Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces death spiral

March 14, 2017 by  
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A new study reveals that the Amazon rainforest may face a “death spiral” of deforestation and drought over the next century. The data comes from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, and while the entire forest is unlikely to disappear from the face of the Earth, large parts of the region are currently considered to be at risk. The study explores what might happen as climate change causes the region to experience more frequent and more intense dry seasons. While it may seem obvious that reduced rainfall causes trees to die off and forests to shrink, it’s also been shown that forest loss intensified regional droughts as well. When these two factors occur together, it can cause a self-reinforcing feedback loop that could wipe out large portions of forest. Related: A student-designed drone is hunting illegal loggers in the Amazon Rainforest It’s unclear exactly how much of the Amazon is at risk – computer models show this type of forest dieback could threaten up to 38 percent of the Amazon basin. However, researchers stress that eventually most of the Amazon forest could potentially be at risk. The future isn’t completely without hope, however: the study also found that the more diverse an area’s vegetation is, the less susceptible it is to the effects of the feedback loop. So increasing biodiversity could be a vital tool in protecting the Amazon – and other vulnerable regions – from the worst effects of climate change . The full study has been published in the journal Nature Communications . Via The Independent Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces death spiral

Zero-carbon home generates income by making more energy than it needs

March 6, 2017 by  
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The home of the future could slash your utility bills and generate enough money to help pay the mortgage. UK firm Koru Architects designed and built one such house, named the Lloyd House, that’s effectively zero-carbon and runs entirely on renewable energy. Tucked away on a quiet street in England’s East Sussex, this contemporary home generates more energy than it consumes and even brings in a net income of £2650 per year from solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and a wood-chip biomass boiler. Completed in 2011 as a case study, the Lloyd House is a large and contemporary three-bedroom home that only consumes around half the energy of a typical UK household thanks to its use of passive solar design, energy efficient appliances, effective insulation, and high airtightness. The home was built with mostly natural materials including sustainably sourced timber for the cladding and flooring, zinc roofing, hemp and wood-fiber insulation, recycled glass in the kitchen countertops, and lime-based natural plants. Sedum plants carpet the roof to add an additional layer of insulation and provide habitat to local insects and birds. A 4,700-liter Freewater UK Elite rainwater harvesting system collects rainwater for reuse in irrigation, the washing machine, and the dual-flush toilets. The Lloyd House produces all the hot water it needs for domestic use and for the underfloor heating with a 6-kilowatt solar thermal system and a 10.5-kilowatt wood-pellet boiler. A twelve 340-kilowatt peak solar array provides around 3800 kilowatt-hour of electricity annually, which is more than it uses thanks to its energy-efficient measures. Excess energy is exported to the grid and, with the help of renewable heat incentive and feed-in-tariff schemes, the home brings in a net annual income of £2650 ($3,300 USD) after bills are subtracted. The house emits 93% less carbon dioxide equivalent than the average UK household. Related: Colorful wind-powered community in Scotland is everything an eco-village should be Constructed with passive solar principles, the airtight home is oriented towards the south with large areas of glazing to take advantage of the sun’s heat and natural lighting to reduce energy demand. High-level skylights also flood the interior with natural light. In addition to the three bedrooms, the home comprises a home office, two bathrooms, living room, utility room, open plan kitchen and dining area, garage, and garden. The spacious and comfortable interior is organized into split-levels to make the most of the sloped site. “The house is expected to last around 80 years, and through its generation of clean energy it is expected to offset 41 tonnes of carbon over its life,” write the architects. “Including the replacement of the renewable energy technologies, it would take 48 years to become entirely carbon-neutral.” The project was awarded the RIBA Download Prize 2011 in the category for sustainability and serves as a source of green inspiration for the community. + Koru Architects

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Zero-carbon home generates income by making more energy than it needs

