LEED Gold hub for artists and activists takes over an abandoned NYC firehouse

August 2, 2018 by  
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An abandoned firehouse has been reborn as the newly certified LEED Gold home for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in Harlem. Developed by CSA Group NY Architects & Engineers in conjunction with real estate agency Denham Wolf , the cultural center celebrates New York City’s Afro-Caribbean and African-American populations with exhibition and performance spaces, meeting and community rooms, a media center, classrooms and offices. The adaptive reuse project respects the architectural integrity of the historic building and features a variety of sustainable elements, including a green roof and 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified timbers. Located in the heart of East Harlem’s cultural district at 120 East 125th Street, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute serves as a neighborhood anchor and catalyst for cultural and economic development. The CCCADI took over the former municipal firehouse , Engine Company Number 36, as part of the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Department of Housing Preservation’s initiative to turn decommissioned firehouses into cultural institutions. All parts of the 8,400-square-foot landmark building were preserved wherever possible, save for adjustments needed to meet the city’s current building codes, such as the addition of egress stairs. “Originally built to serve the local community , before being abandoned and becoming a symbol of blight, the firehouse has fittingly been restored for a public purpose,” said Ronzard Innocent, Director of Project Management at Denham Wolf. “As a connector to arts, culture and social justice, CCCADI brings the story of this building full circle.” Related: East Harlem celebrates opening of vibrant LEED Gold-seeking Center for Living and Learning To reach LEED Gold status, CCCADI focuses on saving energy and water while minimizing waste. Thanks to highly efficient bathroom fixtures, the project saves an estimated 37.2 percent in water use compared to standard baselines. The building also boasts an estimated 36.1 percent  energy savings from high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. Approximately 92 percent of the project’s construction waste was recycled . The team installed a high-albedo membrane on the roof along with a green roof. Low-emitting paints, coatings, flooring and agrifiber products were used throughout, and more than 20 percent of the materials used were sourced regionally. + CSA Group NY Architects & Engineers + Denham Wolf Images by Sakeenah Saleem

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LEED Gold hub for artists and activists takes over an abandoned NYC firehouse

A new study reveals that urban green spaces may be an antidote to depression

July 23, 2018 by  
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A recent study shows that symptoms of depression can be reduced for people who have access to green spaces. Researchers in Philadelphia transformed vacant lots in the city into green spaces and found that adults living near these newly planted areas reported decreased feelings of depression, with the biggest impact occurring in low-income neighborhoods. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine teamed up with members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to transform and observe 541 randomly selected vacant lots in Philadelphia. Eugenia South, assistant professor and co-author of the study , said Philadelphia’s littered lots were an ideal environment to set-up their groundwork. “There’s probably 40,000 of them in the city” she told NPR , “but they’re concentrated in certain sections of the city, and those areas tend to be in poorer neighborhoods.” According to the study, lower socioeconomic conditions have already been proven to distress mental health states. Related: Virtual reality helps scientists plot the ideal urban green space The researchers separated the lots into three groups: a control group of lots where nothing was altered, a set of lots that was cleaned up of litter, and a group of lots where everything, including existing vegetation, was removed and replanted with new trees and grass. “We found a significant reduction in the amount of people who were feeling depressed ” South said. Her team used a psychological distress scale to ask people how they felt, including senses of hopelessness, restlessness and worthlessness, as well as measuring heart rates, a leading indicator of stress, of residents walking past the lots. Low-income neighborhoods showed as high as a 27.5 percent reduction in depression rates. South said, “In the areas that had been greened, I found that people had reduced heart rates when they walked past those spaces.” While previous research has cross-studied the beneficial effects of green spaces on mental health, experts, such as Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch from the University of California, Berkeley, are regarding this experiment as “innovative.” Morello-Frosch said that previous studies were observational in nature and failed to provide concrete statistical results as this study has offered. Morello-Frosch, who was not involved with the analysis, said, “To my knowledge, this is the first intervention to test — like you would in a drug trial — by randomly alleviating a treatment to see what you see.” Parallel research has identified indicators of crime-reduction and increased community interaction, showing that green spaces are a low-cost answer to improving many facets of a community’s well-being, now including mental health. +  JAMA Network Open Via NPR Before and After images via Eugenia South and Bernadette Hohl/JAMA Network Open

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A new study reveals that urban green spaces may be an antidote to depression

