Energy-efficient Bluebonnet Studios offers sustainable housing to Austins most vulnerable citizens

July 14, 2017 by  
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The Bluebonnet Studios social housing development in Austin supports a healthy lifestyle through the design. The property, designed by Forge Craft Architecture + Design , provides housing for the homeless, low-income veterans and local musicians. It features forward-thinking sustainable elements such as recycled and locally-sourced materials, a well insulated envelope, optimal orientation, low-flow fixtures and occupancy sensors. The architects worked with a difficult site and a very tight budget, which required a close collaboration between the design, construction, and ownership teams, as well as help of sustainability experts like Pliny Fisk and Jason McLennan . An important aspect of the design was access to natural light , which the team provided by creating a light well that runs through the center of the building. This emphasis on daylight also allows for most of the building to be functional without artificial light in the event of a power outage – including all circulation. Heating and cooling are provided by centralized LG VRF units tied to individual apartment thermostats. Each thermostat is coupled to both window sensors and door-triggered occupancy sensors . All the interior finishes and products were regionally sourced, recycled and healthy. On top of the building, a green space allows for outdoor activities. Related: Top 6 Green Supportive and Low-Income Housing Projects Of the 107 single-occupancy units, 22 are reserved for the area’s homeless and low-income veterans, while five are dedicated to local musicians. Each resident received a small package of tools, including a recycling bin, recycling magnet, green cleaning recipes, and recommendations for conservative thermostat settings to help residents keep their homes green. Additionally, a green housekeeping program provides a dispensing station with Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals for maintenance staff and janitorial contractors. + Forge Craft Architecture + Design Photos by Paul Bardagjy

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Energy-efficient Bluebonnet Studios offers sustainable housing to Austins most vulnerable citizens

Australia’s largest commercial timber building rises in Sydney

July 12, 2017 by  
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Timber constructions are rapidly carving their rightful place in urban environments all over the world, and now, beautiful Sydney is home to the Australia’s largest commercial all-timber building. The International House by Tzannes Architects is a beautiful seven-story building constructed entirely with engineered or cross laminated timber . Located between the Barangaroo South area and the historic heart of the city, the International House is a beautiful all-wood design. With the exception of the single ground retail level, which is made out of conventional concrete, the striking building was constructed with engineered or cross laminated timber , including the floors, columns, walls, roof, elevator shafts, etc. The building is the first timber commercial building of its size in Australia. Related: Nation’s largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability The architects chose to go with timber for its many sustainable features , but were also determined to create a design whose all-wood aesthetic would serve as an iconic landmark for the city. According to the architects, “We have turned the structural limitations imposed by the use of timber to advantage and celebrated them, forming a unique colonnade form evocative of a forest of trees which gives the building its distinctive character.” The project used a massive 3,500 cubic meters of sustainably grown and recycled timber . Using timber instead of concrete resulted in saving thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. + Tzannes Architects Via Archdaily Photography by The Guthrie Project

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Australia’s largest commercial timber building rises in Sydney

The minimalist Yoshino Cedar House was built entirely out of locally-sourced timber

June 15, 2017 by  
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The beautiful Yoshino Cedar House , located near Osaka, was built by local carpenters and craftsmen with sustainable cedar harvested from the nearby mountains. The community-run retreat was created through a collaboration between Airbnb designers, Samara and architects Go Hasegawa . The team sought to foster the local community while providing a much-needed source of income for the town. The cedar retreat’s design was part of the 2016 event, Kenya Hara’s House Vision , an exhibition that showcases community-led housing projects that aim to help small towns boost their economies. Like a lot of rural areas in Japan, the small town of Yoshino has an aging population that is dwindling by the day. For years, the town’s principal industry was sustainable forestry , but without young workers working to enter the workforce, the town’s only economic boost these days is its annual cherry blossom festival. Related: Circular garden walkway cuts straight through Japanese timber home From the start of the Cedar House project, the architects and designers worked with locals every step of the way. Local foresters, woodcutters and carpenters collaborated on the process, from harvesting and cutting the timber to its construction. According to the architects, the design of the Yoshino Cedar House, which is technically owned and operated by the community, was meant to pay homage to the area’s local traditions as well as foster new relationships between residents, “Every detail of the structure inspires connection to the people of Yoshino and their underlying traditions.” Located on the bank of the Yoshino River, the structure is clad on the interior and exterior in warm-hued cedar planks whose intricate patterns create a calming, peaceful environment. The bottom floor, with a single table built into the floor, houses the living and dining space. An open staircase leads to two separate bedrooms on the second floor. The simple, uncluttered rooms have one mattress and a small table and are beautifully illuminated by natural light coming through the structure’s A-frame window. Since its inauguration, local townspeople take care of the Airbnb retreat ‘s rental operation and all proceeds are used to support the community. + Go Hasegawa + Samara Via Dwell Photography via Airbnb

