Church Stone Shelter welcomes hikers in Finland

January 28, 2020 by  
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In the celebrated nature reserve of Kintulammi, Finland, architect Malin Moisio of Tampere-based architecture studio Arkkitehtitoimisto TILASTO has created the Kirkkokiven laavu — the Church Stone Shelter — as a free and welcome respite to hikers. Built mainly from wood and recycled materials, the minimalist and contemporary shelter was inspired by a large natural boulder located close by. The project’s name takes inspiration from the history of the boulder, which once served as a primitive church for local horse shepherds in the 18th century. Developed as part of a network of free shelters in the Kintulammi nature reserve, the Church Stone Shelter primarily serves as a place for rest and meal preparation rather than overnight stays. To improve accessibility, the hiking shelter can also be reached by a wheelchair-accessible path that leads from a nearby parking area. Related: Glowing, celestial-inspired shelter communes with nature in Denmark Constructed from a vertically placed 5-by-5-inch timber frame, the gable-roofed shelter, with its rectangular floor plan, evokes the image of a house with a hearth at its heart. This familiar form, combined with the predominant use of warm-toned timber, gives the shelter its welcoming and cozy quality, while its tall, vaulted ceiling recalls the sacral spaces of a church. Both gable ends are completely open to the outdoors to emphasize a fluid connection with nature; small windows of varying sizes provide carefully framed views of the forest. The use of timber, which is treated with a natural blend of tar and linseed oil, also helps blend the building into its wooded surroundings. The wooden walls were placed atop a plinth made of recycled paving stones. The steeply pitched roof is felted. “The building was developed in cooperation with the city-owned Ekokumppanit Oy and the Parish of Tampere who contributed to the building materials,” the architect said. “All the construction was done on site without electricity, mainly with hand tools. Within a short period of time, the Church Stone Shelter has become an iconic symbol of the Kintulampi Hiking and Nature Reserve.” + Arkkitehtitoimisto TILASTO Photography by Malin Moisio and Julia Kivela? via Arkkitehtitoimisto TILASTO

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Stunning House on the Rocks uses geothermal power

January 23, 2020 by  
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On Finland’s windswept Turku archipelago, Helsinki-based design practice and log house kit purveyor Pluspuu has completed yet another ecological wood house — fittingly named the House on the Rocks. Designed to embrace landscape views in multiple directions, the three-bedroom, two-bath residence is a custom design based on Pluspuu’s pre-designed house models Isokari and Kustavi. As with all Pluspuu projects, the geothermal-powered log house is built primarily from timber and boasts a relatively small carbon footprint. Completed last summer, the 150-square-meter House on the Rocks was constructed from 202 x 195-millimeter non-settling logs that are supposedly superior to the cheaper lamella log due to its flexibility of use without the need for post-construction adjustment. The solid log walls also mean that the house doesn’t need additional insulation aside from the eco-friendly wood fiber that insulates the sheet metal roof.  “The carbon footprint of the construction of a log house is extremely small, and the timber will act as a carbon sink for the house’s entire lifespan – this truly is eco-friendly construction,” the architects explained, noting that over 20% of all detached homes are log houses in Finland. “In addition to its environmental friendliness, a log house also has extremely healthy indoor air.” The home is also heated with geothermal heat distributed via underfloor heating. Related: Super-insulated modern log cabin withstands frigid Finnish winters in style Using Pluspuu’s pre-designed housing models as a starting point, the client worked with the architects to craft a site-specific dwelling that embraces outdoor views through large windows and a sea-facing terrace that’s over 100 square meters in size. The property also includes a freestanding Pluspuu Luoto 25 sauna as well as a two-room guesthouse on the shore; both structures are built from smaller 134 x 195-millimeter laminated timber.  + Pluspuu Images via Samuli Miettinen

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5 sustainable activities to make the most of a winter wonderland