A 10K tiny house 3D-printed in 24 hours

March 1, 2017 by  
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Building a house typically takes months, exacerbating the housing crisis so many people face worldwide. Apis Cor , a San Francisco-based company that specializes in 3D-printing , decided to tackle that crisis with a groundbreaking mobile 3D-printer that can print an entire 400-square-foot tiny home in just 24 hours. What’s more, doing so costs just over $10,000 – a steal compared to most modern homes. On their website, Apis Cor says the construction industry may be sluggish now, but they will persevere in disrupting that industry “until everyone is able to afford a place to live.” Their revolutionary mobile 3D-printer is small enough to be transported, so assembly and transportation costs can be slashed. Although their mobile printer only needs a day to print a home from a concrete mixture, the company says their buildings will last up to 175 years. Not only is their process speedy, but environmentally friendly and affordable too. Related: New 3D house printer cranks out 1,000 square feet a day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xktwDfasPGQ The Russian house offers a promising beginning. Located at the Apis Cor test facility in Stupino, around 60 miles south of Moscow, the home was printed as a whole rather than assembled with pre-printed pieces. Apis Cor printed components like the building envelope, self-bearing walls, and partitions right on location. Winter couldn’t even stand in the little mobile printer’s way. Apis Cor printed the home last December, which was no big deal for their printer because it can function in temperatures down to negative 31 degrees Fahrenheit. The concrete mixture does require temperatures above 41 degrees Fahrenheit, however, so Apis Cor erected a tent over the tiny house site to plunge forward in cold weather. White decorative plaster finished the tiny home’s exterior, allowing the team to paint it in bright colors. The interior is bright and furnished with modern appliances from Samsung. In total, the house cost $10,134, or around $275 per square foot. + Apis Cor Via Curbed Images via Apis Cor

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A 10K tiny house 3D-printed in 24 hours

Robotically woven hexagonal pavilion heralds revolution in architecture

March 1, 2017 by  
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An exciting fusion between robotics and architecture is on the rise, and the potential of digital fabrication is wonderfully expressed in the stunning Elytra Filament Pavilion. Designed by a team at the University of Stuttgart , the robotically woven structure is now on view at Germany’s Vitra Design Museum after its premiere at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London . The experimental pavilion is an artistic exploration between architecture, engineering, and biomimicry principles, weaving carbon fiber into fibrous structures inspired by beetles. Installed as part of the Vitra’s “Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine” exhibition, the 200-square-meter Elytra Filament Pavilion shows off the power of robotics in architecture. The University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) developed a unique robotic fabrication technique to create the pavilion’s 40 modular hexagonal units, each of which weigh 45 kilograms and take about three hours to make. A computer algorithm determined the pavilion’s design, which was then produced with the help of a robot. Taking cues from the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the computer-programmed Kuka robot spun resin-soaked glass and carbon fibers into hexagonal scaffolds and densely wound fibers into the canopy. The entire pavilion weighs 2.5 tonnes and is “exceptionally lightweight,” weighing less than 9 kilograms per square meter. Related: Robots weave an insect-inspired carbon-fiber forest in London “With Elytra Filament Pavilion we aim to celebrate a truly contemporary and integrative approach to design, engineering and production, resulting in a distinctive spatial and aesthetic experience,” said Achim Menges, an architect behind the project. “The canopy grows in response to real-time sensing data, showcasing the profound impact of emerging technologies and related new alliances between the fields of design, engineering and natural science. Through this we seek to provide visitors with a unique experience that offers a glimpse of novel architectural and engineering possibilities, which may transform our built environment in the future.” + University of Stuttgart Images by Julien Lanoo

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Robotically woven hexagonal pavilion heralds revolution in architecture