Green foods could clean up the construction industry

July 23, 2018 by  
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We’ve all heard of eating our vegetables, but what about building with them? A new study by Lancaster University ‘s B-SMART program will examine the effects of incorporating root vegetables – yes, vegetables – into cement production for a stronger and more sustainable way of building. The project, funded by the European Union, has brought academic and industrial stakeholders together in order to identify “biomaterials derived from food waste as a green route for the design of ecofriendly, smart and high performance cementious composites.” The program has proved successful insofar as creating a much more durable concrete mixture, with far fewer CO2 emissions from the process – all by adding some nutritious beets and carrots. Professor Mohamed Saafi, lead researcher at Lancaster University, reveals the cement is “made by combining ordinary Portland cement with nano platelets extracted from waste root vegetables taken from the food industry… this significantly reduces both the energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with cement manufacturing.” This news comes none too soon for developers in urban areas contending with new green regulations enforced by governments both nationally and internationally. If recent trends continue, concrete production – which accounts for approximately 8% of CO2 emissions worldwide – will double in the next 30 years. Related: UN Environment and Yale present a sustainable tiny home in NYC According to Saafi, when root vegetable nano-platelets, such as those found in beets and carrots, are introduced into concrete, “the composites are not only superior to current cement products in terms of mechanical and micro-structure properties but also use smaller amounts of cement.” The initial tests have attributed this to an increase in calcium silicate hydrate, the compound which reinforces the cement, thanks to the vegetable extracts. The new concrete mixture also boasts a longer-lasting, less corrosive body and denser micro-structure, also attributed to its green food invigoration. So next time you don’t feel like eating your vegetables, just remember – they could make you stronger, too. Via Phys.org Images via Shutterstock

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UNStudio completes a marina with a luxe yacht-like clubhouse in China

July 19, 2018 by  
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UNStudio’s Asia office recently completed the Keppel Cove Marina & Clubhouse, a massive waterfront complex in the city of Zhongshan in China’s Guangdong province. Set on the banks of the Xi River, the Keppel Cove Marina was created as part of a 50,000-square-meter masterplan that includes a service building and high-end residential villas as well as supporting infrastructure including bridges, roads and external dykes. Sinuous lines define the eye-catching new marina and clubhouse, which is meant to mimic the form and experience of a luxury yacht. Conceived as the first and only marina with a private port of immigration in China, the Keppel Cove Marina plays up its special status with a lavish design. At the heart of the development is the Marina clubhouse, which features a fan shape informed by the main access routes that also take in the best views of the water. A bridge, likened to a “stalk,” connects the back of the clubhouse to other developments. “The landscape surrounding the building is designed and organized with respect to views of the surrounding environment: there are plateaus from which to experience and enjoy the river Xi and viewpoints that connect people with the soft landscape of Shenwan,” explained UNStudio in its project statement. “The architecture allows for these views to also be enjoyed by the public without infringing upon the privacy of exclusive users or residents.” Related: UNStudio designs “future-proof” cable car for Amsterdam The Marina clubhouse is intersected by large funnel-like spaces that give the building’s interior its sculptural and curved appearance. These open funnel spaces allow for views and natural light to penetrate through the entire building and also bring in cross ventilation for natural cooling. Taking cues from the materials found in luxury yachts, the architects lined these sinuous spaces with wood paneling, while the facade is made up of bronze-colored aluminum panels. Ample glazing wraps around the building, and the undersides of the roof and the balconies are clad with mirror finishes to mimic the glittering reflection of sunlight off water. + UNStudio Images © Tom Roe

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UNStudio completes a marina with a luxe yacht-like clubhouse in China

This vibrant, waterproof pavilion floats along the canal at the 2018 Bruges Triennial

July 11, 2018 by  
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A spectacular art and architecture festival is currently underway in Bruges, Belgium — and the attractions include a beautiful floating pavilion by Spanish architecture firm SelgasCano . Evocative of its vibrant and curvaceous work for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2015 , the SelgasCano pavilion in Bruges is likewise a colorful affair, made with pink-orange fluorescent vinyl that allows light and views to pass through. Commissioned by the city for the 2018 Bruges Triennial , the pavilion serves as a platform for bathing and swimming in the Coupure canal. The architects at SelgasCano created the floating pavilion using computer-modeling software, which determined the shapes and sizes of the arches that make up the long, sinuous frame. In contrast to the use of computer-aided design, the firm built the colorful canopy by hand. The materials were welded and pieced together on site to achieve the desired shape. The waterproof structure was installed atop a yellow wooden platform. “[The] pink-orange fluorescent vinyl [is a] material that has never been used before in a building,” said SelgasCano in a project statement. “Steel structure and plastic skin are just one thing, indissociable one from the other. Light passes through the skin creating a shambling atmosphere that changes the usual perception of the old city.” Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The architects also designed the pavilion with movable seating in mind, which could be placed in the covered part of the pavilion as well as on the terrace portion of the floating platform. A kidney-shaped cutout in the middle of the pavilion allows water into the heart of the space. The SelgasCano pavilion is one of more than a dozen site-specific installations created for the 2018 Bruges Triennial, which is free to the public and runs until September 16, 2018. + SelgasCano Images by Iwan Baan

