13 innovative, thought-provoking designs that broke new ground at the London Design Festival

October 20, 2017 by  
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Design weeks around the world tend to be dominated by refined furnishings , sleek products , and glitzy lighting – but some of the most interesting works are those that challenge our assumptions about what design is – and what it can be. Independent designers and aspiring students are the masters of this realm, as they’re not afraid to push the envelope and experiment with wild ideas, new materials and novel techniques. Read on for 13 of the most innovative, though-provoking designs we spotted at this year’s London Design Festival . Flywheel by Carlo Lorenzetti Designer Carlo Lorenzetti thinks that we are losing touch with the significance of energy in our daily lives – so he’s created a massive earthenware Flywheel that makes you work for your electricity. The monolithic USB charger generates power as you spin the wheel, but it’ll takes hours and hours to fully charge a cellphone. As above, so below by Kirstie van Noot and Xandra van der Eijk Did you know that 37,000 to 78,000 tons of stardust falls on the earth’s surface every year? Dutch designers Kirstie van Noot and Xandra van der Eijk have set out to harvest this rare material – by collecting it from the rooftops of houses in the Netherlands. Their project As above, so below showcases the micrometeorites they have found, and suggests ways that these precious materials can be used. Trashpresso by Pentatonic Trashpresso is the world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant. Designed by Pentatonic , the micro factory transforms plastic bottles into architectural tiles right before your eyes. 0.6 Chair by Joachim Froment What’s the absolute minimum amount of material needed to create a chair? That’s what Joachim Froment sought to find out – and his answer is the 0.6 Chair. Froment developed an innovative production process to create a sturdy, super lightweight seat made from just 0.6 cm of wood veneer and carbon fiber. Plasma Rock by Inge Sluijs Some say that the world has entered a new geological period called the Anthropocene , which is marked by human influence on the environment. This idea inspired Inge Sluijs to harvest detritus from landfills and transform it into Plasma Rock – a new material made from 100% recycled waste. Bottles Collection by Klaas Kuiken Klaas Kuiken gives fantastic new forms to common green bottles by wrapping them with wire, heating them in an oven, and blowing air into them with a compressor. The results are surprising, sculptural vases that bear little resemblance to their previous form. Living Surface Carpet by Lizan Freijsen Most people want to avoid stains and mildew in their homes – but Lizan Freijsen revels in these signs of decay. The Dutch designer has created an incredible collection of soft, woolen rugs that celebrate the rich colors found in mosses, lichens, and other living natural phenomena. Nose to Tail Table by Nanna Kiil This “Nose to Tail” table appears to have a typical terrazzo surface – but a closer look reveals that it’s actually made of by-products from the livestock industry. Designer Nanna Kiil sought to discover whether consumers can stomach a salami-esque table that incorporates pig parts that would otherwise be discarded. It’s a challenging, provocative piece that serves up the stark realities of our industrial food system. Splatware by Granby Workshop Ceramic tableware is usually turned on a wheel – but Granby Workshop has found away to make amazing plates and mugs by using a hydraulic press to squish colorful mounds of clay! Their experimental SPLATWARE combines industrial techniques with handcrafted elements for spontaneous, creative results. LOKAL by Space10 What will the farm of the future look like? Future living lab Space10 set up a vertical hydroponic farm in the middle of London and invited passersby to try tasty food grown on-site. Over the course of six days their LOKAL pop-up served 2,000 salads made with microgreens and protein-rich spirulina microalgae. On Reflection by Lee Broom Lee Broom ‘s London Design Festival installation boggles the mind. The mirror in this room is not what it seems – walk in front of it, and you won’t see your reflection. The trick? It’s actually a window to an identical room! Fish Skin Textiles by Helene Christina Pedersen Fish skin is an overlooked waste product of the fishing industry. Helene Christina Pedersen has found a way to transform this material into a durable textile that can be applied to a wide range of furnishings. Plastic Primitive by James Shaw James Shaw has developed a technique for shaping recycled plastic into fantastical forms using a custom made extruder gun. For this year’s London Design Festival shaw erected a series of colorful planters and stools at the Ace Hotel. + London Design Festival Coverage on Inhabitat

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13 innovative, thought-provoking designs that broke new ground at the London Design Festival

This gorgeous shipping container ski resort is tucked into a Georgian mountainside

