Intergenerational living community in France upholds passive design principles

November 12, 2020 by  
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Supported by Studio Losa Architects and the Centre Communal d’Action Sociale (CCAS) of Clermont-Ferrand, one of France’s largest social action community centers, Clos des Vignes, is an intergenerational and inclusive village made with passive design principles. The ambitious project incorporates 40 units within eight buildings and a multifunctional hall in the city of Clermont-Ferrand in central France . The community serves as a home for independent seniors, people who receive public assistance and people with disabilities. Following studies conducted by the CCAS of Clermont-Ferrand aimed at discovering optimal housing designs for seniors to supplement assisted living facilities, a need was found for promoting home support while preserving social life. Additionally, the study found that older communities must prioritize self-reliance and support among the residents to protect quality of life, all while limiting building energy consumption to reach a passive level. Related: This nature-filled community is a smart housing solution for Singapore’s aging population Of the 40 units, half are one-bedrooms and half are two-bedrooms. Thirty of the units are reserved for seniors while the remaining 10 are intended for students or young couples. Views of the region’s famous Puy de Dôme volcano and Monts du Livradois-Forez nature preserve serve as an inspiration for new lifestyles and renewed physical and mental energy for the village inhabitants. All of the units and public garden spaces are accessible to those with reduced mobility. The housing complex also incorporates smart home management with automation of certain amenities and tablets linked to provide direct access to a CCAS platform for car, services and group activities. The design features vegetable gardens and walking paths, with 4,000 square meters of grounds open to the public in the day and closed at nightfall to be enjoyed exclusively by residents. Ground coverings are chosen for high resistance outside while low-maintenance and high-performing interior insulation regulates the thermal and acoustic environment of the interior. Solar panels produce energy for water and space heating to add to passive house design principles, and the structures utilize a combination of steel and concrete in construction. + Studio LOSA Photography by Nicolas Grosmond via aR. Communication

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Intergenerational living community in France upholds passive design principles

3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

November 12, 2020 by  
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Italian firm Barberio Colella Architetti and architect Angelo Figliola have unveiled a futuristic vision for an urban oasis in Abu Dhabi that combines cutting-edge technology with low-tech systems to stay naturally cool in extreme climates. The conceptual project — dubbed Urban Dunes — uses locally sourced sand as the main building material, which would be 3D printed in stereotomic blocks of sandstone. In addition to providing passive cooling, the oasis would also pay homage to the region’s culture with intricate and elegant spaces that mimic the traditional architecture of Abu Dhabi. Designed to span 1,000 square meters, the Urban Dunes project features the tagline “rethinking local sustainable models.” The proposal “started from the deep awareness of the climatic context of Abu Dhabi’s and the Emirates’ traditional architecture, such as elegant vaulted spaces, vernacular shading devices and cold-water basins,” the architects explained in a press statement. As a result, Urban Dunes’ sculptural, sand dune-like form is integrated with iconic elements such as mashrabiya , vaulted spaces, water basins, fountains and palms. Related: Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia For adaptability, the architects have proposed a modular design to fit a variety of spatial settings. The basic module, a square, can be extended to create everything from an L-shaped layout to a courtyard. Each module would be made from 3D-printed blocks that stack together to create a vault with a thickness of 55 centimeters that, together with the heat-reflective cool pigments mixed into the sand, help protect against solar heat gain. The vaulted spaces below are also optimized for natural cooling with elegant mashrabiya, a type of perforated window screen to enable natural ventilation . The incoming airflow is cooled by the water basins placed around the interior as well as the two waterfall fountains and palm trees in the center. Earth pipes are laid underground to feed water to the fountains and basins. + Barberio Colella Architetti Images via Barberio Colella Architetti

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3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

