Technicolor greenhouse in Tokyo converts into pulsating light show when plants are touched

October 25, 2017 by  
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Although dancing in most greenhouses might be inappropriate in most cases, the fun Digital Vegetables installation in Tokyo is enticing visitors to bust a groove among the greenery. Created by Tokyo design company, Party , the installation is a digitally-equipped greenhouse filled with plants that set off a disco-like light and sound show when touched. Located in Tokyo’s Midtown’s garden space, the installation is part of the Design Touch event, whose 2017 theme is unsurprisingly “touch”. The Digital Vegetable (“Digi Vege” as its known locally) is a fun greenhouse pavilion filled with seven different kinds of veggies. The tags on the veggies invite visitors to gently touch the plant, which is connected digitally to a programmed system that immediately triggers a series of vibrant lights and ambient sounds that run though the pavilion. Related: NASA unveils inflatable greenhouse for sustainable farming on Mars The idea behind the interactive installation is to encourage people to consider the shapes and sounds that make up the hidden ecosystem of plants . “Start off by touching the 7 types of lives now growing strong in the soil,” says Naoki Ito, the design’s project leader. “Then, bathe in the design of vegetables, enhanced by videos and sounds.” As for the accompanying soundtrack, sound designer Ray Kunimoto created a melody by mixing orchestra instrumentals with actual recordings of rubbing seeds, touching leaves, and eating fruits. He explains: “Tomatoes are violin, carrots are trumpet, cabbages are oboe, mini radishes are flute, sweet potatoes are piano, eggplants are harp, pumpkins are clarinet”. + Digital Vegetable + Party Via This is Colossal Images via Digital Vegetables

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Technicolor greenhouse in Tokyo converts into pulsating light show when plants are touched

13 innovative, thought-provoking designs that broke new ground at the London Design Festival

October 20, 2017 by  
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Design weeks around the world tend to be dominated by refined furnishings , sleek products , and glitzy lighting – but some of the most interesting works are those that challenge our assumptions about what design is – and what it can be. Independent designers and aspiring students are the masters of this realm, as they’re not afraid to push the envelope and experiment with wild ideas, new materials and novel techniques. Read on for 13 of the most innovative, though-provoking designs we spotted at this year’s London Design Festival . Flywheel by Carlo Lorenzetti Designer Carlo Lorenzetti thinks that we are losing touch with the significance of energy in our daily lives – so he’s created a massive earthenware Flywheel that makes you work for your electricity. The monolithic USB charger generates power as you spin the wheel, but it’ll takes hours and hours to fully charge a cellphone. As above, so below by Kirstie van Noot and Xandra van der Eijk Did you know that 37,000 to 78,000 tons of stardust falls on the earth’s surface every year? Dutch designers Kirstie van Noot and Xandra van der Eijk have set out to harvest this rare material – by collecting it from the rooftops of houses in the Netherlands. Their project As above, so below showcases the micrometeorites they have found, and suggests ways that these precious materials can be used. Trashpresso by Pentatonic Trashpresso is the world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant. Designed by Pentatonic , the micro factory transforms plastic bottles into architectural tiles right before your eyes. 0.6 Chair by Joachim Froment What’s the absolute minimum amount of material needed to create a chair? That’s what Joachim Froment sought to find out – and his answer is the 0.6 Chair. Froment developed an innovative production process to create a sturdy, super lightweight seat made from just 0.6 cm of wood veneer and carbon fiber. Plasma Rock by Inge Sluijs Some say that the world has entered a new geological period called the Anthropocene , which is marked by human influence on the environment. This idea inspired Inge Sluijs to harvest detritus from landfills and transform it into Plasma Rock – a new material made from 100% recycled waste. Bottles Collection by Klaas Kuiken Klaas Kuiken gives fantastic new forms to common green bottles by wrapping them with wire, heating them in an oven, and blowing air into them with a compressor. The results are surprising, sculptural vases that bear little resemblance to their previous form. Living Surface Carpet by Lizan Freijsen Most people want to avoid stains and mildew in their homes – but Lizan Freijsen revels in these signs of decay. The Dutch designer has created an incredible collection of soft, woolen rugs that celebrate the rich colors found in mosses, lichens, and other living natural phenomena. Nose to Tail Table by Nanna Kiil This “Nose to Tail” table appears to have a typical terrazzo surface – but a closer look reveals that it’s actually made of by-products from the livestock industry. Designer Nanna Kiil sought to discover whether consumers can stomach a salami-esque table that incorporates pig parts that would otherwise be discarded. It’s a challenging, provocative piece that serves up the stark realities of our industrial food system. Splatware by Granby Workshop Ceramic tableware is usually turned on a wheel – but Granby Workshop has found away to make amazing plates and mugs by using a hydraulic press to squish colorful mounds of clay! Their experimental SPLATWARE combines industrial techniques with handcrafted elements for spontaneous, creative results. LOKAL by Space10 What will the farm of the future look like? Future living lab Space10 set up a vertical hydroponic farm in the middle of London and invited passersby to try tasty food grown on-site. Over the course of six days their LOKAL pop-up served 2,000 salads made with microgreens and protein-rich spirulina microalgae. On Reflection by Lee Broom Lee Broom ‘s London Design Festival installation boggles the mind. The mirror in this room is not what it seems – walk in front of it, and you won’t see your reflection. The trick? It’s actually a window to an identical room! Fish Skin Textiles by Helene Christina Pedersen Fish skin is an overlooked waste product of the fishing industry. Helene Christina Pedersen has found a way to transform this material into a durable textile that can be applied to a wide range of furnishings. Plastic Primitive by James Shaw James Shaw has developed a technique for shaping recycled plastic into fantastical forms using a custom made extruder gun. For this year’s London Design Festival shaw erected a series of colorful planters and stools at the Ace Hotel. + London Design Festival Coverage on Inhabitat

