EU moves forward with its plastic ban

April 1, 2019 by  
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The European Union is moving forward with its plastic ban initiative. The EU just signed off on a plan that will prohibit single-use plastics throughout participating countries by the year 2021. The law targets specific plastics while forcing companies to pay for any pollution their products may cause. “Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas,” the European Commission’s Frans Timmermans explained. “Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.” Related: EU proposes plan to ban 90 percent of microplastics According to EcoWatch , the new law will eliminate around 70 percent of the plastics that pollute oceans. Banned plastics include single-use cutlery, plates, straws, cotton swabs (that feature plastic sticks), polystyrene cups and oxo-degradable plastics. The plan also requires that companies use at least 25 percent of recycled materials in plastic bottles over the next six years. When it comes to paying for pollution , the law will require companies to help in the clean-up efforts related to their products. For example, cigarette businesses will have to pay to pick up butts that are carelessly thrown away, while companies that make fishing gear will be required to help fund the removal of plastic nets from the ocean. Lastly, the new initiative will force companies to create better labels for products that contain plastic . More specifically, the EU wants companies to better inform customers when their products include plastics, especially when it is harder to discern. The revised labels will also encourage people to recycle the items if necessary. The European Commission originally announced the ban back in the spring of 2018. With full backing from Parliament, the ban is expected to be completed and sent to member states soon. If the law is followed by all of the countries in the EU, experts hope that it will significantly curb ocean litter , which is largely made up of single-use plastics. The law should also save the EU around 22 billion euros by the year 2030. The EU hopes that its plastic ban will become a model for other countries around the world to follow. + European Parliament Via EcoWatch Image via Matthew Gollop

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Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

March 29, 2019 by  
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When a growing family needed extra living space, they turned to Australian design studio Steffen Welsch Architects to create an eco-friendly extension for their California Bungalow home. For the main construction material, the architects used rammed earth  — a material with low embodied energy and high thermal mass — and created an arced extension that curves to capture warmth and light from the sun. Passive solar principles also largely dictated all parts of the design process, from the zoning and layout to the material selection and building form. Located in Melbourne , the family home and extension — nicknamed ‘Down to Earth’ after its rammed earth walls — was created for a young family who enjoy entertaining and hosting guests. As a result, the brief called for low-cost operation, evolving privacy needs and future accessibility. Spanning an area of nearly 2,100 square feet, the single-story home is organized into four zones: an area for children and guests, a master suite for the parents, communal rooms and transitional areas. Each “zone” opens up to its own outdoor space. To ensure long-term sustainability and to minimize embodied and operational energy, the architects let passive solar principles guide the design of the building and chose materials with low embodied energy, such as rammed earth, and energy-saving properties, such as insulated glass. Operable windows allow for natural ventilation while the rammed earth walls and timber posts are left exposed to create a connection with the outdoors. Related: Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape “A well performing house extension facing south on a small inner city block built in rammed earth is not easy to achieve,” the architects noted. “The building uses the formal language of a Californian Bungalow with the combination of heavy and light materials and generous roofs without copying it. Rammed earth walls appear free standing and separated from a floating roof with wide overhangs providing shade in summer but letting winter sun inside. The house (including the old) achieves an energy rating 3 stars (6) above target.” + Steffen Welsch Architects Photography by Rhiannon Slatter via Steffen Welsch Architects

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Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

An old Brooklyn sugar refinery becomes creative office spaces

March 28, 2019 by  
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A historic waterfront factory has been given a new lease on life thanks to New York-based architecture firm ODA and Triangle Assets. Located at 10 Jay Street in DUMBO, New York City, the project explores both adaptive reuse and historic preservation in its transformation of the former Arbuckle Brothers sugar refinery into creative office spaces. The sensitive renovation updates the building to modern standards while carefully preserving its history, from the restrained industrial-inspired material palette to a new reflective facade that evokes sugar crystals. Built in 1898, the massive structure first served as the Arbuckle Brothers’ sugar refinery. After the building was converted into a winery , the front structure of the building was torn down, leaving only three of the original facades intact. The building then remained vacant and abandoned for 50 years until real estate agency Triangle Assets purchased the property with aims of renovation. To that end, Triangle Assets tapped ODA to turn the 230,000-square-foot warehouse and its 10 stories into flexible offices that overlook panoramic views of Manhattan and Williamsburg’s waterfront. The interiors are also minimally dressed in exposed brick and steel in a nod to the site’s industrial heritage. Existing historical features, such as the terracotta arches and octagonal columns, were restored and exposed. The building is also embedded in Brooklyn Bridge Park, making it the only privately owned building in the park thanks to the owner’s donation of nearly 15,000 square feet of land to the park. The new crystalline west facade reflects the park and sunsets over the river. Related: Brooklyn’s new Domino Park features relics from the old sugar factory “As the conversation surrounding heritage and preservation grows, 10 Jay Street is a prime example of how cities around the world recover and readapt buildings,” a press release on the project said. “The design dared to challenge the way landmark buildings are seen and, in doing so, created unique threads to link old with new, the industrial age with the digital era, and create a product for the modern age.” + ODA Photography by Pavel Bendov via ODA

