Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

November 3, 2017 by  
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Airbnb may offer thousands of luxury lodgings around the world, but employees won’t want to leave the rental sharing company’s swanky new San Francisco headquarters. Located at 999 Brannan Street,  Airbnb’s own Environments Team and WRNS Studio  designed 150,000 square feet of healthy, light-filled working space with plenty of whimsical flare like a sky boat, a castle and themed floors that represent the company’s international presence. The design of 999 Brannan – just mere steps from its existing San Fran headquarters – began by removing every non-structural element in the corner lot building, essentially creating a massive blank canvas. By scrapping the interior walls and hallways, the focus was put on flooding the interior space with as much natural light as possible. The huge atrium is a light-filled space with a curvaceous stairwell that winds up through the levels. A long mezzanine leads to the various offices as well as think spaces and conference rooms. Related: Airbnb’s brand new Paris office is a loft-like space that feels like home For design guidance, the teams concentrated on the company ethos of “Belong Anywhere” as well as the company’s new feature, Airbnb Trips, which offers users custom travel experiences designed and led by locals around the world. To highlight the new service and the company’s world-wide presence, international design elements were used on every floor. For example, each cafe has been styled according to a different city, such as Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Jaipur, and Amsterdam. The building’s work spaces are divided into 16 “neighborhoods” that house up to 50 employees who spend their days working at the sitting or standing desks , brainstorming at the communal tables, or enjoying down time in one of the many cozy lounges. Aaron Taylor Harvey, Airbnb Environments Executive Creative Director, explains that the design was based on providing employees with a comfortable working environment , “we wanted to bring the same bespoke nuance to this very large space that we brought to the first small office we designed in Portland. We want it to feel like a custom home to every inhabitant.” + WRNS Studio + Airbnb

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Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

Plantagon’s crowdfunded plantscraper aims to produce 500 metric tons of food a year

November 3, 2017 by  
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Swedish company Plantagon believes that ‘plantscrapers’ are the way of the future—and part of solution to the global food crisis. Part urban farm, part skyscraper, these vertical greenhouses could provide large-scale organic food production in cities, with a much smaller energy and carbon footprint than industrial agriculture. After years of research and development, Plantagon is now ready to embark on their first landmark plantscraper, called The World Food Building, and is crowdfunding their way to success . A pioneer in the fields of urban agriculture and food technology, Plantagon has set their sights on solving the food crisis as cities grow larger and arable land shrinks. Thus, the company created The World Food Building, a 60-meter-tall vertical farm and 16-story office building proposed for Linköping, Sweden that, if built, would serve as an international model for vertical industrial urban farming. The innovative ‘plantscraper’ would use Plantagon’s patented technology to produce 500 metric tons of organic food annually in a closed, clean, and climate-controlled environment. At least half of the energy used in food production would be recaptured and reused as floor heat in the office building. Plantagon estimates that The World Food Building could save 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 50 million liters of water as compared to traditional industrial farming systems. To turn their first plantscraper into reality, Plantagon has turned to crowdfunding and asked the community to join them as allies. “We are reaching out to people everywhere who feel that commercial organizations should also be the driving force of change,” said Hans Hassle, Plantagon’s Co-founder and Secretary-General. “People are sick and tired of businesses being shortsighted and just-for-profit driven. We believe it’s time for this to change and the time for ‘business as usual’ is over. With potentially 100,000 allies all over the world supporting Plantagon, we will show that the power of the crowd gets the job done.” + Plantagon

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Plantagon’s crowdfunded plantscraper aims to produce 500 metric tons of food a year

Raad Studio creates advanced solar funnel to grow plants deep underground

November 2, 2017 by  
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The innovative team behind NYC’s Low Line have designed advanced solar technology that allows plant life to thrive deep underground. Raad Studio’s latest installation Invasive Regeneration uses a high-powered, solar-powered funnel installed at street level to shoot light onto a concrete block underground, allowing vegetation to grow in an otherwise inhospitable environment. The technology behind Invasive Regeneration is an extension of that used to create NYC’s subterranean park , the Lowline. Created by James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, the world’s first underground park implements an innovative daylighting system of fiber optic cables and mirrors to capture and funnel sunlight underground. Related: Brooklyn Hotel by creators of the Lowline boasts winding gardens and tiny hidden spaces According to the team, the solar-powered installation – which is currently on display at the 2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism – is inspired by the complex relationship between nature and the manmade environment. Their description of the project reads, “Nature represents both decay and renewal, and the continual struggle to gain mastery over the natural world can be inverted to foster growth and rebirth.” + Raad Studio Images via Raad Studio

