"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

January 20, 2020 by  
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French design practice Serero Architectes Urbanistes has recently completed the new Bayeux Media Library, a light-filled cultural institution that connects the northwestern French commune’s historical roots to its future development zones. Inspired by the famous Bayeux Tapestry, the building includes an “embroidered filtering skin” along its north facade comprising a series of multicolored tubes hanging behind the glazed facade to help filter views and light while mitigating unwanted solar gain. Energy usage is reduced thanks to an abundance of glazing outfitted with solar shades as well as an insulating green roof. Located next to the beltway near Bayeux’s dense historic center, the Bayeux Media Library has been strategically located to provide views of the cathedral. To emphasize a connection between the historic center and nearby contemporary development, the architects opted for a “transparent, landscape-building” with a horizontal profile and minimalist design. The glazed library also focuses on the indoor/ outdoor experience with outdoor reading terraces on the south side. At the heart of the contemporary Bayeux Media Library is its reference to the Bayeux Tapestry, a nearly 230-foot-long embroidered cloth dating back to the 11th century that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. “It inspired the design of the media library’s north façade,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Stitch by stitch and thread by thread, embroidery was applied to the fabric to form the tapestry’s semiotic elements. The Boulevard Ware façade of the library is entirely glazed and protected by a ‘filtering skin’ composed of tubes tinted in the natural colors of the woolen yarns in the famous Bayeux Tapestry: beige, brown, bronze green, blue-black and deep blue with yellow highlights.” Related: Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design In addition to the “embroidered” filtering skin on the north facade, the architects added an overhanging roof to shield the interior from unwanted solar gain on the south facade. The glazed east, west, and south facades are also equipped with roller blinds. Skylights let in additional natural light.  + Serero Architectes Urbanistes Photography by Didier Boy de la Tour via Serero Architectes Urbanistes

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"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

California winery innovates with sustainable recycling creation

January 6, 2020 by  
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In the California city of West Paso Robles, architecture firm Clayton & Little has given old oil field drill stem pipes unexpected new life — as an equipment barn that offsets over 100% of the energy needs for a sustainably-minded winery. Covered with a photovoltaic roof, the Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn is not only self-sufficient, but also champions environmentally friendly design principles that include material reuse , rainwater collection and responsible stormwater management practices. The simple agricultural storage structure was strategically placed at the property’s vineyard-lined entrance as an icon of the winery’s commitment to sustainability. Located in the Templeton Gap area at the foot of the 50-acre James Berry Vineyard, the Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn was constructed with a frame made from reclaimed oil field drill stem pipes. Along with timber and welded WT steel flitch purlins, the pipe structure supports a series of laminated glass solar modules that provide shelter and serve as the solar system capable of producing a third more power than needed — roughly 87,000 kWh per year. The pipe framing has also been fitted with a gutter system to accommodate future rainwater harvesting . In addition to offsetting all of the winery’s power demands, the minimalist building provides covered open-air storage for farming vehicles, livestock supplies and workshop and maintenance space. The salvaged pipes were left to weather naturally and are complemented with 22 gauge Western Rib Cor-Ten corrugated perforated steel panels for added shade and filtered privacy to equipment bays. Pervious gravel paving was installed for all open vehicle storage bays and livestock pens to return rainwater to the watershed. Related: Old ruins are transformed into a cozy, off-grid guesthouse in France “ Salvaged materials do more with less,” the architects explained in a press statement. “Barn doors are clad in weathered steel off-cuts that were saved for reuse from the adjacent winery shoring walls, re-used in a ‘calico’ pattern to fit the oddly shaped panels to tube steel framed door leafs. Storage boxes are skinned with stained cedar siding with the interiors clad with unfinished rotary cut Douglas Fir plywood.” + Clayton & Little Images by Casey Dunn

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Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

