The breeze blows straight through this stunning tropical home in Singapore

May 1, 2017 by  
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House 24 makes the most of a challenging plot by opening up to its idyllic surroundings in Singapore . Park + Associates Pte Ltd designed the multi-generational home to embrace the tropical climate using rhythmic timber screens. A courtyard provides privacy, and a peaceful pool helps to passively cool the home. The house sits on a triangular plot in Singapore, near a lushly landscaped state-owned park. The architects saw the shape of the site as the main design driver and envisioned a courtyard residence that offers privacy while providing expansive views of the surroundings. Related: This Secret Garden House in Singapore is full of elegant surprises The project features timber craftsmanship in the form of wooden screens that create patterns of light and shadow that reflect the project’s tropical locality. A row of full height sliding doors along the first-floor corridor opens up to the swimming pool , which helps to passively cool down the air flowing into the home. A series of timber screens line the west-facing walkway on the second floor to protect it from the direct and harsh tropical sunlight. Related: A tropical paradise grows inside this lush Singapore home The team redefined the conventional entry sequence and transformed it by forming a more layered and sequential experience through the use of courtyard screens fronting the street. This space marks the transition between the public and private space and offers a serene atmosphere. The project has won the A’ Design Award in the Architecture , building and structure design category. + Park + Associates Pte Ltd Via A’ Design Award and Competition

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The breeze blows straight through this stunning tropical home in Singapore

Apple self-driving car spotted in California

May 1, 2017 by  
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Apple is full of surprises. Just last fall sources told Bloomberg the technology giant wasn’t going to build a self-driving car anymore. They may have scrapped plans to construct their own car, but it appears they didn’t abandon autonomous vehicles altogether. People in California recently spotted a white Lexus RX450h SUV with self-driving apparatus drive out of an Apple Silicon Valley facility. Bloomberg obtained images of the sneaky self-driving car, glimpsed around two weeks after the company got a permit to test autonomous cars. The Lexus SUV was reportedly decked out with Velodyne Lidar Inc’s 64-channel lidar, as well as an array of other sensors. An industry expert said the equipment looked like it was purchased off the shelf, not custom-built. An Apple spokesperson would not give Bloomberg a comment on that. Related: Apple announces goal to make products from 100% recycled materials Here's the vehicle Apple's using to test autonomous driving https://t.co/prbKCuJBq6 pic.twitter.com/8oUvrXv7qC — Bloomberg (@business) April 28, 2017 Apple is known for building their own software and hardware, as opposed to companies like Microsoft that focus on software usable on other companies’ hardware. But it appears they may be going a different direction with their self-driving cars, pursued under the name Project Titan . Last fall Bloomberg said the tech company would focus on software to be used in existing cars, which could help them get their product to market faster. They’re already up against tough competition: big players like Tesla , Uber , and Waymo, which began as Google’s self-driving project, have all made strides on their technology. Project Titan has gone through its ups and downs. When Apple decided to zero in on software, they reassigned or laid off hundreds of engineers. Leadership changed around a year ago, with veteran executive Bob Mansfield taking over, and he’s scaled back ambitions. So far California has given out permits to test self-driving vehicles to 30 companies, including startups, tech companies, and automakers. According to California’s DMV, Waymo and startup Zoox Inc. are also testing their technology with Lexus RX450 models. Via Inc. and Bloomberg Images via Wikimedia Commons and Paul Miller on Flickr

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Escape to this dreamy Airbnb eco retreat in a pristine Yucatan reserve

May 1, 2017 by  
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Although Airbnb is chock full of luxury beach condos, it’s rare to find an eco-friendly retreat tucked into a secluded beach. Ría Luz is a wind-powered sustainable home carefully designed to coexist with its pristine surroundings – and it’s one of the only structures located in the Yucatan’s Ria Lagartos biosphere. Ria Luz is the perfect spot for a secluded getaway. Visitors to this beautiful beach retreat will have access to spectacular wildlife found along the shoreline, which is almost completely devoid of tourists. The home is made up of two white blocks connected by a wooden viewing platform with multiple points of beach access. The main building houses the kitchen, living room and master bedroom, while the second building has additional bedrooms and an outdoor shower with a deck. Related: 8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small Sliding glass doors and multiple windows provide the interior with optimal natural light and incredible views. Guests can also enjoy a rooftop terrace with a comfy open-air bed for sleeping under the stars. As one of the only buildings located in the protected biosphere, the beach cottage was built to be ecologically friendly and it operates solely on wind-generated electricity . Wildlife tours are provided by local experts, and those who visit in summertime can see the hundreds of turtles who come to nest in an adjacent beach. + Ria Luz Airbnb Images via Ria Luz

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Escape to this dreamy Airbnb eco retreat in a pristine Yucatan reserve

Reflective cube atop Snhetta’s Lillehammer museum looks like a crumpled piece of metal