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This vibrant, waterproof pavilion floats along the canal at the 2018 Bruges Triennial

Old shipping container repurposed as a 40-foot-tall parking booth

July 10, 2018 by  
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Columbus, Ohio is now home to what is probably the world’s most unique parking booth. The firm behind the design, JBAD architects , turned an old shipping container  on its end to create a 40-foot-tall red tower that provides a striking contrast with the surrounding buildings. The new city landmark will be used as a parking attendant booth but has additional flexible space that could be used for a variety of services. Glowing bright red in the evening time, the shipping container tower was designed to stand out against the existing Columbus skyline. According to the architects, “This tower presents the parking booth as a new tower on the city’s skyline, realized at a scale both tall and small, its proportions and monolithic nature mimicking the office towers that surround it.” Related: 3 stacked shipping containers create a diving tower in Denmark The architects refurbished the  reclaimed shipping container  off-site to complete its transformation into a glowing “MicroTower.” As part of the renovation, the architects painted the structure a bright crimson with various lights that turn the MicroTower into a beacon in the night. To outfit the first floor as a proper booth, they installed a polycarbonate lift-and-fold garage door that acts as a shading canopy when open. The structure’s bottom floor was specifically designed to provide enough space for the parking booth attendant to keep an eye on the parking lot. The south and west facades of the shipping container tower have windows that overlook the entire parking area. However, there is plenty of space for other uses. As it is currently, the entire booth only takes up two-thirds of the MicroTower’s total floor space. The rest of the ground floor was left vacant to be used for a variety of services, including food, coffee takeout or bike storage. + Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design (JBAD) Via Dezeen Photography by Brad Feinknopf

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Old shipping container repurposed as a 40-foot-tall parking booth

Gleaming, recyclable facade clads a solar-powered Dutch house

July 9, 2018 by  
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Move over, brick and mortar — a new house in Amsterdam is eschewing the traditional facade for a striking alternative that gleams golden in the sun. Local architecture practice MOPET architecten designed the contemporary home, named the Brass House Amsterdam, for a family who sought sustainable features. In addition to its fully recyclable facade, the house is equipped with solar panels, LED lighting and triple-insulated glazing. Sandwiched between two brick buildings in the city’s IJburg district, the Brass House Amsterdam catches the eye with its shiny, multifaceted facade that clads the front and rear of the property. Triple-glazed aluminum sliding doors punctuate the angled exterior on both sides and open up to a series of balconies. The fully recyclable facade changes color from brown to gold in the sunlight. The 2,260-square-foot house is split into three levels and includes a green roof . The modern interior is dressed in a basic palette comprising oak , concrete, black steel and white stucco, which establishes a spacious feel. An open-plan kitchen, dining room and living area are located on the first floor and open up to a garden in the rear. A flight of stairs on the south side of the home leads up to two bedrooms, a shared bathroom, a service room and storage space. The second floor houses an en suite bedroom with a walk-in closet and a spacious lounge. Related: Sustainable ‘circular economy’ principles inform Amsterdam’s flexible Circl pavilion “Integrated solutions are designed for maximum openness in the house: The entrance hall, toilet, staircase, doors and kitchen are combined in a long wall cabinet that runs from the front to the rear,” the architects explained. “It narrows and widens, creating places with a variation in atmosphere and perspective. A split-level offers overview from the kitchen. At the same time, it creates an intimate seat pit with a fireplace in the backyard.” + MOPET architecten Via ArchDaily Images by Stijn Poelstra

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Gleaming, recyclable facade clads a solar-powered Dutch house

How to effectively design for a biodiverse, urban future

June 29, 2018 by  
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We need to make our city areas more welcoming to wildlife. Here are five ways we can do so.

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How to effectively design for a biodiverse, urban future

Body Shop delivers mixed performance against green goals

June 29, 2018 by  
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‘Not everything has gone to plan’: Beauty retailer makes progress on biodiversity protections and community trade, but slower gains in sustainable packaging, energy efficiency and green power.

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Body Shop delivers mixed performance against green goals

The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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