Stefano Boeri proposes SUPERVERDE urban greening modules

August 13, 2020 by  
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In a bid to bring more greenery to our cities, Milan-headquartered architecture practice Stefano Boeri Architetti has proposed SUPERVERDE, a series of scalable, modular soil blocks designed for greening urban spaces. Described as “a modular portion of living soil,” the SUPERVERDE units are meant to be installed in both public and private urban areas with the intent of strengthening connections between people and nature. The design would also help increase biodiversity, decrease the urban heat island effect and demineralize soils. Best known for his Vertical Forest project — residential towers topped with trees — architect Stefano Boeri is passionate about embedding greenery into cities worldwide. Unlike his typical projects, the SUPERVERDE concept focuses on adaptable, vegetated architecture and consists of a permeable and flexible surface that could be measured and purchased by the square meter. These modular units of living soil would be designed to support a variety of plant life and, by extension, fauna biodiversity.  Related: France’s first Vertical Forest will add a “hectare of forest” to Paris’ skyline “SUPERVERDE, which can be used for always new and different landscapes, is composed of a fine edge, available in various finishes, which contains all the technological equipment necessary for the maintenance of vegetation and supports the tectonic movements of the ground,” the designers explained. “Its versatility and adaptability to any type of urban open space — public, semi-public or private — is the main feature of the project, which allows to demineralize impermeable surfaces thanks to its modular system, suitable to cover even large areas.” The modular concept proposes two main sizes. The first is small, with surface areas ranging from 9 to 20 square meters capable of containing up to three tall trees, 20 medium-sized shrubs and numerous grasses and perennials. The second, extra-large version ranges from 60 to 100 square meters and is capable of hosting a dozen trees or 1,600 medium-sized shrubs and grasses. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Stefano Boeri proposes SUPERVERDE urban greening modules

Conceptual rammed earth home harmonizes with an Indian forest

July 17, 2020 by  
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Mumbai-based architecture firm  Morphlab  has unveiled designs for “Shift-ing Earth,” a luxury residence designed to harmonize with nature. Created as part of a proposed township masterplan on densely forested land in India, the design concept marries contemporary architecture with natural materials and passive solar principles. The highly geometric house would primarily use rammed earth walls with large openings for a strong indoor/outdoor relationship. Morphlab’s renderings depict a house that mimics a rocky outcropping with asymmetrical  rammed earth  forms and a two-story outdoor waterfall as a focal feature next to the main entrance. Water, a major theme throughout the design, flows from the entrance waterfall to an L-shaped pool that wraps around the side of the building and culminates in a rectangular pool in the rear outdoor patio. The design would also encourage vegetation to grow in and around the home, from climbing wall vines to garden spaces, to help blur the boundary between indoors and out. According to the architects, integrating vegetation and water features is part of an energy-efficient strategy that takes advantage of natural cooling to minimize dependence on mechanical cooling. The house’s orientation follows  passive principles  as well; the bedrooms face the southwest in alignment with the direction of cross breezes. Mitigation against unwanted solar gain also informed the massing. Several openings, including a large rounded skylight above the living area that takes in canopy views, frame select views of the forest.  Related: Hawk Nest House combines rammed earth and local stone To  minimize site impact,  Morphlab proposes reusing the earth excavated during the construction process for the formwork of the rammed earth walls. To protect the areas of the home most exposed to the elements, the architects have proposed wrapping those sections — including the front door and upper bedroom volume — with corten steel panels that complement the rammed earth construction while adding extra durability.  + Morphlab Images via Morphlab

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Conceptual rammed earth home harmonizes with an Indian forest