World leaders commit to Earth’s recovery

September 29, 2020 by  
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World leaders are looking toward a post- COVID-19 world and planning to put the planet at the center of recovery plans. More than 60 countries, including France, Germany and the U.K., have pledged to promote sustainable economic systems and slash pollution by 2050. The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature was introduced on Monday with 64 signatories. By signing, leaders promised to address issues such as deforestation , ecosystem degradation, illicit wildlife and timber trafficking, the climate crisis, unsustainable fishing and environmentally harmful subsidies as well as to take steps to transition to a circular economy. Related: UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5°C limit before 2030 “Science clearly shows that biodiversity loss, land and ocean degradation, pollution, resource depletion and climate change are accelerating at an unprecedented rate. This acceleration is causing irreversible harm to our life support systems and aggravating poverty and inequalities as well as hunger and malnutrition,” the pledge reads. “Despite ambitious global agreements and targets for the protection, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity, and notwithstanding many local success stories, the global trends continue rapidly in the wrong direction. A transformative change is needed: we cannot simply carry on as before.” This is a busy time for environmental promises. On Wednesday, the UN is virtually hosting a major biodiversity summit from New York. More than 116 heads of governments and states are trying to get on the summit’s oversubscribed speakers’ roster. The U.K. is an enthusiastic supporter of the nature pledge. “We must act now — right now. We cannot afford to dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all. Extinction is forever — so our action must be immediate.” Johnson said that by 2030, 30% of the U.K.’s land will be reserved for nature. Countries large and small from five continents have signed on, including Mexico, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Kenya, Fiji, the Seychelles and Mexico. But a few important players are noticeably absent, such as Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Xi Jinping, the leaders of the U.S., Brazil and China, respectively. “Many of the most important countries in the world that are causing climate change due to their emissions of greenhouse gases , and/or are destroying their biodiversity, are not signatures to this pledge,” said Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, to the Guardian. “Without countries such as the USA, Brazil, China, Russia, India, and Australia we cannot succeed in achieving the Paris Climate goal or halting and ultimately reversing the loss of biodiversity.” + Leaders’ Pledge for Nature Via The Guardian Image via Arek Socha

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262 wicker baskets come together in a stunning arched pavilion

September 8, 2020 by  
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For the third annual Annecy Paysages landscape architecture festival, Riga-based Didzis Jaunzems Architecture (DJA) has crafted the Wicker Pavilion, a beautiful and innovative pavilion covered with 262 traditional wicker baskets. Located in the heart of Jardins de l’Europe in the alpine town of Annecy, France, the pavilion provided park visitors respite from the hot summer sun while framing select views of the landscape. DJA also participated in the festival last year with the UGUNS pavilion. With the Wicker Pavilion, Didzis Jaunzems Architecture has combined contemporary architecture with traditional Latvian craftsmanship. The arched pavilion was built with a timber grid shell structure technique. “The triangular mesh of the timber grid is assembled on the ground, then the middle part is lifted to a necessary height and then the three corners are fixed to create the final arched shape,” the architects explained. “The load bearing structure is made of pine tree planks 21 x 45 mm in 6 structural layers connected with bolts at crossing points.” Related: Glowing Wishing Pavilion is made with 5,000 recycled plastic bricks The timber-framed shell was then covered with 262 traditional wicker baskets that were woven into cone shapes by Latvian artisans. The lattice structure of the wicker baskets allows for filtered daylight through the pavilion, creating a dynamic play of light and shadow on the grass. In addition to providing a shaded space for park visitors, the arched pavilion also invites a sense of play. The gridded triangular sections of the frame are large enough for passersby to poke their heads inside and look through to views framed by the conical wicker baskets. To improve the flexibility of the timber structure during the construction process, the architects wet the structure with water to increase the pliability of the materials. Over time, the timber and wicker materials will develop a natural patina and turn a silvery gray to better blend in with the surrounding landscape. + DJA Photography by Eriks Bozis via DJA

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Severe coastal floods could affect 287 million people by 2100

August 3, 2020 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports has revealed that more than 4% of the world’s population could be exposed to severe flooding by the end of the century. The study was inspired by a continuous rise in the number of coastal floods across the world, and it builds upon previous research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Currently, about 148 million people experience flooding events across the world, but this could increase to 287 million by 2100. Many of the floods are related to the rise in sea levels caused by melting glaciers. The study has now revealed that if measures are not taken to control greenhouse gas emissions , about 77 million additional people would be exposed to flooding in the next 80 years. However, even if the measures being taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions are maintained, global warming would still continue at a rate of 1.8 degrees Celsius. This would mean that about 54 million people will be exposed to coastal flooding at the end of the century. The effects of increased coastal flooding will get worse with time. In the worst-case scenario, coastal assets worth $14.2 trillion will experience flooding at the turn of the century — an equivalent of 20% of the current global GDP. Considering such factors, efforts must be made to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Related: Venice’s worst flood in 50 years blamed on climate change The causes of increased flooding in coastal cities are human-caused global warming , storm surges and high tides. As global temperatures rise, more land-based ice melts, leading to sea level rise. But the study indicates that even immediate action may not stop the extreme flooding. The report warns that by 2050, major flooding events will have increased in intensity. A one-in-100-years flooding event could occur every 10 years. As much as 4% of the global population might be exposed to severe flooding events. Professor Ian Young of the University of Melbourne and co-author of the study said, “We certainly need to mitigate our greenhouse gases but that won’t solve this problem. The sea-level rise is already baked in — even if we reduce emissions today the sea level will continue to rise because the glaciers will continue to melt for hundreds of years.” The study has identified some regions that are likely to be affected the most by the continuous rise in sea levels. Among the areas of highest concern include southeastern China, northern Australia and Bangladesh as well as Gujarat and West Bengal in India. In the U.S., North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia have been identified as the most likely to be exposed. Other countries that are likely to be affected by major flooding include France, Germany and the U.K. + Scientific Reports Via The Guardian Image via Kelly Sikkema

