3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

April 10, 2019 by  
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Traditionally, most jewelry has always been made out of some type of metal: silver, gold, bronze or copper. Mining for precious metals and gemstones often causes environmental damage, ranging from water pollution to greenhouse gas emissions to soil erosion. Today, however, those looking to decorate themselves with shiny baubles have a new option —  eco-friendly, 3D-printed jewelry. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Winter Hill Jewelry is an innovative, family-run company that makes beautiful and affordable 3D-printed earrings and necklaces out of plant-based plastic . Winter Hill Jewelry is the brainchild of Vanessa Templeman, a mother of two who started experimenting with her family’s 3D printer at home. The printer had been used to print toys for the kids, but soon Templeman decided to do something a bit more creative. After initially drawing and designing her pieces by hand, she then updated to Tinkercard to help streamline the process, which ends with beautiful 3D models of her designs. Related: Elle turns E-waste into unique and eye-catching jewelry According to Templeman, the 3D printing process not only allows her to create and manufacture her own designs, but has also opened up a niche in the jewelry market for eco-friendly designs. Focused on having minimal environment impact, the company uses a full-cycle system that is set up to reduce waste throughout the manufacturing process. Instead of using regular plastic that is made from fossil fuels, for example, they use PLA, a plant-based plastic that is compostable. While they try to reduce waste as much as possible, any remnants left over from the production process can be easily recycled. Additionally, the Flash Forge Creator Pro 3D printers used by Winter Hill Jewelry are fully powered by solar-generated energy . Once the jewelry is printed, they are displayed on cards made out of 100 percent recycled paper and shipped in biodegradable bubble wrap. As an additional way to use its product for good, the company has a special collection that includes a “Cuterus” line of pins and earrings. Portions from the sale of these items are donated to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center OB. + Winter Hill Jewelry Images via Winter Hill Jewelry

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3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

Ioncell technology creates eco-textile clothing fibers from birch trees

April 9, 2019 by  
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With clothing production leading the world as one of the highest-polluting industries, a new fiber contradicts the earth-damaging qualities of traditional materials. Ioncell technology , developed at Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, uses a range of materials, including wood, recycled newspaper, cardboard and old cotton to make fabric. This is good news for an environment scarred by cotton production and the development of synthetic fibers. The new and improved material can also be recycled at the end of its life cycle, significantly reducing clothing waste . In a country already acutely aware of sustainable practices in forest management, the trees sourced from Finland offer a much lower carbon footprint than traditional clothing. Ioncell materials also protect the water supply by using ionic liquid in place of harsh chemicals. Related: The convenience of “highway fitting” your clothes is hurting the planet While the designers focus on sustainable sourcing and manufacturing, the clothing also avoids contributing to a massive post-consumer waste problem. That’s because the fibers are biodegradable. Additionally, the fibers do not contain any harmful microfibers now associated with massive ocean pollution and damage to sea life. Sourced from birch trees , the wood is responsibly harvested as part of a forest management program that grows more trees than they harvest. Once cut into smaller logs, the wood is sent through a machine that turns it into large chips. At this phase, the chips are sent to the cooker and then turned into sheets of pulp. The pulp is then mixed with the ionic liquid that results in a cellulose material. Fibers are then spun into yarn and turned into fabric. Designers and researchers involved in the project report that the resulting material is soft and drapes naturally, making it a good choice for formalwear, coats, scarves, gloves and other products. It also accepts dye well. The process for making Ioncell fibers is still in the research and development phase and they currently only produce it on a small scale, but they are hoping to unveil a preliminary product line as early as 2020. + Aalto University Via World Economic Forum Images via Aalto University

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Ioncell technology creates eco-textile clothing fibers from birch trees