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The minimalist Yoshino Cedar House was built entirely out of locally-sourced timber

Student invents computer program to help Bedouin villages build better homes

April 11, 2017 by  
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Architecture student Nof Nathansohn is on a mission to provide decent living solutions for the marginalized Bedouin communities scattered throughout Israel’s Negev desert region. For her thesis project, Nathansohn created a computer program called Home Made that lets communities design affordable, environmentally-friendly housing without the need for an architect. The Bedouin villages are unrecognized by the Israeli government, so the shanty-like structures are under constant threat of demolition. Nathansohn’s Home Made software would allow the communities to build homes that are not only affordable and green , but easily assembled and disassembled. Related: Smart architecture app lets you turn almost anything into a digital stencil A major feature of the home-design application is that it is extremely user friendly. The software is designed to guide the user at every stage of the design process, from the initial design to the final construction. Users can choose from four different designs platforms with a variety of layouts. Each platform is designed according to different parameters such as sun direction, size and height, available materials, local topography, cost, etc. Although created for the Bedouin communities, the program enables the design and construction of low cost, green energy temporary housing easy for any location, under almost any circumstance. The flexibility offered by the application not only lets families construct a personalized living space, but can be used to create thriving villages as well. In fact, Nathansohn tested the application on the unrecognized village of Al-Sara, near the town Arad. She designed multiple structures for the village based on their current size as well as growth expectancy. She even designed a community center for the local children. + Nof Nathansohn

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Student invents computer program to help Bedouin villages build better homes

Glowing cardboard pavilion pops up in a Gothic courtyard in Valencia

April 11, 2017 by  
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Spanish art collective Pink Intruder just installed a glowing cardboard building called Renaixement inside a beautiful Gothic cloister in Valencia. The golden cube features a mosaic facade made out of an intricate cardboard latticework , and it’s illuminated from within by lighting studio RADIANTE. The ornate structure made its debut at the 2016 Burning Man , but it was such a hit that the artists decided to bring it back home and rebuild it in the Gothic cloister of Valencia’s Centre del Carmen Museum. The location is fitting since the pavilion design was inspired by the creative geometric and sculptural techniques used in the city’s famed Fallas festival . Related: Pink Intruder Unveils Gorgeous Pixelated Cardboard Pavilion in Valencia, Spain The structure’s medieval-style facade is made out of cardboard pieces and molds used by a traditional Fallas guild. The structure was built over a wooden mosaic floor made up of more than 25,000 pieces assembled by social collectives, making the artwork a communal effort. The glowing tubes integrated into the cardboard frame give the ornate cube an intimate and spiritual atmosphere at night. + Pink Intruder Photography by Noel Arraiz

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Glowing cardboard pavilion pops up in a Gothic courtyard in Valencia

Hawaii issues alert for brain-invading parasite transmitted by snails

April 11, 2017 by  
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The Hawaiian island of Maui is experiencing an uptick in infections stemming from a parasitic roundworm that invades the human brain. Or, in less scientific parlance, brain slugs . In the past three months alone, health officials have confirmed six cases of the picturesquely named rat lungworm disease, with three additional cases still pending investigation. The trend is worrisome beyond the obvious: Maui has encountered only two cases of the disease over the past decade. Of the 10 or so cases that are reported each year in Hawaii, nearly all are restricted to the Big Island . The grownup version of the Angiostrongylus cantonensis , the offending nematode, is carried by rats, which drop a load of the larvae in their poop. The junior versions can thereafter hitch a ride on other hosts, including snails, slugs, freshwater shrimp, crabs, and frogs. People can get infected by eating raw or undercooked snails or slugs that have been infected by the parasite, or by handling contaminated fruits and vegetables. The infection can trigger a rare form of meningitis characterized by severe headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin, a low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Hawaii’s Department of Health Disease Investigation Branch cautions that temporary paralysis of the face and light sensitivity may also occur. Related: Rare brain-eating amoeba found in Louisiana tap water “If you could imagine, it’s like having a slow-moving bullet go through your brain and there’s no rhyme or reason why it’s going to hang out in this part of the brain or that part of the brain,”Sarah Park, a state epidemiologist, told the Associated Press . Although there is no treatment for rat lungworm disease, residents can reduce the risk of contracting it by scrupulously washing their produce before consumption, officials say. Tricia Mynar, a Maui woman who said she contracted the parasite on the Big Island, has one piece of advice . “Take your time and wash your veggies,” she said. Via ScienceAlert Photos by Unsplash

