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

Luxurious solar home wraps around a sloped green roof

June 14, 2017 by  
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Architecture and landscape unite in the MeMo House, a solar-powered home in Buenos Aires built to maximize green space. Located between infill buildings, the MeMo House is the work of local studio Bam! Arquitectura , which based the design on sustainable design principles, such as low energy consumption and native plantings. The light-filled home embraces nature with its back garden and sloping green roof that connects all three floors. Located on a dense urban plot in San Isidro, the compact MeMo House was created for a client with a passion for landscaping and the environment. To minimize the loss of green space, the architects created a system of landscaped ramps that zigzag along the building’s three levels to create a continuous and accessible garden terrace. Planted with native flora, the landscaped ramps are visible from the exterior and interior, where they’re enclosed in full-height glazing . Solar panels top the MeMo House and provide renewable energy for heating, ventilation , and air conditioning. Energy consumption is further minimized with effective insulation. Sun studies informed the building’s site placement to maximize solar energy and natural lighting. Related: Breezy Buenos Aires holiday home embraces nature with a wildflower-growing roof Reduction in water consumption is achieved through efficient wastewater technology and the use of harvested rainwater for irrigation. “We conceive the sustainability of the project as a path, not as a goal,” wrote the architects. “Hence, we base our path on the LEED standards and we incorporate the concepts of durability and economy which are fundamental in our architectural works, thus satisfying the needs of the present generation without endangering the possibilities of future generations since the impact on the environment and its inhabitants is significantly reduced.” + Bam! Arquitectura Via ArchDaily Images © Jeremias Thomas

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Luxurious solar home wraps around a sloped green roof

LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab

June 12, 2017 by  
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LEAPfactory , the Italy -based company known for building gorgeous prefabricated structures in extreme locations , just unveiled their very first LeapHome . Frame is a two-story, 1,400 square foot house built with minimal impact on the environment . The home’s design is super energy efficient , so it can easily go off-grid . LEAPfactory was inspired by the idea of living in harmony with nature to create Frame. The home can be customized and configured according to a buyer’s desires and budget, and includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study area, a kitchen, dining area, an outdoor terrace, and a double height living room. Forest Stewardship Council certified wood , metal sheet cladding, and finishes made with ecological materials comprise the home that includes prefabricated components. Related: LEAPfactory unveils prefab snowboard school at the foot of Mont Blanc The outdoor shell of the home was designed with energy efficiency in mind, so the home doesn’t consume as much power as others do. Solar energy powers the home, which heats water with a solar thermal system. LED lighting and radiant technology electric systems recycle heat in Frame. According to the company’s website , “The structure is designed to maximize air circulation and distribute heat and humidity.” LEAPfactory says the home could potentially be set up in off-grid configurations – sewage can be independently managed thanks to a biological liquid waste treatment system and other sanitation systems. Panoramic openings in the home also serve to connect an inhabitant with nature. Large sliding glass doors, a bay window , a skylight, and a vertical ribbon window can all be part of the design . LEAPfactory co-founders Stefano Testa and Luca Gentilcore said in a statement, “Living immersed in nature represents one of the most important choices to embrace a new style of life. We like to think that we can combine the comforts of a modern home with the profound freedom and the pioneering spirit of a life in perfect harmony with the environment that surrounds us.” LEAPfactory’s process allows them to go from a design to a fully furnished and functioning house “within weeks” according to their website . + LEAPfactory + LeapHome Images courtesy of LEAPfactory

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Study reveals where climate change is most likely to induce food violence