An earth-bermed hobbit house with two glass arches hits the market for $190,000

March 6, 2019 by  
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While some mistakenly believe that earth-bermed architecture is a passing fad, the truth is that the practice of building homes deep into the landscape is one of the most ancient forms of shelter construction. Luckily for anyone looking to live in one of these energy-efficient abodes, a gorgeous two-bedroom hobbit home covered with 8 inches of earth and native vegetation is on the market for just $190,000. Located on 3.4 acres of densely wooded forest in River Falls, Wisconsin, the two-bedroom, two-bath hobbit house is a beautiful example of earth-bermed construction done right. Designed by architect Mike McGuire, the 2,236-square-foot home is covered with 8 inches of earth and topped with natural vegetation. The design of the energy-efficient “sod house” with two arched glass openings was created to mimic the rolling landscape of the countryside that surrounds it. Related: 14 delightfully tiny hobbit homes The hobbit home ‘s structural base includes a series of arching steel culverts that not only gives the unique structure a flowing silhouette, but it also creates a durable frame that can withstand the weight of the earth. Asphalt damp-proofing and a plastic sheet were placed on the curved roofs to provide additional waterproofing. In addition to its practical purposes, the arched culverts also elevate the interior ceilings significantly to open up the living space. Along with the extra high and wide arches, the living area includes all-white walls and various skylights that flood the interior with natural light . Although the design is visually appealing, it also boasts a number of incredibly efficient passive features . The thick layers of soil that envelope the structure help maintain a stable interior temperature, conserving energy year-round. Additionally, masonry brick fireplaces were built into every room. Because brick heats up quickly and retains heat, the fireplaces provide a warm and cozy interior throughout the year. + Edina Realty Via Curbed Images via Dale Antiel, Edina Realty Inc.

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An earth-bermed hobbit house with two glass arches hits the market for $190,000

This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation

March 1, 2019 by  
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Rammed earth is a building technique that uses packed raw materials from the earth like gravel, sand, silt or clay to build walls and foundations. Casa Lasso, designed by Rama Estudio in San Jose, Ecuador utilized the rammed earth approach (or “tapial”) to create five strong walls made of natural elements to both protect the home from strong winds and improve the thermal quality inside the home. The rammed earth provides added support for the wooden-beamed roof every 70 centimeters. Glass windows make up the upper closures of the structure, giving the entire area the potential for  sunlight  to shine through and light up the living areas. Speaking of living areas, there is room for six beds, all built into the rammed earth framework, in the communal area. There is also a master bedroom with pivoting panels to either integrate or close off the spaces. Much of the furniture and shelving in the kitchen and bedroom is built into the structured wall, ensuring that no space is wasted, no matter how small. The designers built the rustic fireplace into the lowest part of the home, with the intention of creating a centralized space that would “embrace” the area. Casa Lasso also uses a waste management system that connects solids and liquids into an internal irrigation and fertilizer network, meaning that there is no sewage system. Using pivoting panels, occupants have the option of closing the doors for added warmth and security or creating an extended and almost unblocked view of the outdoor area beyond the property. The area around the house is surrounded by eucalyptus plantations, making the land arid and soil difficult to grow in. Designers chose to plant native species in small landscaped islands throughout the property in order to combat this dilemma. As a result of the rammed earth building technique, Casa Lasso maintains an organic color. The combination of brown earth tones from the wooden panels, the large beams making up the roof and natural stone work makes this home blend in beautifully with the native landscape. + RAMA Estudio Via ArchDaily Photography by Jag Studio and  Andrés Villota via RAMA Estudio

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This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation

An elegant car center in Thailand is made from 8 repurposed shipping containers

February 28, 2019 by  
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Thailand-based firm Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated has repurposed eight old shipping containers into a beautiful car center in the Thai city of Nonthaburi, a suburb of Bangkok. The elegant, light-filled building is made up of four small containers and four larger models, which were arranged strategically to fit into a very compact and narrow corner lot. When the owners of an existing building on the same site approached the architects with the desire to expand their car care business, the designers immediately went to work strategizing the best way to build on the 3,000-square-foot lot, which was quite long and narrow. Accordingly, the team decided to create a custom vertical design that would make the most out of the space without overwhelming the streetscape. Their solution was to use several repurposed shipping containers to create a three-story building that could serve as a flexible, multi-purpose space for years to come. Related: Shipping container food halls slated to revitalize Southern California neighborhoods The ground floor was designed to house the overflow business of the existing car company and for extra storage. Although the space is currently empty, a restaurant and bar are planned for the second floor. The third floor was turned into a light-filled office space. An outdoor staircase lets visitors head up to the upper floors without entering the car storage area. The arrangement of the containers was based on a two-fold strategy: to make the most out of the space provided and to optimize the amount of natural light. The design also revolved around a number of passive features, including metal sunshades that were installed on the west façade and the roof to reflect the sunlight and provide shade from the blaring Thai heat. Additionally, the architects painted the exterior of the building in a matte black, not only as a way of blending it into the urban surroundings but also to reduce solar radiation . By contrast, the interior spaces were painted a bright white that modernizes the industrial design. + Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated Via Archdaily Photography by Chaovarith Poonphol Photography via Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated

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An elegant car center in Thailand is made from 8 repurposed shipping containers

Baux unveils sustainable acoustic panels made out of chemical-free pulp

February 22, 2019 by  
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Acoustic products manufacturer  Baux has just unveiled a truly innovative design for some stylish, plant-based acoustic panels. Made out of chemical-free pulp material sourced from sustainably harvested Swedish pine and fir trees, the decorative Baux Acoustic Pulp panels can be used to soundproof various environments such as homes, restaurants office spaces, classrooms and more. Launched during this year’s Stockholm Design Week, the eco-friendly Baux Acoustic Pulp panels were made possible through a collaboration between Baux, Swedish industrial design studio  Form Us With Love and scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). The revolutionary design was based on more than 25 years of research, utilizing state-of-the art technology while keeping material usage to a minimum. Related: Beautiful sound-absorbing EchoPanels are made from recycled plastic bottles The panels are made through a complex process that is similar to making paper. The process begins with wood from sustainably harvested Swedish pine and fir trees. Cellulosic fibers from the wood are broken down into a liquid cellulose to form a chemical-free pulp. The material is then modified to be fire- and water-repellent. The result is an extremely resilient material that is durable and suitable for any number of environments. But not all of its design is practical functionality; the panels are also quite decorative. At the end of its manufacturing process, the pulp is colored with non-genetically modified wheat bran, giving the panels a pleasant neutral and natural hue that is suitable for almost any interior design scheme. Currently, the panels come in three patterns: Sense, Pulse, and Energy, which are all cut using advanced laser-cutting technology. The company is reportedly planning to experiment with other natural dyes such as lingonberries, blueberries and beetroot. According to Baux CEO Fredrik Franzon, the innovative design of the eco-friendly panels is completely in line with the company’s commitment to creating building materials that are “sustainable, surprisingly functional and remarkably beautiful.” “In the face of climate change , environmental pollution and excessive consumerism, we as an industry can no longer afford to ignore the part we play,” Franzon explained. “Designing and prototyping for the future is not enough. We need to create a sustainable future today. The Acoustic Pulp sound absorbing panel is the result of our deep commitment to this vision.” + Baux + Form Us With Love Via Dezeen Images via Baux

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Oil rig off South Korea’s coast to become a floating hotel that operates on tidal energy

February 13, 2019 by  
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As today’s urban planners are struggling on how to integrate renewable energy into existing infrastructure, some forward-thinking architects are making the task much easier. Beijing-based firm Margot Krasojevi? Architecture has just released a design that would see an existing oil rig in South Korea’s coast converted into a futuristic lighthouse hotel whose organic flowing form would be installed with pivoting turbines to harness tidal energy to power the hotel. The lighthouse hotel is slated for an area off the coast of mainland South Korea near the island of Jeju, which is only accessible by boat. Currently there is an existing oil rig floating in the water, which will be repurposed into a large platform support for the lighthouse hotel. Related: This futuristic energy-positive hotel will harness power from the tides The hotel’s design will be comprised of multiple flowing volumes made out of layered aluminum surfaces and a series of partly inflated membrane sections. These materials were chosen for not only their durability, but also their light weight. In case of emergency or rogue waves, the airlock sections split apart and float. Wrapped around the structure’s main core, a number of flipwing turbines will harvest the tidal power. As seawater crashes over surfaces, the turbines will pivot in accordance with the wind and wave motion, converting kinetic water energy into electrical energy. According to the architect, the turbines will generate enough clean energy to run the hotel and the structure’s desalination filters. Any surplus energy will be stored. The lighthouse hotel’s interior will have three main sections, the guest rooms, the lobby and various social areas. The lantern room, which is at the top of the hotel will have a Fresnel glass lantern that projects light rays out to the sea. The refracted light will also beam through the interior of the hotel, creating a vibrant, light-filled atmosphere. + Margot Krasojevi? Architecture Images via Margot Krasojevi? Architecture