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Raad Studio creates advanced solar funnel to grow plants deep underground

Street artist paints huge lifelike murals of butterflies

November 2, 2017 by  
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Graffiti artist Mantra is livening up cities with magnificent nature murals . The France-based self-taught painter adorns the sides of buildings and walls with huge murals, and butterflies are a common motif in his work — which has brightened up spaces in France, Spain, Colombia, and Austria. Nature , butterflies, and books often take center stage in Mantra’s lifelike artwork . He’s painted several butterfly murals where the insects appear as three-dimensional mounted specimens surrounded by frames as might be seen in a museum. Other murals feature women with butterfly tattoos, holding butterflies, or wearing blouses with a butterfly print. Related: Provocative street art installation shows baby peering over US-Mexico border wall La Reina del Rio (lost tape) #Bogotá Nov 2015 Drone : @kozmo_films Music : @roccaeloriginal – Con la Luna Album Bogotá/Paris Illustrated from a picture of @juliatrotti Model : @kristinasrzich Gracias a mis hermanos @ospeninkcrew @dexsink y @oxmesoleuno . #freehand #graffiti #spraycanart #noprojector #nojoke A post shared by Mantra (@mantrarea) on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:39pm PDT Butterflies aren’t the only creatures Mantra brings to life. He’s painted a snake, a bird, a grasshopper, an owl, and a cat. He often paints women outside in nature, but one striking mural features a woman reading among dozens of books on shelves. What appear to be stingrays and an owl keep her company in the piece entitled “Curiosity feeds Imagination.” Earlier this year, Street Art United States spoke with Mantra , who’s been creating street art since 2008. They reported he doesn’t use a projector or grid, but sketches out his work freehand. Mantra said he spent as much time as he could outside as a kid, and that frogs, owls, foxes, and reptiles were his superheros. He said he found “a sense of belonging, and a way of self-expression” in graffiti. Mantra also gave advice for aspiring artists in the interview, saying, “Remind yourself that you are here, alive, and all the small lessons hiding in small things surrounding us feed our imagination.” Find more of Mantra’s work on Facebook or Instagram . His art can also be glimpsed in Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and Seattle. + Mantra Via Street Art United States and TreeHugger Images via Mantra on Facebook

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Street artist paints huge lifelike murals of butterflies

Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings

November 1, 2017 by  
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It would be safe to say that Italian firm Zanon Architetti Associati really loves nature. The firm recently renovated a country home in Treviso, Italy by not only adding a new glass and steel extension to the home, but by covering its exterior walls almost entirely with lush vegetation . The renovation of the 1,500 square-foot home was focused on blending the new addition into the home’s existing structure, without taking away from its original character. Accordingly, the architects used a combination of glass and steel to create a seamless connection between the home’s expansive living space and its idyllic surroundings. Related: Stunning home in India blends into the earth with segmented green roofs “From the outside, the glass volume reflects the surrounding landscape and becomes part of it,” the architects said. “From the inside the windows become invisible giving the impression of being outdoors: the living room becomes one with the countryside.” The interior of the home is an eclectic design that is perfect for both quiet contemplation or lively socialization. The ceilings are covered in weathered steel panels that give off an industrial look, which is enhanced by the brick-tiled flooring. These two materials create a nice frame for the home’s main feature: the various large glazed walls that flood the new living space with natural light and incredible views. + Zanon Architetti Associati Via Freshome Photography by Paolo Belvedere

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Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings

High House lets you enjoy the outdoors even in the middle of winter in Quebec

October 31, 2017 by  
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As if built out of snow, this discrete house on stilts blends perfectly into the white winter landscape of Quebec, Canada . Parisian architecture studio Delordinaire raised the house above the ground to capture expansive views of Mont Saint Anne, soak up as much natural light as possible and form a heated outdoor space beneath the volume, all while blending in with the wintry landscape. The building, named High House, has painted white concrete panel cladding and corrugated steel roof panels in order to blend into the landscape during winter, and stand out against green hills in summer. A warming stove allows the underside to function as an outdoor space that can be used throughout the year. Related: This cozy cottage sits on stilts made out of recycled gas pipes This unusual space is where residents can be in direct contact with nature and the snowy exterior while still enjoying a level of protection from the elements. The volume above provides uninterrupted views of the Mont Saint Anne from the lounge room. Large windows allow natural light to directly enter the house at all hours of the day. + Delordinaire Via Fubiz

