Greenery-filled renovation rethinks Indonesian colonial architecture

August 14, 2019 by  
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Indonesian architecture firm Kantor Gunawan Gunawan has transformed a century-old Dutch Colonial house into the PB House, a modern home with a strengthened connection to nature. The house, which has been handed down for three generations, has been updated to meet the needs of the new family while paying homage to historical elements. Indonesia’s lush tropical greenery has also been brought indoors with full-height glazing that pulls in garden views and frames a massive green wall . Following the typical Dutch Colonial style, the house was originally designed in quarters, with many rooms arranged along a main axis and joined together by a long hallway. To modernize the space, the architects knocked down most of the walls and created a large open-plan living area, dining space and kitchen that measures 10 meters by 6 meters. The ceilings were also raised to create a more airy feel. Related: Cooling breezes blow straight through a low-energy brick house in Indonesia To bring greenery into the 300-square-meter house, the architects had to grapple with the challenging narrow site, which only allowed for a small sliver of landscaping along the house. Making the most of a constrained footprint, the architects added a huge green wall on the west side that is framed through tall glass sliding doors in the living room. The walls of glass have also been installed throughout the house to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. The exterior of the building was given a fresh coat of paint, a black door and new window seals. It was also spruced up with original mosaic glass but has otherwise been kept the same. In contrast, the interior of the home has been completely transformed. “Using white, gray, orange and dark wood pattern, Kantor Gunawan Gunawan creates a consistent color palette throughout the whole house,” the firm noted. “The furniture is also consistently made of the same walnut material as the door and wall background. The dark wood and gray marble flooring also set the tone of a cozy and welcoming living area, as it also extends to the pantry table and to the wooden decking at the terrace.” + Kantor Gunawan Gunawan Photography by Mario Wibowo Photography via Kantor Gunawan Gunawan

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Greenery-filled renovation rethinks Indonesian colonial architecture

Sustainable floating dairy farm in the Netherlands is home to 40 blissful bovines

July 9, 2019 by  
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Years of urban development in the harbor area of the Merwehaven in the Netherlands have led to decline of traditional trade in the area, especially in the agricultural sector. However, thanks to the Dutch firm, Goldsmith Company , the harbor is now home to a floating dairy farm that brings sustainably-sourced milk and dairy products to the locals. The Merwehaven area is a bustling port that drives most of the region’s economy. However, due to the ever-growing nautical presence, the agricultural sector in the area has been diminishing for years. With the addition of the floating farm, the locals are now able to appreciate locally-sourced, sustainable milk and other dairy products. Related: An Australian dairy farm is updated with solar-powered ‘grass-to-gate’ facilities According to the architects, the design of the floating farm is based on nautical principles. Built on three connected concrete pontoons and coming in at a whopping 21,527 square feet, the structure’s layout, structural principles and materials were carefully designed to enhance the farm’s buoyancy and stability. The production of fruits used to produce yogurt is found on the bottom floor, which is equipped with a rain and wastewater recycling system . The  upper factory floor houses the milk and yogurt processing, feeding system and manure handling and retail. The upper, open-air floor is where 40 blissful bovines live in a covered cow garden. The area is equipped with a manure cleaning robot, along with a milking robot. In fact, the garden boasts state-of-the-art systems that were strategic in enhancing the animals’ welfare , including as a series of green towers that ensure cooling. In addition to the animal-centered architecture and technology, the farm was also built on full-cycle sustainability principles . Urban waste flows are upgraded from residual product to create feed for the animals. Brewers grains, potato scraps and grass clippings from the nearby Feyenoord football stadium are used to create a daily feast for the bovines, who in return produce healthy sustainable milk to sell back into the local market. + Goldsmith Company Via Archdaily Photography by Ruben Dario Kleimeer

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Sustainable floating dairy farm in the Netherlands is home to 40 blissful bovines

