Timber house extension with prefab elements immerses owners in Stockholms outdoors

August 7, 2017 by  
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Windows are much more than just panes of glass in Anders Berensson Architects’ latest project in the Stockholm archipelago. The architects recently completed Look Out Lodge, a house extension built of locally sourced materials that functions like a standalone cabin. Custom-made prefabricated windows were added in the second phase of the project and define the areas for sleeping and working, all the while immersing the owner in nature. Clad in timber inside and out, Look Out Lodge was built on-site using local materials and building techniques. The two window additions—a Sky Tower and desk window—were prefabricated on site and slotted into place after the primary structure was completed. The small house extension is just large enough to accommodate a sleeping area and workspace. “Another goal with the design was to redefine the idea of a window as a flat readymade glass piece into an architectural element that creates its own space with a clear focus towards the outside,” wrote the architects. “This goal led to the design of a sky tower one can crawl into when being in bed totally dedicated to the sky and one corner window with a desk inserted to it that creates a work space on the inside and table for flowers on the outside with a clear focus and direction to the outside field.” The architects designed the Sky Tower to give the homeowners the countryside luxury of falling asleep beneath a starry sky. Topped with a round skylight and lined with spruce , the Sky Tower wraps around a custom-built bed and provides the perfect space to read during the day and for stargazing at night. The exterior draws on the local tradition of jigsaw facades and is punctuated by a pattern of native fauna and flora including large animals, amphibians, birds, flowers, and fish. Related: Apple Headquarters is finally complete and it’s an adorable treehouse The Desk Window prefabricated element is a corner unit that frames views of a wildflower meadow, one of the most beloved features of the Stockholm archipelago. The desk unit features a solar shade and a red terra-cotta concrete slab with holes for flower plants on the outside of the window, while a curved birch plywood tabletop with a round cut-out for sitting is located on the interior. Holes drilled into the desk are made for different purposes, including ventilation, cables, lamps, pencils, and even for pencil sharpening. + Anders Berensson Architects

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Timber house extension with prefab elements immerses owners in Stockholms outdoors

Brooks + Scarpa completes forest-like kinetic sculpture ringed with rain gardens

August 7, 2017 by  
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Public art should do more than decorate. Brooks + Scarpa targeted a triple bottom line with their design of the recently completed Gateway Sculpture at Pembroke Pines City Center in southern Florida. Constructed to enhance user experience, the sculpture is made up of four yellow stainless-steel tree columns topped with kinetic canopies that create the effect of dappled light as visitors walk beneath. Environmental and economic sustainability were considered for the project, which is designed for low maintenance, optimal environmental comfort, and landscape conservation. The eye-catching Gateway Sculpture welcomes locals and visitors to the new Pembroke Pines City Center that comprises a public plaza , a 3,500-seat performing arts hall, city hall, and The Frank Art Gallery. Prior to this new development Pembroke Pines had no downtown or community space. Working with a limited budget, Brooks + Scarpa crafted a beautiful community anchor that framed the pedestrian thoroughfare to the public plaza. The sculpture evokes an experience of a subtropical hardwood forest with its tree-like columns topped with canopy-like perforated plates that spin in the continuous breeze of south Florida. The sculpture provides much-needed shade for seating underneath, while programmable uplighting enhances the experience at night. Stainless steel was chosen for its durability in the heavy saltwater-laden coastal environment and ability to withstand 175 mile-per-hour winds. Related: Rolling green ‘ribbons’ proposed for new urban park in downtown LA “A triple-bottom-line approach was conceived of that worked within the clients abilities and budget,” wrote Brooks + Scarpa. “This is achieved through material durability where stainless steel was used over mild steel to insure the longevity of the structure. A durable paint that is environmentally sensitive was also employed. Lastly, large planting areas surround the structure collecting stormwater from the entire building and impervious hardscape of the plaza. Essentially rain gardens , these planters include native facultative landscape material with vibrant color to enhance user experience and provide critical refuge and habitat to native wildlife.” + Brooks + Scarpa Images via Brooks + Scarpa

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Brooks + Scarpa completes forest-like kinetic sculpture ringed with rain gardens

Space-saving furniture transforms to make the most of a Hong Kong micro-apartment

