Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

March 24, 2017 by  
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Semi-arid regions of Africa face unique obstacles in their efforts to address a growing housing crisis . For years people built roofs with bush timber, but thanks to climate change and deforestation , those building methods are no longer feasible. And sheet metal is simply too expensive for most rural families. So the Nubian Vault Association is bringing back an ages-old sustainable building material: mud bricks . Back in 2000, Burkina Faso farmer Seri Youlou and Frenchman Thomas Granier started the association, which is also known by its French name Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN). They resurrected what they call the Nubian Vault technique, or the process of constructing sturdy vaulted roofs with mud bricks similar to processes employed centuries ago in ancient Egypt. The brings are simply formed with earth and water and then dried in the sun. Houses with these vaulted roofs last for at least 50 years, or even more if they are well maintained. They’re also cheaper than tin or timber, and stay warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Related: Bioclimatic Preschool Built with Rammed Earth and Mud Bricks Keeps Cool in the Moroccan Heat The association also works for economic growth by training local apprentices and supporting village masons in multiple West African countries. They aim for a self-sustaining Nubian Vault market, and according to Curbed, their A Roof, A Skill, A Market program has made a $22 million economic impact. They’ve trained over 380 masons, with hundreds more learning as apprentices. The group has now helped homeowners build over 1,800 homes across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. A Nubian Vault home costs around $1,000, and families can lower costs by making their own mud bricks. Not only has the technique helped put a roof over families’ heads and driven economic development, it’s benefited the environment as well. According to AVN , since September 2015 Nubian Vault homes have saved around 55,000 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere. + The Nubian Vault Association Via Curbed Images via The Nubian Vault Facebook

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Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

March 20, 2017 by  
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The far reaches of northern Vietnam are beautiful but heartbreakingly poor. Children of the Hmong ethnic minority who live in the villages routinely suffer from lack of access to healthcare and education. Vietnamese architecture firm 1+1> 2 has provided a ray of hope for those in Lung Luong village in the remote Thai Nguyen Province with the construction of a beautiful new school made from local materials including rammed earth and bamboo. The school’s beautiful swooping and colorful form is an inspiration to the village and serves as a welcoming haven protected from the harsh elements. The Lung Luong elementary school is sited on a mountain peak and constructed to replace a poorly insulated structure that was piercingly cold in days of heavy rain and draught. Under the leadership of architect Hoang Thuc Hao, the villagers excavated part of the peak to create an even foundation. The excavated soil was recycled into rammed earth bricks used to build the school’s structure. The soil bricks’ thermal properties help maintain a temperate indoor climate year round. Locally sourced timber and bamboo were also used in construction and existing trees were protected during the building process. The elementary school is spread out across the mountaintop, covering an area of over 1,400 square meters. The orientation and placement of the buildings and the swooping colorful bamboo canopy above optimize natural lighting, ventilation, and sound insulation. The school comprises classrooms, playgrounds, gardens, multipurpose rooms, a medical room, library, kitchen, toilets, and dormitory. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier “The goal of this project is to create a school with conveniences striving against the harsh nature,” write the architects. “The classrooms are compatible with the mountain, spaces between them are slots which makes everything appears like an architectural picture pasted on the terrain. The corridor connects all functional areas. The foundation of the buildings respects the natural terrain which means that they wind up and down as the mountain path.” + 1+1> 2 Via ArchDaily Images © Son Vu

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Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbournes summers with smart passive design