A massive green wall grows up the side of this luxury Italian hotel

July 9, 2019 by  
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On the banks of Italy’s spectacular Lake Como sits Il Sereno , a five-star hotel that not only offers top-of-the-line luxury, but also boasts sustainable features throughout. Milan-based Patricia Urquiola Studio designed the building with a palette of locally sourced natural materials and an eye-catching Patrick Blanc-designed vertical garden that grows up the side of the building. The designers’ attention to energy-saving elements and eco-friendly materials earned Il Sereno Climate House certification. Conceived as a contemporary spin on the rationalist-style Casa del Fascio by Giuseppe Terragni, Il Sereno celebrates the historical heritage of the lake and the natural beauty of the surroundings. As such, natural materials were used for construction and include locally sourced stone marble and timber throughout the sustainable hotel. Thorough site analyses informed the placement of the building and the operable facade, which allows for natural ventilation and lighting to reduce the hotel’s environmental impact. The lake is visible from every room in the hotel as well as from the common areas. “I was inspired by the color of the Lake, and its glistening water, the nature of the dramatic mountains, and the adjacent village of Torno,” says designer and architect Patricia Urquiola in a press statement. “The color palette is the lake. It includes green, light-blue, copper, grey and natural tones. For Il Sereno we used natural materials (stone, wood, wool natural fibers) for a sustainable style and timeless elegance.” Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood To reinforce the hotel’s connection with nature, the architects wrapped parts of the building in full-height glazing and balconies to create a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience and commissioned renowned green wall designer Patrick Blanc to create three artworks for Il Sereno. The largest vertical garden is mounted to the facade facing the northern lakefront to soften the structure’s appearance, while the other two artworks are found near the entrance on the south side. + Patricia Urquiola Studio Images by Patricia Parinejad

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A massive green wall grows up the side of this luxury Italian hotel

Maven Moment: Volunteering at the Community Garden

July 3, 2019 by  
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Many years ago, my aunts belonged to “Friends of the … The post Maven Moment: Volunteering at the Community Garden appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Volunteering at the Community Garden

Architects transform a residential building into a lush, green oasis in the heart of So Paulo

May 20, 2019 by  
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Although São Paulo is known as a bustling metropolis, a local architectural firm, Lucia Manzano Arquitetura , is doing its part to add more green to the concrete and glass cityscape. The Lorena is a residential building in the heart of the city that is designed to integrate architecture and landscape. It infuses an abundance of vegetation throughout from its ground floor garden, which was planted with native shrubs and trees to attract local fauna, to the massive balconies covered in hanging greenery, and of course, a lush green roof. Sitting in the middle of São Paulo, the 28,000-square-foot Lorena building holds court in a quiet area, standing out significantly from its concrete neighbors thanks to the massive amount of vegetation that hangs from each of its outdoor terraces and rooftop gardens . According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a strong relationship between landscape and architecture. To do so, the building was covered in layers of vibrant plants. Related: Translucent Ho Chi Minh City office tower infused with greenery helps combat urban pollution The concrete building is four stories, comprised of several 5,543-square-foot duplex units. The common areas, the ground floor and the rooftop were conceived as private gardens for the residents. On the ground floor, the landscaping includes  native vegetation , such as local species from the Atlantic Forest as well as fruit and native trees, chosen to attract local birds and insects. This space also has an extended splash pool to create a soothing oasis where the residents can relax. At the top of the building, residents can also enjoy a beautiful green roof . Equipped with large trees, shrubs and flowers, there are also plenty of lounge chairs to take in the stunning views of the city. When they are not strolling along the pool or taking in the rooftop vistas, residents have their own private escape at home. Each duplex has four bedrooms, each with its own private balcony that pulls double-duty as flowerbeds. The living space in each unit opens up to a balcony, merging the interior with the exterior. As well as creating the sense of being surrounded by a garden , the abundance of plant life also provides the residences with plenty of privacy. + Lucia Manzano Arquitetura  Via Archdaily Photography by Evelyn Müller via Lucia Manzano Arquitetura

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New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

