A storage shed is transformed into a bespoke light-filled home in London

May 17, 2018 by  
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London-based architecture firm De Rosee Sa has given an old storage shed a new lease on life by converting it into a bright, bespoke family home. Sandwiched between terraced gardens and a row of 16 West London garages, the shed — renamed the Courtyard House — was brilliantly renovated, despite challenging regulations that included height limitations and the requirement that any new form must match the existing gable outline. Divided into two floors, the Courtyard House organizes the communal areas and the first bedroom on the ground floor, while the basement level houses a second bedroom that opens up to a private external courtyard . The architects solved the challenge of bringing light into the narrow 121-foot-long site by adding three external courtyards accessed through Crittal-style steel and glass doors. The home achieves its bright and airy atmosphere with crisp white walls, balanced by timber floors and black steel framing. Related: Fairytale-inspired lakeside cabin is made from locally felled and milled timber Western red cedar battens line the internal walls of the courtyards in a nod to the site’s history as a timber yard. The wood is also used inside to frame small spaces including the bathroom, study and utility room. “We worked very hard in the initial stages to convince the clients that developing this house was a risk worth taking,” said Max de Rosee, Director of De Rosee Sa Architects. “The most satisfying aspects of the project is the top light that pours into the interiors and the long views through the courtyards. Once inside, you forget that this house is in London.” + De Rosee Sa Via Dwell Images by Alex James Photography

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A storage shed is transformed into a bespoke light-filled home in London

Aperture-like windows maximize shading in this stunning Vancouver residence

May 16, 2018 by  
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When Arno Matis Architecture was tapped to help reshape the identity of Vancouver’s Cambie Street, they designed Aperture, a beautiful site-responsive residential development. The city-block-sized structure derives its name from its striking aperture-like openings with glass-and-wood veneer walls angled in response to each facade’s unique solar exposure. Built to LEED Gold specifications, Aperture maximizes passive shading and is topped with green roofs. Created using Arno Matis Architecture’s “Responsive Density Design” strategy, Aperture emphasizes “social porosity” and urban connections. In response to the site context, the 98,000-square-foot building steps down from two six-story mid-rise blocks located along a busy street down to four two-story villas more in scale to the single-family neighborhood in the north. Two courtyard axes bisect the development to allow for the penetration of natural light and mountain views. Related: LEED Gold UBC Aquatic Center takes an innovative approach to water recycling “Stratigraphic architectural themes echo the area’s mid-century modern architectural vocabulary,” wrote the architects. “ Cantilever decks and strong horizontal lines create a sense of lightness and lower the massing profile.” The angled walls that frame each aperture, made of mahogany veneer sandwiched between two encapsulated UV glass layers, lend the building a sense of warmth. The insulated glass also increases thermal resistance and reduces solar gain. + Arno Matis Architecture Images © Michael Elkan

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Aperture-like windows maximize shading in this stunning Vancouver residence

Artist upcycles discarded cassette tapes into eco-friendly MusicCloth

May 16, 2018 by  
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When Singaporean artist and founder of Rehyphen®  Jessica Chuan Yi Xin stumbled upon a stash of forgotten cassette tapes in her room, she brainstormed a way to reuse the material rather than contribute to the growing problem of e-waste. A bit of ingenuity and experimentation led her to develop MusicCloth®, a handwoven textile made from upcycled magnetic tapes. According to the United Nations , nearly 45 million metric tons of electronic waste was generated in 2016 — an increase of 8 percent from just two years prior. As an advocate for the environment, Chuan created MusicCloth® to raise awareness for upcycling and the global problem of e-waste. Chuan developed the innovative textile after nine months of research and development using cassette tapes donated by friends and family. In 2016, she launched a successful  Kickstarter  campaign for MusicCloth® tote bags. The campaign not only raised the funds needed to take the project to the next level, but it also allowed her to collect cassette tapes from donors around the world. Chuan weaves MusicCloth® by hand in a simple yet labor-intensive process. In addition to tote bags, the malleable material has been used to create art , wallets, notebooks and dresses. Chuan and her team at Rehyphen® also expanded to offer workshops through Airbnb’s “Experiences” platform to teach visitors in Singapore how to weave MusicCloth® creations. The globally recognized textile has even found a place in New York City’s Material ConneXion library and has also been recognized by the University of Pennsylvania and Red Dot 21. The material was recently entered in the Golden Pin Design Award’s new Integration Design category. Related: This jewelry is made with upcycled gold from Dell computers “We hope to encourage people to see waste with fresh perspective, and get curious about how things are made,” Chuan said. “We throw things away for they are broken, no longer useful or having lost their charm. We, however, elevate everyday objects to a work of art, and to show that up-cycling art is not an environment movement but instead is a reminder that observing the other side of existence is the essence of art.” + Rehyphen® Images via Rehyphen®

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Artist upcycles discarded cassette tapes into eco-friendly MusicCloth