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Severe coastal floods could affect 287 million people by 2100

Gardens grow on all floors of Saint-Gobains crystalline HQ

July 1, 2020 by  
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On the outskirts of Paris, French architecture firm Valode & Pistre has completed a new headquarters — a crystalline tower wrapped in low-emission glass — for Saint-Gobain, a multinational building materials company. Designed to emphasize urban integration, energy performance and user comfort, the skyscraper features wind-sheltered gardens accessible from every floor, an abundance of natural light and stunning panoramic views. The building, known as Tour Saint-Gobain, was completed in 2019 in the business district of La Défense. Selected as the winning entry in an international architecture competition, Valode & Pistre’s design for Tour Saint-Gobain references Saint-Gobain’s leading role in construction material distribution — particularly with glass — with its crystalline architecture. The new company headquarters is divided into three distinct parts that are likened to the head, body and feet of a person: the lower floor, or “feet”, contain the open access areas and showroom; the main “body” comprises flexible office spaces; and the highest floors at the “head” houses reception areas, meeting places and the “espace plein ciel”, a stunning gathering space with panoramic views. Related: Dramatic crystalline concert hall boasts a gorgeous prismatic interior in Poland “A tower, more than any other building, is about people and how it affects them,” the architecture firm explained in a press release. “Emotions are expected to be felt at the sight of such a building and the architect should strive to bring about these feelings and this excitement. The dynamic silhouette of the building, through the assembly of three oblique prisms that, in an anthropomorphic way, resemble a head, a body and a foot, allows it to interact with the surrounding towers. The tower thus becomes a figure turning its head and slightly stooping as a sign of warm welcome.” At 165 meters tall, Tour Saint-Gobain spans 44 floors and encompasses 49,900 square meters of floor space. High-performance glass ensures optimal user comfort for occupants, who not only enjoy panoramic views but also direct access to indoor gardens from all of the office spaces. + Valode & Pistre Photography by Sergio Grazia via Valode & Pistre

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Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

May 26, 2020 by  
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Paris-based design studio Rescubika has unveiled a fantastical proposal for the Babylon Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge over the river Seine. Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the proposed bridge would be covered with greenery on multiple levels, from trees that line the length of the bridge to the hanging planters that surround a central waterfall feature. The new public park would also be connected to the riverbanks, which could be turned into urban agriculture plots for local use. The Babylon Bridge proposal spans the Seine to connect the Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet on the left bank with the 14-hectare Parc de Bercy on the right. Rescubika designed the proposal in response to the revitalization of Avenue de France — most notably with the ongoing development of architect Jean Nouvel’s Tour Duo project — and its desire to provide urban beautification that can be seen by a greater number of residents and visitors. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor “This project aims to study the possibility of a strong city entrance in the form of a hanging landscape,” the firm explained. “The Babylon Bridge is a positive vision of the city of tomorrow, less chaotic and annihilating than that of yesterday. The bridge is an urban tool allowing the passage of flows over areas that are impossible to cross, here we also want to allow the user to stroll and relax. It is a participative and positive architecture.” As an antidote to city living, the Babylon Bridge will shield visitors from urban noise and pollution with its hanging gardens and the noise buffer created by the central waterfall. A large, landscaped canopy would stretch over the bridge to provide shade and support for thousands of hanging potted plants. Seating areas would be integrated along the path to encourage visitors to take their lunch out on the bridge, which would be accessible from street level and the riverbanks below. + Rescubika Images via Rescubika

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Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