May 10, 2019 by  
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Despite its irrefutable success — founded in 1891 and now receiving one million visitors a year — the New York Botanical Garden’s staff tirelessly finds innovative ways to stimulate visitors’ connection to nature. This year, it launched a new artist residency program, inviting internationally acclaimed visual artist Michele Oka Doner and sought-after composer Angélica Negrón to be the first participants. “People come to nature in different ways,” Barbara Corcoran, NYBG’s vice president for continuing and public education, told Inhabitat. “Some people come to the garden and they’re very observant, they really see the plants, they read the labels, and they have quite a good knowledge. They’re gardeners themselves or they’re naturalists.” Others might need extra help connecting. “ Music and art are two ways to do that,” she said. Carrie Rebora Barratt, who became CEO and president of the garden in 2018, came up with the residency idea. Her training as an art historian and museum administrator and her previous position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art had shown her the value of artist residencies. Michele Oka Doner Love of nature fuels Michele Oka Doner’s five decades of artwork. This is apparent as soon as you walk into her SoHo studio. “It’s like a treasure trove of nature,” Corcoran said. “She’s a collector of natural objects and archaeological finds like fossils and little bird skulls, like dozens of them, and old stone tools and shells and nature books. So this is like a laboratory. When you go there, you really get to see what she’s all about.” Doner’s past works include “A Walk on the Beach,” composed of 9,000 bronze starfish, sand dollars, coral and other sea-inspired sculptures embedded in the concourse at Miami International Airport. Her installation at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich includes 400 shamanistic sculptures . She’s still developing her ideas for the site-specific work she’ll create at the New York Botanical Garden . Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls On June 12, Doner will give a free talk at the garden called “Ecstatic Nutrition: The Trees of My Life” about three trees that greatly influenced her. “It kicks off our Wellness Wednesdays, which we have through the summer,” Corcoran said.  “Michele is a close observer of nature and a fine storyteller. She has this kind of enchantment with the natural world and its sacredness, and it really comes across. I think it will be very inspiring to hear her talk.” Angélica Negrón Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is a classically trained violinist who is well-known for her electronic music. Much of her work includes nontraditional instruments, such as toys, music boxes and electrodes hooked up to vegetables. A YouTube video shows Negrón in a market, lining up vegetables on a shelf to gauge their aesthetic as well as musical potential.  “I try to find vegetables or fruits that match the textures of the songs. I do love cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, vegetables that have kind of design element. I call it a vegetable synth,” she said in the video. “I try to coordinate it so it all looks like part of the same instrument.” Corcoran said that both artists are interested in science and technology. Negrón has met with a New York Botanical Garden scientist and horticulturalist to learn more about tree communication. “ Trees communicate largely through their roots,” Corcoran said. “That’s all very fascinating to her.” Negrón has already performed twice at the garden, delighting the public with her vegetable synth. “She assigns each vegetable with a different note,” Corcoran explained. “And then when she touches them, the water in those fruits and plants and vegetables conduct the electricity that creates the notes. By tapping different vegetables, she creates a musical piece.” She also adds in acoustic and electronic instruments and found sounds for a result Corcoran describes as “soothing and mesmerizing.” Negrón’s residency will culminate in November with a world-premiere performance in the Thain Family Forest. “We’ll have several choruses here,” Corcoran said. “So it’s a mix of live choral music with sounds that are coming from the trees. I think that’s going to be a real artistic happening that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in New York in the fall. Plus, it’s in the old growth forest at a beautiful time of year.” Visiting the garden The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, plus occasional holiday Mondays. In addition to leisurely strolling and soaking up the beauty, there’s always something going on. Activities range from the extremely practical — learning to repot orchids — to something as celebratory as the Brazil-themed World Pride Night in June. The botanical garden is a vital center for plant research. Its herbarium contains 7.8 million specimens, and it employs about 200 PhD-level scientists and support staff who travel the world to collect plants and bring them back for study. But most of all, it’s a place where busy urbanites can spend time in nature . “It’s a real oasis for people,” Corcoran said. “And I think now more than ever, people need that.” + New York Botanical Garden Images via NYBG and Ben Hider / NYBG

