Extraordinary man builds 25 plastic bottle homes for refugees in Algeria

May 18, 2017 by  
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A Sahrawi refugee in Algeria is rebuilding lives – literally. Born and raised in the refugee camp in Awserd near Tindouf, 27-year-old Tateh Lehbib Breica is constructing disaster resistant homes using discarded plastic bottles – for himself and others. These recycled homes are specifically built to endure harsh desert conditions for an affordable price. It’s no easy feat to construct homes in a climate where temperatures can spike to around 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Sandstorms also prey on refugee shelters in five camps near Tindouf, Algeria, where people live after fleeing violence in the Western Sahara War over 40 years ago. But the area also faces destructive rainstorms – in 2015 heavy rains wrecked thousands of homes. Related: Mayor born in Syria converts abandoned Greek resort into a sanctuary for refugees Breica may have found a solution in old plastic bottles filled with sand. He has a master’s degree in energy efficiency after participating in a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) scholarship program. He’d intended to build a rooftop garden, growing seedlings in the bottles, but the circular shape of the energy efficient home he was building posed a challenge to that idea. He wondered what he could do with the bottles instead and recalled a documentary on building with plastic bottles he’d seen during his time at university. The plastic bottle homes can better withstand storms than adobe , mudbrick, or tent homes, and are water resistant. The homes have thick walls, and partnered with their circular shape, stand up better to sandstorms. Breica built the first bottle home for his grandmother, who was hurt while being carried to a community center to hunker down during a sandstorm. Working with UNHCR, Breica has built 25 homes so far. He’s earned the nickname Crazy with Bottles for his work. Although he’s won awards for his design, he said, “People still see me as the guy obsessed with recycling bottles and building unusual houses.” Via UNCHR Images © UNHCR/Russell Fraser

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Extraordinary man builds 25 plastic bottle homes for refugees in Algeria

Self-inflating HEXA raft automatically deploys upon contact with water

January 2, 2017 by  
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At sea, situations often emerge where crew and passengers have to quickly evacuate the vessel, causing panic, and jeopardizing safety and organization. To help simplify such scenarios, designers Yoo JiIn and Lee Ji Sang created HEXA, a six-sided life raft that automatically activates upon contact with water. In order to be deployed, HEXA requires only that it be dropped in the water where it automatically self-inflates into a life-saving device. Six inflatable sections allow people to climb onto the raft. In addition to the efficiency of its design, the device also sends a RFID signal that can help rescue teams pin point its location. Related: The SeaKettle is a Raft + Water Purifier That Could Save Your Life Various survival supplies like food, drinkable water, flares and lifejackets are available inside the center of the pod, providing survivors with all the essential things which will allow them to survive while waiting to be rescued. Via Yanko Design

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Self-inflating HEXA raft automatically deploys upon contact with water

New Zealand company offers small earthquake-resilient starter homes

October 3, 2016 by  
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Hennessy’s first house, Papa #1, is 430 square feet, which means it just misses the 400 square feet and below benchmark that would classify it a tiny house . Hennessy didn’t want the house to feel like a tiny house, but more like a typical home with hallways and corridors. The front door opens into living room and kitchen, and a hallway takes visitors to the bathroom, an office, and a bedroom – no sleeping lofts typical of tiny houses in this home. Under the stairs that lead to the front door is a dog house. Related: Beautiful Foothills House Showcases Passive Solar Design in the New Zealand Countryside Passive design played a big role in Papa #1: a ” super efficient heat-recovery ventilation system ” and nearly air-tight construction means the home is energy efficient. It’s also well insulated with structural insulated panels (SIP). The sleek black look of the outside of the home is achieved with aluminum composite panels. Removable panels at the bottom of the home hide trailer wheels so the home can be moved around a piece of property. Since the home rests on a trailer, it is earthquake resilient. According to Park Homes , “In the event of an earthquake, a Park Home will move independently of the ground, saving it from most of the devastating effects that many fixed houses suffered from the Christchurch earthquakes. Specific areas of the base are attached to stabilizers that remove any potential tire wobble or vibration, yet still ensure that the Park Home is not hard fixed to the ground.” Hennessy’s wife Pascale designed the modern interior. One nifty element in the kitchen is it lacks a hood over the stove; instead, Pascale placed a slit into the wall behind the stove that can suck odors outside. Cleverly-placed storage areas, such as underneath the bed, also open up the house. Hennessy estimates the cost of building at $55,000. Park Homes offers sample designs , with sustainable options (such as solar power or composting toilets), on their website. + Park Homes Via Living Big in a Tiny House and Treehugger Images via Park Homes NZ Ltd Facebook

