Black charred-timber home embraces forest views in Zrich

April 2, 2019 by  
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In the midst of a centuries-old forest sits the Two Family House, an aptly named project that houses a pair of maisonette apartments for two families at the edge of Zürich, Switzerland. Local architecture firm Hajnoczky.Zanchetta Architekten collaborated with architect Angela Waibel on the design, which takes advantage of its wooded location with full-height windows that capture views of the changing landscape. Due to regulations that enforce minimal disturbance to the landscape, the building’s unusual triangular shape is dictated by the forest, which diagonally divided the parcel. To fit two homes onto the constrained space without compromising space and comfort, the architects used the slope of property to vertically separate the two apartments. Each of the four levels has a slightly different floor plan and size; the upper floors, for instance, have cantilevered elements, such as projecting windows, that increase floor space. The larger of the two maisonette apartments occupies the ground floor, which comprises the bedrooms, and the first floor, where the communal spaces are located. Since the building is set into the existing slope, both the ground floor and first floor have direct access to the gardens. The second apartment occupies the uppermost two floors. To make up for the smaller footprint, the upper apartment has access to three rooftop terraces. The building is primarily a timber-clad concrete structure, aside for the topmost level, which is built of timber construction. Related: Massive tree-like sculpture takes over Switzerland’s largest train station “To enhance the distinctiveness of the building, we have chosen a black timber facade to elegantly contrast with the surrounding nature,” the architects explain in a statement. “The tree grove is part of a forest arm that permeates through the city. From dense foliage in summer, the location metamorphoses in winter into a snowy scenery with a beautiful creek that flows to the lake of Zürich .” + Hajnoczky.Zanchetta Architekten Images © Lucas Peters

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Black charred-timber home embraces forest views in Zrich

Climate change causing Nebraska’s worst floods on record, damage visible from space

March 20, 2019 by  
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Amid growing concerns about the negative effects of climate change , Following historic levels of rainfall and flooding, the governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, has officially declared certain counties disaster areas as officials deal with the situation. “This really is the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history, from the standpoint of how widespread it is,” Ricketts shared. The flooding crisis started last week after a hurricane-like storm ripped through Nebraska, dumping massive amounts of rain on top of heavily packed snow. The warmer temperatures and moisture rapidly melted the snow, leading to widespread flooding throughout the state. Related: Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests Temperatures have remained well above freezing since the storm, which has only led to additional runoff issues. The flooding is so bad that satellites are picking it up from space. Nebraska faces springtime flooding on an annual basis, but the current situation is breaking records in all the major waterways running through the state. Climate change is one of the reasons why the flooding has worsened, as warmer temperatures are coming earlier than usual. In one area of the Missouri River, the water line broke a previous high by close to four feet. The flooding also crashed through the Niobrara River’s Spencer Dam, which is located in the north-central part of the state. The failing dam resulted in an 11-foot tall wave of water rushing through the area. The flood waters have destroyed homes, bridges and roadways all across the state. Over the weekend, a few levees on the Platte River broke, surrounding the city of Fremont with water. With access to the town completely cut-off, officials have been airlifting supplies for local residents. Flooding has started to level out this week, though experts predict that water levels will remain high for a few more days. Offutt Air Force base and Omaha’s National Weather Service station have both been overrun with water, a reminder of the devastating effects of climate change. Via Grist Image via Shutterstock

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Climate change causing Nebraska’s worst floods on record, damage visible from space