January 31, 2017 by  
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Hong Kong’s astronomical housing prices and tiny living spaces have made multifunctional furniture a necessity for many of the city’s homes. Local firm Design Eight Five Two maximizes the footprint of one such micro-apartment with the addition of space-saving furniture. The Kowloon Bay apartment, called Flat 27A, was completely redesigned and customized for the owner, a photographer, and his cat. Flat 27A was formerly subdivided into five rooms, two of which were used as bedrooms. Design Eight Five Two knocked down most of the internal walls to create a single bedroom and a large open-plan living area with sliding doors to delineate the private quarters from the communal area. Custom-made hidden storage minimizes clutter and conceals the owner’s extensive library as well as a variety of objects, from camera equipment to a coffee machine. The cat’s bed is even hidden away behind a hole carved in a cabinet of a storage unit. Related: Tiny transforming home in Hong Kong makes 309 square feet feel huge “Flat 27A was an opportunity to bring a kind of subtle magic to our client’s home,” write the architects. “A powerful sense of pleasure and comfort that would set it apart – for its simplicity, ease, and efficiency.” With the removal of the internal walls, the apartment has a more spacious feel and has greater access to natural light . In addition to hidden storage and sliding partitions , the architects added a custom-built dining table that folds out to accommodate ten people. + Design Eight Five Two Via Dezeen Images by Hazel Yuen Fun

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Cleverly designed bed makes this tiny home feel bigger than its 35-square-meter footprint

January 3, 2017 by  
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Thirty-five square meters (376 square feet) is a very small amount of space to call home, especially if you’re sharing with another person. But Studio Bazi founder and architect Alireza Nemati manages to make it work in style with his self-designed micro-apartment in Moscow. The tiny apartment, which he shares with his wife, makes the most of its small footprint with a few clever space-saving tricks and custom furnishings, including a smartly designed bedroom. Central to Nemati’s design was the need for an open-plan space that maximized natural light but still preserved privacy for the sleeping areas. The key to his successful design lay with his custom wooden sleeping box stacked above storage space located next to the entrance. This use of a level change effectively separates the sleeping quarters from the living areas without the need for a separate room and door, while providing much-needed storage space underneath. The box is clad in stained pine sheets to visually define the structure and to add warmth to the interior. Related: Bookshelf House fits hundreds of books into multifunctional furnishings “The wooden sleep box with storage system provides a level of privacy separating the sleeping quarters in a raised corner of the apartment, from the kitchen and living area on the other side,” writes the architect. “There is a good view of whole flat and to the windows from inside of the sleep box which makes it very cozy place.” The stairs that lead up to the bed hide three large sliding shelves for storing large household appliances. The custom-built furniture also includes a dresser, drawer, and wardrobe. The storage spaces atop the wardrobe connect to the sleep box and create an extra cubby for the architect and his wife to use. A small set of white curtains provides privacy for the sleeping box while a larger set of brown curtains next to the sleeping box cordon off the entrance, wardrobe area, and door to the bathroom from the rest of the open-plan living space. Large windows fill the tiny apartment with natural light and a door opens up to a small outdoor patio. The open-plan space includes a kitchen, dining area, and living area with moveable and transformable furniture that can adapt to Nemati and his wife’s different needs. + Studio Bazi Via ArchDaily Images via Studio Bazi

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Cleverly designed bed makes this tiny home feel bigger than its 35-square-meter footprint

DAPL protesters arrested for unfurling banner at Vikings game

January 3, 2017 by  
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For many in this uncertain new year, an important resolution is to participate in actions that support causes that build a better world and oppose those that stand in our way. Two protesters started 2017 off with an acrobatic bang when they lowered themselves and a #NoDAPL banner from the ceiling of U.S. Bank Stadium during a Minnesota Vikings –   Chicago Bears football game on New Years Day. Appropriately channeling Spiderman and the Dark Knight, these real-life vigilantes risked arrest and injury to send a message that the water protectors are here to stay in 2017. Secured with rappelling gear to a high metal truss that supports the roof of the stadium, the two protesters , Karl Mayo, 32, and Sen Holiday, 26, dangled next to their banner, which displayed the words “Divest,” “U.S. Bank,” and ” #NoDAPL .” Once the police had spotted the protesters, those sitting beneath the banner were removed from the area and authorities tried to convince Mayo and Holiday to come down. “It looked very official, so I don’t think many people noticed it at first,” said Jordan Proctor, who attended the game. “People were watching and talking about it a lot at halftime.” The game however was uninterrupted through the duration of the protest. Related: US veterans who protested DAPL are fighting a new fight The protesters demanded that the media was present when they finally descended from their perch. Upon reaching solid ground, they were arrested and brought to jail on trespassing charges. They were later released and formal charges are expected to be filed on Tuesday. “We are here in solidarity with water protectors from Standing Rock to urge US Bank to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Holiday in a statement released by local reporters. A spokesperson for the Standing Rock Indian Reservation clarified that the protesters were not associated with the tribe . U.S. Bank Senior Vice President Dan Ripley did not offer comment, nor did a representative for the Minnesota Vikings. Via CNN Images via  Christopher Juhn /MPR News

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DAPL protesters arrested for unfurling banner at Vikings game

10 resolutions to make the world a better place this year

January 3, 2017 by  
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The new year is upon us and the forecast looks dreary. From the election of a lying, corrupt megalomaniac to the U.S. Presidency, to the loss of countless beloved cultural figures such as David Bowie, Prince and Carrie Fisher, to 2016 breaking the hottest year on record AGAIN, 2016 has been one sucky year. I think it’s a safe bet to assume that for many of readers, 2017 doesn’t look like it is going to be any better, and many people are dealing with deep anxiety and depression over the coming year. As the world’s carbon emissions rise towards the point of no return, the new Trump Administration is threatening to smash the strides we’ve made towards clean energy , environmental conservation, social progress, and a sustainable future. But in darkness there is always light, and in the face of despair we can find hope and strength. Let the encroaching darkness of 2016 be your wake up call to find the light, share the light, and be a guiding light this year – for your fellow citizens of this planet and for future generations.

