IKEA is launching its virtual reality app this fall

June 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Ikea’s been playing with augmented reality (AR) for a few years now – in 2014 they released an AR catalog so shoppers could see what furniture would look like in their homes without ever leaving their couch. Now they’re teaming up with technology giant Apple to create an AR app . Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter Ikea Michael Valdsgaard claims this will be the “first augmented reality app that will enable you to make buying decisions.” Using the app, customers could check out how Ikea furniture looks in their home before they buy a thing. If users do want to buy the pieces, it remains unclear whether they will be able to purchase pieces directly through the app – Valdsgaard said that’s the ambition but can’t “promise [the payment facility] will work in the first version.” That first version should be rolling out as soon as fall of this year. Related: IKEA teams up with NASA to design out-of-this-world space saving furniture That first AR app will feature around 500 to 600 products so customers can see how they fit in their homes. And Valdsgaard said in the future when Ikea launches new products, they will show up in the app before stores. Ikea will draw on Apple’s AR expertise to roll out the app. Valdsgaard said it’s not enough to understand sofas to venture into AR – and he said the Ikea app will become the world’s largest AR platform overnight. Although Valdsgaard indicated technology will be an important element of Ikea moving forward, the AR app doesn’t seem to be a move to phase out stores. He told Di Digital, “The stores are our greatest assets. We have almost 400 of them and we want to complement them in as many ways as possible, through mobile, social media , AR, and third-party e-commerce players. One thing will not replace the other, but we’ll try as many things as possible.” Via Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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IKEA is launching its virtual reality app this fall

South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

June 20, 2017 by  
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Travelers looking to explore Peru in style can now jump aboard South America’s first luxury sleeper train – the Belmond Andean Explorer . The train’s interior was designed by London-based Muza Lab to pay homage to the golden age of train travel, enhanced with vibrant colors and textures inspired by the local Peruvian culture and landscape. According to the founder of Muza Lab, Inge Moore, the train’s interior is designed to take travelers back to another age of train travel: “We design journeys, and with Belmond Andean Explorer, we have distilled the romance, nostalgia and freedom of the train voyage. The train is a place of transition where time seems to slow down between the departure and the arrival. Our vision was to design somewhere to ponder and dream, a space where the beauty of the land can infuse the soul.” Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train Although the name and the design of the Belmond Andean Explorer are new, the 16-carriage train was originally the Great South Pacific Express. During the renovation process, the design team worked hard to renovate the space while retaining some elements out of respect for train’s long history. The train’s original timber walls were painted soft, neutral tones to help create an open, airy feel that runs throughout the interior. However, it’s not quite a minimalist color palette; touches of vibrant colors and varying textures are found throughout the train thanks to the various Peruvian crafts and artistry that were found locally. In fact, most of the design touches were locally sourced – from the timber floors and roman blinds to the hand-crafted woven textiles. The sleeper cabins were designed to provide a luxurious travel experience. Once again using local culture for inspiration, each cabin is named after Peruvian flora and fauna. In addition to the comfortable beds and soft Saffiano leather seats, vibrant tapestries can be found in each car as well as baby alpaca blankets for extra chilly nights. Even the smallest detail speaks to the country’s rich culture, such as the brass room keys in the shape of the Chakana Cross – a symbol of the Incan civilization as well as the train’s crest. Outside of the private sleeper cars , guests can also enjoy watching the beautiful landscape pass by from the rounded outdoor deck of the Observation Car, called Ichu after the tall grasses that grow on the Peruvian plains. There are also two dining cars, a serene spa, and an old-world piano bar named after the herb Maca. + Muza Lab + Belmond Andean Explorer

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South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact

June 20, 2017 by  
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A decrepit lumberjack’s shack has been transformed into a beautiful light-filled weekend getaway just outside of Montreal . Local studio YH2 led the renovation of the shack, renamed La Colombière, turning the simple one-story building that lacked running water into a cozy three-story retreat with all the luxuries of home and minimal landscape impact. When the owner Suzanne Rochon commissioned YH2 for La Colombière, she required that the renovation not expand past the shed’s existing footprint for fear of damaging the surrounding forest. Thus, the architects built upwards, drawing inspiration from the way a tree branches into a canopy. No trees were cut and heavy machinery was avoided to minimize site impact . Related: Sublime Nook Residence blends seamlessly into the snowy Canadian landscape The redesigned three-story retreat is clad in dark cedar in reference to the bark of nearby conifers, while the vertiginous interior is painted all in white. “Materials and structure of the previous phase are kept and uninterrupted so that the addition acts as an extension rather than an insertion,” write the architects. A living room is located on the first floor while the bedroom and bath are placed on the second. The eye-catching third-floor is bookended with oversized windows and an outdoor covered terrace to the west. + YH2 Images by Francis Pelletier