October 19, 2017 by  
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Skiers whooshing past this picturesque ski resort may want to slow down to take in its stunning beauty. Located in the Caucasus mountain range in Gudauri, Georgia, the Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort resort is almost entirely made out of repurposed shipping containers and tucked into the terrain with steel supports that reduce its environmental impact. The shipping container resort offers guests a tranquil space to both relax and explore the amazing landscape. Built into the mountainside using a pyramid-like scheme, the containers were structured to cascade down the terrain, supported by steel posts in order to leave minimal impact on the environment. The resort has five levels, with the reception and dining area on the first floor and the guest rooms topped on one another. Related: This shipping container hotel is so cool you’ll forget its a shipping container The guest rooms are made up of individual containers clad in wood paneling, each with a glazed wall that leads out to an open-air deck to enjoy the stunning views. The resort offers single rooms as well as larger family and deluxe suites. In addition to many skiing trails found in the area, the resort also offers yoga classes and other healthy activities such as swimming. Of course, for those who’d just like to sit back and relax after a day of whizzing through the mountains, there’s also a toasty sauna. + Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort Images via Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort

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This gorgeous shipping container ski resort is tucked into a Georgian mountainside

Light-manipulating algae could boost solar power technology

October 19, 2017 by  
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You probably learned about diatoms , a prolific type of algae , back in grade school. But you may not have learned these single-celled organisms, which are inexpensive and can be found in different types of water and even tree bark, can manipulate light . Now scientists are putting them in organic solar cells to enhance their energy efficiency. Could diatoms hold the key to better solar power ? A research team from Yale University , Princeton University , Lincoln University , and the NASA Glenn Research Center is utilizing them in organic solar cells, a lower-cost alternative to conventional solar cells . The so-called jewels of the sea have a nanostructured silica or glass skeleton, and study lead author and Yale Ph.D. student Lyndsey McMillon-Brown said, “They help trap and scatter light for the algae to photosynthesize, so we’re able to use something directly from nature and put it in a solar cell.” Related: Ancient Marine Diatoms Could be Used to Make Biofuels, Electronics and Health Foods Organic solar cells usually suffer from a design issue: they need to have thin layers, so their efficiency is restricted. Nanostructures that trap and scatter light can help overcome that issue – but are typically too expensive for production on a large scale. Not so with cheap diatoms. The researchers put the algae – abundant in nature – right in the solar cells’ active layer. They saw the same electrical output levels even as they cut the amount of material necessary for the active layer. The team employed a grinding process because at first the diatoms were too big for the active layer. They think they could obtain even better results by utilizing different species and tailoring them to the correct size. McMillon-Brown’s focus is biomimicry ; she said, “We’re always on the hunt for new patterns in nature because we believe that nature solves all our engineering problems – we just have to find the solutions.” The journal Organic Electronics published the research online this month. Via Yale University Images via Depositphotos , Wikimedia Commons and Yale University

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Light-manipulating algae could boost solar power technology

5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award

September 1, 2017 by  
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The world’s biggest design award was just bestowed upon five groundbreaking green designs that stand to improve life around the globe. The biennial INDEX: Award honors sustainable designs that address global challenges, and this year’s winners came from a pool of 1403 entries. From a floating farm that heals ocean ecosystems to a life-saving centrifuge that costs 25 cents, read on for a first look at this year’s winners – live from the INDEX: Award ceremony in Denmark. Zipline Delivering emergency medical supplies in developing nations can be difficult. On average, it takes four hours to send vaccines and blood transfusions from a central facility, but it can take much longer in the event of a natural disaster or infrastructural collapse. Enter Zipline – the world’s first commercial medical drone delivery system. Zipline uses a simple system to quickly and efficiently deliver critical medical supplies. Health workers text an order, and items are packaged at a distribution center. Then a drone is dispatched and the items are delivered by parachute with a high degree of precision. A single drone can carry a payload of 1.5 kilos for up to 150 kilometers – and it can make 500 deliveries in 24 hours in all weather conditions, for the equivalent cost per trip of a motorbike or ambulance delivery. Zipline began delivering blood to 21 transfusion facilities in western Rwanda in 2017, and it’s set to begin delivering blood and medicine in remote Maryland, Nevada and Washington over the next year. What3Words You might take your address for granted, but according to the UN, 4 billion people lack a way to reliably address their homes. This leads to myriad problems, as those without addresses are denied access to basic social and civic services – it’s difficult or impossible for them to open bank accounts, register births, or sign up for utilities like electricity and water. What3Words solves this problem by dividing the world into 57 trillion 3 meter x 3 meter squares, and assigning a unique combination of three words to each square. The resulting grid is more precise than street addresses, and it allows anyone to share their location quickly for emergency situations, census taking or even everyday mail delivery. GreenWave The world’s oceans are in trouble. 90% of large fish stocks are threatened by overfishing , the amount of carbon dioxide in our oceans is higher than at any point in the past 400,000 years, and nitrogen pollution from farms, factories and homes creates oxygen-depleted dead zones. Greenwave is a revolutionary ocean farm that addresses all of these issues while producing healthy local food, restoring ecosystems, and creating jobs for fishermen. The hurricane-proof floating farm grows shellfish and seaweed using “mussel socks,” oyster cages and nets. Each species is selected to address an environmental challenge – for instance, oysters naturally filter out excess nitrogen, and seaweed soaks up five times more CO2 than land-based plants. GreenWave also provides ocean farmers with grants, free outdoor gear, and training – and it promises to purchase 80% of new farmers’ crops over five years at triple the market rate. Paperfuge Every year, five million people are killed by three highly infectious diseases: malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis. Diagnosing and treating these illnesses is difficult in parts of the world with limited access to infrastructure, electricity and medical facilities. Centrifuges are critical tools that can isolate and detect infections – but they require electricity to function and can cost up to $1,000 per machine. The Paperfuge provides a brilliant alternative – it’s a simple device inspired by a five-thousand-year-old toy that can separate plasma from a blood sample in 90 seconds. The device weighs about 2 grams, it’s made from paper, string and plastic, and it only costs 25 cents to make – which makes it an accessible, low-cost “frugal design” with the potential to save millions of lives around the world. Ethereum Ethereum offers a way to validate your digital identity and make online transactions while keeping complete control over your personal information – instead of giving it over to a third party service like Facebook or Paypal. It’s a platform that provides developers with tools, custom blockchains and networks to build decentralized applications that can transform the way we interact with money, business, government and society. Since the applications use a blockchain, there’s no centralized server that can get hacked or shut down. + INDEX: Award + INDEX: Design to Improve Life

