Experience bliss at a luxury Indian spa nestled in a former coffee estate

June 5, 2018 by  
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A former coffee estate with 125 acres of pristine forest has been transformed into a luxury resort and spa that embraces nature at every turn. Located a five-hour drive west of Bangalore in the sparsely populated Indian district of Coorg, The Ibnii  offers blissful respite to city-weary visitors in need of recharge and relaxation. A highlight at the resort is undoubtedly Manja, a spacious spa complex designed by PLAYGROUP Studio and Architects AHCPL. Manja, which means ‘turmeric’ in the local Kodagu vernacular, is a full-service spa  set in one of the few clearings in the forest where the coffee estate workers’ quarters were once located. PLAYGROUP Studio and Architects AHCPL designed the spa as a series of fragmented cuboid blocks connected via elevated walkways over a central body of water. Guests enter the spa complex from the north, while massage rooms lie along the perimeter. The herbal bath, changing rooms, saunas  and steam rooms are located toward the south. “The intention was to connect distinct architectural spaces, uniquely, to natural elements – central court to the sky above, massage rooms to the pond and corridors to the forest,” the architects wrote. “The most unique feature of the design is the steep 45-degree single lean-to roofs, the eaves of which almost touch the water below. They are designed on either side of the central courtyard converging into the water and opening the central space to the expanse of clear skies, which is a rare experience within the 110-acres, densely forested site that this resort is located in.” Related: These charming timber cabins in South India are a retreat for nature lovers Clad in Himachal slate stone, the steeply angled roofs direct views from the massage rooms toward the water and preserve guests’ privacy. A natural materials palette  lines the corridors and includes local stones such as Jaisalmer, Chocolate Andhra and Kadappa. Strategically placed windows let in natural light and offer select views of the forest. + PLAYGROUP Studio Images by Ravindra Kanade

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Experience bliss at a luxury Indian spa nestled in a former coffee estate