Scientists discover algae species that may affect coral reefs

July 17, 2020 by  
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A new species of alga found in Hawaii is emerging as a potential threat to coral reefs. Researchers from the University of Hawaii conducted a study establishing that the red algae have been growing on the island for several years now. First spotted in 2016, the species has spread rapidly throughout the island. Published in the journal  PLOS ONE , the study revealed that a thick layer of red algae has been spreading in Hawaii . A group of scientists first spotted the species during a mission to monitor ocean life in 2016. At the time, only small patches of red algae existed on the island. When the scientists returned to the same spot four years later, they found that the algae had grown into a thick layer. According to the researchers, mat-like layers of algae cover vast groups of corals in the island’s Pearl and Hermes Atoll. This development proves especially concerning given how coral reefs usually thrive in such remote areas. The presence of this new species could threaten coral reefs on the island. Coral reefs need sunlight and space to survive, both of which are hampered by the layers of algae. According to Dr. Alison Sherwood, the study’s lead researcher, this algae issue is unprecedented. “Something like this has never been seen in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands before. This is extremely alarming to see an alga like this come in and take over so quickly and have these impacts,” Sherwood said. The scientists who discovered the red alga named it Chondria Tumulosa. Considered a “nuisance species,” Chondria Tumulosa’s rate of spread could endanger marine life . Although the algae’s exact cause is unknown, researchers list unusual water chemistry and the absence of natural algae consumers as potential factors. Researchers are now working to determine Chondria Tumulosa’s characteristics and its possible effects on marine life. + PLOS ONE Via NY Times Image via Ed Bierman

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Scientists discover algae species that may affect coral reefs

Paleo-futuristic luxury tower stands out from a Quebec forest

December 11, 2019 by  
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Montreal-based architectural practice MU Architecture has proposed a “self-sustainable” escape in the deep forests of Quebec. Designed to mimic a giant totem or a stone cairn, the sculptural building would comprise 50 luxury housing units along with a suite of high-end amenities that include an indoor shooting range, a vast wine cellar and even a sky bar. Solely designed as a playground for the elite, the tower would rise to a height of more than 200 meters, and it would vastly stand out compared to its lush, natural surroundings. In a bid to justify the placement of a 48-story tower in the midst of pristine Quebec forest, MU Architecture explained that the luxury resort project, dubbed PEKULIARI, is “diametrically opposed with the concept of urban sprawl .” The tower would be wrapped in toned glass panels and a metal “exoskeleton” framing that gives the building the appearance of large rocks stacked atop one another. Related: A sleek artist studio with Passive House elements projects over a cliff “Unique in the world, this visionary and ambitious architecture project introduces harmonious osmosis between the human habitat and the natural habitat ,” the architecture firm said in a project statement. “Addressing a clientele eager to reconnect with nature and rejuvenate in peace, this world-class project offers an unparalleled exotic experience. PEKULIARI will make a significant contribution to the prestige of the region, generate a strong impact on the local economy and shine at an international level.” In addition to 50 luxury suites that range between 4,000 to 8,000 square feet each, the proposed building is designed to include an abundance of luxe amenities: a grocery store, a business center, a gym, a spa, a swimming pool, a sky bar, a greenhouse , a wine cellar, entertainment rooms, an indoor shooting range, a cigar lounge and more. Although the building would be powered by renewable energy, it seems easiest to access via private helicopter due to its location in an otherwise untouched forest — begging the question of how green this conceptual project really is. + MU Architecture Images via MU Architecture

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Paleo-futuristic luxury tower stands out from a Quebec forest

Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater

December 11, 2019 by  
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A study recently published in Nature found that glacier-based freshwater systems are highly threatened by climate change. Called “mountain water towers,” they supply water to communities in the downstream basin by generating and storing vast quantities of water from their high-elevation rain and snow. Unfortunately, ice melt is becoming more pronounced and precipitation patterns are disrupted, in turn placing these water towers’ storage capacity at critical risk. The study warns that the depletion of freshwater supplies and severe water shortages will become more evident, especially as “water stress, governance, hydropolitical tension and future climatic and socio-economic changes” put these natural water towers at risk. Narratives on climate change must shift to include discussions on mountain ice melt and loss and not just revolve around sea level rise. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis The research, authored by 32 scientists across the globe, recognized 78 mountainous regions as crucial water towers primarily found in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Based on the study, Asian water towers were the most vulnerable, particularly the Indus water system. “The study quantified for the first time both the natural water supply from the mountains as well as the water demand by society and also provided projections for the future based on climatic and socioeconomic scenarios,” said Tobias Bolch of the University of St. Andrews’ School of Geography and Sustainable Development. “The projected loss of ice and snow and increasing water needs makes specific densely populated basins located in arid regions, like the Indus basin in South Asia or the Amu Darya basin in Central Asia, highly vulnerable in the future.” Reliance on these water towers means these mountain ecosystems must be safeguarded. Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist at National Geographic Society, explained, “This research will help decision-makers, on global and local levels, prioritize where action should be taken to protect mountain systems, the resources they provide and the people who depend on them.” + Nature Image via Ashish Verma

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Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater

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