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13 innovative, thought-provoking designs that broke new ground at the London Design Festival

Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone

October 19, 2017 by  
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UK-based designer Antony Gibbon never ceases to amaze with his spectacular designs inspired by nature . His latest work, the Lucent House, combines glazed walls and stonework to create a serene, minimalist structure that blends into its environs. Nature is a common theme in Gibbon’s work, which, in the past, has included plenty of unique treehouse designs . The designer explains that through his work, he strives to create a strong, seamless connection between living spaces and their environment. “Each structure is individually created to consider the surroundings using sustainable materials wherever possible. I aim to create organic forms that exist in nature using natural materials that unite the two,” he writes on his website. Related: Antony Gibbon unveils a new light-filled treehouse designed for the ground The Lucent House is comprised of four stone walls that are connected with large glazed panels. A series of geometric forms twist and turn to create an open layout, while large floor-to-ceiling windows flood the interior with natural light . A wooden terrace runs the along the entire outline of the home, creating a beautiful deck that is sheltered by the hanging roof. The Lucent House is designed to sit peacefully on any body of water. However, according to Gibbon, the size and volume of the home can be adapted to suit almost any landscape. + Antony Gibbon Designs Images via Antony Gibbon

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Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone

Toronto’s waterfront to undergo major futuristic redesign thanks to Google’s Sidewalk Labs

October 18, 2017 by  
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In collaboration with Sidewalk Labs, a start-up created by Google to “accelerate innovation in cities around the world,” the city of Toronto will embark on a futuristic redesign of its waterfront that will incorporate cutting edge technology and sleek modern design to build an urban gathering place for businesses, locals and visitors. Innovations on the Toronto waterfront may include free public Wi-Fi, automated trash systems, robust renewable energy sources, and self-driving cars . “This project will become a model for others not only in Canada, but around the world,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It is estimated that the innovations by Sidewalk Labs could reduce typical greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds, save the average commuter an hour of travel time and put residents of the neighborhood, which has been dubbed “Quayside,” within a very short walking distance from green space. “Over time, “we believe Sidewalk Toronto can demonstrate to the world how to make living in cities cheaper, more convenient, healthier, greener, fairer, and even maybe more exciting,” said former New York City  deputy mayor and current Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff. Sidewalk Labs, acknowledging that “that great neighborhoods aren’t planned from the top down,” has announced a town hall meeting for November 1, 2017 in which citizens can discuss their ideas and concerns regarding the new project. Related: Trees to grow on the balconies of Penda’s timber high-rise in Toronto Founded in 2015 as a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Sidewalk Labs has been deciding between several locations for a comprehensive feasibility study to test ideas and systems that could be applied in the design of the cities of the future. The announcement by Sidewalk Labs and Toronto follows several months of speculation about the company’s plans, which were rumored to include a “Google Island” city built from the ground up to Sidewalk Labs’ specifications. In its work to redesign Toronto’s waterfront, Sidewalk Labs will use tools like Flow, which the company conceived to identify problems in traffic flow or lack of transportation access. Via Inc. and The Verge Images via Depositphotos