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New Zealand company offers small earthquake-resilient starter homes

New indestructible bridge design was directly inspired by nature

July 14, 2016 by  
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The job of structural engineers around the world is arguably getting more difficult. Many urban centers are experiencing booming populations and increased vehicle traffic, and environmental changes create new challenges for buildings, bridges, and roadways. New breakthroughs in engineering design from the University of Warwick could lead to indestructible bridges that rely on compression for their strength, and lack the weak points that make traditional bridges so vulnerable. And the design process is inspired by nature. Wanda Lewis of University of Warwick’s School of Engineering employs the process of ‘form-finding’ to create bridge designs that need little or no maintenance or repairs. For a quarter century, Lewis has been studying forms in nature to learn how simple stress patterns make it possible for delicate objects, such as a leaf on a tree, to withstand the intense force of wind, rain, or impact against a tree branch. Although she says “nature’s design principles cannot be matched by conventional engineering design,” she has developed a mathematical model that could lead to super durable manmade bridges . Related: Washington just built the world’s longest floating bridge The optimal arch—a fully self-supporting bridge structure—has been the target of engineers for centuries, and Lewis’ research could be the key that unlocks the next wave of structural engineering . Her mathematical models respond to the failings of the inverted parabola and the catenary form, classical theory’s only two existing concepts for an optimal arch which both have weak points. The new models could help engineers build bridges that can withstand not only heavy regular traffic, but also earthquakes, floods, and high winds. Her findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science . Via Phys.org Images via University of Warwick and Wikipedia

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New indestructible bridge design was directly inspired by nature

Incredible net-zero energy Brock Environmental Center turns rainwater into drinking water

July 14, 2016 by  
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? Located on the banks of the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach, the 10,500-square-foot Brock Environmental Center was created to engage and educate the public about the environment and ways they can help save the Chesapeake Bay from further environmental degradation. Per the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, the building produces more energy than it uses over the course of 12 consecutive months using clean energy technologies, such as solar panels , residential wind turbines, and geothermal wells. The Brock Center also meets a myriad of other stringent criteria for water use, location, health, materials, equity, and beauty. ? Elevated 14 feet above sea level to cope with flooding and reinforced to withstand 120-mile-per-hour hurricane winds, the energy-efficient Brock Center produces around 83 percent more energy than it uses, as well as 80 percent less energy and 90 percent less water than a typical building of its size. Its 168 rooftop solar panels generate 60 percent of the building’s energy needs, while two 10-kilowatt wind turbines produce the remaining 40 percent. The building’s utility bill is only $17.19 per month—the minimum fee to keep the building tied to the grid—and the remaining energy is returned to the Dominion Virginia Power grid, which will issue a refund check back to the center. Related: One of the world’s greenest buildings 14 feet above sea level prepares for climate change ? “The Brock Center’s performance pushed the boundaries on what is possible. Regenerative, net-positive design is more than an aspiration, it has been achieved,” said SmithGroupJJR project manager and design architect Greg Mella, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C. Thanks to an advanced drinking water system, the Brock Center turns its harvested rainwater into potable water used for drinking and hand-washing. Gray water is reused as irrigation, while waterless, composting toilets are used in the bathrooms. A Living Building Challenge Dashboard offers a real-time gauge of the building’s energy and water use, as well as energy generation. ? Related: CBF’s Brock Environmental Center Will Soon Be the Most Sustainable Building in Virginia ? The above-mentioned elements are only a handful of the Brock Environmental Center’s best eco-friendly features. The education center, which opened in January 2015, is open to the public for tours and also serves as the hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Hampton Road office, with space for an 80-seat conference room, meeting rooms, and exhibit display areas. + SmithGroupJJR + Chesapeake Bay Foundation Images via SmithGroupJJR

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Incredible net-zero energy Brock Environmental Center turns rainwater into drinking water