March 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Sustainability and a tight budget were the driving features for this bright and airy lean-to extension to a detached 1960s home. Designed by Warc Studio , the timber-and-glass addition houses a spacious open-plan living area, dining space, and kitchen that connect to a rear garden. To meet sustainability requirements, the architects used locally and sustainably sourced timber, stressed resource efficiency , and promoted natural cooling with operable window openings and solar shading fins. Located in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh, Australia, the new addition was inspired by the mono-pitched lean-to structures prevalent to the homes in the area. The architects put a modern twist on the seemingly ubiquitous building structure by combining two gabled roofs with differing gradients. “The design program was driven by resource efficiency which was essential to delivering both economic and sustainable objectives,” wrote the architects. “The resulting roof form provides a compact building envelope: the surface area of the additions are around 12% less than if a flat roof / flat ceiling solution had been employed with the same built volume. This in turn translates to increased efficiency of the thermal envelope and reduced capital material consumption.” Related: Old bungalow transformed into a light-filled dwelling with recycled brick Large windows open the new addition up to views and natural light , reducing reliance on artificial lighting. To mitigate solar heat gain, the architects strategically placed window openings and an automated operable roof window for cross-ventilation . Laminated timber fins jut out from the glass panes to provide shade. The roof is lined with white steel sheet lining to minimize solar heat gain. + Warc Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Aaron Pocock

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Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbournes summers with smart passive design

First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

March 16, 2017 by  
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Scientists found the first fluorescent frog in the world – by accident – in South America . Researchers at Buenos Aires’ Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum stumbled across the discovery while studying pigment in polka dot tree frogs, which are common in the continent. Beneath an ultraviolet (UV) light , the otherwise dull-colored frog glows bright blue and green. Fluorescence – or the ability to take in light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths – is found in several ocean creatures but is incredibly rare on land. Only some scorpions and parrots were known to possess it until now, and this is the very first amphibian we’ve found that fluoresces. Scientists don’t really know why creatures are fluorescent; they could be communicating, attracting mates, or concealing themselves. Related: Biofluorescent sharks glow bright green in the depths of the sea The scientists initially thought the frog might glow a faint red because it contains the pigment biliverdin, which gives some some insects a slight red fluorescence. But when the researchers shone a UVA flashlight on polka dot tree frogs that came from the Santa Fe, Argentina area, they were amazed to see the brown-green frogs glow bright green and blue instead. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published their research on March 13. Study co-author Maria Gabriella Lagoria told Chemistry World, “This is very different from fluorophores found in other vertebrates, which are usually proteins or polyenic chains.” And there could be even more fluorescent frogs that we haven’t discovered yet. Co-author Julián Faivovich told Nature, “I’m really hoping that other colleagues will be very interested in this phenomenon, and they will start carrying a UV flashlight to the field.” He plans to seek fluorescence in 250 other tree frog species that have translucent skin like the polka dot tree frog. Via Nature and The Guardian Images via Carlos Taboada et al

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First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

Cramped 19th-century mansion becomes a bright and open modern residence

March 16, 2017 by  
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The renovation of this 19th-century mansion near Paris highlights the historic elements of the original building, while optimizing its spatial organization to fit modern living. 05AM Arquitectura restored the characteristic features of 19th century home while opening the interior of the house toward the rear garden to embrace the outdoors. The owners of the house– a couple with two young children – commissioned 05AM Arquitectura to restore it to its former glory and make its interior compatible with their daily life. Located in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris , Maison à Colombages featured ornate ceilings and wall moldings, a fireplace, alcoves and a layout that divided the interior into relatively small, poorly lit rooms. Related: Beautiful 19th century Tuscan farmhouse renovated with hollow terra-cotta bricks The architects removed some of the existing partitions and connected the main living area with the dining room and kitchen. They improved the functionality of the entry and added built-in furniture with storage areas and wardrobes. This intervention drastically improved natural lighting and established a stronger connection with the garden. + 05AM Arquitectura Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Adrià Goula

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Cramped 19th-century mansion becomes a bright and open modern residence

Libeskind unveils zero-emissions university building designed in collaboration with students