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Oil rig off South Korea’s coast to become a floating hotel that operates on tidal energy

Concrete fins protect this visitor center from rising tides

February 12, 2019 by  
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When the Hampshire County Council’s Property Services decided to build a new visitor center on the coastal area of Lepe Country Park on the England’s south coast, it knew that it had to create a design with several resilient features . The building needed to withstand the area’s brutal natural elements and rising sea levels. Guests to the historic area can now enjoy a bite to eat in the Lookout, an elongated wooden and glass center surrounded by a row of concrete fins that will help protect the building against future rising tides. The design of the visitor center was strategically planned to provide a place where visitors and tourists could stop in to enjoy a bite to eat while taking in the incredible views of the sea. According to the architects, the building also had to be constructed to withstand the current and future climate conditions. “From the outset, it was important that the building had composure in an environment that can be both beautiful and brutal,” said the council’s design manager Martin Hallum. Related: Sleek fiberglass visitor center is a beacon for wind energy in Denmark The building’s elongated volume is comprised of two connected horizontal boxes with the front box containing the main dining area. The box at the rear houses the service areas including the restaurant’s kitchen, the administration offices, meeting spaces and a visitor information point. The center is clad in wooden panels, with the front area punctuated with a series of windows that let in ample natural light . The building’s large sloping roof hangs over the exterior walls, providing shade during the summer months and protection from inclement weather. A wooden open-air deck wraps around the sides of the structure, leading out to the east- and west-facing terraces. Picnic tables surround the building for those wanting to enjoy dining al fresco. + Hampshire County Council’s Property Services Via Dezeen Photography by Jim Stephenson via Hampshire County Council’s Property Services

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Concrete fins protect this visitor center from rising tides

This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden

February 11, 2019 by  
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The Shoreham House in Victoria, Australia was designed in the early 2000’s, but was in need of an update to the overall structure and gardens. The new architects wanted to update the home with sustainability in mind while respecting the original designers and builders. According to Tim Spicer Architects, “The renovation and addition needed a sensitive, well considered approach to create unity between the old and the new, without the obvious signature of new Architects. The design intent was to update what was already a beautiful house, yet make it feel like it had been built at the same time.” The new landscape takes full advantage of the lush surroundings, something that went slightly overlooked in the original design. It utilizes a deep water bore to provide water to the gardens, rather than using the local town water to irrigate. The 50-meter bore has the power to provide the landscape with 20,000 liters of water in a day. In addition to the sustainable garden, the architects also replaced the old halogen lighting in the house with new LED lighting, which is more energy efficient and longer-lasting. The new hot water system is solar-powered, and the windows have new Low-E coating which works to minimize the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light without losing visibility. They also installed new eco-friendly high R-value insulation and a new ducted combustion fireplace to make the structure more energy efficient overall. Related: A midcentury warehouse becomes a vibrant office for creatives Designers faced the difficult task of connecting the new guest wing to the master area without compromising privacy. As a result, they created a whole new staircase leading from the dining room and past the master staircase. The project was a challenging feat for the builders who used hand tools to blast through the bedrock under the house in order to construct the second staircase. To connect the master and newly-designed guest wings, the architects created a glazed bridge walkway, make-shifting a courtyard garden area with new meandering paths and green spaces. The house now has new large windows and glazed doors that allow for beautiful, sweeping views of the gardens from the inside. In the original house, the master area deck already had views of the ocean . With the intent of making the view more accessible to guests, the architects installed a “slow stair” between the master deck and ground floor courtyard. Via Archdaily Images via Tim Spicer Architects

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This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden

Reimagine a resilient future with this nature-based tool

January 30, 2019 by  
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Most Americans have personally experienced a federally declared, weather-related disaster in the last decade. In fact, the number is 96 percent of the population. Both science and personal testimonies indicate that extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency.  Naturally Resilient Communities  is an interactive website that allows users to explore successful examples of nature-based solutions to reduce risks and re-imagine a resilient and connected future for their own communities. The guide, launched in 2017, provides case studies and funding suggestions for urban planners interested in learning how to implement specific ecosystem-based strategies that address pervasive challenges such as flooding, sea level rise and coastal erosion. Naturally Resilient Communities is a partnership between the American Planning Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Association of State Floodplain Managers, the Environmental and Water Resources Institute, the National Association of Counties, The Nature Conservancy and Sasaki Associates, with funding from the Kresge Foundation. What are nature-based solutions? Nature-based solutions, according to the site, are strategies that “use natural systems, mimic natural processes or work in tandem with traditional approaches to address specific hazards.” Ideally less expensive and destructive than “over-engineered” infrastructure, such as concrete sea walls, natural solutions protect and restore ecosystems that effectively filter and redirect storm water while providing additional benefits to nearby communities. For example, a healthy coastal marsh can reduce storm waves by up to 50 percent, and therefore provides a protective buffer for homes, businesses and infrastructure along the coast. In addition, marshes are an important habitat for birds , fish and other wildlife and can be used for recreational biking and walking trails. In turn, access to urban parks increases property values. It’s a win-win-win for the community, nature and the economy. “Investing in nature is both a viable way to adapt to climate change and a good way for the community to create the kind of future they want to live in,” Nate Woiwode of The Nature Conservancy told Inhabitat in an interview. “It is smart investing across the board.” Related: Bronx community garden transformed with sustainable improvements Naturally Resilient Communities provides more than 20 suggestions of natural solutions and 30 case studies from cities and towns that successfully use them. The target audience is urban and rural planners or decision makers and the teams that support them. The guide has been utilized throughout North America and the world to engage residents and visualize smart climate action that takes nature and communities’ needs into account. Other examples of solutions include preserving floodplains and upstream watersheds, rather than paving and developing within feet of a river. Healthy river ecosystems allow space for natural, upstream flooding in times of heavy rain and reduce catastrophic flooding in urban areas downstream. The online tool allows users to specify and filter their searches based on hazard, region, type of community (eg. rural or urban) and implementation price range. Users can click on various solutions displayed on a visual coastal landscape graphic to learn more about the benefits. Nature-based solutions include: Parks and preserves Restoration of marsh, reef, sea grass, beach or mangroves Relocation of homes and businesses in flood-prone areas Flood bypass Horizontal levees Flood water detention basins Trees and vegetation throughout streets, parking lots or roofs Bioswales Rain gardens Horizontal levees , for example, integrate marsh land with a below-ground concrete wall. This alternate approach to a traditional concrete wall provides a natural buffer zone, reduces the size, cost and maintenance of the hard structure and provides natural habitat with recreational opportunities, such as birding trails. The partnership behind the online tool hopes that by making the benefits clear and accessible, municipalities will feel empowered and motivated to integrate nature into their adaptation and development plans. Green spaces build a sense of community, slow down and redirect storm water, improve water and air quality, sequester carbon and reduce heat radiating from concrete during hot summers. Natural habitats provide shelter for a variety of species, increasing biodiversity, ecotourism and commercially important fisheries. Related: Sean Parker’s wedding violations result in new app for California coastline Numerous studies also indicate a profoundly positive psychological impact of nature and access to green spaces, including increased physical activity and health. One study from California indicated that 90 percent of minor crimes occurred in places where residents had no access to vegetated areas. Facing both rising urgency and increasing public support, cities and towns are interested in implementing sustainability measures but almost always lack information and funding. In addition to case studies and links for more resources, the online tool also provides suggestions for different funding strategies. “Counties are on the front lines of emergency response and preparedness,” said Sally Clark, president of the National Association of Counties, in a press release . “And we’re pursuing forward-thinking measures to mitigate risk and foster local resiliency. The Naturally Resilient Communities project helps us leverage natural and other resources to make our neighborhoods safer and more secure.” + Naturally Resilient Communities Images via Robert Jones , Lubos Houska and Free Photos

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