Site-sensitive Woodhouse Hotel promotes agricultural tourism in Guizhou

March 20, 2019 by  
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In China’s southwest province of Guizhou, Shanghai-based architectural practice ZJJZ has completed the Woodhouse Hotel, a government-backed agricultural tourism project that consists of 10 single-story timber cabins embedded into the hillside in the remote village of Tuanjie. As one of the first projects carried out under the government’s policy to help alleviate rural poverty through environmentally sensitive tourism, the Woodhouse Hotel was designed and constructed with as little site impact as possible. Because the village of Tuanjie had little traditional architecture to draw inspiration from, the architects took cues from the surrounding landscape instead. Free from pollution and blessed with striking views, the village’s surroundings prompted the architects to divide the hotel up into a series of simple timber volumes so as to minimize the development’s visual presence. Each cabin, clad in charred timber , was carefully placed on the rocky terrain to minimize site damage and to capture the best views. “The design of the wood houses aims to harmonize with the landscape and the rustic atmosphere while forming a contrast to the existing village buildings,” the architects explained in their project statement. “Therefore, we avoided complex or exaggerated designs and selected three basic geometric forms. Each house serves as a separate room. The volumes of the rooms are minimized to reduce the sense of presence in the environment while ensuring indoor comfort. For interior space, various windows are cut out in each house according to their form and orientation, introducing rich layers of surrounding landscapes into the pure volumes.” Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills Given the complex terrain and desire to minimize damage to the original rock formations, site surveys were carried out to map the optimal locations for the buildings while all construction materials were manually transported up the mountain. The architects applied a combined structural system for each cabin, built with a wooden frame atop an elevated steel platform. The timber facade was charred on-site to reduce costs. + ZJJZ Photography by  Laurian Ghinitoiu  via ZJJZ

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Site-sensitive Woodhouse Hotel promotes agricultural tourism in Guizhou

Quirky youth hostel in Taiwan is made from reclaimed materials

March 14, 2019 by  
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Young wanderers traveling to the city of Hualian in Eastern Taiwan can now book a stay in a fun, quirky youth hostel made almost entirely out of recycled materials. To create the Wow Hostel, designer ChengWei Chiang  from PL Interior Design breathed new life into an existing nine-level property by using a vibrant collection of concrete, stone, wood, greenery and reclaimed materials , such as old window frames and timber. From the moment you enter the hostel, the interesting collection of building materials is clearly visible. From stone walls and a reception made out of reclaimed wood, the nine-story hostel has a energetic, youthful aesthetic. Related: Nha Trang’s first hostel built from recycled shipping containers pops up in Vietnam The ground floor welcomes visitors with a cafe and bar area that is open to everyone, from paying guests to passersby. From the first floor leading up to the second floor reception is a large vertical living wall. The reception also features a check-in desk made out of reclaimed wood paneling. The rest of the floors are split between the dorm rooms and communal places. According to the designer, the hostel layout was strategically designed to provide plenty of space to allow people to meet each other and socialize or simply hang out in the lounge area with a good book. In the main communal space, there is a large table with family-style seating. Around this area are several lounges with big, comfy reading chairs. In one of the lounge areas, a custom-made cabinet stands against the wall. Made out of reused window frames, this is used to showcase art works by local artists as well as knickknacks left by travelers that have passed through the hostel. For outdoor space, one of the floors has an open-air terrace, which features a discarded shipping container door. For lodging, the Wow Hostel offers a number of options, from an eight-person dorm with four double beds to private suites. The guest rooms’ interior design boasts an industrial vibe with exposed concrete block walls and pressed board accents. + PL Interior Design Studio + ChengWei Chiang Images via ChengWei Chiang and PL Interior Design Studio

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Quirky youth hostel in Taiwan is made from reclaimed materials

Meatless Mondays are coming to public schools in New York City

March 14, 2019 by  
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Public schools in New York City are starting a meatless Monday program for student lunches. School officials hope the eco-friendly initiative will boost health among the student population and serve as an example for other districts to follow. “People are going to look at this, and they’re going to start to emulate what the New York City schools are doing,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio shared. The new program will be implemented in 1,800 schools in the city and was originally tested in 15 schools in Brooklyn in 2018. The school chancellor, Richard A Carranza, says that students and parents reacted positively to the initiative, giving them the green light to move forward. Related: 14 vegan and vegetarian Valentine’s Day dinner ideas Carranza also talked about the advantages of eating meat-free meals. This includes a lower risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Vegetarian diets, of course, are also good for the environment because they reduce water use and lessen our carbon output. In fact, the head of the city’s Office of Sustainability, Mark Chambers, argued that eating less meat is one of the best ways people can improve the environment . New York City has the largest school district in the country, and Chambers believes introducing its large student population to the idea of meatless Monday could lead to significant diet changes. This is not the first time New York City has started a program to improve eating habits. In 2017, public schools handed out free breakfast to all of its students throughout the school year. In the summer, NYC public schools continued the program and extended it to anyone who was 18 years old or younger. In addition to meatless Monday, public schools in New York obtain produce from local farmers every Thursday. The school district is also recycling more than ever and has started a program that teaches students how to sort recyclable goods. Given all of the eco-friendly programs coming out of New York, like meatless Monday, we can only hope that other schools across the country will follow their lead. Via Huffington Post Images via Shutterstock