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Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact

Luxury tree house lets owners hide away in a Cape Town forest

June 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Not all tree houses are rustic backyard projects—some, like the stunning House Paarman in Cape Town, take the typology to luxurious new heights. Designed by South African studio Malan Vorster , this one-bedroom getaway is a modern interpretation of the forest and blends in with its surroundings. The compact cabin is elevated off the ground and immerses guests into the tree canopy with views overlooking the forest and a quartet of square reflection pools. The freestanding House Paarman is an abstraction of the forest and comprises four cylindrical units that symbolize trees, each with a tree trunk-like steel pillar with branch-like beams and circular rings that provide support to the floors above. The four cylindrical units are arranged in a pinwheel layout around a square base. The columns, arms and rings are constructed from laser-cut and folded Corten steel plate. Western red cedar wraps the building and is left untreated so as to develop a patina over time. The architects write: “Inspiration was drawn from the timber cabins of Horace Gifford and Kengo Kuma’s notions of working with the void or in-between space, while Louis Kahn’s mastery of pure form and the detailing ethic of Carlo Scarpa informed a process of geometric restraint and handcrafted manufacturing.” Related: Dreamy treehouse hidden in Woodstock offers magnificent Catskills views This masterful attention to detail can be seen everywhere in the compact cabin , which was designed with ample glazing to give it a sense of lightness. Connections between the mostly vertical steel elements and the horizontal timber elements are joined with hand-turned brass components. Furnishings, such as the bed and cabinetry, were custom-made from solid oak. In addition to floor-height glazing, natural materials and a subdued color palette reinforce connection with nature. The House Paarman features a living space on the first floor, a bedroom on the second, and roof deck on the third. A sculptural staircase connects the floors. A plant room is tucked below the building on the ground floor. The half-round bays created by the cylindrical shapes include a patio, dining alcove, bathroom, and built-in seat. + Malan Vorster Images by Adam Letch and Mickey Hoyle

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Luxury tree house lets owners hide away in a Cape Town forest

Gorgeous Washington barn house marries rustic elements with modern style

June 19, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous American barnhouse in Washington is the fruit of four years of collaborative architect-client labor. Seattle-based SkB Architects worked together with clients Charlie and Tracey Brown to design and build the Manson Barn, a large and modern multipurpose farmhouse built from the ground up with local materials. The gambrel structure puts a modern twist on traditional American barn vernacular and frames stunning views of the Cascade Mountain Range. Located within twelve acres of apple orchards in central Washington state, the Manson Barn combines a working barn with qualities of a luxury vacation retreat. The 10,000-square-foot barn distinguishes itself from its rural neighbors with its hybrid roof that adds dormers and gull wings to a traditional gambrel roof. The large dormers help break down the scale of the building, increase natural light to the upper levels, and provide additional floor space for guest rooms. Black-stained wood siding clads the exterior, which will develop a silvery gray patina over time, blending into the landscape. The Manson Barn’s ground floor is mostly an open-plan space for entertaining – it includes a commercial kitchen with a custom-design pizza oven, a dining area, and storage for orchard equipment. Large, sliding carriage doors open up to expansive exterior patios on both ends of the building, blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living. The garage doors beneath the gull wings also open up to reveal stunning landscape views. A wine cellar with sanded cobblestone flooring is on the basement level. Related: Family renovates century-old barn into stunning modern home in Washington state The upper floor houses the master bedroom, guest bedrooms, and a living area that wraps around the building in mezzanine fashion. The center of the upper floor is left open to the ground floor below. Cedar sink wood pulled from the bottom of a nearby lake was milled and reworked into sliding barn doors in the wine cellar and master bedroom. In a nod to the apple orchards, the architects added a solid wall clad in vintage apple crate panels next to the three-story steel staircase. + SkB Architects

