The Felderhof House in Italy is built into the ground and topped with a green roof

April 18, 2019 by  
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In the Eisack Valley of Italy, an old “pair farmstead” structure partly built into the hillside years ago still remains. The new owner decided to turn this classic property into a proper home after living inside it for two years as it was, and chose Pavol Mikolajcak Architekten for the redesign. The partially underground extension is topped by a grassy green roof that serves as an homage to the old design as well as a minimal approach to interacting with the natural environment. A newer building was constructed to connect to the older structure, causing the entire house to extend from east to west, hidden within the mountain. Both buildings are linked using a natural stone staircase, and two long skylights serve as limited visible proof of the underground home. From the southern vantage point, a side of concrete and glass serves as a window, making the outer valley visible from inside. Related: Green-roofed home cantilevers over a remote mountainside in Argentina As would be expected in an underground dwelling, the interior decoration is made up of natural colors. Wooden planks line the walls, and the ceiling is primarily made from the same exposed concrete visible from the green roof . Furnishings also consist of shades of brown, and the home includes a clean-lined, minimalist kitchen. There are views of the Eisack Valley and Dolomites Mountains from both the living and sleeping rooms. Although the home is mostly underground, the architects managed to include high ceilings and open spaces within the home, adding a modern element. Occupants enjoy natural light throughout the house thanks to the large skylights . The architects hoped that this home would forge a connection between the old and new, adding a modern twist to the house while maintaining respect for the original historical property. Using eco-conscious materials  — such as natural stone, exposed concrete, steel and wood — that complement the surrounding mountainous region, the architects created an extraordinary home that has only increased in historic value. + Pavol Mikolajcak Architekten Via ArchDaily Photography by Oskar DaRiz via Pavol Mikolajcak Architekten

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The Felderhof House in Italy is built into the ground and topped with a green roof

Green roofs can improve air quality inside buildings

April 15, 2019 by  
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A new study has found that green roofs do a lot more than just provide extra space to grow plants. These eco-friendly roofs can also enhance air quality inside of buildings by reducing the ozone levels that come in from the outdoors. Scientists at Portland State University conducted the study at a large commercial building in Portland. Researchers installed devices on the roof, which was split between a traditional membrane and a green roof. The devices measured ozone levels of the air surrounding the building. They discovered that plants on the roof helped to trap ozone, preventing it from coming into the building. Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home The new study adds to the growing list of green roof benefits. According to Phys.org , this includes the ability to filter carbon dioxide, cut down on excess water runoff after big storms and reduce heat in urban environments. Not to mention all of the veggies and plants that can be grown, cultivated and even shared with the local community. But how does the vegetation trap ozone and remove it from the air? The process of trapping ozone is called dry deposition, where particles in the air accumulate on solid surfaces. The process of dry deposition is completely natural and has been proven to be an effective way of filtering air. Prior to the new research, however, scientists did not know that a green roof could actually improve air quality indoors. It should be noted that the study, which was published last month in Building and Environment, only took place over a few days. The scientists who led the research effort have admitted that more studies that measure pollutants trapped over a long period should be completed. They also want to look at other pollutants other than just ozone. Once this happens, we will better understand the broader benefits of green roofs and just how much they can contribute to better indoor air quality. + Portland State University Via Phys.org Image via Urformat

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Rammed concrete home in Portugal boasts passive design features and a green roof

March 26, 2019 by  
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Portuguese firm  Atelier 1111 has unveiled a gorgeous home designed to strategically blend into the rural region of Grândola in southern Portugal. The Cottage House is an angular design embedded into a small hillside, putting part of the home underneath the arid landscape. This technique provides the house with a strong thermal envelope, which — along with additional passive cooling strategies such as a green roof and thickened stone walls — boosts energy efficiency. Using the idyllic setting as inspiration for the design, the exterior of the home is clad in a rammed concrete, which gives the exterior a textured, neutral color that blends in with the arid soil. According to the architects, the rammed concrete was part of the structure’s many passive features, which also include a green roof and thick, insulative walls. Related: This breezy, green-roofed home in Singapore embraces nature from all angles “Thermal comfort was one of our biggest concerns, especially in the summer, because it is a region with high temperatures,” the architects explained. “We avoid mechanical systems, because we have a green roof and considerable thick walls.” Although angular in form, the contemporary home manages to subtly and respectfully blend in with its surroundings. Using the rolling topography to their advantage, the architects created a main open-air corridor that weaves through the structure, leading to the interior living space as well as various cutouts that frame the incredible views. Throughout the interior, the home’s walls and ceilings are also made out of concrete , but in a polished version. Locally-sourced marble was used for the flooring, and the design is enhanced with brass features on the interior doors. The Cottage House is actually part of a bigger plan that is set to be built on the same site, including a garage and a swimming pool. The design of the home, as well as the remaining buildings, was almost entirely inspired by the surrounding landscape, which is characterized by protected stone pine, olive and  cork  trees. The sloped land at its highest point provides a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean. + Atelier 1111 Photography by Nuno Pinto via Atelier 1111