Oregon Ducks hit a home run with ber-green Jane Sanders Stadium

February 27, 2017 by  
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The Oregon Ducks hit a home run recently with the addition of the Jane Sanders Stadium, a svelte new home for the university’s softball team that’s designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. As a beautiful example of sustainable stadium design, the sports venue features materials with high recycled content, prefabricated construction, and an energy reduction of 35 percent over the Oregon Energy Code. SRG Partnership designed the sustainably minded stadium that perfectly captures the Oregon Ducks spirit. Completed last year, the nearly 200,000-square-foot Jane Sanders Stadium was created as a gift from Robert Sanders and named in honor of his late wife. While sustainability and functionality were priorities in the design, so was brand integration. The University of Oregon’s identifying colors of green and yellow define the 1,500 fixed-seat stadium’s color palette. A canopy clad in home plate-shaped plywood pieces that sits above the prefabricated seating bowl and concourse serves as the iconic focal point, while its wing-like shape alludes to ducks in flight. Related: Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium to be NFL’s first-ever LEED Platinum venue The new stadium is integrated with the campus through enhanced pedestrian connections. The former ballpark’s history is also honored through the restoration of the historic Howe Gates that mark the entrance to the new public plaza from University Street. SRG Partnership designed the stadium to achieve LEED Gold certification and meet the university’s Oregon Model for Sustainable Development. In addition to a significant energy reduction over the Oregon Energy Code, the building also reduces water usage by 37 percent thanks to low-flow fixtures and smart irrigation practices. + SRG Partnership Via ArchDaily Images © Lawrence Anderson

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Oregon Ducks hit a home run with ber-green Jane Sanders Stadium

Tiny meditation shelters are the perfect place for hikers to connect with the forest

February 20, 2017 by  
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These tiny  meditation shelters offer protection and a place to rest for hikers exploring the Lithuanian forests. The shelters are a place where people can find solitude to reconnect with nature and find harmony with the environment. A slithering stone pathway that weaves throughout the forest garden was inspired by a Lithuanian fairy tale about serpents. The project, named Gapahuk, is part of a larger Meditation Garden designed by Bjørnådal Arkitektstudio which won the American Architecture Prize 2016. Used for individual meditation and as a place where hikers can rest and get warm, this cluster of shelters was built during the Human Birdhouse Workshop in Lithuania last August. The team cleared a forest clearing and shaped pathways that naturally weave in and around the garden. Two fireplaces installed in front of the shelters are surrounded with sitting areas. Holy stones added to the site look like totems of masculine and feminine origin, while a symbolic stone pathway represents a Lithuanian fairy tale about serpents. Related: FORÊT II is a Meditation Pavilion Made from 810 Reclaimed Shipping Pallets The workshop took place on the property of famous Lithuanian children books author, poet and film/theatre director Vytautas V. Landsbergis. The idea was to design and build architecture in the style of Constructive Shamanism, which brings together architects, builders and spiritual practitioners to strengthen and reveal the connection between humans and nature. References to Lithuanian mythology dominate the project, with visitors participating in spiritual ceremonies and singing mantras around a bonfire. + Bjørnådal Arkitektsudio Via v2com Lead photo by Lidija Kaleinikovaite

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Tiny meditation shelters are the perfect place for hikers to connect with the forest

Architects use earthen berms to tuck a central reservoir inside tiered office space

February 20, 2017 by  
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Mumbai-based Sanjay Puri Architects have designed an office space concept with a beautiful reservoir as the heart of the design. Inspired by the traditional stepped wells that provide water for India’s severely parched communities, the design incorporates a natural recess found in the landscape to optimize the Reservoir’s natural water collection  abilities. As part of a 95-acre planned community development, the Reservoir is designed to connect a residential and commercial area in India’s arid Rajasthan state. Like most of India, water is a precious resource, and more so in this region where temperatures reach an excess of 100 ° F for eight months of the year. Related: Ghostly ruins of a 400-year-old church rise from the waters of a Mexican reservoir Using the natural topography of the landscape, the architects planned the design around an existing cavity in the ground. This was strategic to let the reservoir naturally fill with water almost year round, eliminating the need for additional water source. Any runoff  water is collected and supports the water supply for the entire complex. The structure itself is supported into green-covered earthen berms, which create the perimeter of the design. Solar panels are installed on these berms, which have cutouts that lead to underground parking. Six floors of office space follow the site’s natural rising topography surrounding the pool, creating a natural open-air terrace for each office. The recessed water design actively lowers the temperature of the immediate microclimate, creating a pleasant work environment while minimalizing energy use. On the interior, large floor-to-ceiling windows allow for optimal natural light, which also reduces the need for artificial lighting. + Sanjay Puri Architects Via Architect Magazine Images via Sanjay Puri Architects