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An old Brooklyn sugar refinery becomes creative office spaces

A post-earthquake home in Mexico is built of compressed earth blocks

March 28, 2019 by  
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In the aftermath of the Puebla earthquake that struck central Mexico in September 2017, Fundación PienZa Sostenible and Love Army México tapped Mexico City-based firm Francisco Pardo Arquitecto to design a home for a family who had lost their house in the disaster. Working in close collaboration with the Guzman family, the architects created a new and more earthquake-resistant dwelling that not only caters to the family’s needs but also offers improved living conditions. Named Casa Karina after the matriarch in the family of four, the home is built largely of compressed earth blocks , created in situ, along with pinewood used for the doors and windows. Located in the rural town of Ocuilan de Arteaga, the Guzmans’ 807-square-foot lot is located on family land split into five equal parts among the siblings. The Guzman’s original home was of poor construction: a single-story wood structure covered in metal sheets without insulation ; the floors were bare soil. In designing an improved home for the Guzmans, the architects decided to build a multi-story house with the communal areas and full bathroom on the ground floor, two bedrooms on the second floor and an open terrace on the third floor from where views of the town, the neighboring fields and the surrounding volcanoes can be seen. By building upward, the architects also allocated enough area on the grounds for a field for growing crops and space where the couple’s two daughters can play outdoors. The kitchen, located at the heart of the home, overlooks views of the field. Related: This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation The new construction is also far more robust than the previous house, with concrete foundations and polished cement floors. The compressed earth block walls are reinforced with concrete slabs. The architects said, “This is how we were able to entirely adapt the design to the needs and uses of the Guzman family and to build a new and more resistant home for them, providing better space conditions.” + Francisco Pardo Arquitecto Photography by Jaime Navarro, Pablo Astorga and Fernanda Olivares via Francisco Pardo Arquitecto

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A post-earthquake home in Mexico is built of compressed earth blocks

Zaha Hadid Architects break ground on an eco-sensitive multimodal bridge in Taiwan

March 27, 2019 by  
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The world’s longest single-mast, asymmetric cable-stayed bridge has broken ground in northern Taiwan . Not only engineered for minimal visual impact, the bridge is also designed to host a wide range of transit options. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects , the world record-breaking Danjiang Bridge will span approximately 3,000 feet across the mouth of the Tamsui River. The structure’s single-mast design is also meant to minimize site impact to the riverbed as part of an effort to protect the estuary’s ecosystem and nature reserve. Supported by a single 656-foot-tall concrete pylon, the Danjiang Bridge will connect Bali district and Tamsui district in New Taipei City while improving accessibility between Taipei and Taoyuan International Airport, and will also help reduce traffic in the area by an estimated 30 percent. Along with Sinotech Engineering Consultants and Leonhardt, Andrä and Partner Beratende Ingenieure, Zaha Hadid Architects was approached to design the project after winning an international design competition in 2015 with their proposal for a sleek and minimalist bridge . The proposed bridge includes dedicated lanes for high-occupancy vehicles, motorized vehicles, scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. Bicycle racks and benches will also be installed at intervals across the bridge. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects completes highly complex Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre Since the estuary has long drawn locals and tourists alike who flock to the coast every day to watch the sun setting over the Taiwan Strait, it was imperative that the slender bridge minimize its visual impact so as not to obstruct views from popular viewing points along the river bank. The bridge is also designed to minimize environmental impact and to accommodate a potential future expansion of the Danhai Light Rail network across the Tamsui River. The Danjiang Bridge has a construction schedule of 68 months and a budget of NT $12.49 billion (U.S. $405.2 million). The project is slated to open in 2024. + Zaha Hadid Architects Renderings by VA and MIR

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Zaha Hadid Architects break ground on an eco-sensitive multimodal bridge in Taiwan

