Explore the worlds driest desert at these eco-friendly geodomes

September 27, 2018 by  
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On the coastal edge of northern Chile’s Atacama Desert sits the Piedras Bayas BeachCamp , sustainable lodgings that offer a low-impact stay in the world’s driest desert. Chilean architecture firm MOREAS designed the eco-friendly retreat using local materials, non-contaminant sanitary systems and off-grid energy systems. Billed as a “sustainable tourism station,” the beach camp is oriented toward the water and offers an immersive experience in the virgin landscape. Elevated on stilts, the Piedras Bayas BeachCamp consists of a centrally located service center and three freestanding hotel suites. Spaced 50 meters apart to preserve privacy, each suite houses up to four people and comprises a white geodome for the sleeping quarters, a private bathroom and a personal terrace oriented for views of the water. The service center is equipped with a communal kitchen with all the appliances and tools needed for food prep, two outdoor dining areas, an office, two bathrooms, a staff room and a living area. Exterior raised pathways connect the various buildings. To minimize impact on the landscape, the project was constructed in three phases with a team of three carpenters, two local artisans and an architect on site. “The strategy was to have a wood structure as the skeleton, with skin made out of local materials,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The structural basis was made from wooden pillars, buried one meter in the sand compacted with salt water, and the foundations did not use any cement at all. The main local materials used for this project were ‘Brea’ and ‘Totora.’ It is inspired by a small village located 40 minutes from the site.” Related: Desert dome camp in Jordan offers tourists “The Martian” experience Nightly rates at the Piedras Bayas BaseCamp start at $120 USD with a minimum two-night stay requirement. Guests will have access to kayaks as well as electricity and hot water 24/7. + MOREAS Via ArchDaily Images by Alejandro Gálvez, Cristina Ananias and Eduardo Montesinos

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Rammed earth walls tie this modern home to the Arizona desert landscape

August 21, 2018 by  
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Architect Brent Kendle of Kendle Design Collaborative married architecture with the desert landscape in Desert Wash, a site-specific home that sweeps the natural environment indoors through walls of glass and rammed earth construction. Designed for an active family of four, the 6,700-square-foot abode in Paradise Valley, Arizona takes its name from the property’s existing desert dry wash, a biome located at a drainage area prone to severe flooding events. To embrace the natural landscape and mitigate flooding, Desert Wash sports an elevated bridge that traverses the desert dry wash area—an element normally seen as a major obstacle in residential design. Designed to celebrate desert living, the Desert Wash home feels immersed in nature despite its relatively close proximity to the city. The modern house comprises a master suite with three guest bedrooms and plenty of indoor-outdoor entertaining opportunities. The garage, along with the bulk of the home, is located to the north of the dry wash, while the foyer, office and one of the guest bedrooms are located to the south and accessible via the glazed bridge . A simple material palette and neutral tones tie the sprawling residence to the desert landscape. Rammed earth walls, expansive glazing and flat steel and wood roofs with deep overhangs define the home’s construction. Predominately white interior walls help create an airy and bright indoor atmosphere while providing a perfect backdrop for the family’s extensive collection of art. Related: Unusual Kerplunk House is envisioned as a “miniature forest” in the desert “Desert wash uses the indigenous materials of the site to define the main living spaces,” explains Kendle Design Collaborative. “ Rammed earth walls brings the earth to the interior. Welcoming one into the home and unifying it with nature simultaneously. Throughout the home you experience the site sensitivity of the project through its unique pallets and how the residence respects the natural qualities of the site. The home nestles its self into the earth while also respecting the natural topography of the site by spanning over the ancient wash.” + Kendle Design Collaborative Via ArchDaily Images by Chibi Moku and Michael Woodall

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Rammed earth walls tie this modern home to the Arizona desert landscape