German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces

May 16, 2018 by  
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Building with shipping containers may be a growing trend, but converting these steel boxes into livable spaces is no easy feat. Thankfully, forward-thinking German company  Containerwerk  is making the process a lot easier by reforming recycled containers to pass on to architects, who will then create beautiful homes or offices within the structures. Building with shipping containers has been popular for years, but the actual process of transforming the old steel boxes into viable living structures is quite complicated. One of the biggest challenges is insulating the structures so that they can be used as homes, offices or shelters. Related: Striking apartment complex is made of 48 raw shipping containers Containerwerk co-founder Ivan Mallinowski invented an industrial system to line the structures with a layer of foam insulation .”Insulation is the big problem with building houses with containers,” Mallinowski said in a Dezeen  video. “If you look at the physics of a container, it is made from steel, and steel is a very good heat conductor. We build a special type of insulation. It’s a monolithic insulation, made by an industrial process and surrounds the whole container inside without any heat bridges.” According to Mallinowski, using the specialty foam insulation not only makes the containers more  efficient ; it also allows for 10-centimeter thick walls, meaning that designers can make the most out of the containers’ already limited space. He said, “We can build very thin walls so that the space in the container is as big as possible.” The company recently displayed a finished work at this year’s Milan Design Week . The installation featured a two-story shipping container home made from three refurbished containers. It was prefabricated off site, and it took just two days to assemble at the event. A colorful exterior with large round windows gave the home a fun, contemporary feel. The modern design continued on throughout the interior, where high-end furniture and natural light created a vibrant living space, a drastic change from the structures’ original use. + Containerwerk Via Dezeen Images via Containerwerk

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German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces

ESA launches world’s first mission to explore the "atmospheres of hundreds of planets"

March 23, 2018 by  
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Behold a brand new era of space exploration. The European Space Agency (ESA) just selected the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) mission from three candidates to launch what Nature describes as the “world’s first space telescope dedicated to studying the atmospheres of exoplanets.” The four-year, $552 million will launch on the Ariane 6 rocket in 2028. The agency said we’ve found thousands of exoplanets with a massive range of sizes, masses, and orbits, but we haven’t uncovered a pattern connecting such characteristics to the parent star’s nature. “In particular, there is a gap in our knowledge of how the planet’s chemistry is linked to the environment where it formed, or whether the type of host star drives the physics and chemistry of the planet’s evolution,” according to ESA. Related: Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds ESA plans to zero in on hot and warm planets, “ranging from super-Earths to gas giants orbiting close to their parent stars.” Nature said a spectograph will scrutinize light filtering through an exoplanet’s atmosphere while it passes by its host star, “revealing chemical fingerprints of gases that shroud the body.” ARIEL could detect signs of water vapor, methane, and carbon dioxide, and also measure exotic metallic compounds. ESA says such findings could help place an exoplanet in context of a host star’s chemical environment. ESA Director of Science Günther Hasinger said in the statement, “ARIEL is a logical next step in exoplanet science, allowing us to progress on key science questions regarding their formation and evolution, while also helping us to understand Earth’s place in the universe .” + ESA’s Next Space Mission to Focus on Nature of Exoplanets Via Nature Images via ESA/ATG medialab, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO and NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech

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ESA launches world’s first mission to explore the "atmospheres of hundreds of planets"

Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

November 3, 2017 by  
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Airbnb may offer thousands of luxury lodgings around the world, but employees won’t want to leave the rental sharing company’s swanky new San Francisco headquarters. Located at 999 Brannan Street,  Airbnb’s own Environments Team and WRNS Studio  designed 150,000 square feet of healthy, light-filled working space with plenty of whimsical flare like a sky boat, a castle and themed floors that represent the company’s international presence. The design of 999 Brannan – just mere steps from its existing San Fran headquarters – began by removing every non-structural element in the corner lot building, essentially creating a massive blank canvas. By scrapping the interior walls and hallways, the focus was put on flooding the interior space with as much natural light as possible. The huge atrium is a light-filled space with a curvaceous stairwell that winds up through the levels. A long mezzanine leads to the various offices as well as think spaces and conference rooms. Related: Airbnb’s brand new Paris office is a loft-like space that feels like home For design guidance, the teams concentrated on the company ethos of “Belong Anywhere” as well as the company’s new feature, Airbnb Trips, which offers users custom travel experiences designed and led by locals around the world. To highlight the new service and the company’s world-wide presence, international design elements were used on every floor. For example, each cafe has been styled according to a different city, such as Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Jaipur, and Amsterdam. The building’s work spaces are divided into 16 “neighborhoods” that house up to 50 employees who spend their days working at the sitting or standing desks , brainstorming at the communal tables, or enjoying down time in one of the many cozy lounges. Aaron Taylor Harvey, Airbnb Environments Executive Creative Director, explains that the design was based on providing employees with a comfortable working environment , “we wanted to bring the same bespoke nuance to this very large space that we brought to the first small office we designed in Portland. We want it to feel like a custom home to every inhabitant.” + WRNS Studio + Airbnb