December 17, 2019 by  
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Winter is meant for reveling in nature’s snow and ice. While the chill in the wind can drive some people indoors, you should try your best to get outdoors and enjoy all that this snowy season has to offer. Just be sure to do so sustainably, of course. Here are some eco-friendly recommendations for your winter itinerary. Go snowshoeing Snowshoeing brings one closer to nature, and just a couple hours of practice boosts self-assurance. Where can one learn to snowshoe? Try the ranger-guided snowshoeing tours at Bryce Canyon National Park , Crater Lake National Park , Glacier National Park , Grand Teton National Park , Lassen Volcanic National Park , Mount Rainier National Park and Sequioa & Kings Canyon National Park . While Yellowstone National Park offers no ranger-led snowshoeing tours, there is a list of authorized businesses that provide the service here . Greet December’s solstice dawn Winter solstice is the year’s shortest day. Did you know ancient civilizations welcomed the rising winter solstice sun by building temples and monuments that intentionally faced the emerging sunrise? To greet the solstice light this December, make your way to any number of locations with prime views, from America’s Stonehenge to England’s Stonehenge or even your own backyard! Alternatively, with summer’s solstice light in the southern hemisphere, bask in the light at New Zealand’s Stonehenge Aotearoa and Peru’s Cerro del Gentil pyramid. Stay in a treehouse Winter is a unique time to stay in a treehouse . What better way is there to appreciate a frost-filled forest than cozily atop the snow in a treehouse that is tailor-made for the cold? Related: 8 cabins that are perfect for a dreamy winter getaway For a winter treehouse escape brimming with creature comforts, visit Treehouse Point , Montana Treehouse Retreat near Glacier National Park, Hermann Bed and Breakfast Treehouses , Branson Treehouse Adventures , Treehouse at Moose Meadow or Treetop Sanctuary . You’d be surprised to find just how many treehouses you can book within a short distance of your home! Considering a treehouse stay abroad? There are plenty of treehouses in idyllic winter wonderlands around the world. Unwind in Vancouver Island’s Free Spirit Spheres , Quebec’s Les Refuges Perchés or Treepods at Treetop Haven in Prince Edward Island. If you’re hankering for a Scandinavian treehouse experience, sample Nordic options like the Hawks Nest , the Owls Nest or Å Auge Treehouse . Meanwhile, Sweden has a wealth of Treehotel rentals. If you’ll be in Finland anytime this winter, delight in a stay at the Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Santa Claus Village. Prefer spending winter in warmer regions? Then opt for Sir Richard Branson’s Kenyan Canopy Camp at Mahali Mzuri , South Africa’s Tsala Treetop Lodge , New Zealand’s Hapuku Lodge Treehouses or Raglan Treehouse . Visit ice castles and ice hotels Each year, Jack Frost crafts castles, palaces, villages, fortresses and even hotels from ice and snow. Whereas beaches have sandcastles, snow correspondingly has ice castles, like that exhibited at the Winter Carnival Ice Palace at Saranac Lake . Similarly, the multi-city Ice Castles company builds several each winter in Alberta, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin. Related: This tiny house on a sled is the perfect way to see the Northern Lights You can even stay inside any of these icy accommodations: Austria’s Alpeniglu Village in Thale, Iglu Village in Kühtai, Canada’s Hôtel de Glace in Quebec, Finland’s Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos , Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Snow Igloos in Saariselka, Lapland Hotels SnowVillage in Kittilä, SnowCastle of Kemi , France’s Blacksheep Igloo in Lyon, Village Igloo Morzine Avoriaz , Norway’s Hunderfossen Snow Hotel in Fåberg, Snowhotel Kirkenes in Sor-Varanger, Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel at Alta, Romania’s Hotel of Ice in Balea Lac, Sweden’s IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi or the multi-city Igloo-Dorf Hotel with locations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Take a dip in winter’s natural hot springs All of the festivities of winter can be overwhelming and stressful. If you want to unwind, you might just need a soothing soak in natural hot springs . Luckily, there are an abundance of hot springs to thaw out in across the U.S. and Europe. Venture to Castle Hot Springs , Sierra Hot Springs Resort , Dunton Hot Springs , Indian Hot Springs , Iron Mountain Hot Springs , Mount Princeton Hot Springs , Old Town Hot Springs , Pagosa Springs Resort , Strawberry Park Hot Springs , Lava Hot Springs , Maple Grove Hot Springs , North Carolina’s Hot Springs Resort , Oregon’s Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat , Utah’s Homestead Crater Hot Springs at Midway Utah Resort and Wyoming’s Saratoga Hot Springs Resort . Want to rejuvenate abroad? Consider Canada’s Miette Hot Springs , England’s Thermae Bath Spa , Iceland’s Blue Lagoon , Italy’s Terme di Saturnia or New Zealand’s Kerosene Creek and Glacier Hot Pools to restore your mind and body this winter. Images via Shutterstock and Pixabay

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Eco-resort in Finland charges guests based on their carbon emissions