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Meatless Mondays are coming to public schools in New York City

Jaden Smith launches Water Box to aid with the Flint water crisis

March 8, 2019 by  
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For the past three years, the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church has been battling the Flint water crisis by handing out clean water to locals. Volunteers with the organization started giving out bottled water every day of the week, but as donations decreased, they now distribute water over the course of three days. To assist, rapper Jaden Smith has just donated a portable water filtration unit called the Water Box, which can supply upward of 10 gallons of filtered water every minute. During donation days, the church usually runs out of supplies within a few hours, leaving many residents without access to clean water . The situation is disheartening to the volunteers and residents alike, but all of that is about to change. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint Smith’s family, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, own a company in Glens Falls, New York, called JUST Water , which use large filtration systems to produce bottled water. The Water Box is a smaller version of the filtration system used at the JUST Water plant. The system removes harmful contaminants such as lead, and it will allow residents to fill their own water receptacles throughout the week. Church officials have been testing the Water Box for several weeks and have sent samples to a nearby lab to ensure all harmful contaminants have been removed. The tests will continue to be administered as long as the Water Box is in use. Residents in Flint can also view the weekly results on the company’s website. So far, there is only one Water Box installed at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, although Smith’s mom, Jada, has already committed to purchasing another unit for the city. Flint’s water problems began back in 2014. Corrosion in the water lines caused lead to leach into the water supply, potentially harming thousands of residents. Although the Flint water crisis is still a major concern, state officials stopped issuing bottled water in 2018 because the lead levels were not above federally mandated limits. Via Huffington Post Images via JUST Water

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Jaden Smith launches Water Box to aid with the Flint water crisis

Uber transforms 19th-century industrial buildings into hub for futuristic tech

March 6, 2019 by  
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A row of historic industrial buildings long considered at-risk of collapse has been saved thanks to Uber . The Uber Advanced Technologies Group R&D Center, a group that develops experimental and futuristic transit projects including self-driving technologies, is now housed within part of San Francisco’s Pier 70 — the best-preserved 19th century industrial complex west of the Mississippi. A sensitive undertaking, the adaptive reuse project breathed new life into the decrepit structures yet stayed true to the complex’s architectural integrity. With masterplanning efforts spearheaded by San Francisco-based urban studio SITELAB, Pier 70 in the city’s Dogpatch neighborhood has been undergoing a renaissance of change from a former industrial site to a mixed-use development consisting of offices, retail, residences and public space. Drawn by the site’s history with transportation — Bethlehem Shipbuilding was once a Pier 70 tenant — and the spacious interiors, Uber leased out 130,000 square feet within the complex across four continuous buildings (Building 113, 114, 115 and 116), an area approximately equivalent to two city blocks. Damaged from years of neglect and vandalism, the four buildings needed a gut renovation before Uber could move in. In a process the firm described as a “labor of love,” Uber restabilized the structures with steel braces and columns carefully chosen to complement the historic architecture. To retain existing elements and abide by the regulations put forth by the National Register of Historic Places, the project used a “building-within-a-building concept” that allowed for the insertion of mezzanines, stairs, rooms and other free-standing programmed elements without damaging the historic perimeter brick walls. Nods to the building’s history can be seen in the industrial-inspired architectural lighting and minimalist material palette. Related: Uber just gave the world a first look at its air taxi prototype “The project’s contribution to the community and industry is immense in that it revitalizes a crumbling shipyard facility into a vibrant place for work and public gatherings,” Uber shared in a statement. “Precision craftsmanship is required to both refurbish deteriorated existing construction and accommodate new building components into the highly complex and diverse existing structures. The approach retains and repairs salvageable elements . If un-salvageable, the replacement element or material is specified to be historically compatible and environmentally benign.” + Uber Advanced Technologies Group Via Architectural Digest Photography by Billy Hustace Photography via Uber