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Hawaii issues alert for brain-invading parasite transmitted by snails

Incredible farming skyscraper could fight poverty and feed the world

April 11, 2017 by  
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This incredible skyscraper is more than just eye candy—its modular and farm-integrated design was created to fight world hunger and poverty. Designers Pawel Lipi?ski and Mateusz Frankowski proposed the Mashambas Skyscraper for rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa as a means to bring a “green revolution” to impoverished small farmers. The modular Mashambas is movable and functions as an educational center for growing crops, hosting markets, and training on agricultural techniques. Although absolute poverty around the world has fallen over 20 percent in the last thirty years, poverty levels in many African countries have stayed high and stagnant. Today, over 40 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in absolute poverty. Designers Pawel Lipi?ski and Mateusz Frankowski examined the obstacles holding the populace back, most of whom are subsistence farmers, and found that “poor infrastructure, limited markets, weak governments, and fratricidal civil wars” were among the biggest challenges. In hopes of bringing a “green revolution to the poorest people,” Lipi?ski and Frankowski designed the Mashambas Skyscraper, a modular and multipurpose building that just placed first in the renowned 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition . The Mashambas Skyscraper, which derives its name from the Swahili word for cultivated land, features a simple modular design that can be easily assembled, disassembled, and transported. The arched modules are stacked together to form a scalable high-rise and its flexible design allows for multiple uses including a ground floor marketplace, warehouses, drone services, classrooms, and farming areas on the upper levels. Drones would be employed to help bring supplies, whether for building construction or for agriculture , to the Mashambas Skyscraper and would also be used to deliver surplus food to the most needy and hard-to-reach areas. By concentrating a market at its base, the building will help facilitate growth and encourage farming plots to pop up around the site. The building can be enlarged as the participants increase and once the local community becomes self-sufficient , the building can be transported to other places. Related: This massive wind-powered skyscraper would cool the entire planet “Mashambas is a movable educational center, which emerges in the poorest areas of the continent,” write the designers. “It provides education, training on agricultural techniques, cheap fertilizers, and modern tools; it also creates a local trading area, which maximizes profits from harvest sales. Today hunger and poverty may be only African matter, but the world’s population will likely reach nine billion by 2050, scientists warn that this would result in global food shortage. Africa’s fertile farmland could not only feed its own growing population, it could also feed the whole world.” + Mashambas

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Incredible farming skyscraper could fight poverty and feed the world

5 surprising products made from hemp

April 6, 2017 by  
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Hemp is a sustainable supermaterial with a wide range of applications that go far beyond hacky sacks and beaded bracelets. An experimental project called Fabric-Action explores exciting new uses for hemp – including modular gardens, skateboards, swings, and even air purifiers . Each design emphasizes the intrinsic qualities of this natural, sustainable and fast-growing material while showing how hemp can fit the latest production techniques such as 3D-printing, CNC technology and laser-cutting. Click on for five intriguing hemp products from the Fabric-Action show at Milan Design Week 2017. Agri-Hemp , designed by Michele Armellini and Marco Grimandi , is a modular indoor gardening system. Agri-hemp pots of different sizes are realized in thermo-formable woven hemp, a new material inspired by traditional hemp fabric. The system is completed by vertical wooden legs designed to support the hemp pots. Delta-9 by Gabriele Basei is a skateboard made out of waterproof hemp that is decorated with textile inserts typical of Umbria’s style. Kinesis by Ekaterina Shchetina e Libero Rutilo is a swing made out of three different types of hemp. Suspended on traditional hemp ropes, the swing features a seat made out of Canapalithos, a pressed hemp panel, and knobs made of 3D-printed hemp plastic. Carlotta Antonietti, Laura Tardella and Marzia Tolomei ‘s Paidia is a suspended cradle that utilizes several of hemp’s key attributes. Hemp is antibacterial, resistant to moisture, heat-insulating and light, so it’s the perfect material for this baby product, which is made out of hemp felt and lined with hemp fabric. Once your newborn grows up, Paidia can be easily transformed into a soft basket for toy storage. Soft by Enrico Azzimonti is an air purification system entirely made of hemp-derived materials. The project integrates the use of digital technologies such as 3D-printing to create tubular textile hemp filters that purify indoor spaces. These designs were presented at Milan Design Week 2017 and can be seen at Fuorisalone 2017 in Universita Statale di Milano. + Milan Design Week images by Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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6 of the lightest and strongest materials on Earth