October 21, 2019 by  
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A Finnish hotel is changing the tourism industry by showing that sustainability can really pay off. When guests consume less energy, attend ecological activities and make sustainable dietary choices during their visit, the price tag of their stay can be discounted by up to 50 percent. Benefiting the environment means guests can save more at Arctic Blue Resort. Set to open in 2022, Arctic Blue Resort will raise customers’ awareness of their environmental impact by encouraging guests to follow more sustainable lifestyles . It helps that the hotel will be located in the rural town of Kontiolahti, famous for its natural landscape and rich ecosystem of forests and estuaries. Related: Disney’s American parks will now offer hundreds of vegan menu items Some of the green gestures guests can take to reduce their bills include mindfully observing electricity usage, food choices and water consumption. Even planting a tree in the resort’s nearby forest garners another 5 percent off the hotel tab. Designed to be self-sustaining, Arctic Blue Resort will be constructed from natural materials, installed with its own water treatment system and powered by renewable energy sources. Guests can expect accommodations close to nature, with a choice of either enjoying a 360-degree view of the forest or sleeping beneath a star-filled night sky or the Northern Lights. Transportation throughout the resort’s region will be via electric vehicles to assist with the curbing of emissions . “We want to offer people a world-class eco-vacation and encourage them to make sustainable choices by having emission-based pricing for their stay,” explained Mikko Spoof, the vice president and founder of Arctic Brands Group. “We want the resort to be a place of true tranquility and thus encourage our guests to be more present in the moment and embrace digital detox.” Arctic Blue Resort will partner with local farmers to supply its food . The hotel menu will understandably reflect the wonders of the Finnish countryside’s seasons. The hotel will also plan plenty of nature-inspired excursions. Visitors can expect to grow their appreciation of nature with activities such as ice-swimming and snowshoeing in winter, or berry-picking and rowing in high summer. Tourism that centers around eco-friendly awareness and green living responsibility is likewise the goal of Kontiolahti Mayor Jere Penttilä, who said in a statement, “With Arctic Blue Resort, we want to lead an example by putting emphasis on environmental responsibility and by creating solutions to minimize the negative impact of tourism.” + Arctic Blue Resort Image via Arctic Blue Resort

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Eco-resort in Finland charges guests based on their carbon emissions

Supermarket happy hour reduces food waste

September 10, 2019 by  
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A Finnish supermarket chain is fighting food waste by offering steep discounts during a “happy hour.” Every night at 9, food with a midnight expiration date is discounted 60 percent off already reduced prices. Shoppers are flocking to S-market’s 900 stores to avail themselves of bargains on meat and other food that has reached its sell-by date. S-market’s initiative is part of a much larger movement to decrease food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , nearly one-third of food made for humans winds up lost or wasted. This unused food weighs in at 1.3 billion tons annually, with a value of almost $680 billion. Related: New York is curbing food waste and helping people in need with a new initiative Not only is this a terrible waste, given that 10 percent of the world’s population is undernourished, but all that food rotting in landfills worsens climate change. As food decomposes, it releases methane . This gas is about 25 times as dangerous to the environment as carbon dioxide. Wasted food also requires a ridiculous amount of unnecessary transportation. Food is transported from where it is grown to stores all over the world. Then, after its expiration date, unsold food gets a final ride to the landfill . That’s a huge waste of water and fossil fuels. But S-market wants to help reduce food waste while also minimizing its own losses from thrown-out, expired foods. The chain will sell hundreds of items that are already reduced in price by 30 percent for an additional 60 percent off after 9 p.m. until closing time at 10 p.m., and many customers are enjoying the happy hour. “I’ve gotten quite hooked on this,” shopper Kasimir Karkkainen told the New York Times . Karkkainen scored pork mini-ribs and two pounds of pork tenderloin for US$4.63. While this is happening in Finland, U.S. grocers could benefit from adopting a similar initiative as Americans can be especially wasteful. “Food waste might be a uniquely American challenge because many people in this country equate quantity with a bargain,” said Meredith Niles, an assistant professor in food systems and policy at the University of Vermont. “Look at the number of restaurants  that advertise their supersized portions.” Via New York Times Image via Nina Friends / S-Market

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Student designs an ecotourism hot-spot for the Iranian desert