May 22, 2020 by  
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Wildlife  officials recently announced outbreaks of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) ravaging Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California. The  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  deems RHDV2 as seriously contagious and nearly always fatal amongst domestic and wild rabbit species and their close relatives, hares and pikas. RHDV2 is not zoonotic, so it won’t infect livestock, pets or humans, asserts the  California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) . Still,  Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW)  advise against pets consuming rabbit carcasses. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is the viral agent causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).  Science Direct  says RHDV belongs in the calicivirus family, which infects many  animals  including pigs, cattle, cats and even humans. Norovirus, for example, is a human calicivirus. But humans seem unaffected by RHDV.  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? There are two worrisome strains of RHDV — RHDV1 and RHDV2.  House Rabbit Society ,  Veterinary Practice , as well as both the Vaccine and Veterinary Research  journals document RHDV1 as first emerging in China back in 1984, when, in just one year, 140 million rabbits were decimated. China claims that the outbreak started in Angora rabbits imported from Europe. Eventually, RHDV1 spread to over 40 countries and hit the U.S. in 2000. Given its estimated 95% mortality rate, Australia and New Zealand notoriously introduced RHDV1 into their wild rabbit populations as pest biocontrol. RHDV1 mutated, begetting RHDV2, which was first identified in 2010 when domesticated rabbits in France showed clinical signs of RHD despite being already vaccinated against RHDV1. By September 2018, RHDV2 reached the U.S., manifesting among domestic rabbits in a rural Ohio farm, documents the  Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service . The USDA considers both RHDV1 and RHDV2 invasive pathogens, as they are not native to North America. A  joint paper  put forth by the Center for Food Security & Public Health , Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics, Iowa State University, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the USDA revealed RHD can be difficult to eradicate. Not only can the virus strains survive over seven months on rabbit carcasses, but they also withstand temperatures below freezing and above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  House Rabbit Society  cites several differences between RHDV1 and RHDV2. Incubation is two to 10 days for RHDV1, but three to nine days for RHDV2. Rabbits with RHDV2 can be asymptomatic yet spread the virus for up to two months. There is no known cure for either strain. While a vaccine exists for RHDV1, there are currently no USDA -licensed vaccines for RHDV2. That RHDV2 can “potentially surviv[e] more than 3 months without a host” has prompted some U.S. veterinarians to import RHDV2 vaccines despite a convoluted process. The  USDA  and  VIN News Service  warn RHD is highly contagious, spreading easily by direct contact with rabbit excretions and secretions — saliva, sweat and biowaste. Sharing food, water, bedding, fomites and vehicles spreads RHD. Other vectors are infected rabbit meat, pelts, even insects. Besides farmers and pet owners, biologists and  conservationists  are worried about this virus. As declining rabbit populations have repercussions in  habitat  food chains, RHDV2 could cause severe consequences down the line. + Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service Via USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and House Rabbit Society Images via Pexels

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Reusable packaging in the time of COVID-19