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Gorgeous Washington barn house marries rustic elements with modern style

Beijing’s futuristic new subway stations are straight out of Blade Runner

June 19, 2017 by  
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Beijing-based Qing-X Architectural Studio has completed construction on a series of futuristic subway stations that look like they came straight out of a science fiction movie. Spiraling metal metal tunnels wrap the elevated platforms while providing plenty of daylight and natural ventilation. Architect Qi Ji Jun was inspired by the simple, yet functional form of a traditional scroll form: “The curved paper jerked at the two ends, seemed to be towed by the pen.” This concept is reflected in the tubular rail cladding of the platforms, which creates a sense of unity and movement throughout the multiple subway stations . The streamlined design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but functional; the two triangular corners that spiral out of the tunnel help augment the drivers’ field of vision. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ Currently, the Fangshan line has 11 stations, with 9 aboveground tracks and 2 underground tracks. The stations consist of three stories, with the metal and glass-clad platforms located on the top open-air level. The overlapped roofs over the platforms contain a rain-screen ventilation gap, which pushes hot air up and outwards during the hot summer months. The area around the stations is surrounded by a verdant green belt with plenty of green space.

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Beijing’s futuristic new subway stations are straight out of Blade Runner

You can now buy a village on the Isle of Skye heres how

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

If you’ve ever wanted to own a village, here’s your chance. Mary’s Cottages, located in Elgol on the Isle of Skye, is up for sale – and for the right person, it could be an enchanting getaway. Marketed as a “lifestyle business,” the village includes four traditional Scottish blackhouses that have been restored in addition to the owner’s modern five-bedroom house — complete with a pitched, tiled roof that blends in with the surroundings. In each of the traditional Scottish houses, you’ll find classically decorated interiors, vaulted ceilings, underfloor heating, oil stoves and Caithness slate floors. Each cottage has its own traditional built-in kingsize bed, in addition to a mezzanine area with single beds that can be tucked away. Related: Italy is giving away hundreds of historic castles and villas for free According to agents Strutt and Parker , views from all the abodes are breathtaking. Additionally, one doesn’t need to walk far from the collection of cottages to see fishermen going about their duties, and dolphins, otters, eagles, and sharks enjoy the nearby bay. In fact, The Scotsman describes the location as being “ideal for holidaymakers.” When a venture into the city is needed, Elgol is only 45 minutes away and a drive to Edinburgh is six hours. As you might expect, a village — particularly on the Isle of Skye — isn’t cheap. Right now, it’s on the market for £1.25 million. + Strutt and Parker Via The Independent Images via Strutt and Parker

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SOMs diagrid glass tower rises like a Chinese paper lantern in Beijing

June 19, 2017 by  
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A glittering glass lantern has risen in Beijing . Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) designed the Poly International Plaza, a three-tower complex located midway between the Forbidden City and the Beijing Capital Airport. The main and tallest tower draws inspiration from Chinese paper lanterns for its continuous diagrid pattern that shimmers like a jewel and helps lower the building’s energy footprint. Winner of two 2017 Architizer A+Awards , the Poly International Plaza was completed in 2016 shortly after the Beijing Greenland Center , another SOM-designed energy-efficient glass tower. China Poly Group, one of the country’s largest state-supervised conglomerates, commissioned the commercial project. The client specified a modern and elegant building that, in the words of Poly executive Zhang Wei, would “make [their] company more famous.” The Poly International Plaza comprises three elliptical towers connected underground. The eye-catching central tower is nicknamed the Diamond Lantern and rises to a height of 499 feet and is clad in a steel-and-concrete diagrid exoskeleton with angled glass. The two smaller buildings on either side reach heights of 275 feet and 220 feet and are covered in vertical grids of dark metal rods. Related: Beautiful prismatic glass panels envelop SOM’s Beijing Greenland Center SOM writes: “The exoskeleton structural system forms an outer thermal envelope around the office spaces, which are enclosed within a second glazed interior envelope. This creates daylit communal areas that accommodate meetings and foster social interaction, while establishing physical and visual connections between floors. The long-span structural design not only opens up the interior, creating a column-free work environment, but also employs a highly sustainable architectural/mechanical approach to address the climatic and air quality challenges particular to Beijing.” + SOM Via Architectural Record Images via SOM , photos by Bruce Damonte