January 6, 2020 by  
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In a bid to clamp down on the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) opposition to wind farms, international design collective Prototype 2030 has created a two-part proposal that would turn wind turbines into interactive public art. The first part of the design, dubbed Windwords, proposes reshaping wind turbines into giant letters to create landmarks representative of the community. To further empower communities with wind farms, the designers suggest allowing local residents to share in the profits and control the wind turbines through a smartphone app. Inspired by community-oriented design processes for public infrastructure, Prototype 2030 believes that the way to wider acceptance of wind farms and wind turbines begins with neighborhood-centered design. The Windwords proposal takes cues from the Hollywood sign and the IAMSTERDAM letters, which are not only iconic landmarks in their respective cities but also attract attention from tourists. Related: LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic “Our point is not, of course, that every wind turbine has to be turned into a giant letter,” the collective explained. “Every site and community is different and will present different needs and opportunities. Big pink words will not be the solution every time. The real lesson is that wind farms need to be designed to mean something to humans — because they do, to neighbors and passersby. Right now, what they say is usually not what we want to hear. They need to be designed to speak human.” To further humanize the relationship between wind farms and communities, the designers have also proposed Windswitch, a smartphone app that would allow local residents to share in the profits from wind energy . The app would also give users the opportunity to “influence the turbines in their backyard” by trading previous earnings in as credits to temporarily pause a wind turbine. + Prototype 2030 Images by Prototype 2030

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Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

Energy-efficient affordable housing project opens in South LA

January 6, 2020 by  
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As part of its ongoing effort to house Los Angeles’ homeless, local design practice Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) has transformed a vacant lot in South Los Angeles into an inspiring example of 100% affordable housing. Certified LEED Gold , the energy-efficient MLK1101 Supportive Housing project not only emphasizes natural lighting and ventilation to reduce reliance on mechanical systems, but also encourages community and public health with the addition of communal spaces and an outdoor garden with raised-bed edible gardens.  According to the architects, over 58,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County. Working with Clifford Beers Housing, LOHA created MLK1101 Supportive Housing to provide permanent housing for a range of residents, from formerly homeless veterans to chronically homeless individuals and low-income households. The development includes 26 affordable housing units that range in size from one to three bedrooms, all of which include their own bathroom as well as kitchens and living spaces. To encourage neighborly relations, the architects included a community room with shared amenities, an elevated community garden set atop street-level parking, a street-facing stoop and a series of exterior walkways of varying widths that serve as informal gathering spaces. In addition to housing, amenities and 4,000 square feet of parking for cars and bicycles, MLK1101 Supportive Housing also includes two retail units at street level that will generate income to help subsidize housing while providing workforce training to residents. Related: LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot “Further advancing previous experience working with Clifford Beers Housing and other supportive housing organizations like the Skid Row Housing Trust, LOHA’s design acknowledges the successful track record these housing complexes have had with integrating various populations, bringing supportive services in-house, and creating uplifting living environments for people to thrive,” note the architects in a project statement. Other sustainable features of the project include high-efficiency heating and cooling, energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, solar water heating and electric vehicle charging.  + Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects Images by Paul Vu Photography

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How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation

January 2, 2020 by  
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From high-tech indoor farms in France and Singapore to mobile apps connecting urban growers and eaters in India and the United States, here are more than a dozen initiatives using tech, entrepreneurship, and social innovation to change urban agriculture.

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A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France

December 9, 2019 by  
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In the Alsace region of eastern France, Oslo-based architectural firm Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter and French design studio Parenthèse Paysage have teamed up to transform the historic, 11-kilometer-long Rosheim-St Nabor railway into a new landmark celebrating local history, culture and the landscape. Redeveloped with curving, ribbon-like sheets of weathered steel, the area takes on new, artistic life while the dismantled tracks have been adapted for the enjoyment of cyclists and pedestrians alike. The adaptive reuse project was completed this year. Opened in 1902, the 11-kilometer-long Rosheim-St Nabor railway was originally created to serve the quarries in the sub-Vosges hills and to transport passengers between five communes. To share the history of the landscape, the designers retraced the existing track and used each train stop as an opportunity to highlight different characteristics of the landscape. Related: Old Paris railway site will transform into a carbon-neutral “ecosystem neighborhood” “Ominous, sometimes hidden, the vestiges of the railway still mark the reading of the site,” the architects explained. “The journey to discover forgotten landscapes or to take a different view on everyday landscapes is addressed to both local users and tourists. Like the old track that offered a dual function (industrial and passenger transport), the route has a double vocation where the functional must rub shoulders with the imaginary of travel.” At the first stop at the French commune Rosheim, the designers created a labyrinthine pavilion ringed by curved sheets of weathered steel with carefully sited openings that frame select views of the landscape. To “tell the story of the past,” the train tracks are conserved in that area and viewing platforms are complemented with benches. At the next stop of Boersch, focus is placed on the river; the riverbed has been enlarged, and a large open-space amphitheater was built alongside the water. After a long, green tunnel is Leonardsau, where the designers “tell the story of the land” with two weathered steel plates that frame views toward Mont St. Odile and emphasize the transition from the forest to the open landscape. At Ottrott, a former train station has been renovated to relay the history of the railway. Lastly is the train stop for Saint-Nabor, which has been redeveloped to tell “the story of luck.” The quarries at this last stop have been gradually overtaken with nature, the views of which can be enjoyed from a dramatic weathered steel promontory with sweeping views of the landscape. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Photography by Florent Michel 11h45 via Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