Stunning parametrically-designed office canopy filters golden light – like trees

July 14, 2016 by  
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The large light sculpture comprises 1,500 pyramid-shaped panels suspended from the ceiling to filter golden light like tree leaves. It covers the entire atrium space , which once functioned as the central courtyard of the mid 20th century building. Related: View this mesmerizing LED art installation from a distance to reveal its delightful surprise [VIDEO] The panels were programmed using low-level artificial intelligence to create daily light scenarios that give people a sense of time and showcase the company’s innovative, people-centric lighting technology. The panel surface reflects natural light coming into the interior through side windows and skylights and creates different light scenarios through the day and calendar year. Additionally, 500 panels use self-emitting LED lights with an integrated sound absorption and acoustic ceiling system. Depending on the time of day and orientation, the installation creates special environments for different work situations-from concentration, to interaction and relaxation. + LAVA + INBO + JHK Photos by Jonathan Andrew

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Stunning parametrically-designed office canopy filters golden light – like trees

3D-printed house in China can withstand an 8.0 earthquake

June 28, 2016 by  
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3D printers started small, but now companies are printing entire homes – and a Chinese company just created an entire mansion in 45 days! Beijing-based HuaShang Tengda printed a two story villa that measures about 4,305 square feet – and they say it’s durable enough to withstand an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale. HuaShang Tenda is not the first company to claime they’ve 3D-printed a house . But they might be the first to have 3D-printed the entire thing at once, rather than printing and then assembling pieces. First the company erected the home’s frame, including plumbing pipes. Then they used a huge 3D printer they’ve been developing for many years to construct the house. They controlled the process via a computer program. The software includes four systems: one for ” electronic ingredient formulating ,” one for mixing the concrete, one for transmission, and the last to 3D-print the structure. The ambitious company printed the house using 20 tons of strong but inexpensive concrete , although they say that any type of cement could be utilized in their process. The walls are about eight feet thick, and once they were printed workers painted and decorated the house. According to HuaShang Tenda , “[This technology] will have immeasurable social benefits…because of its speed, low cost, simple and environmentally friendly raw materials, [it can] generally improve the quality of people’s lives.” Related: Chinese company ‘builds’ 3D-printed villa in less than 3 hours The company envisions their technology being used to build everything from homes for farmers in rural areas to high-rise buildings to houses in developing countries. They believe the new technology could spark a revolution in the housing industry as their 3D-printed homes can be built faster, and for less money than traditional dwellings. + HuaShang Tengda Via 3Dprint.com Images via HuaShang Tenda

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3D-printed house in China can withstand an 8.0 earthquake

Serpent-shaped hotel coils around site contours in the Beskid Mountains

June 28, 2016 by  
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“We started the project with an analysis of the building plot and its shape because we decided to fit our building into the way of the land as much as possible concurrently taking maximum advantage of its assets,” said Dariusz Dudek, the architecture firm’s founder. “Due to this fact, we were able to organically start creating a soft shape surrounding a raise on the plot and fitting the level grids perfectly.” He said the desire to achieve attractive views throughout the three-story hotel also shaped the hotel’s unique design, adding that the S shape also gave the building a sense of flow and openness – both visually and functionally. The various floors can function together as a “single organism,” according to the designer, or separately as needed. The lowest level is devoted to shared areas – the reception, restaurants, a hall and a recreation center. Guests rooms are alone on the first floor while a conference center and cafe occupy the top floor. Related: A modern mountain home inspired by the prospect of escape Material choice played an important role in the design. Borne out of a desire to create an organic form that is connected with the landscape and community, dd Architekci opted for a timber building to be sourced locally . “It’s the wood that influences the form, but most of all the way the mountain architecture is experienced,” Dudek said. “Its structure, warmth and construction properties paint a picture of authentic mountain buildings.” The materials contribute to the hotel’s peaceful aesthetic, which is possible despite its overall girth of 10,000 square meters, + dd Architekci

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Serpent-shaped hotel coils around site contours in the Beskid Mountains

Aussie surfer designs prefab recycled cyclone-resistant homes

June 2, 2016 by  
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Hyman said to Mashable Australia, “I’ve spent my whole life around the ocean, and seen the damage done by waste plastic.” Nev House structures utilize a ” wood-plastic composite ” and sustainable wood. Their homes can be built in just five days. Related: Affordable, colorful and humane housing for London’s homeless pops up in just five months In addition to sustainable building materials, the structures are sustainable from an energy standpoint. Powered by clean energy , the homes can either connect to a grid or go off-grid. Solar panels line rooftops and Nev House’s partners also can provide hydro, wind, or geothermal energy. The houses adhere to “Category 5 Cyclone standards.” With features like louver windows, the disaster-resistant homes are designed for tropical climates. Affordable housing is key to Nev House’s mission. The company isn’t a charity, but describes themselves as a ” philanthrocapitalist organization .” From research to planning to construction, the company works with local engineers, architects, and laborers to meet the requirements of the population. Last year, Cyclone Pam devastated South Pacific archipelago Vanuatu, damaging 90 percent of buildings. Nev House erected a school in Vanuatu’s capital last year, and earlier this year started 15 more buildings that they aim to complete this month. They are working with the government to rebuild schools, homes and medical clinics. To help fund the projects, they have partnered with charities. Hyman said, “We want to create a bit of a movement behind what we’re doing. We want to draw attention to affordable housing around the world.” Via Mashable Images via Nev House