March 14, 2017 by  
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A new building with exciting geometry and eco-friendly design is inspiring students at Leuphana University at Lüneburg, Germany. Architect Daniel Libeskind recently completed the New Central Building, a landmark university structure designed in collaboration with the students as part of the tradition at Leuphana University to involve students in campus changes. Topped with a green roof and powered by renewable energy, the light-filled sculptural building will operate at zero emissions . Created in the same gleaming and angular aesthetic common to Libeskind’s designs, the 13,000-square-meter zinc-clad New Central Building serves as a major university hub that promotes cross-disciplinary interaction and learning for students and faculty. The massive structure comprises four interlocking sculptural forms, each housing four programs: the Student Center that spans the height of the building; the three-story Seminar Center; the 1,100-seat Libeskind Auditorium; and the seven-story Research Center. Students contributed to the design process in seminars held by Professor Libeskind and other teachers at the university. Student participation spanned a wide spectrum, from the building and landscape design to the way-finding systems and interior design . “The idea for this project was to create a hub that would inspire the students through multiple connected spaces, infused with natural light and exciting new geometries,” said architect Daniel Libeskind. “It was a true creative collaboration by incorporating students ideas about program and design elements into the final design.” Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils spectacularly green physics center at Durham University In addition to aesthetics and a community-oriented design, the new student hub focuses heavily on sustainability. The energy-efficient New Central Building is powered by renewable energy and includes green roofs that can be seen from the interior, a gray water system , and an innovative structural Cobiax system. The zero-emissions building exceeds the EnEV (Energieeinsparverordnung = Energy-Saving Regulation), a standard that sets energy requirements for new buildings in Germany and also serves as a demonstration project of the Bundeswirtschaftsministerium (Federal Ministry of Economy) for energy-optimized design. + Daniel Libeskind Images via TK

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Libeskind unveils zero-emissions university building designed in collaboration with students

This quirky pink hammock doesn’t need trees to rock your world

March 14, 2017 by  
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Get ready for warmer weather with this quirky new hammock from Lithuania. Unlike traditional hammocks that need two support posts, this bright pink hammock has a curved boat-like base that lets the structure rock independently in place. Agota Rimsaite was inspired by the need to create a comfortable hammock that, in addition to being easily used on-the-go, doubles as a soccer goal. The hammock’s base is made out of curved wooden rails that make rocking possible without hanging the structure from two posts. Inspired by the shape of a surfboard, the innovative hammock design integrates perfectly into a beach atmosphere. Sturdy cross-woven polyester straps offer total comfort when lounging about and its curved design sits up above the ground, avoiding the usual mess that comes with lying on a sandy beach. Related: Sweet desk hammock lets you take a “nap in a snap” However, once you’re well rested and feel the need to get in some fun exercise, you can flip the Panama Banana over on its side to create a soccer goal for an impromptu game. The designer calls her dual-use creation the perfect flexible furniture for “active relaxation,” and although inspired by long days at the beach, it can also be used in the comfort of a large park or private backyard. + Agota Rimsaite Via Design Milk

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This quirky pink hammock doesn’t need trees to rock your world

Color-changing glass bathes the interior of the new Canvas Worldwide headquarters in vibrant light

March 14, 2017 by  
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Visitors of the new west coast headquarters of global powerhouse Canvas Worldwide are treated to a surprising mix of colorful spaces that reflect the company’s dedication to creating original and inspiring work. The journey into the interior of the new building, designed by architecture firm A + I, starts with an unexpected reception area and leads through a sequence of vibrant glass-enclosed spaces that change color depending on the light. The architects designed the building for Canvas Worldwide, a joint venture between Horizon Media and global creative powerhouse INNOCEAN Worldwide. Located in Silicon Beach, Los Angeles , the new headquarters joins several tech giants and brands, including Google, Snapchat YouTube, BuzzFeed, Facebook, AOL and Hulu, who chose this location to built their offices. Related: South African office building was designed to keep its occupants healthy The reception area is defined by three floating venetian plaster planes tilted at different angles. This space forces visitors to pause and prepare to discover the interior of the building without preconceptions. From here, visitors are led into the heart of the project: ?a multi-purpose social, meeting and event space . This double-height space features vertical slab cuts that create interesting visual angles. One of the most important features is the dichroic glass that changes color depending on lighting conditions. Related: LEED Platinum-certified New Balance World Headquarters raises the bar for indoor environmental quality “We put a lot of thought into the relationship between our architecture, culture, technology, and collaboration,? and the result is a design that enables collaborative thinking amongst our employees,” said Paul Woolmington, CEO of Canvas Worldwide, about the project. “We have great people with a clear vision and purpose; and providing them with this incredible space will further promote unrestrictive creative thinking.” + A+I Photos by Michael Wells

