with other cities in the country expressing interest. Coffee drinkers can find the locations of participating cafes on the Freiburg Cup website . + Freiburg Cup Via TreeHugger Images via Freiburg Cup ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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