Solar-powered Menai Science Park offers sweeping views of Wales

March 1, 2019 by  
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U.K. architectural practice FaulknerBrowns Architects has completed the Menai Science Park (M-SParc), the first dedicated science park in Wales with a focus on the sectors of low-carbon energy, ICT (information and communication technologies) and the environment. Located west of the Menai Straits on the island of Anglesey, North Wales, the £15.5 million (nearly $20 million USD) campus includes co-working spaces with offices, laboratories and workshops. Designed to encourage innovation, the solar-powered building is wrapped in large, glazed panels that let in an ample amount of natural light and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The Welsh Government and the nearby Bangor University established the Menai Science Park to support emerging and existing businesses in the science and technology sectors. The building is strategically located close to the main arterial route on the island for easy access to local businesses, including the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. Existing and emerging businesses are invited to rent the individual tenancy spaces in Menai Science Park and join a commercial community built on sharing knowledge and expertise. To encourage collaboration, the architects inserted a multipurpose “open innovation space” that serves as a meeting point, events venue and a touch-down space connected to the main circulation “ring” linking all of the individual tenancies. “[The building] is defined by the concept of a folded ribbon of white material which extends out of the surrounding landscape, twists and bends to form the edges of the space, before arcing back down into the site,” FaulknerBrowns Architects said. “Thermoformed Corian, a material typically used in laboratory benching, offered the right combination of plasticity and durability to create the ribbon in the form of fluid rainscreen panels.” Related: A former Czech distillery is transformed into a vibrant co-working space The campus was also created with a strong focus on sustainability and nature. The building is not only formed around a central landscaped courtyard but is also clad in large glazed panels that frame views of the outdoors, including the spectacular Snowdonia mountain range in the southeast. Photovoltaic panels have been installed on the ground level and combined with traditional cloddiau stone walls, which the architects said “offer a visible commitment to low-carbon energy.” + FaulknerBrowns Architects Images by Richard Chivers via FaulknerBrowns Architects

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Solar-powered Menai Science Park offers sweeping views of Wales

Stop Fish Bombing! uses gunshot detection technology to foil marine criminals

March 1, 2019 by  
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A nonprofit organization called Stop Fish Bombing! (SFB) is combating a famously destructive and illegal fishing practice. By adapting technology developed by the California company SST Inc. to detect gunshot locations, the nonprofit hopes to catch villains who are destroying the underwater world through fish bombing. Fish bombing — also called blast or dynamite fishing — uses explosives to stun or kill fish, making it easy to gather them up en masse. Dynamite doesn’t discriminate. Everything from fish eggs to dolphins to coral reefs die in the blast. While the short-term effect means an easy haul for fishermen, the long-term effects spell doom to the fish, the fishing industry and reef-related tourism. Eventually, the repeated blasts create dead zones, destroying biodiversity and whole ecosystems. Fish bombing is practiced in many places around the world, including Tanzania, Malaysia and Nicaragua. Related: Loophole allows 1M tons of sludge to be dumped on Great Barrier Reef SFB has adapted urban tech for the marine world. Law enforcement in more than 90 cities use SST Inc.’s ShotSpotter technology to find shooters. Acoustic sensors are placed throughout neighborhoods. When somebody fires a gun, multiple sensors detect and timestamp the sound. “The precise location of the gunshot is determined based on the time it takes for the sound of the gunshot to travel to each individual sensor, effectively triangulating the sound. The exact location of the detected gunshot is indicated by a dot on a map,” according to a video on the SpotShotter site. Back at the command center, analysts use audio technology to differentiate gunshots from other percussive sounds. Translating this tech to an underwater environment, SFB places sensors on piers and boats to locate blasts. In one success, the nonprofit triangulated the positions of 16 explosions in Sabah, Malaysia within 60 meters in about 10 seconds. They were able to safely detonate 19 bombs. By photographing boats in the vicinity at the time of blasts, SFB can help local law enforcement efforts. SFB, based in Hong Kong, was founded by Scubazoo, SST and Teng Hoi Conservation Organization . Scubazoo is a production and filming company specializing in marine and jungle locations in South East Asia. Teng Hoi focuses on environmental problems and education in Hong Kong and internationally. In addition to its work on fish bombing, SST has also adapted its ShotSpotter technology to deter rhino poachers in South Africa. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Environmentalists now have one more tool in their race to save reefs. George Woodman, founder of Teng Hoi Conservation Organization, said, “Fortunately, we now have the technology to detect and locate fish bombs as they happen and publish this information on tablets and phones for access by everyone.” + Stop Fish Bombing! Via UN Environment Images via Shutterstock