January 3, 2017 by  
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Over a decade after their first completed extension to the The Lillehammer Art Museum and Lillehammer Cinema in Norway, Snøhetta returned to the project with a new stunning addition. This time around, the architects teamed up with artist Bård Breivik who designed a dynamic rippling steel volume that hovers over a transparent base. The extension aims to connect the Lillehammer Art Museum and Lillehammer Cinema and the addition to the Museum. Children’s workshop spaces occupy the ground floor wrapped in large glass surfaces. Sitting atop the transparent ground floor is a new hall wrapped in a striking stainless steel facade, designed by late Norwegian artist Bård Breivik. Related: Snøhetta’s wave-inspired landscape blends land art with functionality A new gallery located on the second floor is dedicated to the work of local artist Jakob Weidemann. The architects also added two new auditoriums and renovated existing facade, creating a complex that communicates with the original building and establishes a stronger connection with the city. + Snøhetta + Bård Breivik Photos by Mark Syke

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Trump appears to stand against House Republicans’ move to decimate ethics office

January 3, 2017 by  
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With Republicans now controlling the House of Representatives and the Senate in the US, one of their first moves was an attempt to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics . But supposed Republican and President-elect Donald Trump appeared to stand against Republicans’ priorities in two tweets today. Perhaps in a bid to sound reasonable, Trump tweeted there are better issues for House Republicans to address, such as tax reform and healthcare. Facing bipartisan pressure, from many more people than just Trump, Republicans finally decided to reverse the astonishing move. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/816298944456232960 https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/816300003442495488 House Republicans, in a surprise measure that came without debate or advance notice, decided to dramatically curtail the Office of Congressional Ethics, even though according to the New York Times , Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and majority leader Kevin McCarthy of California spoke against the move. Related: Trump calls for more nuclear weapons in alarming new tweet Then Trump hopped on Twitter and fired off two tweets, referring to the Office of Congressional Ethics as ” the Independent Ethics Watchdog .” Even though he said the office is “unfair,” he said maybe weakening the office shouldn’t have been Republicans’ first step. He called for the representatives to instead focus on ” so many things of far greater importance ” and appended his second tweet with #DTS, likely a reference to his campaign promise to “drain the swamp.” The New York Times reports House Republicans faced bipartisan criticism; Trump, of course, wasn’t the only one to speak out against slashing an ethics office, and his stance was hardly even a strong one. California Democrat and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, “Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress .” Other organizations and voters spoke out against the startling measure, and today Republicans moved to reverse their plan in what the NYT describes as an “embarrassing turnabout.” The Office of Congressional Ethics is an independent office created after scandals in 2008 saw three representatives, two Republicans and one Democrat, go to jail. An outside board of six members oversees the office. Some people have said the office’s investigations have been too aggressive; others say lawmakers complained because they wanted to safeguard themselves. Via The New York Times ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Ford is building a 300-mile range all-electric SUV

January 3, 2017 by  
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In an unexpected announcement today, Ford revealed that it will add an all-electric SUV to its current lineup. The SUV will have a 300-mile range and will hit the markets in the US, Europe and Asia by 2020. The company also announced that it will introduce a hybrid version of its iconic Mustang and F-150 pickup truck. A 300-mile range would put Fords as-yet-unnamed SUV well ahead of the competition (Tesla’s Model X has a 289-mile range. The company says that it reached that figure after examining current driving habits, which show that most consumers drive 60 miles a day or less, and that most people charge their vehicles once a day. With 300-mile range, consumers wouldn’t have to worry much about the electric vehicle’s nemesis: range anxiety. Related: All new cars in Germany must be emissions-free after 2030 The new vehicles will be built at Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan plant, while other newly-announced electric transit vehicles, designed for police use, will be built in Chicago. Ford is also working on a new wireless charging technology, which would allow drivers to park in designed spots and charge their vehicle without plugging in. Via Tech Crunch and The Verge Images via Mike Mozart and Wikimedia  ( 2 )

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Ford is building a 300-mile range all-electric SUV

Gloomy office transformed into a light-filled BREEAM Excellent building

August 15, 2016 by  
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Built in the 1970s, the original A.S.R. headquarters was a mostly opaque behemoth considered one of the largest office buildings from its time. The architects were tasked with bringing the building up to current building standards and regulations, but rather than start from scratch they preserved select building elements and recycled 98% of the demolition waste. The most notable change to the building is the installation of large glass facades that give the headquarters a new sense of transparency and openness. Related: BREEAM Excellent Library of Birmingham to be Europe’s Largest Public Cultural Space Most impressively, the headquarters was renovated to BREEAM Excellent sustainability standards. The slanted glass facades bring daylight deep into the building, improve natural ventilation, and reduce dependence on artificial lighting. Vertical green walls clad parts of the exterior, while the addition of winter gardens with mature trees bring fresh air and nature to the building interior and exterior. There’s also a greater diversity of workspaces, from open offices to intimate meeting rooms. A total of 2,800 flexible workspaces cater to the firm’s 4,000 employees. There’s also a new underground meeting center, restaurant, and coffee bar. + Team V Architectuur Via ArchDaily Images © Jannes Linders