June 12, 2017 by  
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Much has been written about the affect rising temperatures will have on climate and sea levels, but global warming is expected to dish up a host of other catastrophes as well. According to a new study published in the Journal of Peace Research , the first ever to take into account climate change-induced weather patterns on violence and the strength of governments around the world, certain locations will be more susceptible to food violence than others. Take a closer look after the jump. The study was conducted by Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science at Ohio State University, and former doctoral students Benjamin Jones of the University of Mississippi and Eleonora Mattiacci of Amherst University. Together, they concluded that extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, could hurt agricultural production, which will likely lead to violence in affected regions or elsewhere by those who are desperate for food. “We’ve already started to see climate change as an issue that won’t just put the coasts under water, but as something that could cause food riots in some parts of the world,” Braumoeller said. The researchers used data recorded about the effects of food insecurity and state vulnerability on the occurrence of violent uprisings in Africa between the years 1991 to 2011. Measurements for food shocks and the vulnerability of countries were also taken into account. For food shocks related to climate change , the team analyzed rainfall, temperature and the international prices of food — including sudden spikes in prices. To determine which countries are most vulnerable, the researchers analyzed the country’s dependence on agricultural production, its imports, its wealth, and the strength of its political institutions. Related: Solar-Powered Floating Greenhouse is an Off-Grid Solution to Food Scarcity In the report, Braumoeller explained that the countries that imported food would be most affected by climate shocks as prices increase — even if they weren’t experiencing “significant weather impacts themselves.” “We found that the most vulnerable countries are those that have weak political institutions, are relatively poor and rely more on agriculture ,” said Braumoeller. “Less vulnerable countries can better handle the problems that droughts or food price fluctuations create.” This data is important because it provides insight as to how more developed countries, such as the United States , can respond to these challenges. It is “crucial” to break the links between food insecurity and violence, said Braumoeller, and countries can help accomplish this in a number of ways. A short-term solution is to provide food aid to offset shortages, whereas long-term efforts include strengthening government institutions and helping them invest in “green growth” policies aimed at improving the economy. Braumoeller said, ”Development aid is important now and it is likely to be even more important in the future as we look for ways to increase climate resilience.” + Journal of Peace Research Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Study reveals where climate change is most likely to induce food violence

This gigantic floating Manta Ray could naturally purify Seouls river

June 12, 2017 by  
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What if our city infrastructure could also repair the damage we’ve done to nature? Vincent Callebaut’s Manta Ray is an experimental landscape design that aims to sustainably restore the natural environment in Seoul . Developed for an international competition, Manta Ray is a floating ferry terminal proposal that uses marshland plants to naturally purify the Han River and produces 100% of its energy needs through renewable sources. The Manta Ray is the latest design in Vincent Callebaut Architectures’ extensive portfolio of green utopian designs. His striking proposal for Seoul takes a multilayered approach to the landscape , beginning with the transformation of the existing Yeouido Park on the banks of the Han River into a “genuine cultural hub” reinforced with resilient design principals. A forest of willow trees is proposed for the park, as are marsh-like filtering strips to protect the banks against flooding . Pedestrian paths, large terraces, bicycle lanes, and an amphitheater would be added along the river. The Yeoui-Naru floating three-level ferry terminal juts out of the park and would be suspended above a marina and gardens. On the lower docks is a marina comprising linked steel dikes integrated with equipment to charge boats with water, electricity, and biofuels. Atop the marina is a flared, manta ray-shaped structure that houses the reception, leisure areas, food courts, exhibition space, and educational spaces. Tree-shaped structures made from cross-laminated timber sourced from “eco-responsible Korean forests” crown the building. The top-most level also includes an observation deck with views towards Ban island, as well as a rooftop orchard. Related: How the Cheonggyecheon River Urban Design Restored the Green Heart of Seoul The Manta Ray would produce all of its energy needs from a mix of renewable energy sources. The first includes solar energy harvested from 49,000 square feet of rooftop solar cells installed on the laminated glass facade, as well as 37,300 square feet of opaque photothermal panels. The 52 CLT trees are topped with wind turbines . Organic and biodegradable waste from Yeouido Park would be collected for use at a biomethanation plant to provide energy for Manta Ray, while oscillating-foils hydrokinetic turbines (HAO) would be integrated along the hull of the large floating barrier encircling the marina. “Seoul is finding new ways to invest in this kind of soft infrastructure, helping to foster social cohesion with a greater sense of community among diverse socio-economic groups,” writes Vincent Callebaut Architectures. “With an eye toward increasing equitable access for everyone to these new facilities, this floating vessel is an example of biophilic and resilient architecture, demonstrating that it is possible to build with nature rather than against it, by respecting the life of the river and allowing the local fauna and flora to flourish. The “Manta Ray” project promotes the permeability and renaturalization of river banks in cities with rivers running through them. The banks become new playgrounds for social innovation, and for urban “consumers-actors” seeking to promote urban farming, agroforestry and permaculture. The goal is to make them less vulnerable to climate change, and to the subsequent dramatic flood and urban heat island events witnessed over the past decades.” + Vincent Callebaut

