MASK Architects design a sustainable pavilion nestled in a German forest

July 19, 2019 by  
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Turkish architect Öznur P?nar Çer’s firm MASK Architects has designed a sustainably minded pavilion proposed for Waldspielpark Heinrich Kraft Park, the largest forest game park in Frankfurt, Germany. Created with a leaf-shaped structure, the building is designed to blend into the forest with its natural materials palette that mainly comprises locally sourced timber. Dubbed Leaf and Bean Co Pavilion, the building will house a coffee shop, a semi-open library, recreational areas and an events space. Shaped like an ovate leaf, the Leaf and Bean Co Pavilion will span an area of more than 2,000 square feet across two floors. The pavilion’s ground floor will be semi open and house exhibition space, while the upper level will include the coffee shop with the service areas placed inside a circular core at the heart of the building. Optimization of views of the surrounding forest informed the decisions for placing the programming. In addition to providing structural support, locally sourced timber will be used to give the pavilion a sculptural appeal. The architects propose crisscrossing long timber blocks around the building exterior for a nest-like appearance that evokes branches in a forest. Large amounts of glazing wrap around the building to create an immersive experience in nature. The roof of the pavilion directly above the coffee service areas will be planted with trees and greenery visible from the coffee shop below. Related: A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere “We carried out a design in which people can provide unforgettable experience without disturbing the mathematics and physics of nature,” Öznur P?nar Çer said in a press statement. “This pavilion can be adapted to any kind of forest area, the development offers visitors an escape from the city with the celebration of fresh and organic dining. A hub educating and reestablishing gastronomy’s historic and appropriate connection with nature. Guests may enjoy the leisure and programmed resting on the terrace level while connected with the natural forest. By wandering in the forest, visitors not only discover co-creation programs but also meet with the people involved with the project and explore their creative process.” + MASK Architects Images via MASK Architects

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MASK Architects design a sustainable pavilion nestled in a German forest

Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025

July 19, 2019 by  
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This week, major fashion brand Zara announced a pledge to use 100 percent sustainable fabrics by 2025. The company also upped the ante for large-scale sustainable fashion by promising to use 80 percent renewable energy for its headquarters, factories and stores by the same deadline. “We need to be a force for change, not only in the company but in the whole sector,” said Pablo Isla, CEO of Inditex, the corporation that owns Zara. “We are the ones establishing these targets; the strength and impulse for change is coming from the commercial team, the people who are working with our suppliers, the people working with fabrics.” Related: H&M releases sustainable fashion line from fruit and algae Inditex is the third-largest apparel company in the world and promises that its other brands, including Massimo Dutti, will follow Zara’s example. Zara is by far the corporation’s largest brand, pulling in 70 percent of its sales, which totaled $29 billion USD last year. A major component of the sustainability plan involves increasing the offerings and sales from Zara’s eco-conscious line, Join Life. Zara also partners with the Red Cross to donate leftover stock and has an ongoing project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to innovate new ways to recycle fabrics. The announcements come after increased pressure from consumers worldwide who seek sustainable fashion choices and critique the waste generated by the fast fashion industry. Zara claims it is not “ fast fashion ,” even though a documentary recently revealed that factory workers are judged by a woman holding a stopwatch and that the time between spotting a trend and having it hit Zara stores is only 2 to 4 weeks . Most fashion brands, by comparison, take 40 weeks. Critics and experts of the fashion industry noted that the new sustainability plan does not address concerns about the conditions for factory workers, despite recent controversies when disgruntled workers stitched S.O.S. notes into Zara clothing. + Zara Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025