September 10, 2019 by  
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A student finalist in this year’s Radical Innovation competition has found a possible solution for conserving Iran’s deserts while also promoting ecotourism in the region. Sharareh Faryadi’s Nebka Protective System could be applied to both residential and tourist accommodations in deserts. Radical Innovation “mobilizes disruptors from around the world with the ideas to propel the industry forward,” according to its website. A jury of design and hospitality experts judged the competition on design, creativity and potential for impacting the industry. Nearly 50 people entered from more than 20 countries. The judges chose three professional finalists, one student winner and two student honorable mentions, with the Nebka Protective System earning a student honorable mention. Related: Experimental design-build festival takes over Californian desert The Iranian desert faces problems like air pollution , inaccessibility and, well, a huge mass of sand. But it’s also a hauntingly beautiful place of great interest to desert researchers and with potential for increased tourism. Almost a quarter of Iran’s land is desert. The Lut Desert is the most famous and is a UNESCO-registered natural phenomenon. While the shifting sands make for a magical landscape, desert wildlife benefits from some stability — that’s where nebkas come in. A nebka is a little, wind-blown accumulation of sand anchored by a bush or a tree. Nebkas help desert animals survive and help control evaporation and shifting sand sediments. Having more nebkas in deserts close to developed areas could protect cities from shifting sand. Faryadi’s Nebka Protective System is an elaborate but intriguing way to increase the number of nebkas over a 12-year cycle. Imagine a circular area in the desert that’s free of nebkas; Faryadi proposed placing a round observatory building in the center of the circle, with a long, arm-shaped hotel reaching out from that center like a clock hand. The circle is divided into 12 sections. During the first year, the long walls of the hotel would act as a dam against wind-blown sand. Each tourist and researcher staying inside would plant a seed. Some of these would sprout, spawning nebkas to stabilize the sand. After a year, the whole hotel would be lifted into the second section, and the nebka development would begin all over again. Twelve years later, the hotel would make a full circle, and the empty desert would turn into a jungle of young nebkas. The round, central area would include a glass elevator for watching the desert, and people would be able to walk around it for 360-degree views. Faryadi also planned for lots of common space, restaurants , cafes, a museum and desert research institute and areas for sand therapy, said to ease muscle and joint pain. The design incorporated traditional Iranian architecture, such as a large, open space to serve as the central yard in the family suites. Solar and wind would provide power, including that required for moving the structure every year. + Radical Innovation Images via Radical Innovation

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Student designs an ecotourism hot-spot for the Iranian desert

Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design

July 25, 2019 by  
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Helsinki has entered a “new era of libraries” with the completion of Oodi, the Helsinki Central Library that not only serves as a new central point for the city’s public library network but also an award-winning public space with a movie theater, multipurpose hall and more in the heart of the Finnish capital. Designed by local architectural practice ALA Architects, Oodi is the largest public library in the Helsinki metropolitan area and marks the celebratory project of the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland when it opened in December 2018. In addition to an eye-catching, undulating design, the library follows passive energy principles for extreme energy-efficient performance that reaches near Zero Energy Building (nZEB) status. Spanning an area of 17,250 square meters, Oodi consists of library facilities, meeting rooms, group working spaces, a maker space, a living lab, recording studios, a photography studio, editing rooms, offices, a cafe, restaurant, movie theater, auditorium, multi-purpose hall, exhibition facilities and information booths. Related: Urban waste is upcycling into an adorable, beetle-shaped micro library on wheels The library is divided into three distinct levels: an “active” ground floor, a “peaceful” upper floor that houses the “Book Heaven” and an enclosed in-between “Attic” volume with more specific functions housed inside flexible, irregularly shaped rooms, nooks and corners. To accommodate a large volume of people — the library is expected to attract 10,000 visitors per day and 2.5 million visitors per year — the ground floor has been engineered as a column-free public space. To ground the contemporary building into its surroundings, the architects constructed Oodi with locally sourced materials, including the 33-millimeter-thick Finnish high-quality spruce cladding used in the prefabricated wooden facade. Algorithm-aided parametric design models guided the design and manufacturing of the complex curved geometry. Passive solar design principles, highly efficient building systems and building information modeling has helped keep the library’s energy demands to a minimum. “The library will enliven and diversify the new urban environment created in the Töölönlahti area,” ALA Architects said. “It will offer activities and experiences for all ages. There will be plenty of spaces that enable people to gather and spend time together, free of charge. The role of the library’s clients will evolve from passive media users to active agents, participants and content producers. As a non-commercial open public space, the new Central Library will act as Helsinki residents’ common living room, work space and learning environment.” + ALA Architects Photography by Tuomas Uusheimo and Iwan Baan via ALA Architects

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Finnish startup makes alternative protein from carbon dioxide