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Uber transforms 19th-century industrial buildings into hub for futuristic tech

NYCs plant-filled Greenery Unlimited is worlds first Biophilic Design Store

February 28, 2019 by  
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An enormous green wall and a 12-foot ficus tree await visitors at Greenery Unlimited , a newly opened retail store that’s been billed by Greenery NYC owners Rebecca Bullene and Adam Besheer as the “world’s first Biophilic Design Store.” Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn , Greenery Unlimited is the first brick-and-mortar location for the botanic design and installation company, which has a thriving online presence and an impressive client list ranging from the likes of TED Talks and Google to The New York Times and Netflix. The retail store will sell plants as well as more complex green installations aimed at improving human wellness indoors. Created as “an evolution of the traditional plant store,” Greenery Unlimited will sell plants in addition to growing systems such as grow lighting, irrigation systems, specialty vessels and tools. With a decade’s worth of experience installing large-scale botanic installations around the city, Bullene and Besheer have learned the best practices for plant cultivation and long-term management and have seen first-hand the restorative effect that indoor plants have on improving human health and comfort, a practice that Bullene and Besheer call “ biophilic design.” “As long time residents of New York, we know that the only way to deal with the chaos of the city is to make your home into a sanctuary,” Adam Besheer explained in a press release. “Plants are an unmatched aid to calm and relaxation, but there’s an inherent stress in trying to keep them alive in the suboptimal conditions of a New York City apartment. We want to provide New Yorkers with the tools and knowledge not only to keep plants alive, but to fully integrate them as part of their home environment.” Related: A London office boasts biophilic design for a healthier, happier workplace Greenery Unlimited will serve as a showcase for green installations and biophilic design concepts, such as a 120-square-foot green wall behind the reception desk and a central seating area integrated with a self-contained irrigation and fertilization system supporting a 12-foot-tall ficus tree. The indoor environment will mimic an outdoor setting with a cloud forest-like atmosphere using a pressurized misting hub and circadian lighting displays. + Greenery Unlimited Images via Greenery Unlimited

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NYCs plant-filled Greenery Unlimited is worlds first Biophilic Design Store

Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-stigma’

February 26, 2019 by  
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Scientists are warning that the proof for man-made climate change is now at a gold standard level. The announcement increases the call to limit greenhouse emissions to help prevent future rises in global temperatures. “Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,” a team of U.S. scientists noted in their findings. Scientists say the evidence that humans are responsible for contributing to global warming is overwhelming and is now at the level they term “five-stigma.” This means that there is about a one-in-a-million shot that people are not part of the problem. This standard is the same one scientists used to establish the existence of the Higgs boson particle in 2012. Related: Climate twins: which city will your city feel like in 2080? The lead scientist in the study, Benjamin Santer, hopes that the conclusions will make people realize that the scientific community understands what is causing global warming at a high degree of certainty. Santer, who conducted the research from California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that narrative about the uncertainty of global warming needs to change. “The narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong,” Santer explained. Experts agree that we are witnessing an increase in droughts, flooding, heat waves and higher ocean levels because of fossil fuel emissions. Despite the evidence, some politicians in the United States have tried to argue that global warming is not real and that being a part of the Paris climate initiative is a bad idea. Fortunately, more and more Americans are starting to believe that humans are the cause of climate change. In fact, a poll from last year found that 62 percent of residents in the U.S. believe climate change has a human element. This is a big jump from 2013, when only 47 percent of Americans believed it was true. Some scientists involved in the study, which used data gathered by satellites over the past decade, argue that the level of certainty about human involvement in climate change should be increased to closer to 99 or 100 percent. Via Reuters Images via Shutterstock

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Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-stigma’

Climate twins: which city will your city feel like in 2080?

