Glowing, celestial-inspired shelter communes with nature in Denmark

August 8, 2019 by  
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The Munkeruphus Art Museum on the coast of Denmark has recently gained a striking new addition — the Observatory, an organic pavilion by Danish designer Simon Hjermind Jensen . The commission, which was supported by the Danish Arts Foundation and Knud Højgaards Fond, marks the start of the museum’s long-term vision for integrating art and nature-related projects on its grounds. Crafted with 3D modeling and CNC technology, the curvaceous pavilion has a cave-like interior that encourages visitors to gather within and reconnect with nature. When Jensen received the commission for the project, he started the design process with a 24-hour stay on the site to observe the landscape conditions from dawn to dusk as well as the trajectories of the sun and the moon. The site-specific study inspired the placement of the Observatory as well as the architectural design, which began with a ceramic model he crafted on-site. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork Back at his studio, Jensen refined his concept with additional ceramic models before overlaying a construction pattern on top that was 3D-scanned for computer modeling . Finally, the pavilion shell was CNC-cut from plywood and polycarbonate, bent into place and fastened together with custom, leaf-inspired joinery. Thanks to parametric modeling, the Observatory is optimized for strength and material use. Measuring nearly 19 feet in height, the Observatory features an asymmetrical teardrop shape topped with an oculus angled toward the south, framing views of the moon and creating more access to natural light . Inside, the curved interior is weighed down by a gravel floor and includes a built-in wooden bench that accommodates 25 people as well as a concrete podium. The central fire pit, when lit, makes the pavilion glow at night. “Like the characters of our surroundings changes and shift from day to night, the Observatory changes too, especially when a bonfire is lit after nightfall.” Jensen said. “The inside spatial experience changes with the light coming from the ground and, seen from the outside, the upper part glows in a pink color created from the light from the flames.” + Simon Hjermind Jensen Images via Simon Hjermind Jensen

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Glowing, celestial-inspired shelter communes with nature in Denmark

Beautiful, solar-powered EV charging stations promise to charge a vehicle in 15 minutes

June 21, 2019 by  
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Copenhagen-based architectural firm COBE has just unveiled what are possibly the most beautiful and sustainable electric vehicle charging stations in the world. Built entirely from recyclable materials and powered by solar energy, these ultra-fast charging stations not only recharge a vehicle in just 15 minutes but also offer drivers a welcoming place to rest and relax. The first COBE-designed EV charging station was installed on the E20 motorway in the Danish city of Fredericia, with 47 more planned along Scandinavian highways: seven more in Denmark, 20 in Sweden and 20 in Norway. Created in partnership with Powered by E.ON Drive & Clever, the COBE-designed EV charging station consists of a series of “trees” made primarily from certified wood. The tree-inspired structures feature a canopy that provides shade and protection from the elements, while also providing space for a green roof and solar panels. The modular structures are scalable so that multiple “tree” structures can be combined into a “grove.” The Fredericia charging station features a “grove” of 12 “trees” with a 400-square-meter canopy. The Danish Society for Nature Conservation helped select the plantings that surround the charging station to enhance biodiversity and create a calming, “zen-like” atmosphere radically different from a traditional gas station setting. Related: World’s first electric road that charges moving vehicles debuts in Sweden “ Electric vehicles are the way of the future,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “With our design, we offer EV drivers a time-out and an opportunity to mentally recharge in a green oasis. The energy and the technology are green, so we wanted the architecture, the materials and the concept to reflect that. So, we designed a charging station in sustainable materials placed in a clean, calm setting with trees and plantings that offer people a dose of mindfulness on the highway.” The firm’s design of the ultra-fast EV charging station won the infrastructure award of the 2018 Danish Building Awards and is being implemented across Scandinavia with support from EU Commission projects Connecting Europe Facility and High Speed Electric Mobility Across Europe. + COBE Images via COBE and Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

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TREDJE NATUR proposes angled timber housing that meets UNs sustainability goals