July 12, 2019 by  
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An innovative startup company from Finland has piloted a new alternative protein product made out of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This meat alternative has the potential to address the environmental evils of both the agriculture industry and climate change. The startup is confident it will be able to get the product on grocery store shelves by 2021. The product, named Solein, will likely be sold first as a liquid protein source via shakes or yogurt. This is different than alternative meat competitors, now including conventional meat giants like Tyson , that primarily sell alternative proteins as nuggets or burgers. Related: Vegan and lab-grown meats predicted to take over meat market in 20 years According to Solar Foods, Solein is “100 times more climate friendly” than all other animal- and plant-based proteins. In fact, the company also claims it is 10 times more efficient than soy production in terms of carbon footprint . How does it work? The company says it mixes water molecules with nutrients like potassium and sodium and then feeds the solution plus carbon to microbes. The microbes consume the nutrients and produce an edible substance that looks like flour and is 50 percent protein . Lab-grown meats are an expanding industry, but Solar Foods captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to feed to microbes instead of using sugar like most other companies. “Producing Solein is entirely free from agriculture — it doesn’t require arable land or irrigation and isn’t limited by climate conditions,” a Solar Foods representative told Dezeen . “It can be produced anywhere around the world, even in areas where conventional protein production has never been possible.” The company has big ambitions and believes that if the alternative meat industry is indeed going to overtake the conventional meat industry as predicted, leading corporations like Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat are going to need to experiment with and use innovative sources of protein beyond pea-based products. + Solar Foods Via Futurism Image via Solar Foods

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The worlds tallest wood building was just completed in Norway

April 10, 2019 by  
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In March 2019, the Mjösa Tower became the tallest wooden building in the world at 18 floors (for a total of 85.4 meters tall), followed closely by the HoHo Wien building in Austria (84 meters) and the Peri-S?pân?a Monastery in Romania (75 meters). Because it was made in part with Kerto LVL wood that is both sustainable and green, the building is eco-friendly as well. While both the skeleton and the facade of the building are made of wood, the decks on the upper floors (apartments) utilize concrete to prevent swaying. The bottom 10 floors contain the majority of the Kerto LVL wood and are comprised of hotel facilities and offices. Because the wood is such high quality and lightweight, construction is faster and, in turn, uses less resources. Related: Peek inside the tallest cross-laminated timber building in the US Being a wood building, the Mjösa Tower was designed with fire safety in mind. In addition to a building-wide sprinkler system, each floor is built compartment-style with materials (such as Kerto LVL and glulam timber) with 90-minute fire resistance capability. According to Metsä Wood, when exposed to fire, the untreated, solid wood chars on the outside and provides its own fire-resistant surface. Kerto LVL wood is a laminated veneer lumber, made using thin rotary-peeled softwood glued together to form a continuous chunk of wood. It’s super strong, durable and doesn’t warp, making the wood ideal for adding substantial strength to floors and beams. Additionally, the Finnish company Metsä Wood produces the material using 100 percent bioenergy with little to no waste. The unusable segments of the wood left after the manufacturing process are either used for pulp production or for bioenergy to run the mill. Even better, there is a bio-heating plant next to the mill that’s used to power the wood production, and the remaining energy is used to help power the neighboring town of Lohja. The Metsä Wood company is certainly a large contributor to Finland’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2030. Mjösa Tower is a symbol of changing trends in the construction community. It proves that massive structures can be produced using sustainable materials without compromising quality. The building’s designers at Voll Arkitekter hope the the tower will inspire other architects to build using sustainable materials like wood. + Metsä Wood + Vol Arkitekter Images via Metsä Wood

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The worlds tallest wood building was just completed in Norway

London becomes the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

April 10, 2019 by  
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London is officially the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The zone, which is active all hours of the day and night, will improve air quality in the city by cutting down on pollution caused by vehicle emissions . Any vehicle traveling inside the ULEZ will have to meet strict emission codes or be subject to fines. Scientists believe that vehicle emissions, specifically nitrogen oxide, account for the majority of air pollution in London and are a serious threat to public health. These harmful chemicals have been known to increase risks of dementia and cancer. Related: Teens exposed to air pollution more likely to experience psychotic episodes, new study says “This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan shared. The ULEZ was activated on April 8 and any vehicles traveling inside the zone that do not meet emissions standards will face charges of around $16 per day. Larger vehicles, such as trucks and buses, will have to pay heftier fines upwards of $130. The zone currently covers an area roughly four miles in size and will be expanded to a much larger area by the fall of 2021. The ULEZ is part of a larger plan to discourage high-emission vehicles from travelling around London. The first stage of the plan initiated what was called a T-charge, which went into effect in the winter of 2017. In the two years since, London has witnessed a drop of around 11,000 vehicles every day from the targeted area. The plan has also increased the number of vehicles becoming compliant with emissions standards in the area. The city’s famous fleet of red double-decker buses, for example, is being upgraded to comply with the new ULEZ.  There are approximately two million residents who live inside the ULEZ, and officials hope the new plan will improve the quality of air so that it meets standards enacted by the European Union. London may be the first city to enact an Ultra Low Emission Zone, but other locations, like New York City, are looking into similar plans. Via CNN Image via  Shrinkin’ Violet

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