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Stop Fish Bombing! uses gunshot detection technology to foil marine criminals

Abandoned house gets a gorgeous, energy-efficient refresh

August 9, 2018 by  
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Few homes undergo the trials and tribulations of Boston Villa – and fewer still receive a gorgeous renovation that also wins an architectural prize. But in the Fitzroy neighborhood of Melbourne, Australia, that’s exactly what happened. For years, Boston Villa stood abandoned, serving as a shelter for indigent wanderers. Even after Nest Architects ‘ clients Dean and Lisa saw promise in the property, someone set it on fire halfway into the preliminary stages of the rebuilding process. The couple remained undaunted, however, and Nest Architects forged ahead with the overhaul, creating a beautiful, light-filled home with numerous energy-saving and sustainable features. For the project’s first phase, the architects tore down walls to let natural light and air flow freely through the space. This demolition also opened up views of courtyards and created light sources throughout the structure. Skylights illuminate the laundry room and bathroom, louvered windows let filtered light brighten the children’s bedrooms, and an enormous glazed glass wall brings the glow of sunlight into the study, guest room, dining room, kitchen and living spaces. Rustic timber columns and beams accentuate this wall and help it harmonize with the rest of the home’s aesthetic. Two large windows flanked by striking Victorian brickwork highlight the front of the structure. Related: Abandoned house transformed into a gorgeous sanctuary on a remote Chinese mountain Because the clients wanted a sustainable home as well, Nest Architects included a number of features that reduce the house’s overall footprint. The concrete slab foundation effectively controls heat loss, and internal thermal blinds coupled with low-E glass fend off heat from the sun. The architects used recycled fittings and fixtures in every room; additionally, all the plywood and timber came from recycled sources. Low-voltage lighting and appliances with five-star energy ratings further reduce the amount of electricity consumed. Boston Villa won the Victorian Institute of Architects Award in the Alterations and Additions Category in 2011. + Nest Architects Images via Jesse Marlow

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Abandoned house gets a gorgeous, energy-efficient refresh

Origami-inspired Aqualagon water park is a site-sensitive extension of the landscape

July 9, 2018 by  
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With their bright, multicolored slides and tubes, most water parks stick out like unsightly sore thumbs in the landscape—but that’s not the case for the site-sensitive Water Park Aqualagon in Villages Nature Paris Marne-la-Vallée, France. Designed by Paris-based Jacques Ferrier architecture , the enclosed water park features a folded and glazed design that takes inspiration from the Japanese art of origami and is largely informed by site conditions. Conceived as an extension of the forested landscape, Aqualagon features full-height glazing, lush greenery, and renewable systems including geothermal energy and water recycling. Spread out across 86,000 square feet next to a large body of water, the Water Park Aqualagon meets the High Quality Environment standard , a certification for green buildings in France. Site studies that mapped the direction of the winds and the path of the sun informed the position and layout of the water park’s multifaceted, glazed building. To make the most of cooling cross-breezes in summer and to protect against cold northeasterly winter winds, the aquatic park opens up towards the west and backs up to the forest. The orientation also optimizes sunlight in winter while minimizing solar gain in summer. The light-filled interior features water slides and multiple pools integrated into a naturalistic landscape of stone-covered terrain, living trees and waterfalls. Continuous outdoor terraces project from the building towards the lake; these walkways overlook stunning views of Villages Nature Paris Marne-la-Vallée. A transparent dome tops the water park and offers a remarkable space for visitors to swim while basking in views of the sky. Related: PHOTOS: Cacheuta Thermal Water Park is a summer escape wedged in Argentina’s Andes Mountains “Like an origami sculpture, our proposal for the aquatic park resembles an unfolding landscape, culminating at around 35 meters. It is a built landscape, rising into the sky,” explains Jacques Ferrier architecture. “The structure is clearly visible from the surrounding area – it becomes a point of reference and a symbol of Villages Nature.” + Jacques Ferrier architecture Images by Luc Boegly

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Origami-inspired Aqualagon water park is a site-sensitive extension of the landscape