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A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France

Timber Woody office in France embraces Paris’ largest park

November 29, 2019 by  
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In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of construction, French architecture firm Atelier du Pont has created an office for Santé publique France, the French public healthcare agency. The new office is built almost entirely from wood and is free of solvents and plastics . Nicknamed “Woody” after its timber build, the office is located on the eastern edge of Paris right next to the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in the city. The architecture responds to the neighboring landscape with its branching design that embraces the surroundings “like open, protective arms.” Inspired by the Bois de Vincennes, Woody features an all-natural material palette of timber, which is used for everything from the cross-laminated timber structural components and oak flooring to the shingled facades and wood furnishings. Large, furnished terraces jut out from the building to overlook beautiful views of the wooded park, while expansive walls of glass bring those views and natural light indoors. The connection to nature is also referenced in the shape of the building, which resembles a bundle of sticks placed on the ground. Related: Railway enclave in Paris is transformed into a solar-powered mixed-use eco-district “This design symbolizes the mission of this institution, which oversees the health of everyone who lives in France ,” the architects explained in a press release. “The aim is to be exemplary in terms of its impact on the environment and the health. The project has created a pleasant space that takes its users’ wellbeing fully into account.” To create a healthy work environment, the architects have emphasized natural daylighting and a connection to nature. The neutral color palette and unpainted timber lend a warm and tactile feel to the interior. In addition to the nearby park, occupants can enjoy the three gardens around the building, each organized around a theme of beneficial, healing or harmful plants. + Atelier du Pont Photography by Takuji Shimmura via Atelier du Pont

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Foie gras ban to take effect in New York

November 1, 2019 by  
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Fancy feasters in the Big Apple will have to acquire new tastes because New York will soon follow California’s example in legislating for a foie gras ban. Earlier this week, the New York City Council passed a bill calling for the ban, and Mayor Bill de Blasio will soon sign it into law. Animal activists have been rejoicing, calling the new legislation a win, although it won’t take effect until 2022. Those not in compliance by then will face a $2,000 penalty fine per violation. Foie gras is a rich, extravagant dish that has been appreciated since Ancient Roman times. The French have even defended it via article L654 of France’s 2006 Rural Code, which states, “Foie gras is part of the protected cultural and gastronomic heritage of France.” Related: Foie gras ban in California stands after court battle But foie gras production has met with criticism from animal welfare advocates. Foie gras is produced by forced overfeeding of ducks or geese to fatten and enlarge their livers. Feed volume is in excess of a bird’s normal voluntary intake, making the process unnatural because it overrides a bird’s typical preferences and homeostasis. The Canadian Veterinary Journal , for instance, has documented that this unnatural overfeeding process spans a two-week period and involves “repeated capture, restraint and rapid insertion of the feeding tube” that causes discomfort and increased risks for esophageal injury and associated pain. All of this produces a duck or goose liver that is “seven to 19 times the size of a normal liver with an average weight of 550 to 982 grams and a fat content of 55.8 percent,” while a normal liver is just “76 grams with a fat content of 6.6 percent.” In 1998, The European Commission recognized that these force-fed birds were up to 20 times more likely to reach mortality than their normal counterparts. If the same fatty cell buildup would occur in humans, it would be likened to alcohol abuse or obesity. New York’s ban follows at the heels of California’s foie gras ban. The Golden State’s legislation, however, has met some choppy waters. Initially passed in 2012, it was later overturned in 2015, then upheld by a circuit court judge in 2017, followed by further support earlier this year when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of California’s ban. On the other hand, Chicago’s ban on the delicacy was not so successful. Passed in 2006, it was repealed by 2008 via concerted efforts from foie gras producers, celebrity chefs and high-end restaurants that pushed back to sway public opinion. Their lobby strategies centered around the argument that if the foie gras ban persists, then other delicacies like lobster and veal might be in jeopardy, too. Chicago’s former mayor, Richard Daley, eventually called the ban “the silliest ordinance” his city’s council ever had, making the Windy City “the laughingstock of the nation.” It remains to be seen whether New York’s foie gras ban will succeed like California’s or be overturned like the ban in Chicago. Via Time and Fast Company Image via T.Tseng