June 13, 2019 by  
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Copenhagen-based architectural firm TREDJE NATUR has unveiled an urban housing proposal that ticks all the right boxes for beautiful and sustainable design. Created to follow the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals — a blueprint of 17 goals ranging from affordable and clean energy to responsible consumption and production — TREDJE NATUR’s proposed mixed-use development is estimated to save 30 to 50 percent of carbon emissions compared to conventional housing construction. Named “New Angle” after the timber townhouses’ sharply pitched rooflines, the site-specific housing development emphasizes safe and low-carbon community living, biodiversity, flexibility and protection from the elements and traffic noise. Created as part of a feasibility study for the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, New Angle comprises nearly 130,000 square feet of housing and a little over 160,000 square feet of office space. The development has been proposed for a commercial site sandwiched between two different motorways and a ring road. TREDJE NATUR’s design is a direct response to the site conditions, particularly the noise nuisances from surrounding traffic. The layout and shape of the houses create an inward-looking development that ensures optimized daylighting for all residents, ample green space and protection from traffic noise. Set on a parking plinth, the townhouses are arranged in an L-shaped ring with steeply sloped roofs angled toward the central common green space that can be used for urban gardening and recreation. The angle of the roof profiles not only shields residents from traffic noise, but also allows for integrated solar panels with maximum performance and rainwater collection systems. The renderings show the housing would be built primarily from timber with a strong emphasis on the outdoors and neighborly connection. Related: World’s first upcycled high-rise is proposed for Copenhagen “The CO2 savings happen through the building design, choice of materials, systematic solutions, focus on climate and biodiversity and overall by creating a framework for a strong community and a sustainable lifestyle,” explained the architects, who said the design is a more sustainable alternative to the conventional multistory building. “Apart from significant CO2 savings, calculations also show that the project is economically sustainable and can be constructed with low establishment costs compared to similar housing units.” + TREDJE NATUR Images via TREDJE NATUR

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TREDJE NATUR proposes angled timber housing that meets UNs sustainability goals

Free at last: Canada passes Act to prohibit dolphin and whale captivity

June 13, 2019 by  
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This week, Canada’s parliament passed a long awaited Act that will prohibits whales, dolphins and porpoises from being bred or contained in captivity. Originally proposed in 2015 by then Senator Wilfred Moore from Nova Scotia, the legislation received broad support from the public and considerable pressure from animal rights groups. “Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry. But today we celebrate that we have ended the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins. This is news to splash a fin at,” Humane Canada said in a tweet. The Senate voted to pass the “Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act” last year, and on Monday the House of Commons finally approved the legislation. The fine for breaking the new law is about $150,000. Related: German circus goes cruelty gree by replacing animals with holograms The legislation does contain exceptions, including mammals that are already held in captivity, those contained for injury rehabilitation and those held for licensed scientific research. Hopefully, these exceptions will have effective oversight that will not lead the way for companies to exploit as loopholes. The legislation will impact a few sites in Canada, including Marineland, which currently has 61 whales, dolphins and an orca. Marineland originally opposed the Act but has since agreed to go along with the legislation. The Act will also impact the Niagara Falls Amusement Park and a zoo . The Vancouver Aquarium also announced last year that it would no longer display dolphins and whales after public pressure. “The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our bylaws accordingly,” said the Vancouver Park Board in a statement. In the U.S., amusement parks like SeaWorld continue to host dolphin shows despite protests . Animal rights activists have been campaigning for this change in Canada and throughout the world under the hashtags #freewilly and #emptythetanks. Via NPR Image via skeeze

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Free at last: Canada passes Act to prohibit dolphin and whale captivity