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Rammed concrete home in Portugal boasts passive design features and a green roof

A beautiful brick home is embedded into the Brazilian countryside

March 25, 2019 by  
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Brazilian firm  Estúdio Penha has tucked a brick-clad home into the sloped landscapes of an expansive forest outside of São Paulo. Partially embedded into a grassy hill, the gorgeous Quinta da Baroneza House blends quietly into its natural setting thanks to an expansive green roof and muted brick cladding that matches the same color of the local soil. Located in an open patch of the Atlantic Forest, the nearly 7,000-square-foot home was designed to blend in with its surroundings while providing a relaxing retreat for the homeowners. According to the architects, they created the exterior cladding by using mainly broken bricks and brick residues in order to symbolically create “a direct connection to the large and small pieces that compose life.” Related: Victorian home’s painted facade is stripped to restore its original red brick glory The brick home is comprised of three main volumes that are separated by a smooth, concrete, L-shaped wall. This large wall crosses through the main volumes, creating a corridor that traverses the length of the building to an inner courtyard that connects the interior with the exterior. Further enhancing this connection to the natural surroundings is a large metal staircase that leads up to an expansive green roof  planted with native vegetation. Although underground, the living space in the first volume is illuminated with natural light thanks to a strategically placed skylight. Much of the interior features walls with rough cast plaster finish, concrete touches and exposed plumbing and electrical wiring, all of which give the living space a cool, industrial aesthetic. Flooring found throughout the home was made out of reforested wood. The largest area in the home is the main living room with a front facade comprised of massive sliding glass doors, which open out to the Hijau stone pool surrounded by a wooden deck. The pool was created with tiles in differing shades of green to create the sensation of being in a lake. Definitely the heart of the home, this area blends in nicely with the terrain with a rustic vine veranda that provides shade from the harsh summer sun. + Estúdio Penha Via ArchDaily Images via Estúdio Penha

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A beautiful brick home is embedded into the Brazilian countryside

Designers recycle aluminum production waste into functional ceramic decor

March 25, 2019 by  
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The red clay ceramics produced by the design team at Royal College of Art and Imperial College London may look like the creation of any standard potter. However, these are not your everyday bowls and teapots. In fact, they are the result of a process that uses a by-product from aluminum production that transforms the so-called red mud into a raw material suitable for making kitchen wares. Bauxite residue is a by-product from the refining of alumina, which is a precursor to the process we know as aluminum production. It is not an insignificant by-product either. In fact the process creates bauxite residue at twice the rate of the amount of aluminum produced from it. Around the world, the watery red material is left behind in huge pools of abandoned waste so the team of scientists and designers decided to find a way to make use of it. Designers Guillermo Whittembury, Joris Olde-Rikkert, Kevin Rouff, and Luis Paco Bockelmann were excited to dive into the potential of the otherwise neglected by-product, hoping they could find practical applications for it. To discover the potential of the discarded substance, the team paired up with material experts from Imperial College London and KU Leuven, scored some red mud from one of the oldest alumina production facility on the planet, and headed into R&D. Through hundreds of tests and experiments they discovered a versatile ceramic as well as an alternative concrete. The R.E.D. (residue enabled design) project, also known as From Wasteland to Living Room, resulted in a vast array of cups, saucers, teapots, bowls, vases and a myriad of other design pieces. Related: This British café is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste They also found that the fired color in the finished product produced a range of colors from a standard terracotta to a deep burgundy. To bring out more variety, the team used metal oxides from the residue to make glazes in a range of colors too. “The designers aim to make people at once aware of the impact of materials taken for granted, like aluminium, and to hint to the potential of their byproducts. “We want people to see that Red Mud isn’t a ‘waste’, that industry is keen to find uses for it, and that using it is possible,” states Kevin. This project is a small step towards what they believe as a more sustainable future in which “wastes” will be considered as valuable assets, and they hope it stimulates more uses of the material. + R.E.D. Via Dezeen Images via R.E.D.