This off-grid retreat in Ohio was inspired by a treehouse

April 15, 2019 by  
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With features like a natural ventilation system to cool the home and rainwater collection to supply plumbing, The Hut is completely eco-friendly in addition to being off-grid . There is no access to main electricity or water, so the minimalist structure relies exclusively on solar power. Rather than constructing on top of the building site as most projects do, the architects built the home to harmonize with its surrounding environment. While the sustainable and eco-conscious design is worth commendation alone, The Hut was also born from a unique emotional place as well. Architect Greg Dutton of Midland Architecture wanted to build a quiet retreat in his family’s forested property on their Ohio cattle farm, within an area filled with happy childhood memories of hiking and exploration. The land, which he and his family have owned and operated for 40 years, holds a nostalgic value that helps connect the home with the building site. Related: Eco-friendly “treehouse” in French pine forest boasts surprisingly chic interiors Designed to appear as a treehouse , The Hut is elevated within the trees overlooking a lake through the use of concrete pillars at the edge of a small cliff. The position takes full advantage of exposure from the southern sun, helping to keep the home powered by solar energy. The floor-to-ceiling windows behind the wood-burning stove add to the lofted-in-the-trees effect. Though the natural cedar that tops the roof initially sticks out, with time and weather, the color will blend in perfectly with the surrounding forest. Inside, the floors are made of white pine and the wall/ceiling paneling of yellow pine, an homage to the Scandinavian and Danish architecture style that inspires a cozy atmosphere . The interior utilizes mostly organic light brown and white colors, with touches of black to add natural accents. There is a simple living space that connects to a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area. The architect drew inspiration from the rustic and straightforward designs he grew up with in his farming background. + Midland Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Lexi Ribar via Midland Architecture

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A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

April 9, 2019 by  
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La Pointe is located within Canada’s Poisson Blanc Regional Park, and it’s a nature-loving minimalist’s dream come true. The micro home gets its name from the distinctive triangular geometry that comes to a cathedral-style point in the roof. The designers at Atelier L’abri wanted to honor the A-frame style that was made popular in North America in the 1950s while still providing the essential functions needed in a forest cabin. La Pointe offers off-the-grid living that isn’t completely isolated from civilization. The micro home is located off of a nature trail about 10 minutes by foot from the park’s reception pavilion. Despite the minimal square footage, there is room for up to four occupants inside thanks to the first-floor table’s ability to convert into an extra bed. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The structure was built on-site and features a kitchenette, an outdoor porch area and a lofted bedroom accessible by ladder. The bed is suspended mezzanine-style using steel rods, and it calmly overlooks the rest of the home. The entire space, including the sleeping area, takes full advantage of the natural light that streams in during the day. The connecting covered terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy the space when the weather is hot, and the wood-burning stove keeps the house warm in the cold Canadian winters. The whole structure is raised off the ground to prevent weather-related damage from both the snow and the nearby reservoir. The exterior, made from natural cedar boards, creates a woodsy look that blends in beautifully to the surrounding forest landscape. The roof is made from steel, a recycle-friendly option for a building material. The interior uses the same cedar, which — combined with the dark, steel-colored appliances inside — creates an organic and raw look. Occupants can enjoy the forest views from the large bay window that centers the home from the first floor. + Atelier L’abri Photography by Jack Jérôme via Atelier L’abri

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A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

Inspiring zero-energy church in Iowa embraces nature in more ways than one

April 5, 2019 by  
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An inspiring new church in Coralville, Iowa is lifting spirits and bringing people closer to nature — while generating all the energy it needs on site . Iowa City-based firm Neumann Monson Architects designed the church for the Unitarian Universalist Society; the solar-powered building embodies the Society’s core principles with its organic architecture emphasizing sustainability, accessibility and flexibility. The energy-efficient building is currently on track to achieve Zero Energy Building (ZEB) certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). Located on an existing open clearing so as to minimize the building’s impact on the forest, the Unitarian Universalist Society was built to replace an old structure that had multiple levels and many steps. In contrast, the new building was designed for greater accessibility to create more inclusive spaces, and it radiates an uplifting feel with its high ceilings and sloped roof that culminates into a peak in a far corner. The 133,592-square-foot church includes seven religious classrooms and six offices. It was also designed with input from the congregation’s 300 members. Designed for net-zero energy, the church is an all-electric building powered with a geothermal heat pump system and solar photovoltaic panels located on the building’s west side. To further reduce the building’s environmental impact, the architects installed bioretention cells for capturing and filtering all stormwater runoff. The landscaping features native grasses and woodland walking trails that engage the surroundings and are complemented with accessible food gardens. Materials from the property’s existing residence — deconstructed by volunteers — were donated to local nonprofits. Visitors also have access to charging stations. Related: Canada’s largest net-zero energy college building opens in Ontario “The Unitarian Universalist Society facility harmonizes with its natural landscape to provide reflective spaces for worship, fellowship, religious education and administration,” the architects explained. “Beyond fully-glazed walls , the forest provides dappled intimacy. The sanctuary’s prow extends south, a stone’s throw from a mature evergreen grove. Services pause respectfully as deer and woodland creatures pass.” + Neumann Monson Architects Photography by Integrated Studio via Neumann Monson Architects