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Toronto’s waterfront to undergo major futuristic redesign thanks to Google’s Sidewalk Labs

Architects seek to give eternal life to a temporary wooden market hall in Stockholm

October 13, 2017 by  
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Years ago, Swedish architecture firm Tengbom created a temporary market hall for Stockholm’s Östermalm district while the permanent market was being renovated. Since its installation, however, the modular wooden building – constructed with sustainable and cost-efficient materials – has become quite popular among the locals, prompting the architects to find a permanent use for the beautiful building. Currently located on Östermalm’s Square in Stockholm, the modern wooden structure served as a temporary market space while the Tengbom team renovated the original market hall. The base of the building is clad in vertical strips of untreated pine, while the upper floor is covered in translucent polycarbonate sheeting that allows natural light to flood the interior. The building has a modular mounting system composed of steel brackets that allows for easy assembly and dismantling – a feature that will come in extremely handy when it’s time to move the building. Related: Temporary Market Hall made from sustainable materials pops up in Stockholm The first proposal for the building’s new use envisions a youth house that would be located near the Skärholmen’s shopping district. With a strong focus on physical fitness, the center would offer various activities that appeal to youngsters such as dance, climbing and skating. The center would serve as a community meeting point where young adults – girls in particular – can have a secure place to be active year round. The second proposal calls for a cultural center that would be located between the suburbs of Risse and Ursvik. The building would have space for art exhibitions and performances, as well as areas for various activities that would be geared to locals of all ages. The third idea is an open-air public bath, complete with a sauna and heated pools . The bath would be installed directly across from a sports center in Eriksdal, in central Stockholm. The building would provide a social place for the community that, according to the architects, would not only prolong the bathing season, but also extend the connection between the city and the water. + Tengbom Architects

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Architects seek to give eternal life to a temporary wooden market hall in Stockholm

Dutch team Nuon wins world solar car challenge – again

October 13, 2017 by  
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The Dutch have done it once again. Nuon, the superstar team from the Netherlands , won its third straight championship in the World Solar Challenge, a 1,860-mile (3,000k) solar car race across Australia’s outback. Since 1987, the World Solar Challenge has driven the conversation about solar energy and its potential. In 2017, the race began in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, with its final destination in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia and the fifth largest city on the continent . At race’s end, a strong Dutch crowd, chanting “Nuna! Nuna!”, turned out to support the Nuna9 as it cruised to victory. The University Team came in second, followed by Belgium’s Punch Powertrain. The World Solar Challenge is one of the world’s most-watched innovation-based challenges. Past participants in the race include Google co-founder Larry Page and Tesla co-founder JB Straubel. Every vehicle in the race is powered by the sun, and most are funded by corporations or universities. With teams from the United States to Malaysia, from India to South Africa, the World challenge is truly a global affair. Related: How termites draw on solar power for climate control 2017 is the seventh win for Nuon, with a winning time of 37 hours, 10 minutes and 41 seconds. Although the Dutch team prevailed this year, its time fell from 2015, when the team completed the challenge in 33.03 hours. This year’s winning strategy involved a change in driving style to adjust for the weather conditions, which included strong winds. The solar car was setup in such a way as to take advantage of the wind like a sailing ship, which gave it a boost over the other contenders. “It’s such a weird feeling,” said Nuon Solar Team member Sarah Bennink Bolt, “we’ve doing this thing for one-and-a-half years, and all of a sudden it’s ending… you have to have a bit of luck [to win].” Via Phys.org Images via Phys.org

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Dutch team Nuon wins world solar car challenge – again