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High House lets you enjoy the outdoors even in the middle of winter in Quebec

This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

October 31, 2017 by  
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Ljubljana-based firm Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti has built a beautiful contemporary home in Maui that provides striking views of the expansive coastline. The home’s unique angular roof – which is twice the size of the building itself – was designed to mimic the rugged surrounding landscape, and it doubles as an expansive open-air terrace . Located in the West Maui Mountains, the 5,000-square-foot home was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible – including beach sand, which was integrated into the plaster finish applied to the interior walls. The building consists of five semi-separate “mini houses” arranged in an elongated u-shape that provides perfect ocean views from every angle. Related: Timber Chimney House gives farmhouse vernacular a modern twist At the heart of the design is the irregular roof, whose elongated, “choppy” angles are actually more than a unique design whim. The roof’s large shape provides protection against the area’s strong sun and wind conditions. Additionally, the roof extends generously over the structure’s perimeter in various areas, creating several shaded outdoor nooks. And just for fun, one section of the roof slopes to ground level, enabling the occupants to easily climb on top to enjoy the jaw-dropping ocean views. Clad in wooden slats, the roof will weather over the years with a green-hued grey patina , further embedding the structure into its idyllic surroundings. + Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti Via Dezeen

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

October 31, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous monolithic house in Portugal , designed by Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos , uses modular design to stay true to the simplicity of a child’s drawing of a house. Its geometry and materials not only reflect the archetypal image of a home– they also allow for optimal energy performance and lower maintenance costs . The house sits on a sloping piece of farmland in Ourém, Portugal, with a difference in height of approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) from one end to the other. It is surrounded by natural landscape and overlooks the historic Castle of Ourém. Related: This charming home in Portugal is insulated with soil The design of the residence mimics a child’s drawing of a house, composed of five lines that represent walls and roof, while rectangular shapes represent doors and windows. In line with this simplicity, the main approach to the construction is based on prefabricated elements such as black concrete panels . The black concrete panels not only help the project blend into the surroundings, but it also reduce maintenance costs. + Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos Photos by Joao Morgado

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This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

Medicine drum woman builds beautiful earth home village in Joshua Tree, California

October 31, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to stay in an earthbag dome home , here’s your chance. When Lisa Starr first purchased land in Joshua Tree, California, she wasn’t thinking about vacation rentals. Instead, the artist and drum medicine woman sought a place not too far from the coast where she could build a sustainable life for herself. After deciding to build in accordance with the Iranian architect Nader Khalili’s affordable and disaster-resilient superadobe methodology, she recruited volunteers and CalEarth alumni to first work on a few practice domes that eventually evolved into the “village” that can be booked through Airbnb. This extra income comes as an unplanned perk, but her real dream – to pursue her work as an artist – required building a couple more domes. After completing the practice homes, Starr and her crew of interns, volunteers and CalEarth alumni worked on her personal space – a 1,360 square foot dome home two connecting hallways. The 18″ thick walls, comprised of 15 percent cement and 85 percent earth, provide the thermal mass to keep the buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter, according to her Facebook page . Starr told Inhabitat she believes in sticking with “traditional Nader” – focusing on being creative with smaller structures rather than 20- to 30-foot domes. Khalili, who founded CalEarth to share his design and life philosophy with others, promoted sustainable homes that could be built with materials found on site. And that’s exactly what Starr was able to accomplish. She says she sourced 75 percent of the materials used in her dome structure from her own land. Related: Build your own disaster-proof home with materials of war While her home is private, guests have access to a “rustic yet luxurious camp-like experience” in the village. With expansive views and open skies day and night, “star gazing is a must,” says Starr. The village includes two 8-foot “Sleep Pod Earth Dome” structures with storage or a cave-like space for a child to sleep in. Each pod, which comes with a full size mattress, bedding and solar-powered ceiling light, can accommodate up to a family of four. In winter, tea light heaters keep the space warm at night. The communal area includes a shaded outdoor kitchen and kiva fire pits, along with a shower house and outhouse complete with a flushing toilet and sink. Guests are encouraged to bring their own bottles to refill with potable water available on site. Now Starr is working on building another 12-foot dome structure to use as a studio, honing in on her original intention. She has been living at Bonita Domes for four years now, and though it comes with its challenges, she says her dream has catapulted forward. + Bonita Domes on Facebook + Bonita Domes on Airbnb Images via Bonita Domes and Dylan Magaster

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Medicine drum woman builds beautiful earth home village in Joshua Tree, California

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