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Inspiring zero-energy church in Iowa embraces nature in more ways than one

Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods

February 12, 2019 by  
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Elevated on angled steel legs and clad in sleek black metal, the PAN Treetop Cabins tucked away in a forest two hours from Oslo are unlike your typical forest retreat. Located in the woods of Finnskogen (the Finnish Forest) in east Norway, the two cabins were designed by Oslo-based architect Espen Surnevik for Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel, a couple who wanted to create an eco-friendly and sustainable tourism destination. Opened for bookings in late 2018, the pair of cabins offers all the comforts of home in a remote and wild landscape. Founders Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel started the tourism project in hopes of connecting foreign tourists with “the real Norwegian wilderness.” The couple, who live on a farm in Finnskogen near the Swedish border, wants to raise awareness of the region, from its location at the beginning of Taiga — the earth’s largest land biome — to the area’s rich biodiversity and ties to mysticism. According to the project’s press release, “PAN Treetop Cabins is a visionary project that combines spectacular architecture with the stunning nature one finds in this little known part of Norway.” The pair of cabins has been carefully placed for optimal access to natural light and views. Each cabin is elevated on steel poles to minimize site impact and is designed with energy efficiency in mind. Inside, there are 40 square meters of living space outfitted with electricity, radiant floor heating, a rain shower, a fully equipped kitchen and a fireplace. The tent-shaped profiles were inspired by North American A-frame lodges and are punctuated on both ends with large windows. Related: This itsy-bitsy treehouse in Norway offers the ultimate off-grid escape “PAN is a unique possibility for tourists who want to experience the quiet of the forest, exciting activities, the mysterious culture of Finnskogen and the extraordinary animal life you have in this part of Norway,” the designers said, noting that all the materials were carefully selected to adhere to sustainable principles. The cabins are clad in black metal rather than timber to call attention to their man-made origins. + Espen Surnevik Images via Rasmus Norlander

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Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods

Valuable wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests, new study warns

September 28, 2018 by  
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Wetlands around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate. New research shows that these valuable ecosystems are vanishing at a rate three times that of forests . Unless significant changes are made, the disappearance of wetlands could cause severe damage around the globe. The Global Wetland Outlook , which was completed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, found that more than a third of the wetlands on Earth have disappeared over a 45-year period. The pace that wetlands are vanishing jumped significantly after the year 2000, and regions all over the planet were impacted equally. Unfortunately, there is a handful of reasons why wetlands are diminishing around the world. This includes climate change , urbanization, human population growth and variable consumption patterns, all of which have contributed to the way land is used. Related: Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals There are several different types of wetlands found on Earth, including marshes, lakes, peatlands and rivers. Lagoons, coral reefs , mangroves and estuaries also fall into the wetland category. In total, wetlands take up more than 12.1 million square kilometers, an area larger than Greenland. Wetlands are crucial, because they provide almost all of the world’s access to freshwater — something that is key to survival. Humans also use wetlands for hydropower and medicines. From an environmental perspective, wetlands help retain carbon and regulate global warming . They also serve as the ecosystems for 40 percent of living species on Earth, providing food, water, breeding spaces and raw materials for these animals to live. If the wetlands keep vanishing at the current rate, many species will go as well. “The Global Wetland Outlook is a wake-up call — not only on the steep rate of loss of the world’s wetlands but also on the critical services they provide. Without them, the global agenda on sustainable development will not be achieved,” said Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “We need urgent collective action to reverse trends on wetland loss and degradation and secure both the future of wetlands and our own survival at the same time.” With wetlands in danger of disappearing, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has pledged to make saving these regions a top priority. The parties involved with the group have targeted 2,300 sites for protection and hope to expand that to include more wetlands around the globe. + Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Image via Jeanethe Falvey / EPA