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Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

May 10, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than a gorgeous minimalist design that boasts energy-efficiency features, and Barcelona-based firm, Pepe Gascón Arquitectura,  has managed to combine the two beautifully. Located just east of Barcelona, the Elvira&Marcos House is a minimalist, all-white rectangular volume with slender windows, surrounded by a natural landscape of overgrown grass and wildflowers. The home’s minimalist design conceals an extremely tight insulative shell and geothermal energy system to reduce the home’s energy consumption. The 2,475 square foot home was built on a lot that was slated for development years ago, before Spain’s economy was hit by the economic crisis. Today, the Elvira & Marcos home is the only residence in the area, adding a touch of mysterious solitude to the gorgeous home design. Related: Geothermal-powered Forest House showcases sustainable features in Maryland The all-white, rectangular-shaped home is surrounded by a plot made up of overgrown greenery that partially hides the home from view. According to the architects, leaving the landscape in its wild state was a strategic move to create “a house with a clear geometry but without resorting to unnecessary gestures, offering a forceful interpretation with a certain neutrality in the midst of the surrounding heterogeneity.” The exterior of the home is made out of flexible stucco finish that comes with an integral Exterior Thermal Insulation System (SATE), creating a tight insulative shell for the structure. In addition to the exterior insulation, the SATE system was also used in the roof to avoid energy-wasting thermal bridges. The end result is an extremely tight envelope, that, together with a geothermal energy system installed, drastically reduces the home’s energy consumption. The interior of the three-story home is connected by an large interior steel staircase that holds court in the middle of the kitchen. The home’s minimalist aesthetic continues throughout the home’s open layout with all-white walls and a continuous concrete floor. Natural light shines into the living area from the slender slat windows— which is made even more open and airy thanks to its double height ceilings. + Pepe Gascón Arquitectura Via Design Milk Photography by Aitor Estévez via Pepe Gascón Arquitectura  

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These are the best 9 tricks and gadgets to keep your spring garden in tip-top shape

April 29, 2019 by  
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Flowers are sprouting and the weather is heating up, it’s safe to say spring is in full effect (at least in some areas) and now is the perfect time to start planning how to revive your garden . From the best times of day to plant to all the latest garden gadgets on the market, here is a quick and easy guide to achieving the best springtime garden in no time. Spring Cleaning Once the weather starts warming up, you should clean up your garden in preparation for the growing season. This includes getting rid of dead leaves and other debris that has accumulated over the winter. You can put the organic materials in your compost pile for later use. If you notice any weeds, now is the time to get ahead of the game. Avoid putting them in the compost, however, as the seeds will cause you major headaches down the road. Plant In The Evening Some garden gurus argue that plants do better, in terms of growth rate and durability, when they are put in the ground after the sun goes down. At the very least, planting at night ensures that you get the most out of your initial watering as the sun is not baking most of it away. The only thing to consider is having plenty of lighting so that you do not get lost in the dark. Related: This Garden Planner makes urban gardening easy Coffee Ground Fertilizer Speaking of fertilizer, old coffee grounds are a great way to infuse more nutrients into the ground. You will, of course, will have needed to save up those grounds over the winter in order for this to work. If you did stock up, then you can use the coffee grounds as an excellent source of nitrogen, which can give your vegetables an extra boost. If you are just starting to save your coffee grounds, you can either add them to an existing compost pile or store them in a large container. Once you are ready to prep the soil, simply add the grounds to the soil after it has been tilled and rake them in. Garden Sensors Garden sensors are a great way to keep tabs on the condition of your soil. Many of these sensors, which are often accompanied by an app, will tell you the pH level of the soil, moisture content, nutrients and light intensity. Some sensors are also part of a larger database and can tell you when it is the best time to plant certain species. If you are not keen on using technology , there are sensors that have the same functionality without relying on a smartphone. Prep The Soil You should start preparing the ground for planting as quickly as possible. The best way to prep the soil is to till anywhere between 8 to 12 inches below the ground. As you till, remove large rocks you encounter as these can harm growth. Once the soil is tilled, you can add some fertilizer to the mix. If the ground is too wet when you till, let it dry out before proceeding. Too much moisture can also cause issues with growth. Plant Cam If you are into tracking the progress of your garden, then a plant cam is the perfect gadget for you. These cams use time-lapse photography to document plant growth throughout the season, making it an ideal fit for your high-tech spring garden. Garden cams come in several versions, but most use either photography or video to record plant growth. Collecting Water Collecting rainwater is a great way to better the environment and put some more cash in your wallet. According to Thompson Morgan , rainwater is also healthier for plants as it contains more nutrients than groundwater. Tap water can also contain too much alkaline, which is not good for growth. There are quite a few methods of collecting rainwater and each one will depend on your budget and how much time you want to invest in the project. One of the best ways to recycle water is to build a rain collection system that gathers water from the gutters on your home. The water is then stored in large containers for later use. Pest Blaster No matter how well you prepare your garden , it will all be ruined if pests enter the equation. Luckily, you can get rid of unwanted rats, foxes or cats using the latest technology in outdoor repellents. One good option is ultrasonic repellers, which are battery operated and emit frequencies outside of our hearing zone. Most of these repellers come affixed to a mounting stake, which makes them easy to install anywhere in your garden. They are also very affordable, so if you have a little wiggle room in your budget you can install several to keep the pests away. Copper Trick For smaller insects, like slugs and snails, adding some copper tape to planters can help keep these pests away from your precious veggies. When snails and slugs crawl across copper, their slime creates an electrical charge that naturally makes them go away. You can find copper tape at your local garden store. Via EcoWatch Images via Shutterstock