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Naturally cooled Otunba Offices has a small footprint but a large social impact

June 9, 2017 by  
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This low-cost sustainable office building in Lagos, Nigeria, can be easily and affordably replicated anywhere in the world. With its minimal footprint and ample public space, the design allows work productivity to flourish while nurturing a sense of community. The innovative space by Domaine Public Architects  features passive house principles including natural ventilation and the clever use of vegetation to minimize energy use. Affordability and replicability were the main ideas behind the Otunba Offices, a new low-cost office building prototype that can be built anywhere with minimal financial impact on project budget. The building lessens its impact on the environment by minimizing its footprint and expanding upper floors. This design approach allowed the architects to form communal areas that communicate with the neighborhood and the city and provide multi-purpose areas for social interaction. Related: WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’ The project utilizes passive house principles to achieve a high energy performance. Its orientation provides natural shading, while a double layer of vegetation, flexible louvers and natural ventilation lower the reliance on mechanical cooling systems. The concept, currently under construction, has received commendation by the jury of AR Future Projects Awards, in the “Offices” category. + Domaine Public Architects Via v2com

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Naturally cooled Otunba Offices has a small footprint but a large social impact

Worlds most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid homeand you can stay overnight

June 8, 2017 by  
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The Phoenix House is a tiny off-grid home that truly befits its name. Rising from the ashes of the world’s most active volcano, this solar-powered abode built of recycled materials boasts spectacular views of the Hawaiian landscape. Available for rent on AirBnB , the Phoenix House promises an unforgettable, off-the-beaten track experience and is just a bike ride away from a 100-foot lava waterfall. The eco-friendly Phoenix House is the newest creation by ArtisTree , a green design studio with an impressive portfolio of beautiful, low-impact treehouses and vacation homes. Located at the base of Mauna Loa volcano next to Kilauea, the tiny 450-square-foot Phoenix House is a shining beacon of sustainability and is part of a regenerative, off-grid community compound. Created to symbolize the temporal nature of life, the Phoenix House merges visual elements from a modern beach farmhouse with the stark volcanic landscape. The building is clad in charred Shou Sugi Ban timber to blend into the surroundings as well as recycled rusted corrugated metal that represents hot lava. “We built this house with deep respect for Mother Earth. For that reason, you will find the design minimalist, the development footprint light, and the result is one with its surroundings,” said Will Beilharz, the designer of Phoenix House, who also spoke of the difficulties of building on a lava field with 30-mile-per-hour winds. Related: Solar-powered cylindrical treehouse in Mexico is made with sustainable bamboo Sustainability is a major focus of the tiny house design. In addition to its use of solar power and recycled materials, the Phoenix House also collects and reuses rainwater . The modern home is equipped with all the comforts of home, including electricity, high-speed wifi and hot showers. The home, which accommodates two on a queen bed, is available for rent on Airbnb for $111 a night . Guests also have access to a fully equipped kitchenette with a propane stove top, living area with a couch and desk, and a small dinette table. + ArtisTree

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Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

June 6, 2017 by  
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Some people may spend years designing their dream home, but one ambitious couple in Oregon has just spent years building their “extreme green dream home.” As beautiful as it is sustainable , the Desert Rain home by Tozer Design is a 2,236-square-foot net-zero structure that was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge’s green building criteria – the industry’s most stringent. The couple began to build their “conventional” dream home on the same 0.7 acre lot in 2008, but upon hearing about the Living Building Challenge in the fall of 2009, they made the painful decision to scrap their original plans and shoot for the challenge. The result is a beautiful estate made up of five buildings, including the main residence, a detached apartment, a second detached building that can be used as an office or guest space, and the home’s two garages. Related: California city could become the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S. The new construction began by repurposing materials from two aging mill houses that were previously on the lot. In addition to salvaging the existing materials, the team went far and beyond in finding sustainable, locally-sourced materials for the new home. In addition to the recovered wood already salvaged, reclaimed wood and FSC-certified lumber were brought in from the surrounding region. Additional materials were also specially made for the home’s green construction , such as the exterior plaster, which is almost entirely made out of local clay, straw, and sand. To conserve energy and costs whenever possible, other materials were constructed by the team by ordering and crafting the materials onsite. For example, rather than purchasing the items separately, a large roll of steel was ordered and cut onsite to construct the roofing, eaves, and rain gutters. Desert Rain is a power house of sustainability as well as energy efficiency . The home uses three renewable energy systems , including a solar array on the rooftop, a solar thermal drainage system that heats water and powers the hydronic floor system, and an innovative solar “hot air” system that is used to evaporate liquid from the home’s composting system. Given that the home is located in the arid high-desert region of Eastern Oregon, where the climate is dry and annual rainfall scarce, water conservation can be complicated for any homeowner. This made achieving the Net Zero Water criteria of the project a complicated task. However, using the unique layout of the five buildings, a rainwater collection system was conceived using the standing seam metal roofs to route rainwater through downspouts to the ground-level gravel filters to be used in the landscaping, which features mainly native plantings. + Tozer Design Via Living Future Photography by Chandler Photography