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5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award

A rooftop urban oasis springs to life in a polluted NYC neighborhood

August 24, 2017 by  
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Parks and public plazas are typically urban escapes you’d expect to find at street level, but when your neighborhood hosts a league of industrial warehouses, wastewater treatment plants, and sits along one of the most polluted estuaries in the country, it’s time to look up. While environmental groups toil to clean up the Newton Creek river, community leaders decided to create the Newton Creek Wildflower Roof as a luscious green space that helps support local wildlife and brings nature back to the area. Newtown Creek hardly flows, but rather rests between New York City’s boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens with a toxic combo of spilled oil, city sewage and other sludge. Thankfully, community groups are fighting to clean up the mess below and others are beautifying the spaces above. The seeds for the Newtown Creek Wildflower Roof were first planted in 2015 when Marni Majorelle and her landscape design company Alive Structures , the Newtown Creek Alliance , and the New York City Audubon applied for funding from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. Their goal: to cultivate native flora that will support birds and insects in the neighborhood. “I have lived and worked in Greenpoint since 2002 and have been involved in local environmental issues while also running Alive Structures with my husband,” Majorelle said. “We had often imagined one day working on a landscaping project in Greenpoint that would help reduce the pollution in this industrial neighborhood, and create open green space for people and pollinators to use.” The group’s funding request was approved for a 22,000-square-foot green roof atop Broadway Stage’s building on 520 Kingsland Avenue along Newtown Creek and in 2016, the first 10,000 square feet of green roof were installed. Today, the wildflower roof is covered with Prairie Dropseed grass and over twenty different native flowers species, including Orange Butterfly Weed, Tall Tickseed, Purple Coneflower, and Bee Balm. Busy bees can be seen pollinating the garden, buzzing from one bloom to the next while the massive silver “digester eggs” of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant loom in the distance. A spherical water fountain sculpture, the Aqualens by British artist Allison Armour , was installed this spring and serves as the center piece for the wildflower roof. Related: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s new green roof lets kids explore the wilderness in the middle of the city “I saw her work in a British garden design magazine and thought it would be perfect on our roof,” Majorelle said. “One of the main environmental benefits of green roofs is reducing water pollution. So I thought that Ms. Armour’s piece was a simple but powerful statement, which would help visitors reflect on the importance of water and our local environment.” Alive Structures is also working with Broadway Stages to introduce green roofs on its other buildings and using its funding to host workshops, festivals and educational lectures that get community members involved in the neighborhood’s revitalization. The upcoming Kingsland Wildflowers Sensorium (August 19 1pm–7pm) will be a celebration of the Greenpoint community and expose residents to ecology preservation through sensory stimulation, crafts and more. The 2nd Annual Kingsland Wildflowers Festival (September 23 12pm–4pm) invites all to explore the green roof and hopefully spark environmental activism in North Brooklyn. The Newtown Creek Wildflower Roof is still a project in progress with another 10,000 square feet currently being installed, but what currently exists is already a mini neighborhood oasis in a neglected pocket of industrial sites and gritty corners. + Alive Structures All images by Dorkys Ramos for Inhabitat