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Valuable wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests, new study warns

Geothermal-powered Forest House showcases sustainable features in Maryland

July 13, 2018 by  
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Set on the edge of a forest conservation area in central Maryland , the Forest House is a contemporary home integrated with a wide variety of energy-efficient features. Local design firm Gardner Architects LLC designed the spacious home that responds to passive solar principles and rises to the height of the tree canopy to capture surrounding views. The sustainable technologies include geothermal energy, rooftop solar panels and rain gardens, as well as low-tech solutions like stack ventilation. Commissioned by clients who wanted a spacious home yet desired a sustainable footprint, the Forest House spans 25,000 square feet across three levels. By building upwards on the 0.6-acre wooded property, Gardner Architects sought to create a compact building footprint that would minimize site disturbance . The Forest House embraces the outdoors with covered balconies, a large roof deck that overlooks the forest, and ample low-U value glazing that wraps around the south side to maximize solar gain in winter. The upper level is cantilevered over the glazed south facade to provide shade from the harsh summer sun. The home was constructed with framing panelized off-site in a factory to reduce material waste as well as onsite construction time. The energy-efficient building envelope is bolstered with rigid insulation on the exterior to prevent thermal bridging. In addition to natural daylighting that’s brought in through the skylights and other glazed openings, the openings were carefully placed in concert with an open stair tower so as to promote stack ventilation that brings in cooling breezes. Related: 13 energy-efficient modules make up this prefab modern home in Maryland The Forest House is powered with a ballasted solar array that sits atop the roof deck. A ground source heat pump provides heating and cooling. To further reduce energy needs, the house is equipped with central DC-powered low voltage LEDs that can be controlled remotely. The project was completed in 2016. + Gardner Architects LLC Images by John Cole

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Geothermal-powered Forest House showcases sustainable features in Maryland

US Forest Service allows Nestl to continue taking water from California national forest

June 29, 2018 by  
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The U.S. Forest Service has offered Nestlé Waters North America a three-year permit on water rights in the San Bernardino National Forest , allowing the company to continue to take millions of gallons of water from the site. Under the proposed agreement, Nestlé would draw from the Strawberry Creek watershed “when there is water available consistent with the forest’s Land Management Plan” for its various bottled water brands, including Arrowhead. If California returns to severe drought conditions, the Forest Service could further limit natural resource access. The Forest Service says it will work with the Swiss company to study the watershed and determine future management plans. The watershed is currently rated as Class Three “Impaired Function,” the worst watershed functionality class. An “impaired” watershed exceeds “physical, hydrological or biological thresholds,” with major changes needed to restore the watershed to functioning status. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley “[The decision ensures] the water withdrawal and conveyance infrastructure is under a current permit,” U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Joe Rechsteiner explained to the Associated Press. “And it provides for protection of forest resources.” In 2015, the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland, Calif. sued the Forest Service to block Nestlé from using the watershed, arguing the conglomerate was operating without a valid permit. A federal judge allowed continued water collection for bottling , while regulators considered a new permit. In its permit renewal application, the company cited 70 environmental studies to support its continued watershed usage. Arrowhead’s use of the Strawberry Creek watershed dates back to 1909, when the Arrowhead Springs Company was formed. Nestlé must accept the agreement within 60 days. In a statement to the AP, Nestlé noted they would “carefully review the specifics of the decision.” Via  Associated Press Images via John Heil (1, 2)

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

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

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