Incredible glass home stays comfortably snug even in extreme temperatures

March 6, 2018 by  
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OFIS Architects tackles the ultimate indoor-outdoor living experience with Glass Pavilion, a retreat with full-height glass structural walls that provides total comfort even in extreme desert conditions. Initiated by Guardian Glass , this thermally efficient prototype home will operate off-grid and offer lucky guests stunning and uninterrupted views of Spain’s Gorafe desert. Completed this year, the compact 215-square-foot Glass Pavilion is part of OFIS Architects’ ongoing collaboration with AKT II structural engineers , where the firms test the structural possibilities of glass and timber in extreme climates. “This project is a response to the local, desert climate conditions,” wrote OFIS Architects of Glass Pavilion. “Instead of focusing only in ‘a glass as a window element’ the concept explored its advanced potentials, e.g. transparent but shading element, a thin but thermally efficient envelope that is also the sole structural support.” Related: Exceptional prefab alpine shelter overlooks mind-boggling mountain views Triple-glazed walls create a thermally efficient envelope, while near-invisible coatings, operable shades, and roof overhangs protect the interior from solar gain . The Y-shaped interior is evenly split between a living area with a kitchenette, a bedroom with storage, and the bathroom. All three rooms open out to a wraparound terrace deck. “The Glass Pavilion will be the setting of a 1-week retreat for a single person or a couple,” added the architects. “The guests will be selected from different tourist sharing platforms.” + OFIS Architects Images @ Jose Navarrete

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Incredible glass home stays comfortably snug even in extreme temperatures

Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’

November 13, 2017 by  
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Bill Gates  is purchasing 25,000 acres of land in the West Valley area of Arizona, 45 minutes west of Phoenix, with the intent of building a high-tech “smart city” named Belmont. “Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” said Belmont Partners, the real estate firm involved in the purchase, in a press statement. The purchase, made by an investment firm run by Gates, cost $80 million and will be developed along the proposed freeway I-11, which would connect Belmont to Las Vegas and other major hubs of the region. Although Gates has given the project a new boost of funding and publicity, the planned community of Belmont, Arizona has been in the works since the 1990s. Although the housing crash put a damper on the city’s development, the regional real estate market has since recovered. The city also is banking on the parallel development of I-11, a proposed interstate highway that would run through Belmont to Las Vegas. The first section of I-11, near Boulder City, Arizona, was opened in August 2017. Related: Bill Gates launches $1 billion clean energy fund to fight climate change 3,800 acres of the proposed community will be used for office, retail and commercial space while an additional 470 acres will be set aside for public schools . The remaining space is enough land for 80,000 residential units. “Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model,” said Belmont Properties in a statement. When completed, Belmont will join Arcosanti , an ecologically-inspired experimental town to the north of Phoenix, as one of the region’s most high-profile planned communities. Via Popular Mechanics and The Republic Images via Gisela Giardino/Flickr and  Depositphotos

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Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’

7.3-magnitude earthquake hits Iran and Iraq, killing hundreds

November 13, 2017 by  
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  More than 300 people are dead after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday. The quake, which struck the northern border region between Iran and Iraq , killed hundreds of people in Iran and at least six people in Iraq. The BBC said this is the world’s deadliest earthquake this year. The 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck 32 kilometers, or around 20 miles, south of Halabjah, Iraq, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), at 21:18 local time. Iranian media said at least 14 provinces in the country were impacted, but Kermanshah was hit the hardest. Thousands of people were injured – the BBC gave the number as over 7,000. The town of Sarpol-e-Zahab had the most victims – and it was hard for people to receive medical care as the town’s main hospital was severely damaged. Related: New super concrete makes buildings strong enough to withstand magnitude 9 earthquakes Many homes in the mountainous area were built with mud bricks , according to the BBC, putting them at risk of collapse during a strong earthquake such as this one. Rescuers worked to find survivors beneath collapsed buildings, and some teams were hindered by mudslides . Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’aLQg7guVSqpAXLNVtA0m7A’,sig:’hHuNL1AV0_nt58qsjJfq6zIN3hrLkz3TwevBjgcHOEc=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’873538724′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Baghdad residents felt the earthquake; local Majida Ameer told Reuters, “I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air. I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquake!’” Reuters quoted the head of Iranian Red Crescent as saying over 70,000 people needed shelter following the quake. Many people left their homes to go outside in cold weather in fear of aftershocks – and so far there have been around 153, according to the Iranian seismological center, with more expected. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’uFcvJSipSvVSR9z0J52gzw’,sig:’spq5txH69X6BtLZTpp28fC0ql-oXpfbpPsw-m9AZ1RE=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’873514006′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); According to Reuters, Iran rests across major fault lines , and is prone to tremors. This one hit at a depth of 23.2 kilometers, around 14.4 miles, and was reportedly felt in Kuwait, Israel, and Turkey. The BBC said it’s the deadliest quake Iran has experienced since 2012. It’s the sixth earthquake with a magnitude of seven or more this year – as opposed to 16 in 2016 and 19 in 2015. Via Reuters and the BBC Images via Reuters video and the United States Geological Survey