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A rooftop urban oasis springs to life in a polluted NYC neighborhood

Worlds largest book store opens in Tehran, Iran

August 24, 2017 by  
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Book lovers, we’ve found your dream destination – the world’s largest bookstore just opened in Tehran, Iran . The Book Garden is a gigantic green-roofed building measuring 154,000 square feet that has 12 miles of shelves packed with millions of books . The project is part of a larger 700,000 square foot complex that features several movie theaters, science halls, classrooms, a prayer room and a restaurant. The Book Garden aims to encourage Iranian children to be “active and creative through modern methods and equipment,” said Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. “The opening of the Book Garden is a big cultural event in the country, so that our children can make better use of this cultural and academic opportunity,” added Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. Mehr News reports that the Book Garden was first pitched in 2004 to cater to fans of the city’s annual International Book Fair. After construction was completed last spring, organizers spent the past few months stocking the facility it with books. According to RealIran , there are more than 400,000 titles available for kids alone. One of the centers even has shorter shelves to ensure younger kids can reach the educational resources. Related: Chinese watermelon plant yields 131 fruit for Guinness World Record The Book Garden is now the biggest bookstore in the world, according to the Guinness World Records . Until now, Barnes & Noble along Fifth Avenue in New York City held the record. + Kayson Inc Via Mehr News , RealIran Photos via RealIran , Pixabay

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Worlds largest book store opens in Tehran, Iran

Add a skylight to any room with these amazingly realistic LED panels

April 15, 2017 by  
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Installing a skylight in a room with little light or a lack of windows can now be as easy as hanging a picture, thanks to the amazing faux skylights by Simar Design . The beautiful panels can bring the look of the sky – be it day or night- into any room. Illuminated with LED lights , the panels can accurately imitate the color, light and look of any time of day by coupling lights with imagery from leading photographers. Simar Design came up with the faux skylight concept when thinking about how daylight can have a profound effect on mood and well being. With many studies linking nature with the effect of relaxation, Simar sought to bring nature inside. The target audience for the screens was to those who are unable to get outside, such as the terminally ill in hospitals, or the immobile in retirement homes. Exposure to blue sky scenes with bursts of fluffy clouds, fronds of green foliage or vines of flowers could help foster the healing process, and give hope to patients. Related: Studies Prove that Desk Plants Can Improve Worker Concentration and Productivity The panels are powered by LED technology , combined with stunning imagery by leading photographers. Pieces can vary in size to suit any room, and last from 50,000 to 100,000 hours. That’s 20 to 40 years of use at 7 hours a day. The best part, is the imagery is completely changeable, and can be switched out at a moment’s notice, making it versatile for any needs. Simar Design’s faux skylight can brighten a drab hotel room, add a place of contemplation for patients, create a imaginative scene for kids, or simply bring a bit of nature to a dark room. + Simar Design Via V2

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Add a skylight to any room with these amazingly realistic LED panels