The Dung Beetle Project farts flames as it transforms plastic into fuel

May 28, 2018 by  
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We tend to view plastic waste as worthless garbage, but a group of innovators and creators in Africa view it as an unexploited asset. In fact, they’ve used it to create the Dung Beetle Project , an art project that includes a pyrolysis gasifier to turn plastic into usable fuel. Through the effort, which recently debuted at AfrikaBurn and was spotted by the Land Art Generator Initiative , the Dung Beetle Project hopes to convert plastic from a problem to a solution. Inhabitat spoke with the project’s Finance and Marketing Director, David Terblanche, to find out more. Ideally, the Dung Beetle Project will roll around emulating the insect from which it draws its name — cleaning up waste and transforming it into something useful. The trailer-mounted movable art piece was sculpted with recycled metal in Johannesburg, South Africa, and it contains  gasification technology that recycles plastic into low-emission diesel and liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG. It’s not just the shape of the Dung Beetle that catches attention — it actually shoots flames into the sky by firing recycled gas, and it features an art stage as a platform for musicians, artists or jugglers to create “a spectacle of light and sound…to ignite people’s imaginations and spark excitement about solutions to environmental problems,” according to the group’s statement. Related: Shimmering Solar Arch to generate power for a post-industrial Connecticut town “We want to change people’s perceptions around what plastic is,” Terblanche told Inhabitat. “Right now it’s viewed as a waste, as litter, as a blot on the landscape,” but the Dung Beetle Project could help communities realize “this is a commodity that we can harvest, that it’s got some value, that we can turn it into something.” The Dung Beetle Project got its start when inventor Pierre “Pops” Pretorius, who lives on a rural farm, was tinkering with a gasification system using macadamia nut shells that would otherwise largely be discarded, according to Terblanche, a longtime friend of Pretorius and Jeffrey Barbee, project director and director of Alliance Earth , the organization backing the Dung Beetle Project. Pretorius wondered what else he might be able to gasify and thought of plastic. The friends all attend AfrikaBurn, a regional offshoot of Burning Man , and thought maybe they’d show off the gasification technology there. They had a scale working prototype and decided to transform it into a playa-ready art project. Both AfrikaBurn and Burning Man offered funding that the Dung Beetle team used to create a more sophisticated prototype; artist Nathan Honey designed the metal beetle shell. Here’s how the Dung Beetle Project works: plastic is shredded into pieces and burned in an oxygen-free environment in a reactor; gases then rise up while physical particles are recirculated to be burned again. The gases run through cooling ribs and condense into liquid, “similar to how a whisky still might work,” Terblanche says. Fuel drips out, and it can be used to power a vehicle or generator. According to the group’s statement, “Anything not burnt will fall out the bottom as pure carbon that can be placed directly into the soil to enrich it, or made into something more exciting like nano-tubes or graphene sheets.” There’s no waste, and while some emissions are produced when the resulting fuel is burned — it isn’t a clean fuel — the process used to create that fuel has no emissions,  and the fuel itself burns cleaner than oil. Any plastic could be gasified, but there are some types the team avoids using, like PET, as it’s easily recycled, or white PVC piping, which has chemicals like chlorine that don’t work well with the gasification process. “The big benefit is that [the Dung Beetle Project] can process things that can’t be recycled, like the cellophane wrapping your pre-packed salad comes in, and this process allows you to process items that would have just ended up in a landfill ,” Terblanche said. The vision for the Dung Beetle goes beyond AfrikaBurn. The group aims to take it on a roadshow to educate people and work with communities to create lower-tech versions inspired by Pretorius’ original gasifier built with recycled parts. “The really nice thing about the low-tech version is it can kind of be built in any little backyard garage. So imagine a mechanic who has a welding machine and a workshop. That’s all you probably need to make one of these,” Terblanche said. “So we want to spread the message, and if we can get hundreds of these out there, then we’re going to have hundreds of communities which are cleaning up their own plastic. And then at a community level you starting changing people’s behavior so the plastic doesn’t reach the ocean .” The project could even offer incentives to preserve forests: in places with shortages of fuel or employment, people chop down ancient hardwoods to make charcoal to sell. The Dung Beetle technology could provide fuel security as people use plastic instead of wood for fuel, and people could even sell the plastic for money or some of the fuel a gasification system would generate. In the future, the members of the Dung Beetle Project even see themselves taking to the seas on a boat powered with their tech, bringing the message to island communities facing plastic washing up on their shores. Terblanche said they’d love to “go out into some of these ocean gyres and basically fish for plastic and turn it into fuel on the boat, which we can then store in oil bunkers at the bottom of the boat. At worst, you’ll power the boat and get it across the ocean with its own plastic fuel; at best, you’re creating a commodity which you can actually sell.” The group has been invited to come work with a Mozambique nonprofit; there’s also been interest in the Dung Beetle Project from a Cape Town sustainability institute and even Serengeti National Park. Regardless of what happens, we’re curious to see where the Dung Beetle rolls in the future. + Dung Beetle Project Via Land Art Generator Initiative Images courtesy of Jeffrey Barbee

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The Dung Beetle Project farts flames as it transforms plastic into fuel

This modern vacation home embraces indoor-outdoor living in Ontario

May 25, 2018 by  
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The boundary between indoors and out are blurred to beautiful effect in the Bear Stand Residence, a family retreat located approximately three hours northeast of Toronto, Ontario. Designed by Bohlin Grauman Miller in association with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson , the 3,300-square-foot holiday home is wrapped in glazing and natural materials in order to feel like an airy extension of the surrounding forest. Sitting along the shores of Contau Lake, the Bear Stand serves as an escape from city life for residents Sharon Leece and Joe Migrath. The couple lives and work in Shanghai but sought a forested retreat that they could share with their young daughter as well as family and friends. When in Shanghai, the family also offers the house as a vacation rental. “We wanted to build a West Coast-style property, as we love the open, airy, inside-outside connectivity of the modernist design approach there,” Leece said. “We felt the land was the perfect place to envision an authentic cabin aesthetic, visually connected with the environment.” Before Bohlin Cywinski Jackson principal Robert Miller started the design process, he joined the clients in a multi-day camping trip on the property to get a feel of the land. The time he spent with the couple was critical to shaping the vision for the house, which is designed to embrace the surrounding lake and forest at every turn. Related: The net-zero Frick Environmental Center is officially one of the world’s greenest buildings In addition to the master suite, the Bear Stand can accommodate a minimum of 12 guests in three guest suites, a bunk room with four beds and a den. The two-story home is oriented on an east-west axis to parallel the lake and an adjacent granite rock-face that rises up to the south. A double-height living room and dining area forms the heart of the home, while nearly all of the bedrooms — save for one guest bedroom — are located upstairs. The material palette echoes the wooded environment, from the black fiber-cement panels and stained cedar siding to the indoor fir windows and walnut flooring. Large windows open the home up to the outdoors. The house also includes a private sauna, ofuro soaking tub, hot tub and a screened porch. The American Institute of Architects  recently recognized the home’s excellence with a 2018 Housing Award. + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Images by Nic Lehoux