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SOMs diagrid glass tower rises like a Chinese paper lantern in Beijing

London could be getting its first ultra-green, tidal-powered school

June 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

London-based Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture just unveiled plans for what could become London’s greenest building – a tidal powered school situated on the banks of the Thames River. The five-story building would be entirely powered by energy harvested from a series of large turbines built underneath the waterway. According to the proposal, the school’s location is key to the tidal power project. Currently, the proposed site is being used as a city trash collection center where boats pick up and transport the city’s refuse to a landfill outside of the city. However, this exact site happens to be located on the narrowest section of the Thames – the point in the river with the highest velocity of tidal surge. Related: Is tidal power finally coming of age? “As far west as Teddington, the power of the coastal tides is felt twice daily along the Thames, with a rise and fall of as much seven metres of water,” said Wayne Head, one of the studio’s two directors. “The movement of water due to tides represents an untapped source of power that it’s high time London harnessed for good,” he told Dezeen . “The site is located directly at the narrowest section of the Thames – meaning that the velocity of the tidal flow at this point will be the highest in the river. The plan is to capture this four-times daily energy through submerged tidal turbines as the primary means to supply the building with carbon neutral power.” The proposal, which will be built to meet the Passivhaus standard as well as the BEEAM Outstanding rating, calls for using the building’s natural environment of clean air and cooler temperatures to create a pleasant microclimate on the interior. The school would also be installed with a number of carbon monitoring systems that would help the occupants limit their carbon footprint as much as possible. Additionally, the various renewable materials used in the structure would be left exposed to serve as an example for future architecture projects. Although the proposal is at its very early stages, the architect envisions the carbon neutral project as not only the city’s greenest building, but also a beacon for future of sustainable architecture in the city, “The Thames Tidal Powered School is potentially London’s greenest public building,” he said. “The design is conceived as an exemplar of low embodied energy and carbon construction technologies, using natural and bio-renewable materials sourced through local supply chains.” + Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture Via Dezeen Renderings by Forbes Massie

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London could be getting its first ultra-green, tidal-powered school

Gorgeous Japanese-inspired reading nook breathes new life into a Frank Gehry-designed home

June 16, 2017 by  
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A slice of reading heaven has been inserted into this Frank Gehry -designed home in Los Angeles’ Sawtelle Japantown. Local studio Dan Brunn Architecture gutted and renovated the 1970s house named Hide Out with a minimalist aesthetic that pays homage to Gehry’s original design. Commissioned by a pair of art collectors, the stylish home disrupts its art gallery-like feel with large walnut surfaces that add warmth and even carve out an enviable reading nook by the garden. Formerly owned by the Janss Family, the 3,600-square-foot Hide Out house was overhauled to create an open-air area on the first floor for displaying the work of the new owner, artist James Jean. Since the Janss Family discarded some of Gehry’s signature details in the original construction of the home, Dan Brunn Architecture used the renovation as an opportunity to bring back those lost architectural details. In addition to the oversized rectangular skylight in the center of the home—the only major architectural detail from Gehry’s design that the Janss retained—the architects added dynamic shapes and a simple material palette typical of Gehry’s style in the 1970s and 1980s. The renovated Hide Out features a simple material palette of walnut , concrete, and glass and is filled with natural light from the rectangular skylight and new glazed openings. White walls and pale concrete floors are broken up by eye-catching walnut surfaces, such as the handcrafted and beautifully sculptural walnut staircase at the heart of the home. The open-plan layout is decorated with minimal furnishings to keep focus on the art. Related: How Frank Gehry’s provocative designs go from concept to reality In reference to the home’s surroundings in the Little Osaka neighborhood, the architects drew inspiration from Japanese design for multiple aspects of the home, including furnishing. The reclaimed timber coffee table, for instance, was custom made with traditional Japanese joinery. Traditional Japanese tearooms provided inspiration for an inserted walnut volume that functions as a reading nook, meeting space, or meditation room. The room overlooks a garden planted with traditional Japanese species of bamboo, gingko, and maple. + Dan Brunn Architecture Via Dezeen Images © Brandon Shigeta

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Gorgeous Japanese-inspired reading nook breathes new life into a Frank Gehry-designed home

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