May 18, 2020 by  
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Reusable packaging in the time of COVID-19 Tom Szaky Mon, 05/18/2020 – 01:00 The novel coronavirus had cases on every continent except Antarctica when it was declared a global pandemic March 11. The crisis was brewing long before, and the United States federal emergency and stay-at-home orders would come after, but it was in that official moment of alarm that consumer behavior, and business’s response to it, changed across the country. Almost immediately, reusables and durable items took a spotlight as potentially undesirable . The socially sanctioned practice of bring-your-own shopping bags and coffee mugs came to a halt and was enforced at retail locations , as did the use of glass and durable tableware in bars and restaurants before dine-in service stopped. Even in states that previously had instituted bans on single-use items such as plastic bags ( temporarily lifted  with new bans on their reusable counterparts ), there has been a swap to disposables, thought to be more sanitary than durable products and packaging intended to be used many times, sometimes by many people. In an evolving age of contagion, we are still only beginning to understand the perception of reusables is that they are vehicles for a virus. But reuse in and of itself isn’t the problem here; it’s the way it’s done. Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Take the dentist. Year-round, people young and old go for routine check-ups and surgeries administered by tools and equipment that come in contact with pathogens and people potentially infected with serious diseases. It’s a practice that often draws blood, and yet, the items are used over and over again, on many folks, and everyone’s OK with it. The reason for this is trust. Despite that most of us will never see it in action, we trust the tools are being sterilized properly. If we didn’t have faith in this, we’d choose another provider or stop going to the dentist. Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Trusting others to be clean and safe on your behalf is a liability that can result in someone getting sued, or sick, which is why many consumers are opting for goods in single-use packaging and some eateries frown upon patrons taking leftovers home in their own containers in “normal times.” Disposable packages are painted as sterile, while durables are tainted with suspicion. To be clear, unless explicitly labeled “sterile,” single-use is no more safe, as both are potentially exposed to different elements in packing, pallet and transport. They are touched by many people, and the independent organizations setting the standards and monitoring respective microbial limits vary. But trust is a risk, and businesses championing reuse that are able to meet people where they are, COVID-19 notwithstanding, stand to benefit. The sort of systems-thinking that considers the consumer and their values now and beyond this time of uncertainty creates value through a sense of community and meaningful connection that’s both scalable and adaptable. At the start of this pandemic, our new Loop platform was at the center of some of this discourse, the returnable, refillable packaging model a subject of wonder. In a world where consumers are anxious and making purchases with safety, ease and comfort top of mind, could a zero waste, circular shopping platform of returnable glass, metal and plastic containers survive? Now, we can report that our sales for April nearly doubled what we did in March, half of which was spent out of an official emergency. Our bestsellers were refillable Clorox wipes (the “disposable” sheets recyclable through TerraCycle) and Häagen-Dazs ice cream in insulated metal tubs. Media Authorship TerraCycle Close Authorship All of the essential things people are buying (and bought in frenzy at the start: cleaning supplies; personal care; soap; pasta) are on Loop, and we’ve found consumers are comfortable with the reuse aspect, as the service is conveniently delivered by our logistics provider UPS, offers items in beautiful packages and was contactless prior to the pandemic. Consumers can toss their empties in the Loop Tote with the same ease as throwing an item in the trash, and don’t need to do any cleaning themselves. Unlike the durable coffee cup systems and reusable bags hibernating now, health and safety protocols and industrial cleaning processes are in place in our reuse system. Interestingly, as consumers look for a connection to what they buy and a meaningful way to shop, we are seeing competitors in the coming of COVID-19: the actual, modern-day milkman . Home delivery is important to consumers, as is shopping positively in a retro-style model, so if not for the social impacts, the no-contact and returnable packaging system is appealing. From its initial launch to Paris, France and in 10 states in the Northeastern United States, Loop recently announced its expansion to all 48 contiguous states and is slated to officially go live nationwide this summer, which means more people soon will be able to order. The next phase of the shopping platform, currently all digital commerce, will be to integrate in retail locations, where consumers can return empty containers and shop for refills in-store. We can’t project how or when retail will return to “normal,” or what a new normal will look like. But by having met people where they are at home and online and establishing trust in a difficult situation, we anticipate consumers will continue to engage with Loop in a post-social distancing world. Brands and retailers working towards plans for circularity can gain tangible returns even (or especially) now by reaching people through continued investment in their present and future. Putting this on the backburner in a health crisis is short-sighted. With so much to fear today, the opportunity to trust is one that consumers desire, and businesses are in a position to give. Pull Quote Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Topics Circular Economy Design & Packaging Circular Packaging Reuse Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock 5PH Close Authorship

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LEED Platinum Akademeia High School caters to millennials

April 13, 2020 by  
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When  Medusa Group Architects  was tasked to design a high school in Warsaw, the Polish interdisciplinary design studio’s team seized the opportunity to address the perceived failures of the public education system to keep up with changing millennial needs. As a result, their design of Akademeia High School, completed in 2015, encourages a welcoming and flexible “lifestyle atmosphere” where students are encouraged to stay in school even after classes end. Built primarily of locally sourced timber, the school also boasts low energy consumption and has achieved LEED Platinum certification with a total of 86 points.  Spanning an area of 14,369 square meters, the Akademeia High School comprises a U-shaped building that wraps around a central  courtyard . Taking inspiration from urban design and place-making principles, the architects deliberately introduced a sense of ambiguity to many of the indoor spaces to encourage students to adapt the rooms to multifunctional uses. Seating, for example, is no longer limited to benches and chairs but also encompasses sculptural interior surfaces and the stairs of the outdoor amphitheater-like structure facing the central courtyard. The school cafeteria has also been transformed from a traditionally single-use space into a  multi-use  space akin to a “fashionable restaurant” that is open throughout the day for various functions. “This is a place where you can work with literature, meet with a psychologist, wait for parents and at the same time sit at a laptop and do homework, preparing the elders,” explain the architects in their project statement. “We wanted pupils in small groups to learn the culinary art from the kitchen, get to know the flavors and make inspiring, culinary travels – geography with gastronomy in one.” Related: A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun Students can further their culinary arts education on the accessible roof, where an  urban garden  grows and houses beehives during the summer. The herbs grown on the roof are used in the school cafeteria. The rooftop space can also host classroom activities, from biology and physics to astronomy and geography.  + Medusa Group Architects Photography: J?drzej i Juliusz Soko?owscy

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