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Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

Nations tallest timber building to rise in Portland

June 6, 2017 by  
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The nation’s tallest wooden high-rise will soon take shape in Portland , Oregon. Funded by a $1.5 million-dollar award from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition , the innovative timber building, named Framework, will be built from domestically sourced and engineered wood products. LEVER Architecture designed the mixed-use high-rise as a beacon of sustainability with its use of low-carbon materials, green roof, and resilient design. Slated to begin construction this fall, the 12-story Framework building will comprise ground-floor bank and retail, five floors of office space, and five floors for 60 residential units with a mix of studios as well as one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Nearly half of the 90,000-square-foot building will be zoned for affordable housing. The mixed-use building will also be primarily built of cross laminated timber and is designed to be fire- and earthquake-resistant. In a Framework press release: “Beneficial State Bank, a triple bottom line community bank, teamed with project^, a values-based commercial real estate developer; and Home Forward, the public housing authority for Multnomah County, Oregon to reimagine their existing Pearl District property in Portland, Oregon into Framework, the nation’s first wood high-rise building. The building seeks to develop a model for a sustainable urban ecology by promoting social justice , sustainable building, and economic opportunity thus yielding broad advancement of these objectives at a national scale.” Related: Magnificent timber skyscraper will sequester carbon and add greenery to Bordeaux Framework, which is expected to complete construction in late 2018, will likely be the nation’s first timber high-rise building with wood from the ground-floor as well as the first with exposed wood in North America. The building is also expected to use significantly less energy than a traditional building of similar size and function with energy savings of 60 percent when compared to code and water savings exceeding 30 percent compared to code. Framework is also expected to result in 1,824 tons of carbon dioxide emission offsets, equivalent to taking 348 cars off the road for a year. + LEVER Architecture

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Shigeru Ban Architects unveil plans for the worlds tallest hybrid timber building

June 6, 2017 by  
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Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban just unveiled plans for the world’s tallest timber hybrid high-rise, the Terrace House . Slated for Vancouver’s Coal Harbour neighborhood, the angular structure will have multiple tiers of abundant greenery rising up through a latticework frame made out of locally-sourced timber . According to the design description, “meticulously engineered timber” will be used to create the building’s latticework frame , which will be interspersed with an abundance of greenery rising up from the ground floor. The proposed design will create not only the world’s largest timber hybrid structure, but will be a luminous icon for Vancouver’s growing cityscape. Ban’s proposed design will hold court right next to the city’s famed Evergreen Building , designed by late architect Arthur Erickson . Related: Nation’s largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability The stunning project, which will be led by Vancouver-based developer PortLiving , was carefully crafted by Ban to stand out for its cutting-edge design without taking away from the existing architecture, “We have brought together the best of the best – a team of true experts in creative collaboration, working together for the first time ever on a single project. The result is truly a once-in-a-lifetime project setting new standards in design and construction,” said Macario Reyes, founder and CEO of PortLiving. “Every detail has been considered right down to the specific foliage on the terraces. It only made sense to bring on Cornelia Oberlander to continue her vision and create continuity between the Evergreen Building by Arthur Erickson and Terrace House by Shigeru Ban.” Although Ban’s design is sure to be a stellar icon of timber architecture , it won’t be the city’s only wooden wonder; the world’s current tallest timber building, Brock Commons , was completed in Vancouver just last year. + Terrace House + Shigeru Ban Architects Via Archdaily Images via PortLiving

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