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Mount Everest’s melting glaciers expose the bodies of long-lost climbers

March 25, 2019 by  
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Close to 300 climbers and explorers have died trying to summit Mount Everest, and the bodies of those that remain on the mountain are starting to become exposed because of  melting glaciers . Around two-thirds of the people who have passed on the mountain are believed to be encased in the ice and snow. Authorities are starting to remove the exposed bodies on the Chinese side of the mountain range, and efforts are picking up as spring arrives. To date, more than 4,800 mountaineers have summited Mount Everest , and more are expected to attempt the feat this year. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “Because of global warming, the ice sheet and glaciers are fast melting, and the dead bodies that remained buried all these years are now becoming exposed,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, who used to be the president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, explained. It is unclear how many deceased individuals have been removed from the mountain so far, but government officials said that the number of exposed bodies has steadily increased over the years. According to the BBC , one of the challenges with removing these bodies is that government officials are required to be involved in the process. This has made it difficult to remove some bodies from higher elevations. Recent studies have shown that Mount Everest’s glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, leading to flooding in local lakes and rivers. Scientists attribute the melting glaciers to global warming , and the issue is affecting the entire mountain range. Seeing a few bodies emerge every now and then is completely normal on the mountain, and most climbers are prepared for the situation. A few bodies are even used as landmarks. Still, it costs anywhere between 40 and 80 thousand dollars to remove a body, especially at higher elevations. Officials also have to consider personal issues when they uncover a body as well as how to get in contact with family members of the deceased. While melting glaciers are the main cause of the exposed bodies, movement in the glaciers is also a factor in the number of bodies that become uncovered each climbing season. Via BBC Image via Guillaume Baviere

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MVRDV-designed market in Taiwan will grow food on a massive green roof

March 21, 2019 by  
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Hot on the heels of its bold “ Times Square” proposal for Taiwan’s capital, MVRDV has broken ground on another project — this time for the island’s southern city of Tainan. Created in collaboration with local architectural firm LLJ Architects, the Tainan Xinhua Fruit and Vegetable Market is a wholesale, open-air market that will not only serve as an important hub for the city’s food supply chain, but will also serve as a new public destination. The landmark building will be topped with an undulating green roof that will be accessible to the public and used for growing crops. Because of its large size, the Tainan Xinhua Fruit and Vegetable Market will be located in a suburban district to the far east of the city center yet strategically placed near Highway 3 and public transportation links for the convenience of traders, buyers and visitors. Spanning an area of nearly 20 acres, the market will include space for auctions, logistics, freezer storage, service facilities, a restaurant, administrative offices and more. “Tainan, in my opinion, is one of those towns which is so beautiful to me because maybe most of its nature, agriculture fields, farms, sea and mountains,” said Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. “Tainan Market can become a building that symbolizes this beauty as it compliments both landscape and its surrounding environment. It is completely functional and caters to the needs for auctioning, selling and buying goods, but its terraced roof with its collection of growing products will allow visitors to take in the landscape while escaping from bustle below.’’ Related: MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone The first phase of the development will be an open-air structure topped with an undulating, terraced green roof accessible from the eastern corner. The terraces of the roof will each be dedicated to growing a different crop — such as pineapples, rice, roses and tea — and will be furnished with benches and picnic tables for visitors to enjoy the surrounding views. The market is slated for completion in late 2020. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV-designed market in Taiwan will grow food on a massive green roof