TAXA unveils ultra-lightweight Mantis camper with pop-up roof

October 12, 2017 by  
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The camper designers at TAXA Outdoors have outdone themselves with their latest off-grid masterpiece. Weighing in at just under 2,300 pounds, the Mantis can be towed wherever adventure calls you. The 18-foot-long home on wheels comes complete with a pop-up roof that adds more space to the interior, creating enough room for four full-sized adventurers to sleep comfortably. The innovative flexible space adds a lot of value to the otherwise compact camper. At full height, the pop-up central roof adds ample standing room in the kitchen and bathroom areas. For sleep space, a full-size bed/couch at the rear of the camper fits two full size adult and two bunk beds fold out in the living area. Related: Tiny TigerMoth Camper generates power while being towed Like most of the TAXA campers, the Mantis is designed to be enjoyable on the road and easy to store when not since it easily folds down to 6´9″ to fit into most standard length and height garage. Founder Garrett Finney, former senior architect at the Habitability Design Center for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), explains the inspiration behind the ultra-efficient Mantis design, “Our dealers wanted something with more sleeping room to round out our family of products beyond the Cricket, which is designed for 2 adults and 2 younger children,” Finney says. “The number one selling trailer for the past decade is a 20-foot trailer that sleeps 4 adults. This is our version of that.” For basic needs, the camper comes installed with integrated electric and plumbing systems, and is pre-wired for solar panels . The camper was also installed with ample storage underneath the bunk beds and in the kitchen. The Mantis also comes with the beloved TAXA feature of well-placed cargo nets and bungee cords, which are infinitely handy. The roof also has a cargo deck and rack for large items like bikes or kayaks. The Mantis camper has an estimated starting cost of $32,500 and will be available for purchase this month. + TAXA Mantis Via Uncrate

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TAXA unveils ultra-lightweight Mantis camper with pop-up roof

This prefab concrete house harvests rainwater with food-growing vertical gardens

October 10, 2017 by  
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Students from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri  designed this beautiful solar-powered home completely out of prefabricated concrete. Built to showcase the viability of building with concrete , the spectacular design includes a series of gutters on the exterior that serve as a large-scale hydroponic growing system that can produce food all year round. According to the team, the design of the Crete House is meant to be a reminder that concrete continues to be a viable and sustainable building material that makes for a beautiful alternative to wood constructions. Thanks an ultra-strong envelope comprised of four inches of standard concrete, five inches of insulation, and one inch of Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), the home is incredibly resilient against fire, moisture, mold, insects, seismic activity, and extreme weather. Related: 8 amazing homes that are 100% powered by the sun The design focuses on providing the ultimate in self-sufficiency – including energy generation, water reuse, and food production. Solar panels provide sufficient energy to the home, and a water-to-water heat pump provides hot water for domestic use as well as water for the home’s radiant heating and cooling system installed in the floor and ceiling. The precast insulated concrete panels of the home are factory-manufactured, but assembled on-site, reducing travel time and energy. In addition to the home’s structure, the concrete panels were used to create a series of large L-shaped gutters that extend out and away from the house. The shape of the gutters was strategic in creating an innovative system of water collection that directs to vegetated channels built into the vertical gutters that extend out into horizontal planters on the ground level. This all-in-one hydroponic system, complete with drip emitters, integrates a home garden system into the design, allowing occupants to grow their own food all year round. + Crete House + Solar Decathlon Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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This prefab concrete house harvests rainwater with food-growing vertical gardens