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This modern vacation home embraces indoor-outdoor living in Ontario

Chinas first Slow Food Village will promote local foods and traditions

May 24, 2018 by  
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Rural-urban migration in China is at an all-time high, with experts estimating an influx of 243 million migrants to Chinese cities by 2025 . In a bid to combat this wave of migration and raise living standards for farmers, Stefano Boeri Architetti  designed Slow Food Freespace, China’s first Slow Village that follows the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement. The Slow Village pilot project will be presented this week at the 16th Venice Biennial. Founded in Italy in 1986, the Slow Food Movement has grown into a worldwide campaign that promotes local food, traditional cooking and sustainability in agricultural economies. Inspired by this vision, Stefano Boeri Architetti created a Slow Village program for China that comprises three cultural epicenters — a school , a library and a small museum — that would be built in each village and serve as hubs for disseminating farming knowledge and celebrating each area’s unique cultural characteristics. “We easily forget that the rural areas provide sustainability to our daily lives,” Stefano Boeri said. “It is an inevitable necessity of architecture to confront the speed of evolution while also feeding it with the richness of the past. For this reason, we have proposed to enhance the agricultural villages with a system of small but precious catalysts of local culture, able to improve the lives of the residents.” Related: NYC Design Collaborative Shows Communities How To Cook with Ingredients from the Sidewalk The first Chinese Slow Village will be located in Qiyan, in the Southwest province of Sichuan. Stefano Boeri Architetti China will provide its services pro-bono for the design and construction of the first pilot system, including the library, school and museum. Likened to a “single organic accelerator,” the three buildings will teach about the preparation, consumption and supply of food, as well as ancient and deeply rooted food traditions. The Slow Villages are also expected to spur and accommodate tourism. The Slow Food Freespace presentation will take place at the Venice Biennial  on May 25, 2018. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Chinas first Slow Food Village will promote local foods and traditions

3XN breaks ground on Aquabella, a LEED-certified building on Toronto’s waterfront

May 22, 2018 by  
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Toronto’s new buildings are quickly cementing the city’s status as an architectural icon, and its latest gorgeously green residential tower is no exception. The city has just broken ground on Aquabella, a LEED-certified building with multiple tiers of green roofs. Designed by Danish architecture firm  3XN , the residential building has multiple outdoor spaces integrated into the design to enhance the well-being of the residents. Looking to serve as an icon for the revitalized Bayside Toronto waterfront area, the multi-tiered design will house 174 residential units. Large balconies and terraces rise up in an “L” shape from the first floor, creating a strong connection to the outdoors. These spaces not only enable residents to enjoy fresh air and incredible views of the lake, but also illuminate the apartments’ interiors with natural light . Along with the private homes, the complex will include a community center, a basketball court, retail spaces, and plenty of restaurants and cafes. Related: Toronto’s waterfront to undergo major futuristic redesign thanks to Google’s Sidewalk Labs According to the architects, their vision of creating a “complex yet elegant sculptural form” inspired the final design of rising terraces. Like many of 3XN’s projects, Aquabella was based on Scandinavian design principles , which typically have a strong emphasis on providing outdoor spaces for healthy lifestyles. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Nielsen described his firm’s role in creating an architectural design that would foster a strong sense of community: “3XN is thrilled to be part of helping Toronto to reclaim its industrial waterfront and integrate it into the city. Inspired by the scale and intimacy of a family home, we envision this new project as a vertical neighborhood on the shores of Lake Ontario. The design puts people first, paying particular attention to the quality of views, space and lifestyle. The development will command extraordinary views of the water, neighboring parks, and the city skyline.” + 3XN Architects Images via 3XN Architects

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3XN breaks ground on Aquabella, a LEED-certified building on Toronto’s waterfront