US stops Arctic Council joint statement over climate change language

May 8, 2019 by  
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On May 7, the Arctic Council released a statement of various priorities, but for the first time it could not publish a joint declaration, reportedly due to push-back from the U.S. over climate change language. The Arctic Council is comprised of indigenous leaders and eight nations, including the U.S., Canada, Finland, Russia, China, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. After meetings in Rovaniemi, Finland, the group released its disjointed statement, but it could not agree on a declaration of urgent challenges and strategies for the next two years. “A majority of us regarded climate change as a fundamental challenge facing the Arctic and acknowledged the urgent need to take mitigation and adaptation actions and to strengthen resilience,” the chair of the meeting, Finnish Minister Timo Soini, said in the statement. Minister Soini refused to point fingers at which nations would not acknowledge climate change as a fundamental challenge. Related: 1 million species are at risk of extinction, says new UN report Indigenous leaders argue that climate change is indeed the most pressing issue in the Arctic and should be a primary focus. Scientists suggest that temperatures are rising twice as fast  fast in the Arctic region than in the rest of the world. Melting ice is contributing to sea level rise in low-lying countries, but it is also creating new shipping routes and opening access to undiscovered oil reserves. The Arctic contains 13 percent of the world’s untapped oil and 30 percent of natural gas reserves. This fossil fuel wealth makes it a controversial region, and development there is highly sought after, particularly by world powers like the U.S., China and Russia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed too many versions of the declaration as the reason the Council could not reach an consensus, and spent most of his floor time pointing fingers at Russia and China for going against previous agreements and rendering them ineffective. + Arctic Council Via Reuters Image via  Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard / U.S. Geological Survey

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Former concrete factory is reborn as a unique music-inspired high school in Denmark

February 26, 2019 by  
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Dutch architecture firm MVRDV and Denmark-based COBE Architects have just finished construction on the Roskilde Festival Folk High School, an unconventional school built inside a former concrete factory in Roskilde’s Musicon creative district just outside Copenhagen. Created to further the “lifelong learning” values of the world-famous Roskilde Music Festival that takes place every year in the small town, the high school follows an immersive and “non-formal adult education” championed by the Danish system of folk high schools and is the first purpose-built school of its kind in Denmark in 50 years. The Roskilde Festival Folk High School marks the final phase of the 11,000-square-meter ROCKmagneten masterplan, also designed by MVRDV and COBE, and includes the school — set inside a former concrete factory — two new modular blocks of student housing, a building for staff housing and a series of adaptable shipping container-based structures that will host an ever-changing group of innovative startups, many related to the music and youth culture. To complement Musicon’s creative character, the buildings are fitted with playful geometric shapes and vibrant colors along with different materials inspired by the music festival. “Our design, just like the school itself, was inspired by the spirit of the Roskilde Festival . It is all about music, art, activism — but most of all, freedom,” says Jacob van Rijs, principal and co-founder of MVRDV. “The Roskilde festival combines ‘having a good time’ with innovation in an informal way, giving a special vibe that we wanted to capture in the design of the interior of the school.” Related: COBE Architects to transform Copenhagen’s Paper Island into a bustling cultural hub For the school, the architects used a “box-within-a-box” concept to divide the factory’s large industrial space into smaller usable spaces. The colorful modules can be used for a variety of programming including a 150-seat auditorium  — named the Orange Stage after the main stage of the Festival — a music studio, a workshop, and classrooms for dance, art and architecture. The recently completed school and housing joins the rock museum Ragnarock, completed in 2016, that’s wrapped in a striking facade of gold-colored aluminum in an expression of youth culture. + MVRDV + COBE Architects Images by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST and Ossip van Duivenbode

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Former concrete factory is reborn as a unique music-inspired high school in Denmark

Verizon pledges $1 billion for programs that help the environment

February 15, 2019 by  
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Verizon is fulfilling its promise to better the environment. Keeping true to its commitment to corporate responsibility , the telecommunications company has allocated $1 billion to spend on programs that have a positive impact on the environment. Last year, Verizon committed to convert 50 percent of its energy consumption to renewable sources over the next six years. To that end, Verizon borrowed $1 billion worth of funds from green bonds to pay for projects that invest in renewable energy sources at its production facilities. This includes hydrogen fuel cells, solar technology and wind farms. “This is now a real game changer,” Verizon’s chief sustainability officer Jim Gown explained. “The whole goal of this new bond was to focus on a new, unique funding source.” Related: Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen Verizon would not have been able to fulfill its promise of renewable energy without the new bonds. According to Fortune , the bonds were a major success because more people were purchasing the low-cost bonds than they had to sell, which resulted in a low borrowing rate. The company did not reveal how low the rate sank. Green bonds have become a popular way to fund environmental projects over the past five years. Last year, these types of bonds raised more than $167 billion across the world, and experts believe that number could reach as high as $200 billion in 2019. Verizon is on a growing list of companies that are using green bonds to fulfill their promise of corporate responsibility. Apple , for example, previously borrowed $2.5 billion to fund projects, while Telefónica, a cell phone company based out of Spain, took out $1.1 billion this year. Along with funding renewable energy projects, Verizon plans to use the bonds to increase efficiency in its facilities. Most of the $1 billion the company borrowed will be used to better the environment, but some of it will go toward installing LED lighting and smart sensors to reduce energy use when employees are gone. The company is taking its commitment to corporate responsibility a step further by also spending money on its reforestation program, which seeks to plant new trees in Miami and Puerto Rico, areas that have recently been devastated by hurricanes. + Verizon Via Fortune Image via Shutterstock