9 booze inspired designs to ring in St. Patricks Day

March 17, 2017 by  
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St. Paddy’s Day is definitely an homage to Ireland, but there’s no denying that it also pays tribute to something a little more universal – booze. And while you may be thinking “What the heck does alcohol have to do with green design?” there are actually a keg’s worth of hooch-related eco innovations out there that you might not know about yet. From a man that recycles his own pee into whisky to a machine that turns beer brewery waste into power , read on to see the best boozy green stories we have on tap. This tiny Irish pub on wheels wins St. Patrick’s Day When Irish cabinetmaker John Walsh decided to convert his rusty old caravan into a tiny pub, the world’s most charming St. Patrick’s Day hotspot was born. The Shebeen is literally translated into “an illicit bar where alcohol is sold illegally.” The mobile booze cruiser was so popular in Ireland, the people of Boston commissioned another one to be brought to the states. Aspiring Chinese architect built his office out of 8,500 recycled beer bottles This brings new meaning to the song 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall . Aspiring architect in Chongqing city, China designed and constructed his very own office with 8,500 recycled beer bottles. The impressive upcycled structure gets its sturdy foundation from 40 layers of beer bottles. The entire construction took four months and $11,000 to complete. PISSKY: Gilpin Whisky is Recycled from Diabetic’s Urine James Gilpin has a bit of a different interpretation of the adage “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Gilpin, who has Type 1 Diabetes got to thinking about elderly patients with diabetes, like his grandmother, who secrete tons of unprocessed medicine and sugar in their urine and had a cool – albeit a little gross – breakthrough. His Gilpin Family Whisky project is a high end line of single malt whiskey made from the sugar-laden urine of people with diabetes – Pissky! We’ll drink to that! HEINEKEN WOBO: A Beer Bottle That Doubles as a Brick Have your brick and drink it too? Famed beer brewer Alfred Heineken and Dutch architect John Habraken came out with their Heineken WOBO (world bottle) brick all the way back in 1963, but the principle behind it still rings true today. As you probably already guessed, the idea behind the boozy brick was that thirsty people could drink their fix of beer from the WOBO and reuse it to build structures. Cheers to that. Intoxicating Pavilion Made of 33,000 Yellow Beer Crates It must have taken a lot of frat parties to empty out the 33,000 yellow beer crates that architects SHSH stacked atop one another to create this intoxicating pavilion . Using the crates like giant legos, the design features interesting architectural touches like columns, arches and even domes inside. Beer Can House Has 50,000 “Bottles of Beer” on the Walls 99 bottles of beer is already quite a few to have on your walls, but how about 50,000?! Well, that’s about how many John Milkovisch used for his Beer Can House. He drank many of the cans himself (not his least favorite part of the job, we’re sure) and they’re on the walls, swaying from the front porch, and pretty much everywhere else! PurposeEnergy Turns Beer Brewery Waste Into Clean-Burning Biofuel We’ve seen everything from ice cream to 4Loko being used as fuel and now we can add beer to the list of alternative energy sources – well, beer waste, that is. PurposeEnergy Inc. has created a device that recycles the waste from brewing beer into a functional natural gas. World’s Greenest Whisky Distillery Unveiled in Scotland Okay, so we know today is supposed to be all about Ireland, but Scotland has been greening their booze game too so we need to give them a shoutout. Scottish drinks giant Diageo recently unveiled their £40 million environmentally friendly Roseisle Distillery in Elgin. The innovative project by Austin-Smith: Lord Architects infuses traditional distilling with modern environmental technologies and was even awarded a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ award. DIY (Drink-It-Yourself) Xylophone Made From Beer Bottles! Up until we say this crazy contraption, the only music we thought could come out of beer drinking was awful karaoke. Designer Sam Gensburg’s creation is a lot less painful on the ears and features a special packaging for beer bottles that allows them to be transformed into a tone-accurate xylophone after you’ve drunk ’em. + Click through our gallery to see more booze-related green design

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9 booze inspired designs to ring in St. Patricks Day

Architects use earthen berms to tuck a central reservoir inside tiered office space

February 20, 2017 by  
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Mumbai-based Sanjay Puri Architects have designed an office space concept with a beautiful reservoir as the heart of the design. Inspired by the traditional stepped wells that provide water for India’s severely parched communities, the design incorporates a natural recess found in the landscape to optimize the Reservoir’s natural water collection  abilities. As part of a 95-acre planned community development, the Reservoir is designed to connect a residential and commercial area in India’s arid Rajasthan state. Like most of India, water is a precious resource, and more so in this region where temperatures reach an excess of 100 ° F for eight months of the year. Related: Ghostly ruins of a 400-year-old church rise from the waters of a Mexican reservoir Using the natural topography of the landscape, the architects planned the design around an existing cavity in the ground. This was strategic to let the reservoir naturally fill with water almost year round, eliminating the need for additional water source. Any runoff  water is collected and supports the water supply for the entire complex. The structure itself is supported into green-covered earthen berms, which create the perimeter of the design. Solar panels are installed on these berms, which have cutouts that lead to underground parking. Six floors of office space follow the site’s natural rising topography surrounding the pool, creating a natural open-air terrace for each office. The recessed water design actively lowers the temperature of the immediate microclimate, creating a pleasant work environment while minimalizing energy use. On the interior, large floor-to-ceiling windows allow for optimal natural light, which also reduces the need for artificial lighting. + Sanjay Puri Architects Via Architect Magazine Images via Sanjay Puri Architects

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Architects use earthen berms to tuck a central reservoir inside tiered office space

How to make an edible water "bottle" at home

January 3, 2017 by  
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We were fascinated when we first came across the Ooho , an edible water “bottle” conceived by three students to reduce plastic waste, and decided to make one of our own. Check out our DIY video and DO try this at home!

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How to make an edible water "bottle" at home

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