Steven Holl Architects LEED Gold-seeking museum is a beacon for sustainability

May 22, 2018 by  
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Environmental design and contemporary art go hand-in-hand in Steven Holl Architects’ recently completed The Markel Center , the home of the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Located at the busiest intersection in Richmond, The Markel Center embodies VCU and the ICA’s commitment to sustainability with its LEED Gold-seeking design and energy-efficient technologies. Filled with natural light to reduce electricity demands, the museum draws energy from geothermal wells and features over 8,000 square feet of green roofs for extra insulation. Opened last month, VCU’s new Institute for Contemporary Art is free to the public and marks Richmond’s first art institution dedicated exclusively to exhibiting contemporary art . Sandwiched between VCU’s Monroe Park campus and the city’s art district, the ICA is a sculptural, 41,000-square-foot structure spread out across three floors and flooded with natural light from large glass walls, windows and skylights. The glass, which ranges in transparency from clear to opaque, filters out UV rays and, when backlit, gives the titanium-zinc-clad building a light, box-like appearance. The lobby, offices, cafe, bar, 240-seat auditorium , and concept shop, along with a 4,000-square-foot gallery, occupy the first floor and connect to the ICA’s central forum and outdoor garden, dubbed the “Thinking Field.” The second floor houses two forking galleries, an interactive “learning lab,” and a publicly accessible landscaped terrace . The top floor features a gallery with 33-foot-tall walls in addition to administrative suites and the boardroom. “We designed the ICA to be a flexible, forward-looking instrument that will both illuminate and serve as a catalyst for the transformative possibilities of contemporary art,” said architect Steven Holl. “Like many contemporary artists working today, the ICA’s design does not draw distinctions between the visual and performing arts. The fluidity of the design allows for experimentation and will encourage new ways to display and present art that will capitalize on the ingenuity and creativity apparent throughout the VCU campus.” Related: Steven Holl Architects unveils designs for geothermal-powered Angers Collectors Museum Clad in 100% recyclable titanium-zinc exterior paneling, the LEED Gold -seeking building draws energy from 43 geothermal wells for its radiant floor system. Native plants are used in the permeable landscape design as well as on the green roofs that cover three of the four gallery roofs. Nearly a third of materials used during construction were recyclable and nearly a quarter of the materials were regionally sourced. + Steven Holl Architects Images by Iwan Baan

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Adidas unveils a Manchester United jersey created with ocean plastic

May 21, 2018 by  
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Ocean plastic just got a flashy new awareness effort—in Manchester United Football Club jerseys. Adidas  has teamed up with Parley for the Oceans to release a kit utilizing recycled ocean plastic and inspired by the team’s 1968 European Cup Final win. Manchester United director Richard Arnold said in a statement, “We are all acutely aware of the threat of plastic to the environment and we are delighted to be able to raise further awareness with this recycled kit, which I am sure the fans will love.” Manchester United’s third kit features a navy blue shirt adorned with gold detailing from Parley for the Oceans and Adidas . It’s a throwback to the team’s 1968 royal blue kit in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its European Cup victory. But the blue also calls to mind the world’s oceans , which are plagued by plastic pollution . Adidas Category Product Director Oliver Nicklisch said, “We all need to change the way we think and act towards our oceans…By working with Manchester United to create new, stunning jerseys made with Parley Ocean Plastic, we hope that we can highlight the issue of plastic damaging our oceans, and ultimately encourage and inspire football fans to join us in creating a better environment for everyone.” Players will don the kit for the first time on the field during Manchester United’s summer tour in the United States. Related: These Adidas sneakers double as subway passes in Berlin This isn’t the first time Adidas and Parley for the Oceans have collaborated; they’ve also created running shoes and clothes with plastic plucked out of the oceans. The apparel is available for purchase on Adidas’ website. The plastic upcycled in their clothing is sourced from beaches, coastal communities, and shorelines. + Parley for the Oceans + Adidas + Adidas x Parley + Manchester United Football Club Images courtesy of Adidas and Parley for the Oceans

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Nine African cities commit to reaching zero carbon by 2050