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Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen

January 29, 2019 by  
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In a bid to bring more renewable energy and greater resilience to the city of Copenhagen , the Danish government has announced plans to build nine new artificial islands as part of what will become the largest and most ambitious land reclamation project in Scandinavia. Slated to begin construction in 2022, the project, dubbed Holmene (the Islets), will comprise 3 million square meters of land and will be located just 10 kilometers south of Copenhagen. Copenhagen-based architecture and planning firm URBAN POWER designed the project with environmentally friendly targets in mind, from the creation of the biggest waste-to-energy plant in Northern Europe to improved biodiversity. In addition to producing fossil fuel-free energy, the nine artificial islands of Holmene will also serve as a tech hub, a flood barrier and a sports and recreation destination. Several islets and reefs will also be inaccessible to create “untouched nature” as part of a plan to improve the area’s biodiversity. The islands will be constructed from 26 million cubic meters of surplus soil sourced from the region’s subway and building projects; the soil will also be used to create natural flood barriers around the coastline and a base for a future “green belt of nature” on each island. Key to the vision will be the focus on green technologies. Biowaste and wastewater from the region’s 1.5 million citizens will be processed in a new waste-to-energy plant and turned into clean water and biogas. Together with wind turbines and other sustainable technologies, the plant is expected to produce over 300,000 MWh of renewable energy, an amount estimated to be equivalent to the power consumption of a quarter of the Copenhagen city population. Related: Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year The Holmene project has an estimated construction cost of 425 million euros and is expected to create 380 new businesses and 12,000 jobs. The project was developed in collaboration with the consulting engineer firm COWI along with DHI-group, MOE, Aglaja and Rambøll. The environmental impact assessment starts in 2019 and the project is slated for completion in 2040. + URBAN POWER Images by URBAN POWER for Hvldovre Municipality

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Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen

COBEs Red Cross Volunteer House is an urban living room in Copenhagen

December 31, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based architecture firm COBE has unveiled images of the Red Cross Volunteer House, a new building in Copenhagen that not only celebrates the efforts of Red Cross volunteers, but also the power of great public space. Completed November 2017 as an extension of the national headquarters of the Red Cross, the Red Cross Volunteer House is a triangular building with an 850-square-meter roof that doubles as a large staircase and new meeting place for 34,000 Red Cross volunteers. Open to the public, the terraced space has also been embraced by the city as a new “urban living room.” With a floor area of 750 square meters, the Red Cross Volunteer House was designed by COBE — which won the design bid in a 2013 competition — in close collaboration with the Red Cross and representatives of the volunteer organization. Set partially underground, the volunteer center consists of exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, conference facilities, training facilities, disaster management facilities and a cafe. The extension also houses the main entrance to both the volunteer center and the headquarters, which are further linked with a green park. Yellow bricks were also used on the extension’s triangular roof to visually tie the building to the headquarters’ yellow-brick facade. “With the Red Cross Volunteer House we wanted to create a place that provides optimal settings for the heroes of everyday life – the thousands of volunteers who make an extraordinary effort to help marginalized people,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and COBE founder. “The roof of the building is now the Red Cross’s face to the world and a unique meeting place that acts both as a terraced stand and as stairs while also offering an attractive and inviting space to the many thousands of volunteers and, equally, to passersby and the rest of the city. The building has become an urban space and expresses both generosity and modesty while inviting the outside world in.” Related: COBE transforms former grain silo into swanky apartments in Copenhagen Since the project was opened to the public in November 2017, the Red Cross has garnered increased attention and visits from volunteers and passersby. The extension was constructed with a grant of DKK 30.7 million from the private foundation A. P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formål. + COBE Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST via COBE