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Gloomy office transformed into a light-filled BREEAM Excellent building

US Energy Dept says "holy grail" of clean energy storage is imminent

August 15, 2016 by  
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Many countries are on the brink of becoming self-sufficient in their clean energy production, thanks to advances in battery technology that allow electricity from renewable sources to be stored and used on demand. Over the years, as renewable energy generation methods have charged forward, utility companies have struggled with how to integrate that clean energy in usable ways. Now, scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs, and other agencies are working on energy storage projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy , with their sights set on what the department calls the ‘holy grail’ of energy policy. The department says the industry could be transformed in as little as five to ten years . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-fHWubF9-E Earlier this year, Advanced Research Projects-Energy (ARPA-E), the division of the U.S. Department of Energy founded in 2009 to oversee  these projects , claimed to have achieved that goal. Without pointing to a specific invention or discovery, ARPA-E insists that the solution lies amid the 75 projects the agency is funding. The breakthrough technology—the next generation of renewable energy storage—is expected to be developed for large-scale usage in as little as five to ten years. Related: New study says U.S. could run entirely on clean energy by 2050 “I think we have reached some holy grails in batteries –just in the sense of demonstrating that we can create a totally new approach to battery technology, make it work, make it commercially viable, and get it out there to let it do its thing,” said Ellen Williams, ARPA-E’s director. The battery systems under development range widely in their approach to long-term renewable energy storage. They range from hybrid fuel-cell to zinc-air batteries, as well as next generation flywheels, a system that stores energy as heat in molten glass, and a wild idea from Harvard that uses a rhubarb derivative. If just one of the 75 government-funded research projects leads to a viable battery storage device that costs significantly less than current grid electricity systems, the future of utility-scale renewable energy will be cracked wide open. Of the projects backed by the agency, three already have grid-scale and back-up batteries on the market and six others are in the process of developing new batteries. Each promises the potential for efficient, cost-effective energy storage that could make it possible (and financially alluring) to break up with fossil fuels for good. Via The Telegraph and The Guardian Images via Shutterstock  and  Harvard University

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New City of Wine museum in Bordeaux looks like wine swirling in a glass

July 21, 2016 by  
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The shape of La Cité du Vin references wine in a variety of ways; it could be interpreted to mimic gnarled vine stock or wine swirling in a glass. Its round volumes are clad in silk-screen printed glass panels and perforated, lacquered aluminum panels that change appearance depending on the time of day. Related: Italy’s Green-Roofed Antinori Winery is Topped With a Vineyard! Two entrances on opposite sides of the building facilitate and accentuate movement and flow, leading visitors to the highest point of the structure-an observation tower offering expansive views of the city. The ground floor features numerous mirrored surfaces that encourage visitors to move up towards the light, just like a vine plant grows upwards towards the sun. Wooden structural elements visible in the interior are reminiscient of boats, wine, and its travels. + XTU Architects Via World Architecture News Photos by XTU Architects

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New City of Wine museum in Bordeaux looks like wine swirling in a glass

The sun and the moon trigger earthquakes on the San Andreas fault

July 21, 2016 by  
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The same phenomenon that creates ocean tides is responsible for certain small “low-frequency” San Andreas fault earthquakes, according to new research. In a study recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , four scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory found during one tidal cycle phase that small earthquakes happen more than during other phases. The information won’t help scientists predict earthquakes just yet, but will give them more insight into deeper, formerly inaccessible areas of the fault. Like ocean tides, the Earth’s surface undulates during the tidal cycle. Albeit a well known occurrence, the new study shows low-frequency earthquakes are ” most likely to occur ” during a certain part of the tidal cycle: the “waxing fortnightly tide.” Related: “Cyborg artist” can sense earthquakes around the world as they are happening Low frequency earthquakes usually measure less than one on the Richter scale and happen nine to 19 miles underground. The study’s authors scrutinized 81,000 of these little earthquakes on the San Andreas fault between 2008 and 2015. Lead author Nicholas van der Elst of the U.S. Geological Survey told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s kind of crazy, right? That the moon, when it’s pulling in the same direction that the fault is slipping, causes the fault to slip more – and faster. What it shows is that the fault is super weak – much weaker than we would expect – given that there’s 20 miles of rock sitting on top of it.” According to another study author, David Shelly, the small San Andreas fault earthquakes “tell us a lot of things about the deep part of the fault that before, we had no idea existed at all.” Scientists can now keep track of how the fault moves. They don’t yet know if this new information will afford them a ” warning ” before a big earthquake occurs, and intend to keep monitoring the fault. Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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