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Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

Jaguar gives "the most beautiful car ever made" an electric upgrade

September 11, 2017 by  
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In 1961, the Jaguar E-type was labeled as one of the best looking cars of all time. Even Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made.” Now Jaguar has turned the retro E-type into an electric car , which the automaker calls the E-type Zero. To create the E-type Zero, Jaguar started with a 1968 Series 1.5 Jaguar E-type Roadster. Its six-cylinder combustion engine was then swapped out for an electric powertrain with 295 horsepower. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions and weight as the original engine and it’s even placed in the exact same location as the former transmission. Even with the new electric powertrain and its components, Jaguar managed to cut 100 pounds from the original car’s weight. This means that it drives and handles just like the original E-type, while emitting zero emissions. Thanks to its electric powertrain, the E-type Zero is actually faster than the original E-type with a 0-62 mph time of 5.5 seconds, about one second quicker than the original. The electric powertrain uses some of the same parts as the upcoming I-Pace electric car and has a driving range up to 170 miles. “We have integrated the new electric powertrain into the existing E-type structure, which means a conventional engine could be reinstalled at any point,” said Tim Hannig, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic. “We think this is essential as it ensures a period Jaguar remains authentic to its DNA”. + Jaguar Images @Jaguar

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Jaguar gives "the most beautiful car ever made" an electric upgrade

UK government to install solar on 800,000 low-income houses

September 6, 2017 by  
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Investing in solar doesn’t just benefit the environment, it can also add some cushion to your wallet through energy savings. For this reason, the UK government has teamed up with renewable energy provider Solarplicity to install solar panels on 800,000 low-income households over the next five years. The panels will be free to the tenants and will lower their energy bills by hundreds of pounds, according to the BBC. Roughly 1,000 jobs will also be created in the process, the majority of which will be given to military veterans . Thanks to a £160 million investment by the Dutch firm Maas Capital, some of the poorest households in the UK will benefit from the scheme. International Trade Minister Greg Hands said, “As well as creating 1,000 jobs and delivering cheaper energy bills for up to 800,000 homes, it shows yet another vote of confidence in the UK as a place to invest and do business.” Solarplicity has already begun working with more than 40 landlords, including local authorities across Wales and England . The company will profit from the payments received under the feed-in tariff scheme, as well as from payments for energy and from social housing customers. Reportedly, the feed-in tariff scheme will ensure cash payments to households that produce their own electricity using clean energy technologies, such as solar. Related: UK solar smashes record, supplying 25% of electricity demand Hands also said military veterans will be targeted during the recruitment process. “Armed forces veterans are very good at doing this, actually,” he said. “They understand how to put the panels on efficiently and well.” Hopefully some of the 7,000 homeless veterans in the UK will be considered for employment. According to David Elbourne, the chief executive of Solarplicity, the price of solar panels has dropped so fast in the past couple of years, government subsidies are no longer essential. “In the past, the feed-in tariff meant that people who could afford to have solar, benefitted from solar. But now people who can’t afford to have solar [can]- we’ll put it on the roof for free – and they will get a reduced energy bill,” he said. While the overall response to the scheme has been positive, some remain skeptical. David Hunter, the director of market studies at energy management firm Schneider Electric, is cautious about the initiative. “Obviously any kind of investment in the transition to low carbon energy supply can be a positive thing and with any of these developments it’s always best to consider whether it’s best value for money,” he said. “But certainly the idea of upgrading our social housing stock to make it more energy efficient and lower carbon is a worthwhile aim.” + Solarplicity Via BBC Images via  Pixabay,   Simple Wikipedia

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UK government to install solar on 800,000 low-income houses

Clever GrowMore planter expands along with your garden

September 6, 2017 by  
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GrowMore is a clever planter that expands as your garden grows. Designed by Danish architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum of Husum Lindholm Architects , the modular gardening system can be bolted together in a variety of configurations to host everything from mini pocket gardens to large food-producing crops. The GrowMore modular system is comprised of just six main elements including planting boxes, shelves, and connectors. The plywood shelves and boxes can be arranged to create large circular pavilions and funky free-standing planters. The structures can also create small “urban nests” that enable people to reconnect with nature. Related: Prefabricated garden retreat snaps together in less than a week Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum wanted to create a system that would make it easy for anyone to build their own three-dimensional garden – and they plan to make GrowMore an open-source system so that anyone with a CNC machine can cut their own plywood components to arrange as they see fit. “As architects, we have to address new technologies,” said Lindholm. “We have to think about how can we build and produce designs that people can grasp, and that they can build themselves.” Lindholm and Husum recently showcased the system at the Seoul Architecture Biennale , an exhibition of designs created for the cities of the future. + Husum Lindholm Architects  

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Clever GrowMore planter expands along with your garden

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