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7.3-magnitude earthquake hits Iran and Iraq, killing hundreds

One Bitcoin transaction takes more energy than a household uses in a week

November 13, 2017 by  
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Although Bitcoin has suffered a dramatic fall in value over the past several days, 2017 has seen Bitcoin’s value reach new heights. But with its increased value comes an increased strain on energy consumption. According to cryptocurrency analyst Alex de Vries, also known as Digiconomist , it would be profitable to use 24 terawatt-hours of electricity, about the equivalent annual energy consumption to Nigeria, a nation of 186 million, to “mine” Bitcoins each year. Even simple transactions with Bitcoin consume large amounts of energy; 215 kilowatt-hours (KWh), or enough electricity to power an American household for a week, are required to complete each of the roughly 300,000 Bitcoin transactions that occur each day. Bitcoins are created by “ mining ,” a process which involves running a powerful computing system so that it may solve complex cryptographic puzzles and produce a Bitcoin. The price of Bitcoin is proportional to the amount of electricity that can profitably be used to extract Bitcoin from a computing rig. When the price rises, miners must compensate by adding more powerful computing components, which then adds to the energy bill. Motherboard estimates that, at a minimum, the energy used by global Bitcoin extraction network at present could power 821,940 average American homes daily. Related: This Russian cottage is heated for free with Bitcoin mining What does this energy consumption mean for climate change and the environment? Using data available from a coal-powered Bitcoin mine in Mongolia , the Digiconomist determined that this single mine produces the emissions equivalent of 203,000 car kilometers traveled per hour of mining. When asked by Motherboard whether this energy problem might be fixed as the system matures, the Digiconomist responded that “Blockchain is inefficient tech by design, as we create trust by building a system based on distrust.” Bitcoin transactions are thousands of times less efficient than credit card transactions, by design. In the brave new world of Bitcoin, it seems that unless drastic changes are made, the cryptocurrency will continue to consume enormous amounts of energy. Via Motherboard Images via Depositphotos (1)

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One Bitcoin transaction takes more energy than a household uses in a week

This swanky desert guesthouse was fashioned out of a former horse barn

November 9, 2017 by  
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This stunning modernist guest home bears little similarity to its previous form: an old concrete barn for horses. Design-build firm The Construction Zone led the adaptive reuse project, the Barn Guest House, transforming the old horse stalls into room dividers. Full-height north-facing glass gives the guesthouse an indoor-outdoor character that embraces a desert garden In Phoenix. Topped with a flat overhanging roof, the 750-square-foot guest home contains a master suite, kitchen, and living area separated by concrete walls. Timber, seen in the Douglas fir -clad roof and furnishings and cabinetry, imbue the home with much needed warmth in a predominately cool-toned palette of concrete, glass, and black steel. Related: Atelier Data Transforms an Old Horse Stable into a Simple but Stunning Home in Portugal The interior decor is kept minimal to maintain the home’s sense of lightness in the landscape, while a few pops of red hues and natural timber tones break up the gray color scheme. The Barn Guest House looks out over an outdoor entertaining patio , bocce ball court, jacuzzi, and cacti-studded gardens. + The Construction Zone Via Dezeen Images by Bill Timmerman

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This swanky desert guesthouse was fashioned out of a former horse barn

Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23

November 9, 2017 by  
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Artist Andreco has unveiled his latest art installation, Climate 04-Sea Level Rise in Venice, to raise awareness of the climate change conference COP 23 currently underway in Bonn, Germany. Introduced as a project promoting dialogue between the arts and sciences, the climate change-inspired installation calls attention to the effects of potential sea level rise in Venice. The site-specific project consists of three parts: a wall mural, a sculpture, and an academic conference. Climate 04-Sea Level Rise is the fourth iteration of Andreco’s ongoing Climate project, started in Paris in November 2015 during COP 21 . For each conference since, the artist has realized various site-specific installations that take inspiration from recent scientific research and estimates in climate studies. From the introduction of the new installation: “Andreco’s aim for this project is to underline the weaknesses of the territory where his interventions will take place. While in Bari the main theme was the accelerating desertification caused by the rising temperatures, in Venice the artist’s focus is the sea level rise.” Related: Almost 200 countries gather at COP23 to accelerate climate action Andreco’s interventions in Venice begins with a giant mural , located next to Canal Grande in Fondamenta Santa Lucia, that represents his artistic interpretation about estimates and data regarding sea level rise in the Italian city. The mural is made of long curvaceous blue lines, punctuated by equations and mathematical symbols, mimicking waves that rise high above a person’s height. A crystalline steel sculpture to the side contains native coastal plants that speak to the importance of the landscape in combating storm surges. The last part of the intervention was a series of talks by international researchers held to stimulate public discussion about climate change. + Andreco

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Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23

Subterranean Oxygen Park is a breath of fresh air in the Qatari desert

August 18, 2017 by  
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A “green lung” in Qatar’s desert landscape is helping people stay healthy and active, and reconnecting them to nature. Erik Behrens and James Haig Streeter of AECOM recently completed Oxygen Park, a unique public space in Doha’s Education City. Built to promote exercise and social gatherings, Oxygen Park is partly buried underground and features undulating, organic forms masses inspired by the desert’s wind-eroded rocks and landscapes. Oxygen Park derives its name from the elemental life-force of oxygen , which the park also produces with its tree-studded green landscape. The designers wrote: “Oxygen Park is a man-made ‘green lung’ with a design inspired by nature. It is an antidote to the generic indoor gym environment and helps people to get back to nature, while fostering social engagement and promoting active healthy lifestyles.” A series of “balloon lights” float above the subterranean landscape to draw attention to Oxygen Park from afar. Related: SOMA Architects’ luxury Shaza Hotel breaks ground in Doha The park’s exercise features include shaded running trails, subterranean pitches for team sports, and equestrian facilities. More passive recreational areas also punctuate the park in the form of water plazas, sensory gardens, shade gardens, play gardens , and a series of soundscape -filled, folly spheres. The use of water and shade are seamlessly integrated into the design to provide relief from the hot climate. At night, a beautiful lighting scheme illuminates the park and water to create a safe and attractive environment for workouts and strolls after sundown. + AECOM Images by Markus Elblaus

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Subterranean Oxygen Park is a breath of fresh air in the Qatari desert

Frank Lloyd Wright architecture school grad built this beautiful desert shelter for $2K

May 17, 2017 by  
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Students at The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Taliesin West have erected small sleeping shelters on the school’s Arizona desert property in for decades, hearkening back to the early days of the school, when young architects resided in tents as they built the permanent building. Chilean architect Jaime Inostroza just raised his own tiny shelter, and – in keeping with the famous architect’s principles – it is meant to “respond to the landscape of the Sonora desert .” Inostroza named his shelter Atalaya, which means the crow’s nest of a ship, wherein crew members can glimpse the horizon. In his design statement, Inostroza said he wanted to build a sleeping shelter that would let him “dwell within the horizon of the Alameda of the Palos Verdes.” Atalaya is 12 feet tall, the same height as many of the surrounding trees. Related: Taliesin West students built protective desert shelters using mostly local materials With just a $2,000 budget from the school – and honoring Wright’s principles of sustainable design – Inostroza incorporated local stones into his shelter, and reused an old concrete pad resting on the site as a plinth for his new structure. Western red-cedar comprises the wooden parts of the shelter, a type Inostroza chose because it can last for 25 years and was more beautiful than another type of wood he could have picked such as pine. A wall-stair provides access to a small sleeping chamber. Fabric panels intended to amplify the surrounding desert colors cover Atalaya. Inostroza also considered light and the way it changes daily in the desert; he said the site of his sleeping shelter “becomes a distiller of the light” at sunset. He went through several designs before he settled on one, which happened to be the simplest. He told azcentral.com, “I’ve learned to always be asking: What is the essence? What is here? You don’t want to impose yourself on the site, you want to exalt what is already there.” Via ArchDaily , Curbed , and azcentral.com Images © Andrew Pielage /via ArchDaily

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Frank Lloyd Wright architecture school grad built this beautiful desert shelter for $2K

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