May 21, 2018 by  
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Nine cities across Africa , a continent vulnerable to climate change , are taking action. Recently, these cities pledged to deliver their share of carbon emissions reductions to hit Paris Agreement goals. The cities, several of which are major capitals, aim to reach zero carbon economies in just over 30 years. African cities will work to reduce emissions from things such as transport, buildings, energy production and waste management – an effort some have already started. https://t.co/nqU1xf4jb2 #Cities4Climate pic.twitter.com/tKp5sRugOe — C40 Cities (@c40cities) May 20, 2018 Transportation , waste management and  energy production are among the sectors African cities will tackle to lower emissions — and some cities have already started working toward their goals, according to C40 Cities , a network of cities around the world battling climate change. At a recent urban climate action planning meeting, Mohammed Adjei Sowah — mayor of Accra, the capital of Ghana and a participating city — said, “We cannot ignore the implications of what will befall us if we do not act now.” Related: A company in Ghana is turning plastic bags into roads Other cities joining Accra include Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Lagos in Nigeria, Dakar in Senegal, and four in South Africa: Durban, Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Cape Town. C40 Cities executive director Mark Watts said they expect that Nairobi in Kenya and Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire will soon submit plans to participate. It won’t be an easy task — according to  Reuters and the World Bank , of the top 10 large cities around the world with the lowest emissions, just one, Johannesburg, is currently in Africa. Nor will it be cheap; Heinrich Boll Foundation project coordinator Ikenna Ofoegbu told Reuters, “Each sector — like agriculture , power, transport — has its own strategies to encourage cleaner energy rather than use of fossil fuels . But these solutions are capital intensive.” But it’s certainly an important task, as the World Bank projects 70 percent of the world’s population could reside in cities by 2050, and it’s anticipated Africa could account for half of global population growth by 2050. Via Reuters Image via Depositphotos

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Nine African cities commit to reaching zero carbon by 2050

Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic

May 21, 2018 by  
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Point Nemo is so remote that those on the International Space Station, hundreds of miles above Earth, are usually the closest humans to this isolated place. Located nearly 1,700 miles from the nearest island, Point Nemo is the oceanic point farthest from land on our planet. Despite its secluded location, Point Nemo is plagued with plastic pollution. Sea vessels participating in the eight-month-long worldwide Volvo Ocean Race took seawater samples from Point Nemo, which contained up to 26 microplastic particles per cubic meter. In 1992, survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela discovered Point Nemo by using a computer program to determine the planet’s most remote oceanic point. The isolated Point Nemo is also one of the most lifeless areas of the ocean due to its proximity to South Pacific Gyre current, which pushes away nutrient-rich water. Turn The Tide On Plastic , the Volvo Ocean Race  team that gathered the seawater sample from Point Nemo, collaborates with Sky Ocean Rescue to raise awareness of plastic pollution and organize action to reduce it. The plastic-contaminated samples, which were gathered during leg seven of the race from New Zealand to Brazil , represent the first instance in which Point Nemo water has been assessed for plastic content. Related: The isolated Pacific graveyard where spaceships go to die The seawater was first analyzed by Dr. Soren Gutekunst of the GEOMAR Institute for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany . “This means that even if I put a plastic bottle in the River Thames, maybe at some point I will find microplastics from this bottle down in South Africa ,” Gutekunst told Sky News . While the news of plastic pollution in even the most remote locations is concerning, the level of pollution is still far below that of areas such as the Mediterranean or the South China Sea, which contain the highest levels of microplastic pollution. + Volvo Ocean Race Via The Guardian and Sky News Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic

The all-natural ‘Wellness Kitchen’ includes a beautiful living herb wall

May 17, 2018 by  
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Kitchens are often the heart of any home, and now an innovative company is giving our beloved cooking space a healthy and sustainable makeover. Interior design company  Finch London recently unveiled its beautiful bespoke rose-colored “Wellness Kitchen” that’s built with various chemical-free and eco-friendly materials  and features a stunning herb wall. The London-based company’s Wellness Kitchen — which recently took home the grand prize at the Grand Designs Live event for its spectacular design — offers a glimpse into the future of eco-friendly kitchen design . The space includes a number of wellness features such as incandescent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) light bulbs, a doTerra essential oil diffuser, a steam oven, an alkaline water purifier and much more. The countertops are made of Jesmonite, a water-based material that, unlike cast concrete, does not release volatile organic compounds . Related: Artisan Moss ‘plant paintings’ are maintenance-free alternatives to living walls The flooring is made from natural cork  harvested through an environmentally-friendly process. Resistant to dust and toxic absorption, cork is an ideal choice for people who suffer from allergies. It’s also antimicrobial and water-resistant, which helps to combat mold. A major feature of the kitchen is its verdant living herb wall installed on the kitchen island. In addition to various air-purifying plants found hanging throughout the space, the indoor herb garden allows homeowners to grow their own herbs and spices organically. + Finch London Via Household Beautiful Images via Finch London

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