February 18, 2019 by  
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The phrase “global warming” gets tossed around a lot, but do we really understand what it means and how it will feel? In the groundbreaking Paris Agreement, 195 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius — but how will those 2 degrees really affect our lives? A new study in Nature links 540 U.S. cities to other cities with a current climate that is similar to how those cities will feel in 60 years. As CityLab’s Robinson Meyer explained , the study takes each city and finds “the city whose modern-day weather gives the best clue to what conditions will feel like in 2080.” The researchers’ goal is to translate what abstract climate science and meteorological changes really mean for people by making them understandable in a modern — and personal — context. For example, Philadelphia will feel more like Memphis in 2080. That equates to summer days that are warmer by an average of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, and winters that are warmer by 10 degrees. Memphis, on the other hand, will feel more like College Station, Texas.  Use this web tool to find your city’s ‘climate twin’. The ‘Arkansas-ification’ of U.S. cities “Every place is getting warmer and many are getting drier,” Matthew Fitzpatrick, author of the study, told CityLab. In fact, most cities’ future climate twin is approximately 500 miles farther south and toward the middle of the country. “In the Northeast, you can envision the future as one big Arkansasification,” Fitzpatrick explained. For those who haven’t been to Arkansas, the authors explained that means more humid, subtropical climates typical of the southeast and Midwest. Western cities, however, will start to feel more like the desert conditions of Southern California and the southwest. The cities selected in the study cover 250 million urban Americans. By using a method called climate analog mapping, the authors used different emission scenarios and weather predictions to find all similar cities, and then narrowed down the options to find the best match based on statistical and topographical similarities. The 540 cities selected were those that had the strongest match and the most relatable “twin.” A lot can happen in 60 years, and most are still hopeful that we can make changes to curb climate change. The authors used different examples of carbon emission rates, called Representative Concentration Pathways, to compare the results based on our best- and worst-case scenarios. For example, if progressive policies are put in place soon to curtail carbon emissions, Washington D.C. might feel like Paragould, Arkansas by 2080. If mitigation policies are not put into place, however, D.C. will become more like Greenwood, Mississippi — an additional 200 miles south. D.C. residents are already familiar with hot, humid summers in the low-lying capitol, so the news that their children will face even stickier summers is lamentably relatable. Though the matches aren’t perfect, the authors explained they do give modern-day examples that make abstract climate change realistic and easier to understand. Climate change puts cities at risk Cities are especially vulnerable to climate change, with rapidly increasing populations, urban sprawl, aging infrastructure and limited budgets for forward-thinking climate adaptation. In New York City , where heat island effect (the intensification of heat by concrete, urban environments) is already a major problem, the thought of becoming Jonesboro, Arkansas is daunting. Imagine a stifling hot, underground subway platform well above 85 degrees in July with no breeze. Now add an average of 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Related: Reimagine a resilient future for your city with this nature-based tool But human discomfort isn’t the only problem. These shifts in climate also affect other species. Migratory bird patterns are already changing but so are insect populations . Increased humidity, flooding and temperatures cause an uptick in mosquitoes, ticks and flies. This means an increase in diseases such as zika and dengue that were previously contained to fewer states. Winter freezes that used to kill off larva may no longer be cold enough to have the same population-controlling effect. Climate changes we can understand For most urban dwellers, this alarming news of hotter days and health consequences is not new. However, the authors of the study are hopeful that these results help people conceptualize climate change and make discussions more relatable. Their assessment is “place-based” and aims to use cities that are familiar. Many people have visited these cities, know about them or at the very least have an idea what the weather in their future “twin” city is like compared to where they live. Framing the discussion about climate impacts in a way that is understandable — and in some cases so real you can almost feel it — is critical. Hopefully, these terms and tools help people understand the urgency at a global scale in terms that are meaningful at a personal level. Via CityLab Image via Pixabay

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Climate twins: which city will your city feel like in 2080?

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