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10 resolutions to make the world a better place this year

England is building 14 new garden villages with a total of 48,000 homes

January 3, 2017 by  
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England just announced plans to build 14 new garden villages , each of which will hold between 1,000 to 10,000 new homes. One of the villages near Cornwall named West Carclaze will offer 1,500 new homes with energy-efficient features. A solar farm and bike paths are said to be a part of the ecovillage, along with pubs and a primary school for hundreds of new students. In total, the 14 villages will add up to 48,000 new homes to the country. England’s new garden villages will operate as their own independent communities. The 14 new developments will offer a range of facilities for new residents – including primary schools and adult care centers, according to The Guardian . England’s housing ministry says the villages will boost local economies, although some locals already living near the proposed areas aren’t convinced. Related: Ecovillage at Ithaca offers sustainable living in a community setting Some see the expansion as unnecessary urban sprawl that threatens established communities and designated green belts. Some worry the villages will put stress on an already congested infrastructure , as well. The promise that the developments will be locally led, instead of federally imposed, quells some fears, though others see it as a paper-thin pledge. Via The Guardian Images via Annie Spratt , Wikimedia , Albert Bridge at Geograph

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England is building 14 new garden villages with a total of 48,000 homes

Finland is giving 2,000 citizens a free basic income of 560 Euros a month

January 3, 2017 by  
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As of January 1, 2017 Finland is providing 2,000 unemployed citizens with a basic income of 560 Euros every month for two years. The nation hopes that the experiment will improve quality of life for its citizens while opening up new jobs. Helsinki University social policy professor Heikki Hiilamo told The New York Times : “Basic income is kind of a symbol that we believe in your capacity and we think that you are actually able to do things which are beneficial to you, and also for your community. It’s built on a kind of a positive view of human beings. People want to be autonomous. They want to improve their well-being.” If you currently collect unemployment in Finland, you risk losing your benefits if you start to bring in side income. The country has discovered that the regulations behind this safety net effectively deter people from seeking part-time jobs. Starting a new company or joining a startup is also risky, and many people need the reliability of an unemployment check. In contrast, those receiving basic income under the new experiment won’t risk losing a steady income if they start making money on the side. Related: Ontario is rolling out a basic income test for citizens living under the poverty line Over two years, the Finnish government will watch how people utilize basic income. Will they take a risk in business , or will they pursue higher education to secure better jobs? Will they sit on a couch at home playing video games? The government will randomly choose unemployed citizens to receive 560 Euros, or around $580, each month. The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) will implement the experiment. Kela’s research department head Olli Kangas told The New York Times, “Some people think basic income will solve every problem under the sun, and some people think it’s from the hand of Satan and will destroy our work ethic. I’m hoping we can create some knowledge on this issue.” Via The New York Times Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Finland is giving 2,000 citizens a free basic income of 560 Euros a month

China is spending over $500 billion to expand high-speed rail

January 2, 2017 by  
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China is planning some serious upgrades to its public transportation system in the next few years. By 2020, the country hopes to have increased its high-speed railway coverage by 18,650 miles. The project will cost an estimated 3.5 trillion yuan, or about $503 billion USD. Not only will the population be more mobile, but the rails will significantly cut down on carbon emissions and air pollution. Adding on 18,650 miles to a railway system is a humongous feat and difficult to comprehend. The expansion would be roughly the equivalent of driving from New York City to Los Angeles six and a half times. It will also connect 80 percent of the country’s biggest cities and leave room for further rural expansion. Related: Chinese firm aiming for world record with 373 mph maglev train Much of the existing and future high-speed rails are located in coastal and eastern regions of China. Yet, access to the west and poorer regions of the country are being considered for future investments, despite the fact that they will not be as profitable. “We believe these railway lines will break even over time as the flow of people and goods experience fast growth,” said Yang Yudong, administrator of the National Railway Administration. As a global observer, one of the most appealing aspects of the project is how much air pollution will be slashed by connecting a bustling population to efficient public transit. China has been battling smog for decades, and taking vehicles off the streets could be the piece of the puzzle needed to make lasting improvements. Via Clean Technica Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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New wall-mounted furniture suits people and their cats

March 23, 2016 by  
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