March 18, 2017 by  
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The future of construction is more exciting than ever thanks to huge technological developments in material innovation. Researchers are constantly developing new materials that are stronger and lighter than ever before, paving the way to a more energy-efficient and eco-friendly future in everything from transportation to medical technology . We’ve rounded up six cutting-edge materials that rank among some of the lightest and strongest ever discovered—keep reading to see them all. 3D Graphene Made from pure carbon , ultra-thin graphene is thought to be one of the strongest materials on the planet. But earlier this year, researchers at MIT found a way to turn two-dimensional graphene into a three-dimensional structure by designing a new material with a sponge-like configuration that’s 5 percent the density of steel and about 10 times as strong. The super-strong and lightweight 3D graphene has been shown to be stronger than its 2D counterpart and offers greater potential uses thanks to its building block form. Carbyne In the spring of 2016, a team of Austrian researchers revealed that they were able to successfully synthesize Carbyne, an exotic form of carbon that they say is the strongest of all known materials—even surpassing graphene . Considered the holy grail of carbon allotropes, Carbyne is made from a monodimensional chain of carbon atoms that’s highly reactive, making it very tricky to synthesize. The stiff material is believed to be twice as strong as carbon nanotubes. Aerographite Created from a network of porous carbon tubes, aerographite is synthetic foam that’s one of the lightest structural materials ever created. Developed by researchers at the University of Kiel and the Technical University of Hamburg, aerographite can be produced in a variety of shapes and boasts a density of just 180 grams per cubic meter, making it about 75 times lighter than styrofoam. The material could be used on the electrodes of lithium ion batteries to reduce their weight. Aerographene Aerographene, also known as graphene aerogel, is believed to be the world’s lightest material with a density of just 0.16 milligram per cubic centimeter. Zhejiang University researchers developed the material, which is approximately 7.5 times less dense than air. The extremely elastic material can absorb up to 900 times their own weight in oil and water, making oil spill cleanups a potential application. Metallic microlattice Metallic microlattice is the world’s lightest metal and one of the lightest structural materials. This synthetic porous material made from nickel phosphorous tubes has a density as low as 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter. Potential uses include applications in automotive engineering, aeronautical engineering, and more. Limpet teeth The teeth of limpets, the term for aquatic snails found clinging to rocky shores, are considered one of the strongest biological materials in the world. Made of a mineral-protein composite, limpet teeth have been revealed in a University of Portsmouth study to be much stronger than spider silk . Its strength is believed to be due to its tightly packed mineral fibers, which scientists could combine into man-made composites to create stronger planes, cars, and even dental fillings. Lead image via ZD News/Huffington Post

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6 of the lightest and strongest materials on Earth

Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ inspires beautiful home design in California

March 16, 2017 by  
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California-based architect Mario Romano ‘s motto “live in art” is clearly visible in his design of the stunning Preston House, inspired by Hokusai’s “The Great Wave.” The home’s exterior was clad with layers of brushed aluminum to create a “rolling” volume that reflects the varying tones and colors of the sky. Although the 5,700 square-foot home is certainly unique in its artful aesthetic, it also has various eco-friendly features incorporated throughout the design. The home’s sculpture-like volume was meant to mimic the blowing winds, detailed brush strokes and the “solitude of barreled water” found in Hokusai’s famous print. However, the unique materials were not only chosen for their art-inspired aesthetics. The aluminum facade sits one inch above the building’s waterproof skin, strategically allowing it to breathe. This feature pulls double duty as a rain screen system that allows air to flow into the layers, essentially stopping any moisture from growing into mold. It also helps ventilate the home by pushing rising hot air outwards and upwards, away from the main volume. Related: Philip Johnson’s Wiley House hits the market for $12 million The home’s interior is a luxurious space comprised of six bedrooms and five baths and a number of common areas, each with its own distinct design. The architect used his own product line, M.R. Walls and Floors, which are resistant to bacteria and water, to cover much of the walls and flooring. Using customized digital tools and CNC technology, the surfaces convert  eco-friendly materials into bold design patterns inspired by nature. For example, the interior flooring on the second floor appears to be wooden planks, but it’s actually an innovative material called SIMOWOOD, which is made of recycled rice husk. + Mario Romano

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