A solar-powered luxury home blends into a Pacific Northwest landscape

March 27, 2019 by  
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When a client commissioned Seattle-based architectural practice Hoedemaker Pfeiffer to design their new solar-powered home, they asked that the design take inspiration from a stone-and-wood retreat that they had lost to a fire decades ago in the hills of Appalachia. As a result, the new build takes cues from the client’s former property as well as its location on a remote forested plateau atop a steep hillside in the San Juan Islands . The dwelling, named Hillside Sanctuary, is built of stone and wood volumes and appears to naturally grow out of the landscape, while its large walls of glass take in sweeping views of Puget Sound. The Hillside Sanctuary comprises two buildings: a main house and a guest house, both of which comprise two floors and are oriented for optimal views of Puget Sound to the southwest. In the main house, the master bedroom and the primary living spaces can be found on the upper floor, with the main rooms sharing access to an outdoor patio. Secondary rooms are located below. The smaller guesthouse also places the primary living spaces on the upper level. On the lower level are two bedrooms and an outdoor dining area and kitchen. The bases of both buildings consist of thick stone walls topped with light-filled timber structures. Simple shed roofs with long overhangs shield the interiors from intense southern summer sun and support solar panels . Walls of glazing along the buildings’ southern elevation let in ample natural light. Strategically placed clerestory windows allow for northern light and permit the escape of warm air. A particularly impressive application of glass can be seen in the guest house dining room, which is cantilevered into the forest and wrapped on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass. Trees were carefully preserved so as to create the room’s treehouse-like feel. Related: Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets “Taken together the buildings provide two related but distinct ways of appreciating the beauty of this site,” the architects explain. “Together they provide friends and family comfortable accommodation while offering a sanctuary for the owner at the main home.” + Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Images by Kevin Scott

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A solar-powered luxury home blends into a Pacific Northwest landscape

Designers recycle aluminum production waste into functional ceramic decor

March 25, 2019 by  
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The red clay ceramics produced by the design team at Royal College of Art and Imperial College London may look like the creation of any standard potter. However, these are not your everyday bowls and teapots. In fact, they are the result of a process that uses a by-product from aluminum production that transforms the so-called red mud into a raw material suitable for making kitchen wares. Bauxite residue is a by-product from the refining of alumina, which is a precursor to the process we know as aluminum production. It is not an insignificant by-product either. In fact the process creates bauxite residue at twice the rate of the amount of aluminum produced from it. Around the world, the watery red material is left behind in huge pools of abandoned waste so the team of scientists and designers decided to find a way to make use of it. Designers Guillermo Whittembury, Joris Olde-Rikkert, Kevin Rouff, and Luis Paco Bockelmann were excited to dive into the potential of the otherwise neglected by-product, hoping they could find practical applications for it. To discover the potential of the discarded substance, the team paired up with material experts from Imperial College London and KU Leuven, scored some red mud from one of the oldest alumina production facility on the planet, and headed into R&D. Through hundreds of tests and experiments they discovered a versatile ceramic as well as an alternative concrete. The R.E.D. (residue enabled design) project, also known as From Wasteland to Living Room, resulted in a vast array of cups, saucers, teapots, bowls, vases and a myriad of other design pieces. Related: This British café is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste They also found that the fired color in the finished product produced a range of colors from a standard terracotta to a deep burgundy. To bring out more variety, the team used metal oxides from the residue to make glazes in a range of colors too. “The designers aim to make people at once aware of the impact of materials taken for granted, like aluminium, and to hint to the potential of their byproducts. “We want people to see that Red Mud isn’t a ‘waste’, that industry is keen to find uses for it, and that using it is possible,” states Kevin. This project is a small step towards what they believe as a more sustainable future in which “wastes” will be considered as valuable assets, and they hope it stimulates more uses of the material. + R.E.D. Via Dezeen Images via R.E.D.

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Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

March 22, 2019 by  
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Ghostly white bands of light are illuminating the coastline in the Outer Hebrides to show the potential rise in sea levels that could become reality as a result of unchecked climate change . The collaborative and site-specific art piece, named Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W), is the work of Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho . The environmental art installation is embedded with sensors that measure the rising tidal changes and activate three synchronized light lines during times of high tide. Hoping to draw attention to and spark a dialogue about climate change, artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho wanted to render visible the predicted impacts of rising sea levels in an area they believe will be among the hardest hit. Consequently, the artists chose the Uist, a low-lying island archipelago belonging to the Outer Hebrides island chain located off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The artwork has been installed at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre in Lochmaddy, the main port of entry to North Uist, which the artists said “cannot develop on its existing site due to predicted storm surge sea levels.” Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W) consists of bright white LED lights, float switches/sensors and timers. Two light lines wrap around the sides of a pair of gabled buildings while the third light line appears to hover above an empty field. The three lines light up in sync with the rising tide. Related: Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23 “The installation explores the catastrophic impact of our relationship with nature and its long term effects,” the artists said in their project statement. “The work provokes a dialogue on how the rising sea levels will affect coastal areas, its inhabitants and land usage in the future. The work helps us to imagine the future sea level rise in undefined period of time, depending on our actions toward the climate warming.” Installed May 8, 2018, Lines will run until May 1, 2019. + Pekka Niittyvirta + Timo Aho Images via Pekka Niittyvirta