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Foie gras ban to take effect in New York

Prefab alpine shelter boasts phenomenal views and a small footprint

October 31, 2019 by  
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On the border between Italy and France, a new alpine shelter with breathtaking views has been gently placed atop a remote landscape. Paolo Carradini and his family tapped Michele Versaci and Andrea Cassi to craft an all-black mountain hut to honor the memory of their son, Matteo, a passionate mountaineer. Named the Bivacco Matteo Corradini, the sculptural dwelling was prefabricated off-site in modules, transported by helicopter and reassembled on the construction site to minimize site impact. Located a few meters from the Dormillouse summit in the upper Valle di Susa, the Bivacco Matteo Corradini — also known as the black body mountain shelter — is placed at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters. The hexagonal dwelling is wrapped in a black metal shell engineered to protect the alpine building from extreme weather conditions, shed snow and absorb solar radiation, while insulation ensures comfort in both winter and summer. Its angular form also takes inspiration from the landscape and mimics the shape of a dark boulder. The interior is constructed from Swiss pine , a material valued for its malleability and scent that is typically used in Alpine communities for crafting cradles and surfaces in bedrooms. The compact interior is organized around a central table with three large wooden steps on either side. These steps serve as sleeping platforms at night and function as seating during the day. Two large windows frame views of the outdoors and funnel light into the structure.  Related: This Norwegian alpine cabin fits together like a 3D timber puzzle “The volume rests on the ground for a quarter of its lower surface so as to adapt to the slope, while limiting soil consumption,” explain the designers of the prefab shelter in a press release. “Reversibility and environmental sustainability are key points of the project: a light and low-impact installation. The optimization of weights and shapes made assembly at high altitudes quick and easy and minimized helicopter transport.” + Andrea Cassi + Michele Versaci Images via Andrea Cassi and Michele Versaci

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Brazil turns down international aid for Amazon wildfires

August 28, 2019 by  
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is busy tweeting and arguing with French president Emmanuel Macron while enormous Amazon fires burn. The Group of Seven rich countries, otherwise known as the G7, has offered $22 million to combat fires raging throughout the rainforest. But Bolsonaro says he won’t accept the money unless Macron says he’s sorry. While at the G7 summit in France early this week, Macron urged his fellow leaders to action, calling the Amazon wildfires a world environmental crisis and accusing Bolsonaro of making it worse. He also called the Brazilian president a climate change skeptic. Bolsonaro was insulted and accused Macron of treating Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land,” he said in a tweet. Related: Wildfires are decimating the Amazon rainforest at unprecedented rates Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, further dissed Macron by saying if the French president can’t “avoid a predictable fire in a church,” he might not have much to offer Brazil. This remark referred to the recent tragic blaze at Notre Dame . Fortunately for Bolsonaro, he can fall back on support in his mutual fan club with President Trump. “He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil — Not easy,” tweeted Trump. Bolsonaro thanked Trump and accused Macron et al. of building a fake news campaign against him. Meanwhile, a football field and a half of the Amazon continues to burn every minute. Brazil could well be facing permanent changes to its ecology, such as former rainforest turning into arid landscape. “The Amazon is extremely fundamental for the water system all over the continent,” said Rosana Villar from Greenpeace. “So, if we cut off the forest, we are some years not going to have rain on the south of the country.” Critics say the $22 million offered by the G-7 countries including the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K. wouldn’t be enough to stop the fires . But it would certainly go a lot farther than a juvenile tweet fight. Via NPR and CNN Image via NASA

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