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Color-changing glass bathes the interior of the new Canvas Worldwide headquarters in vibrant light

India triples solar power capacity in three years

March 14, 2017 by  
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India’s solar power capacity has exploded over the past three years, growing from just 3,000 megawatts in 2014 to an installed capacity of 10,000 MW in 2017. And that’s just the beginning of the country’s solar ambitions, with a renewable energy target of 175 gigawatts as soon as 2022. India’s government is working to further its ambitious goal already, with more than 14,000 MW worth of solar projects in the works, and another 6 GW set to go to auction soon. India expects to add a total of 8.8 GW of further solar capacity in 2017. As Swarahya reports, this investment in solar power is aimed at addressing a growing demand for electricity in India. Projections peg the country’s power consumption at three times its current rate by 2030. The government’s recent national electricity plan says those needs could reach as much as 360 GW of total generation by 2022. The plan says that by developing renewable technologies like solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectricity, the country can meet the growing demand while reducing environmental impacts. Related: New 2D perskovite cell could slash the cost of solar No doubt, reducing air pollution is also high in the minds of the Indian government. A report issued earlier this year showed that China and India are leading the way in deaths due to air pollution . The two countries experienced a combined 2.2 million deaths due to air pollution in 2015 . Via Swarahya Images via Pixabay and Flickr Creative Commons, jepoirrier

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India triples solar power capacity in three years

Why scientists are transporting ice from a mountain in Bolivia to Antarctica

March 14, 2017 by  
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As climate change imperils glaciers , scientists are scrambling to build a library of ice archives. Ice stores climate data from the past, but if it melts, that valuable information could be lost. A project called Protecting Ice Memory aims to extract ice from the Illimani Mountain in Bolivia and preserve it in Antarctica . The Illimani glacier’s ice can help scientists reconstruct 18,000 years of records. Rising temperatures – especially in the wake of the last El Niño – endanger that data, so in May, a team plans to scale the mountain to obtain three cores, two of which will be sent to a cave at the Concordia Research Station in Antarctica, where annual temperatures are currently around negative 65.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if temperatures warm a few degrees, the samples should be safe in this natural freezer. Related: 50,000 new seeds deposited in Arctic Circle’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault It won’t be easy. The Illimani glacier is almost four miles above sea level. The summit isn’t accessible by helicopter, so the scientists must go up on foot. The team will camp partway up Illimani for a few weeks to acclimatize. Then local porters will tote their 4,500 pounds of equipment to the summit, and it will take another few weeks to install all that equipment. It will take two to four days to extract each one of the three ice cores. Then they’ll need to walk back down the mountain to ship the samples out – two to Antarctica and one to France to study. Patrick Ginot, a Protecting Ice Memory leader, told Fast Co.Exist, “We’re really close to losing the site. It’s really an emergency to extract the ice cores before another warm event will happen…The logistics are complicated to bring it to South Antarctica, but once it’s there, it’s safe.” Protecting Ice Memory has already gathered ice from the Col du Dôme glacier in the Alps’ Mount Blanc. The researchers will collaborate with an international team to obtain ice cores from other locations around the world and develop a library of ice archives possessing dozens of samples for future researchers. Via Fast Co.Exist Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Why scientists are transporting ice from a mountain in Bolivia to Antarctica

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