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Aussie surfer designs prefab recycled cyclone-resistant homes

Why these round houses survive hurricanes that destroy traditional homes

June 1, 2016 by  
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June first marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, and with predictions for bigger and deadlier storms this year due to the transition to La Niña , coupled with above-average sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, meteorologists are urging inhabitants of hurricane-prone areas to take extra precautions. Thanks to climate change, this trend towards more violent and volatile weather is showing no signs of slowing down , but a North Carolina based company named Deltec Homes has decided to fight back with hurricane-resistant homes that are so storm-proof, they’ve survived the likes of both Sandy and Katrina. A Deltec home still stands after Hurricane Dennis blew through – the neighbor with a traditional home next door did not fare as well. Deltec Homes was started in 1968 in Asheville, NC as a builder of hurricane-resistant round homes in seaside resort communities, particularly in the Atlantic south, where hurricanes are an ever present threat to coastal homes. Although the company has recently expanded into rectilinear Net Zero Energy Homes with the launch of the new Renew Collection (we wrote about it here ), Deltec originally made a name for itself with iconic storm resistant round homes. Initially commissioned for seaside resort communities, these structures soon became sought after by homeowners across the country for their striking aesthetics and durability. Deltec’s hurricane resistant homes are so strong that in over 48 years and with over 5,000 homes built, they’ve never had a home lost due to hurricanes or high winds of any kind. And that is all the more impressive considering that Deltec homes have stood against some of the most detrimental storms in history including Hurricanes Hugo, Sandy, Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Charley. RELATED: Deltec launches line of super efficient, net-zero energy homes So what makes Deltec Homes different from other homes? The earliest forms of human shelter were round – inspired by Mother Nature’s most structurally stable ovoid designs such as the egg. Unlike traditional box-shaped homes, round homes possess only octagonally slight corners and sides. In the absence of sharp corners, wind and waves are permitted to flow freely around the house rather than allowing the kinds of pressure buildups that typically lead to structural failures. Circular homes are held together by a greater number of interconnected points, making their joints both more flexible and stronger than rectilinear constructions. For these same reasons (slight corners, smoother flow of wind), round roofs are far more successful at withstanding wind and are less susceptible to being lifted off in a storm. Radial floor and roof trusses, which meet in a center ring like spokes on a wheel, lock the building in a constant state of compression, which further reinforces the building’s strength. RELATED: Why Our Ancestors Built Round Houses – and Why it Still Makes Sense to Build Round Structures Today https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljN294eypZY&feature=youtu.be In addition to the impressive physics supporting these round homes, Deltec’s trusses and walls are composed of framing lumber that is twice as strong as traditional framing, while their reinforced windows and factory-precise prefab panels work to keep wind and water out. With an emphasis on environmental responsibility , these energy-efficient homes have the option to be topped with a reflective roof that minimizes radiant heat gain. An airtight envelope along with smart window placement and passive solar design, helps maintain the home’s balanced internal temperature. Deltec’s wide variety of add-ons and configurations allow buyers to incorporate solar power, triple paned glass, and more to make the home net-zero energy. The company recently achieved B Corp certification for meeting the highest level of verified social and environmental performance. With stormy weather on the horizon and speculation that hurricanes will increasingly begin to affect cities that least expect it, prospective homeowners might find it helpful to consider all their options before settling on a traditionally shaped house. These prefab round houses ship anywhere in the world, and according to Deltec’s Rachel Kassinger, “Since Deltec started in 1968 we’ve never lost a home due to hurricanes or high winds of any kind. The most damage ever reported were a few lost shingles off of a roof. It’s an extraordinary record considering our homeowners have had direct hits from some of the most damaging storms including Sandy, Katrina, Hugo, and Charley.” + Deltec Homes + Classic Deltec Homes All images © Deltec and Cayman Villas .

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Why these round houses survive hurricanes that destroy traditional homes

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