This contemporary light-filled home feels like an extension of Balis tropics

June 29, 2018 by  
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German architect Alexis Dornier of his eponymous Bali-based architecture practice recently completed a stunning modern home in an Indonesian tropical paradise. The private home — named House A — comprises four stories laid out over 8,072 square feet. Like the firm’s previous works, House A embraces indoor-outdoor living with full-height glazing and an open layout where views of lush greenery can be enjoyed at every turn. Built primarily of stone and dark timber, House A appears to be a natural extension of its evergreen surroundings in Mas, a village renowned for its hand-carved wood sculpture south of Ubud, Bali . This emphasis on the outdoors is carried through the color palette, from the neutral off-white textiles to the moss-green upholstery. Large potted plants are also bring the outdoors into the home. Metallic accents, clean lines and high-end fixtures from the likes of Grohe and Toto give the house its contemporary edge, while clear glass rooftops allow light to filter deep into the home. “The linear four-story arrangement counteracts the steep slope of the site by becoming a bridge house,” the firm said in a project statement. “The central theme of the ensemble is combining two architectural expressions: the idea of a romantic ruin, strongly connected to the ground and a light, fading, transparent structure holding a series of roofs; two images working with and against each other. The master deck is crowning the structure, continuing through a double-height exterior living space. The silhouette is a sequence of five roofs of different lengths. Linear skylights and linear gaps between the roofs complete a play of bar code like light play, changing as the sun is making its way from east to west.” Related: An ever-evolving, growing home in Indonesia adapts to its owners’ needs The guest bedrooms are located on the lower levels of the house, while the main living spaces like the kitchen and double-height dining room are placed on the third floor. The en suite master bedroom can be found on the top floor. + Alexis Dornier Images via Alexis Dornier

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This contemporary light-filled home feels like an extension of Balis tropics

Sculptural open-air pavilion blends into a rocky Norwegian landscape

June 29, 2018 by  
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When Oslo-based design studio MORFEUS arkitekter first laid eyes on Bukkekjerka, a rock formation framed by the rugged mountains on the east and the open sea to the west, its natural beauty stunned them. So, when they were tasked with designing an open-air pavilion on the site along the Norwegian Scenic Route Andøya, they understandably wanted to take a sensitive approach so as not to detract from the landscape. The resulting design is a contemporary structure built from folded concrete to mimic the surrounding jagged mountain peaks. Spanning an area of 2,800 square feet, the Bukkekjerka rest station comprises a series of structures spread out across the landscape. The parking and service facilities are placed in the north, while a freestanding bench in the mountains is oriented for views of the midnight sun. Picnic areas and a footbridge trace a path toward the lighthouses to the east. Consecrated land and unique geological formations can be found in the south, which MORFEUS arkitekter has designed for use as an annual open-air church for weddings and other gatherings. “Our hope is that these elements are unveiled and experienced gradually, encouraging further exploration and experience of the inherent qualities of the place,” explains Caroline Støvring and Cecilie Wille of MORFEUS arkitekter. “The built elements are adapted to the existing terrain, not the other way around. We have wanted to proceed carefully, but also with a boldness that echoes the surrounding landscape. We have desired the project to appear more like landscape and sculptural elements, less like a building.” Related: Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert The majority of the structures are open-air; however, even the service building with toilets manages to embrace the landscape with one-way mirrored glass cladding. The glass allows visitors inside the building to enjoy views over the sea and the mountain peaks in the north, while the mirrored side helps blend the building into the landscape. The building is also constructed from polished, acid-resistant steel with a mirror-like shine. + MORFEUS arkitekter Images ©MORFEUS Støvring Wille

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Sculptural open-air pavilion blends into a rocky Norwegian landscape

A prefab hotel with lakeside views pops up in northern Russia

June 11, 2018 by  
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St. Petersburg-based architecture firm Rhizome group designed and built Tochka na Karte Hotel, a prefabricated structure crafted to embrace the outdoors. Located in the northern Russian town of Priozersk in Leningrad Oblast, the hotel complex is a sleek and modern getaway nestled among mature pine trees. The use of modular technology has helped reduce construction waste and minimize site impact , including the preservation of existing trees. Located just a two-hour drive north of St. Petersburg , the Tochka na Karte Hotel (Russian for ‘a point on the map’) is set on the shore of Lake Ladoga on the border of the Republic of Karelia. Due to its proximity to St. Petersburg, historical points of interest and abundance of pristine nature, the area has long served as a major tourist destination for Russians and foreigners alike. The hotel taps into the region’s natural beauty by using floor-to-ceiling glazing to frame outdoor views from every room, thus blurring the line between indoors and out. The prefabricated building comprises three two-story blocks with 32 standard rooms, detached suites (built of two modules) and a reception building (assembled from three modules and some prefabricated elements). The modules, which measure 3.5 meters by 7 meters, were constructed in a factory and then assembled on site. Stairways and terraces connect the modular blocks. The facade was built of timber and dark metal to tie the building into the wooded landscape. To further blend the hotel into its pine forest backdrop, the structures were “dispersed” among existing mature pines near where the Vuoski River meets Lake Ladoga. Related: This minimalist prefab hotel offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps “We believe we succeeded in achieving the essence of a place inherent to modern Nordic architecture,” the architects wrote. “Terrain forms, trees layout and our strive to provide a view of the shore from every room constitute the buildings’ location on the site.” + Rhizome Images by Dmitry Tsyrencshikov