14 spectacular lamps unveiled at the London Design Festival

October 6, 2017 by  
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Lighting designers are constantly pushing the envelope with new materials, technologies and applications – and this year’s London Design Festival was awash in innovative designs. From an air-purifying algae chandelier to a lamp powered by melting ice and a series of pendant lights made from mushrooms , read on for our favorite finds from this year’s shows. Exhale Chandelier by Julian Melchiorri When is a chandelier more than just a chandelier? When it’s literally alive! Julian Melchiorri ‘s ‘Exhale’ chandelier is filled with algae that absorb CO2 and release fresh oxygen into any interior space. It’s also incredibly beautiful, with delicate green ‘leaves’ that optimize sun exposure to help the algae grow. Frost Light by EDHV Studio EDHV Studio’s Frost Light is powered by melting ice! A chunk of ice is set on a block of solid aluminum, and as it melts it generates enough electricity to power a small LED for 3 hours. Reflection Room by Flynn Talbot Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room is mind blowing. One side of the mirrored hallway is bathed in orange light, while the other is lit in blue. Where the two sides meet, a gradient of color is born. Fuchsia Lamps by Macmaster Design Macmaster Design ‘s new Fuchsia lamps look like hanging, flowers in bloom – and they’re made from FSC-certified black walnut and white oak. Voronoi III Lamp by Tala Tala just launched their largest sculptural light yet at the London Design Festival. The Voronoi III is inspired by patterns found in treetops, and its LED filament is modeled after the Fibonacci sequence. Tree Lights by Tamasine Osher Tamasine Osher ‘s gorgeous hand-turned Tree Lights are made of salvaged wood harvested from naturally fallen trees. The delicate patterns are caused by naturally occurring fungus that develops over a span of 2-3 years. I.Rain Helene Chandelier by Blackbody and Haviland Blackbody teamed up with Haviland to unveil a spectacular chandelier made from 145 OLED lights. Each light is nested within a porcelain cup embellished with “Matignon” white with gold patterns. Morphe Lamp by Crea-Re These beautiful lamps by Crea-Re look almost like colored stone – but they’re made from paper mâché! Maria Fiter crafts each lamp using recycled newspaper, natural pigments, and ecologically certified water-based glue. Lungplant by Tim van Cromvoirt Tim van Cromvoirt ‘s luminous Lungplant slowly expands and exhales like a living creature. He designed the lamp to reduce stress and create a meditative environment that encourages you to become aware of the tempo of your own breathing. Thea Kuta Lamp by Elisa Bortolussi These Thea Kuta lamps emerged out of Elisa Bortolussi’s desire to use yarn as an alternative tool for painting. The lamps are handmade from 100% wool, and their precise geometry and depth of color is dazzling. Mycelium + Timber Lamps by Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova These lamps are made of mushrooms! Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova found a way to pair mushroom mycelium with freshly cut wood waste to create a collection of sustainable furnishings. Stacked Glassware Lamps by New Citizen Design These beautiful pendant lights from New Citizen Design appear to be sculpted from glass – until a closer look reveals that they’re made of cups, bowls and plates! Designers Mayan Pesach and Sander Wassink salvage old glassware and combine it in unexpected ways – and each piece is unique. Panam Panama lamp by Lea Baert Lea Baert’s Panam Panama project transforms old fan grills into stunning lamps. Baert worked with communities of Panamanian craftspeople to develop the design using locally-sourced fibers. Upon returning to France, she updated the project with materials sourced locally in Paris. Atlas Light by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio Ladies & Gentlemen teamed up with Seattle-based artist and glass designer John Hogan to create the Atlas Light. This handcrafted lamp consists of an iridescent glass sphere flecked with gold leaf and set on a brass base. + London Design Week

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14 spectacular lamps unveiled at the London Design Festival

Mieluisa’s Bilberry Pads are an accessible way to bring the forest to the city

October 4, 2017 by  
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These modular planters bring a taste of the forest to the city. Finnish design collective Mieluisa designed the Bilberry Pad as a way for people without access to nature to grow bilberries, lingonberries, crowberries, different ferns, mosses, bunch grass and spruce wherever they are. They are meant to replicate the experience of a real forest, with birds, ants and long-legged spiders bustling around the plants— like they do in nature. Fresh heath forest floor is transplanted into these movable planter modules that are easy to move and to combine. They are also designed to be accessible, so people can pick berries while sitting or even lying in bed. Related: The Ienami Bonkei Planter is a Green-Roofed Cityscape for Your Desk Ease of access was the motive behind the first version of The Bilberry Pad in Kangasala, Finland , where Mieluisa organized a berry-picking event for residents of the Maijala Service Center. The project was financed by Kone Foundation and The Finnish Cultural Foundation, with support by Messupuu and Piiraisen Viherpalvelu who provided the Siberian larch for the containers and the bilberry heath transplant. + Mieluisa

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Mieluisa’s Bilberry Pads are an accessible way to bring the forest to the city

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