Hen Harriers on the verge of extinction due to gamekeepers killing illegally

March 21, 2019 by  
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A new study reveals that hen harriers are being killed at an alarming rate on U.K. grouse moors. Scientists found that gamekeepers are eliminating these birds , which are on the verge of extinction in England because they hunt red grouse. Conservationists have been tagging hen harriers in the U.K. for several years and discovered that 72 percent of the birds involved in studies have come up missing. The researchers believe the majority of these birds were killed illegally. Related: Don’t forget to fight for these “less glamorous” endangered species Sadly, 83 percent of juvenile hen harriers in this region do not make it through their first year. In comparison, 65 percent of juveniles do not survive in other areas of the country. In areas completely devoid of grouse moors, those numbers drop to less than 50 percent. According to The Guardian , hen harrier numbers have dropped dangerously low in the U.K., despite the fact that there are acceptable habitats for large numbers to survive with ease. Not only is there plenty of food for the birds of prey, but there are also few predators with which to compete. Even still, only seven of the 58 birds in the study were alive by the end of 2017. Five of the deceased birds uncovered in the study, which spanned a decade, died naturally. Four others sustained injuries consistent with hunting and were considered to be illegally killed. The great majority of the missing birds, however, vanished without a trace. Only a small percentage of these disappearances can be attributed to malfunctioning tags; the rest are believed to be victims of hunting . “Carcasses were rarely recovered, presumably due to suspected illegal killing and carcass disposal,” the study revealed. In order to boost population numbers, a new program was just passed to rear juvenile hen harriers in captivity. Researchers with Natural England plan to find juvenile birds in the wild, raise them in captivity and later release them far from grouse moors. The new hen harrier plan has been met with some resistance by conservationists , though a court just ruled in favor of its legality. Via The Guardian Image via Rob Zweers

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Hen Harriers on the verge of extinction due to gamekeepers killing illegally

Green-roofed home in Atlanta offers a digital detox with lush nature views

March 6, 2019 by  
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Designed to focus on life in the outdoors, the Split Box House in Atlanta is a quiet, nature-inspired retreat for a family eager to escape from the distractions of the digital world. Designed by local architectural practice DiG Architects , the green-roofed home emphasizes both energy efficiency and indoor-outdoor living throughout. In addition to lush landscaped roofs that help mitigate stormwater runoff and energy consumption, massive low-E windows flood the interior with natural light to reduce dependence on artificial lighting. Covering an area of 2,646 square feet, the Split Box House was created for a busy working couple with three children who wanted a home refreshingly different from the “surrounding banal spec homes, each a louder spectacle than the next.” As a result, the architects focused on a simple and contemporary design that started as a long, 22-foot-wide rectangular volume — the width was based on the distance that a reasonably sized wood truss can span — that then morphed into two rotated and perpendicularly set L-shaped volumes, each roughly equivalent in size and housing the public and private spaces separately. “Arranged in an efficient pattern to eliminate waste, the primary exterior cladding of the box is a low-maintenance gray cement panel,” the architects said. “The panels, attached as an open joint ventilated rainscreen system, help manage moisture intrusion and reduce energy consumption. A complimentary warm ipe wood, alluding to the softer interiors of the house, clads the cuts. Comprised of the bedrooms upstairs and the guesthouse on the main level, the private functions bridge across a covered breezeway creating an outdoor room with a view corridor to the woods and access to the main and guest house entrances.” Related: Green-roofed home is built of waste bricks and wood in Poland The light-filled interiors are mostly dressed in white walls, timber surfaces and minimalist decor so as not to detract attention from the outdoors. A series of site walls were built to mitigate the steep property and form a terraced garden planted with long grasses that reinforces the geometric form of the house. + DiG Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Alexander Herring via DiG Architects

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New hope for plastic recycling with IBM’s VolCat technology

March 6, 2019 by  
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Think how much more material would be reused if plastic recycling didn’t entail washing, sorting and individual processing. Now, IBM researchers have developed a new chemical process called VolatileCatalyst that eliminates these steps. VolCat recycling grinds up plastics, adds a chemical catalyst and cooks them at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. The chemicals eat through polymer strands, producing a fine white powder ready to be made into new containers. By heating PET with ethylene glycol and the catalyst, lab workers depolymerize plastic . After distillation, filtration, purification and cooling, scientists eventually recover usable matter called a monomer—in this case the white powder. This process digests and cleans the ground plastic, separating contaminants like dyes, glue and food residue. Related: 6 places to find the best recycled building materials PET is an abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester. This type of plastic is used to manufacture containers for two-liter bottles of soft drinks, water bottles, salad dressings, cooking oil, shampoo, liquid hand soap and carry-out food containers. It’s even found in carpet, clothing and tennis balls. DuPont chemists first synthesized PET in the 1940s, probably never guessing that 70 years later between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic would wind up in the ocean each year. Humans have produced more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic since its invention. About half of new plastic becomes trash each year. By 2050, some scientists project there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean . VolCat developers hope to reverse this destructive trend. According to the researchers’ statement, “In the next five years, plastic recycling advancements like VolCat could be adopted around the globe to combat global plastic waste . People at the grocery store buying a bottle of soda or container of strawberries will know that the plastic they’ve purchased won’t end up in the ocean, but instead will be repurposed and put back on the shelf.” + IBM Images via Shutterstock

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