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A prefab hotel with lakeside views pops up in northern Russia

Multi-family timber home perches atop a Norwegian slope

April 25, 2018 by  
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Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter recently completed their latest residence: a multi-family dwelling set atop a steep slope in Oslo , Norway. As with the Norwegian architecture firm’s many other projects, the home is primarily clad in vertical planks of natural timber which helps tie the building into its wooded surroundings. Named the Two-in-One House, the residence houses two families as well as an independent apartment. When the client came to Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter with the project, the brief asked for a house that could comfortably accommodate two families while appearing as a single, unified home. In response, the architects crafted a slender and rectangular cedar -clad volume that emerges from a concrete base. To give the monolithic building a sense of lightness and to take advantage of surrounding views, the building is wrapped in glazing on the lower and top-most levels. Related: Norwegian-inspired timber cabins unveiled for a landscape hotel in France “The main task was for the project to appear as a unify house despite its duality, and still ensure the privacy of both units,” wrote the architects. “The ground floor integrates the main public functions of the homes and elegant windows frame the landscape scenery and invite nature into the building. On the contrary, the first floor protects the intimacy of the families and provides a more introvert area, with windows subtly appearing behind the cedar cladding.” The contemporary home also connects to a series of outdoor terraces on the east. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images by Ivar Kvaal

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Multi-family timber home perches atop a Norwegian slope

Stellar views and a small footprint defines this Tasmanian timber cabin

April 12, 2018 by  
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A small abode perched high on the eastern slopes of Tasmania’s Mount Wellington offers spectacular landscape views. Room11 Architects designed the boxy dwelling with a deliberately compact footprint as an “intensely private” retreat that keeps the focus on outdoor views framed by large windows. In addition to enviable views, natural cross ventilation and a wood-burning stove help keep the home, called Little Big House, attuned to nature. Located high above Hobart, Little Big House is an escape from the city set in a forested landscape. The simple residence is clad in vertical unfinished timber in a nod to the local vernacular construction styles of Southern Tasmania. “A small home with big volumes, the house is a bespoke building in a cool climate,” wrote the architects. “Eschewing many of the traditions of Australian architecture , this house is distinctly Tasmanian.” Related: Historic train shed transformed into Tasmanian School for Architecture Polycarbonate cladding on the east and west facades bring additional light to the minimalist interior without compromising privacy. White walls and tall ceilings create a bright and airy atmosphere indoors; the entry, kitchen, and bathroom spaces are finished in black to provide visual contrast. The focus is kept on the double-height living room set next to a long strip of glazing, while the bedroom is tucked above on the mezzanine level. + Room11 Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Ben Hosking

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Stellar views and a small footprint defines this Tasmanian timber cabin

Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center comprises light-filled timber volumes

March 27, 2018 by  
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Livability in Copenhagen’s Ørestad City received a big boost with the completion of a green-roofed multipurpose sports facility next to Bjarke Ingels Group’s terraced Mountain Dwellings . Designed by NORD Architects , the sports center may be more modest than its eye-catching neighbor with its lower profile and natural materials palette, but achieves admirable goals of social sustainability and inclusivity thanks to its welcoming and fully accessible design that’s open 24/7 to the public. Designed in collaboration with the community, the unstaffed multipurpose sports center in Ørestad City offers adaptable and multifunctional spaces that cater to a variety of user groups. The building’s five main zones radiate out from a central “stay and play area” and include the foyer, two multifunctional areas with storage and toilets, a bouldering zone, and a large multisport area. Each area is enclosed in a timber volume of varying heights and sloped green roofs , making it easy to identify the different zones from the outside. Related: BIG Designs Cascading Green Roofed Mountain Dwellings Glazing wraps around the base of the structure to let in light, create transparency, and provide views to outdoor landscaping. The interior is painted white. “This place is a kind of shelter for local sports and social events and in this way an invitation to both creativity, activity and recreation. It is built as a light structure that welcomes openness and unpredictability in this otherwise fully planned urban area and we are sure it will generate social interaction and livability in Ørestad City”, said partner Johannes Molander Pedersen + NORD Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Adam Mørk

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Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center comprises light-filled timber volumes

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