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Architects use earthen berms to tuck a central reservoir inside tiered office space

North Korea’s ‘Hotel of Doom’ is the world’s largest abandoned building

February 16, 2017 by  
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This pyramid-shaped building in North Korea was once a contender for the tallest hotel in the world – but construction was interrupted in 1989 and it became the world’s largest abandoned building instead. The notorious 105-story Ryugyong Hotel – frequently referred to as the “Hotel of Doom” – could come to life after all, as Egyptian company Orascom fired the project back up again in 2008. The structure, designed by Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers, first broke ground in 1987 in Pyongyang, North Korea. It was supposed to open in 1989, two years later after the frame was finished. Work stopped in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union (an ally and backer), and the hotel remained unfinished , looming over the North Korean capital. Related: Abandoned Floating McDonalds to Be Given New Life As a Marina in Canada In 2008, an Egyptian company took over the hotel and began adding exterior glass in the hope of finishing the project. Reports say that the interior has no plumbing or electricity, and it could require another $2 billion to finish. As of late construction on the hotel has stopped again, leaving the fate of the hotel unresolved. Photos via Wikimedia Commons

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North Korea’s ‘Hotel of Doom’ is the world’s largest abandoned building

Ship-like Hidden Pavilion uses the surrounding forest like a protective envelope

February 15, 2017 by  
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This ship-like pavilion in Spain reconciles the openness of glass architecture and the need for privacy. Penelas Architects designed the Hidden Pavilion as a quiet retreat that protects its occupants not through the use of curtains or blinds, but by treating the surrounding forest as a kind of natural envelope. The pavilion is nestled in a forest glade just northwest of Madrid, Spain . Its isolated location allowed the architects to completely open up the building toward the surroundings and draw maximum natural light into its interior. Designed to become one with nature, the building incorporates an existing 200-year-old oak tree, along with younger trees, to grow through gaps in its terraced areas. Related: Kengo Kuma unveils “blossoming” glass and timber villas for Bali With a floor space of 753 square feet spread over two floors, the pavilion includes a veranda and a rooftop terrace that overlook the surrounding forest. Natural materials , steel and glass are combined to create a kind of industrial appearance of an ocean liner that, instead of oceans, navigates the lush landscapes of central Spain. + Penelas Architects Via New Atlas Photos by Miguel de Guzmán + Rocio Romero

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Ship-like Hidden Pavilion uses the surrounding forest like a protective envelope

Mian Farm Cottage is a lush getaway from city life with an on-site farm

February 14, 2017 by  
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Tucked in a grapefruit grove in Vietnam sits the Mian Farm Cottage, a remodeled home that features ample green space, tons of social areas and its very own on-site farm. The cottage was constructed in just two months and was designed by Idee Architects with thoughtful techniques to make the home efficient and welcoming. The cottage owners wanted to create a space away from the city where they could connect with nature and entertain their family and friends. To emphasize a connection to nature, the designers used lots of open glass walls to bring in natural light, while protecting the interior from heat gain with massive awnings that extend over a gathering-friendly patio. Related: A lush curtain of greenery provides privacy for this sprawling home in Vietnam The cottage features two main units, with the first hosting the living, dining and kitchen areas. This space was built on the existing foundation. The second section makes up the private spaces, including the bedrooms. The home seems to float in its environment and is sheltered by existing trees and bushes. The massive windows give inhabitants the perfect view of the nearby Ba Vi mountain. In order to conserve resources and improve the ease of construction, the building was created out of steel, which enabled builders to construct the entire cottage in just two months. The steel frame also lowered costs over a concrete building. Much of the finishing was completed using a local material called laterite. + Idee Architects via Archdaily

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Mian Farm Cottage is a lush getaway from city life with an on-site farm

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