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Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

Boxy volumes anchor a beautiful home into a rocky cliffside

March 21, 2019 by  
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When Montreal-based firm YH2 Architecture was tasked with the almost impossible feat of building on an incredibly sloped, rocky landscape, it came up with a solution that goes back to the age of time: building blocks. Using the natural landscape to its advantage, the firm constructed the gorgeous House Dans l’Escarpement out of two concrete “boxes,” one vertical and one horizontal. The ingenious design not only let the project expand vertically but also reduced the footprint of the home on its pristine surroundings. Located in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré region of Quebec, the home is tucked into a vast landscape made up of a lush forest and pristine lakes. The particular building location, however, is marked by a very steep cliff that has never been built on because of its rugged topography. Related: “Delightfully surprising” green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope When tasked with building on this seemingly impossible site, the architects employed an elementary concept to create an extraordinary home design. The House Dans l’Escarpement’s 3,230 square footage spans over two large blocks. The main entrance to the home is through an elevated metallic gangway that leads into the vertical block, while a horizontal block extends out on the ground floor. Spread out over three levels, the lowest floor of the vertical block houses a sauna and spa area, while the second floor is home to a small office and library. The master suite holds court on the upper level and boasts stunning views of the forest and river below. Connected to the vertical tower on the ground by an all-glass walkway , the horizontal block features an open-plan living and dining area that opens up to the outdoors with an open-air terrace. Driving the inspiration behind the unique design, the connection between the man-made and the natural is felt throughout the interior. Warm mahogany and  Corten steel panels were used to frame the home’s exterior, enhanced in some parts with slabs of exposed concrete, which the architects used to pay homage to the large boulders that make up the home’s setting. Mahogany is also the prevailing material used throughout the interior, giving the home a contemporary cabin feel. Selected for its durable quality as well as rich, warm tones, the wood is used in almost every surface, from the flooring, ceilings and beams to the window frames and kitchen cabinets. The result is a living space that blends in seamlessly with the forestscape that envelopes the home. + YH2 Architecture Via Archdaily Photography by Maxime Brouillet via YH2 Architecture

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Boxy volumes anchor a beautiful home into a rocky cliffside

This gorgeous LEED Platinum winery is made of reclaimed wood

March 20, 2019 by  
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San Francisco-based firm Piechota Architecture has designed what is being called the most sustainable winery in Sonoma Valley. Tucked into the rolling hills of Alexander Valley, the solar-powered Silver Oak winery design, which was made with repurposed materials, has already earned a LEED-Platinum certification  and is on track to become the one of the world’s most sustainable wineries. The family-owned Silver Oak Cellars winery was established in 1972 and has since become world-renowned for its award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery’s first location is located in the Napa Valley town of Oakville. The company’s second winery, designed by Daniel Piechota , is located on an expansive 113-acre estate and 75 acres of prime Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in Alexander Valley. Related: LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials With its low-lying gabled farmhouse silhouette, the winery appears low-key from afar; however, behind the clean lines, charred timber cladding and minimalist forms lies a powerhouse of sustainability. According to the architects, the design of the winery applies the concept of “reduce, reuse, recycle” through various sustainable features. For energy generation, the winery has an extended roof installed with more than  2,500 solar panels , which generate 100 percent of the building’s energy needs. The design uses plenty of recycled materials, but the reclaimed wood was specifically chosen to pay homage to the area’s wine-making industry. The winery’s exterior is clad in wood panels taken from 1930s wine tanks from Cherokee Winery, one of the valley’s pioneers of wine-making. Additionally, the design incorporated charred panels recovered from Middletown trees that were naturally felled during a fire in the valley in 2015. Now, the blacked trunks and panels have been given new life as a modern, sleek facade for the  winery . Inside, visitors are met with a large entry staircase, also built out of reclaimed wood from oak wine barrels with red wine stains that were intentionally left visible. The rest of the welcoming interior is a light-filled space filled with steel and wood features. Visitors will be able to take part in wine tasting in the winery’s tasting room, which is nearly net-zero water. With a calming reflective pool, native vegetation and open-air seating, this area is the heart of the design. Created to mimic the local barn vernacular, the gabled roof and large cutouts provide beautiful framed views of the rolling hillside that surrounds the estate. Of course, as with every winery, water plays an essential role in Silver Oak’s production. To reduce waste, the winery was installed with a state-of-the-art water reclamation system, including a membrane bioreactor that treats and filters water from the cellar to provide potable water. Rainwater is harvested and collected to be used in the vineyard’s irrigation. + Daniel Piechota Via Dezeen Photography by Joe Fletcher via Daniel Piechota

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