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These are the best 9 tricks and gadgets to keep your spring garden in tip-top shape

A growing number of states are aiming for clean energy

April 29, 2019 by  
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While President Donald Trump tries to ease environmental regulations and shirk responsibility for climate change , at the state level, the wind is blowing a different way toward clean energy and the elimination of greenhouse gases from electricity production. A growing number of states are pushing — and passing — renewable energy bills. Instead of generating power from finite sources like fossil fuel, they’re embracing solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources. On Earth Day, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed legislation that the state would reach a target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. “Today, Nevada sent a message to the country and world that the Silver State is open for business as a renewable leader, and our commitment to growing our clean energy economy transcends party lines,” Sisolak said in his office’s press release. Related: Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow Nevada is the fourth state to proclaim a goal of 100 percent clean energy. California, New Mexico and Hawaii have already passed similar bills. Washington, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are hashing out clean energy legislation. Puerto Rico plans to take advantage of its sunshine, wind and water; last month, the territory passed a bill to power the island entirely with renewable energy by 2050. Then, there are the cities. According to the Sierra Club , more than 90 U.S. cities have already set their 100 percent renewable energy goals, from little Abita Springs, Louisiana to giant Chicago. Six U.S. cities — Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock Port and Kodiak Island — have already succeeded. They now power themselves 100 percent with clean energy . As Nevada Governor Sisolak has pointed out, clean energy can be good for employment as well as for the environment. According to his office, at the end of 2018, more than 32,000 people worked in Nevada’s renewable energy sector. The state’s new standards could boost this figure by another 11,170 jobs by 2030, adding $539 million in wages and boosting overall economic activity by $1.5 billion. Via Grist , Bloomberg , Sierra Club  and Vox Image via BlackRockSolar

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A growing number of states are aiming for clean energy

7 Easy Ways to Plant a Tree Where It’s Needed Most

April 26, 2019 by  
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With this handy list of resources, you could plant a tree in a deforested or at-risk area of the globe with less than $10 and a few clicks on the Web. The post 7 Easy Ways to Plant a Tree Where It’s Needed Most appeared first on Earth911.com.

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