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6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

December 31, 2018 by  
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Global carbon emissions may be on the rise and poised to reach an all-time high this year , but that doesn’t mean there isn’t positive climate news to talk about. If you are looking for some uplifting stories about the environment as we close out 2018 and head into the new year, here are six reasons to be hopeful in spite of  climate change . Plant-based meat The carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels is still the main greenhouse gas , but methane and nitrous oxide are more potent, and the levels are rising. Livestock farming is the main source of methane and nitrous oxide, and because the world loves meat and dairy, these gases are a huge factor in the battle against climate change. Simply put, if we don’t radically curb our meat consumption, we can’t beat global warming . Related: Look out meat industry — flexitarianism is on the rise People all over the world are switching to vegetarian, vegan  and flexitarian diets, and that is a step in the right direction. Bill Gates has invested in two plant-based burger companies that make food from plants that looks and tastes like meat. Major companies like Tyson, Danone and Nestle are also investing in plant-based products that have a tiny carbon footprint, so the market will continue to grow and offer a wide variety of plant-based foods. The renewable energy revolution Renewable energy is quickly becoming the new normal. Thanks to the cost of solar panels and wind turbines plummeting over the last decade, renewables are now cheaper than coal. There are already systems in place to shift from gas and oil to renewables. Companies all over the world are committing to renewable energy, and now more than half of the new capacity for generating electricity is renewable. Many parts of the world are already installing the cheapest electricity available. Last year, there was so much wind power in Germany that customers got free electricity . Even in the U.S., despite President Trump’s rollback of key climate legislation, there has been $30 billion invested in renewable energy sources. “We Are Still In” movement As a response to President Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement, thousands of America’s CEOs, college presidents and politicians have declared that the U.S. is “still in” the climate change fight with the We Are Still In movement. Over 2,600 leaders from across the country are standing together and committed to delivering the goals from the Paris Agreement. They also want to make sure that the U.S. continues to be a world leader in reducing emissions. More than 1,800 businesses and investors, 18 states and tribes and 335 of America’s colleges and universities are also part of the movement. More than half of the country’s Fortune 500 companies have the goal of cutting pollution . The death of coal Production of fossil fuels seems to have peaked in 2013, and since then, the demise has been shocking. Five years ago, the IEA anticipated a 40 percent growth in coal burning by 2040. But now, it only expects 1 percent growth. Bankruptcies are taking over the coal industry, and plans for many new coal plants are now dead and buried. China has halted plans for 151 coal plants, and in the U.K., coal has plummeted from 40 percent of the power supply to just 2 percent. This is all happening because solar and wind are now cheaper, but there is still more that can be done. When it becomes cheaper to build renewable energy sources compared to running existing coal plants, there will be zero reasons to keep digging coal out of the ground. Electric cars Oil is responsible for providing one-third of the world’s energy, so figuring out how to reduce this usage is a big challenge. One of the most promising options for reducing oil usage is battery-powered cars. They are starting to make a dent in the market, and China is leading the way by selling more electric cars every month than the U.S. and Europe combined. Just about every car manufacturer has  plans to go electric , and some will be doing it sooner rather than later. Both Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have announced plans to end production of pure fossil-fueled cars by 2021, and Tesla has already rolled out its Model 3. If current growth rates continue, EV-volumes.com analyst Viktor Irle said  that 80 percent of new cars will be electric by 2030. Batteries A big piece of the renewable puzzle is batteries. The big issue is how to deliver solar power when it’s cloudy or how to provide wind power on a calm day. New battery technology is now making it possible to continuously store renewable power, even when the sun is behind the clouds and the wind stops blowing. With battery technology improving so fast, the price of battery storage is expected to drop in half by 2030. The price of lithium-ion batteries has already dropped by 75 percent over the last six years. The latest battery technology is also contributing to the rising demand for electric cars. Via Grist , The Guardian and WWF Images via Appolinary Kalashnikova , KMW737 , Andreas160578 , Jon Tyson , Benita Welter , Stefan Schweihofer and  Sabine van Erp

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6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

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