The biggest artwork in Europe "recharges" an Italian mountain with new trees

February 22, 2017 by  
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Spanish artist Escif is on an eco art mission to reforest Southern Italy’s Mount Olivella, which due to  massive deforestation centuries ago, is causing hydrogeological instability in the region today. The artist’s impressive environmental art intervention, Breath – Time to Recharge includes an image of a tree battery on the bald face of the mountain, which will slowly “recharge” thanks to the planting of 5,000 new indigenous trees, creating what’s being called Europe’s largest artwork. https://vimeo.com/203920760 Located in Sapri, Southern Italy, Mount Olivella was partly deforested in the 1700s, which has created a hydrogeological instability of the region. This instability is most likely to blame for climate-related problems such as flooding in the surrounding areas. Related: Irish town plans to plant world’s largest giant redwood grove The Breath project, designed by Escif and curated by Antonio Oriente and Incipit , includes planting 2,500 Holm Oaks and 2,500 Maples on the mountain’s bald face within the battery image. All in all, the art piece will cover a surface of 120,000 square meters – almost the size of 17 football fields. The first phase of the tree planting is scheduled for September 2017. Over time, locals will be able to see the battery image slowly “recharging”. More trees will be planted in 2019 in order to fully recharge the tree battery and restore the mountain back to its green glory. The project is currently running an Indiegogo campaign for support, and funds from an upcoming concert by Damien Rice on May 19th will also go towards the project. + Escif + Breath Project

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The biggest artwork in Europe "recharges" an Italian mountain with new trees

Whimsical cottage straight out of Snow White can be yours

February 17, 2017 by  
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Fairy tales do come true and yes, they can happen to you – for just a mere $925,000. This dreamy Snow White cottage is a four bedroom, 4.5 bath home located in Olalla, Washington that has recently been put on the market. Although the whimsical home was, of course, inspired by the beloved fairytale princess, no word on whether it comes with seven dwarf roommates. The 2,800-square-feet cottage was built in 1982 and includes a number of custom amenities. The unique curvaceous design is complimented by hand-crafted doors with detailed iron work through the home. The interior is full of hand-carved wooden beams, stained glass windows, and even “magical cave”- like walls. Related: This luxury hobbit home in the UK could be yours for just $1 million The home has been on the market for just over 200 days and is being marketed as a great space for a B&B or wedding venue. A strong selling point is the home’s 7.52 acre lot, which is surrounded by sculpted gardens and lush greenery, perfect for getting lost and taking a nap. Or not. Via Boing Boing Images via Realtor

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WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’

February 15, 2017 by  
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Singapore’s 48 North Canal Road is a dynamic office space designed by the renowned architecture firm, WOHA . Working within local Urban Redevelopment Authority’s guidelines to guard the heritage-protected storefront on one side, the green-loving architects tacked on a vibrant addition to the rear of the building using a contemporary mix of glass, brick and aluminum, and infused the entire program with lush pocket parks . Although the architects had to work within a number of spatial restrictions, they were able to strategically maneuver new open space out of the existing layout. The plan focused on vertically “lifting up” the existing office space in order to maximize flexibility and provide optimal natural light and city views. A curtain wall made of perforated aluminum panels runs the height of the building, serving as an integrated sunscreen to shade the interior atrium space. Related: WOHA’s solar-powered SkyVille in Singapore boasts a deep-green public skypark The building’s design consists of an eye-catching “fractal, triangulated geometry”. Interestingly, this feature was inspired by local city code that requires splayed corners on certain buildings located on corner intersections. Using the requirement to their advantage, the architects carried this theme throughout the design, “chiseling” various disjointed geometric forms and creating little nooks and seating areas along the way. The flat spaces created by this method were converted into green pocket parks throughout the building, including the more spacious rooftop, which was transformed into an outdoor recreational lounge. Visitors and tenants can also enjoy a cafe, break-out areas, and meeting rooms that are all organized around the building’s central green space. + WOHA Via Architonic Photography by Patrick Bingham-Hall

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WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’

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

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

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Amazing green-roofed school melts into the mountains of France

February 10, 2017 by  
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In the 1960s, the Jean Moulin High School in Revin, France was artfully tucked into the town’s grass-covered hills. However, over the years, the old building began to fall apart due to neglect and severe weather. When the town decided to renovate the damaged structure they called upon Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture , who retained the school’s strong connection to nature with a series of tiered “forest balconies.” Although officials were open to various ideas for a new building, they were adamant that the design retain the strong symbiotic relationship between the manmade structure and its natural environment. However, the state of the original building was so bad that renovating the complex would have been a massive operation, especially considering the asbestos that was used in its construction. Accordingly, the project began by demolishing and rebuilding the entire complex, all while trying to maintain minimal impact on school activities. Related: Gorgeous Green-Roofed Marcel Sembat School Completed in France The volume of the school is divided into lateral rows made up of low-rise terraces that are gradually stepped into the mountain’s natural topography, covered in a dense vegetation of tall trees, bushes and ‘rock chaos’. Built onto the mountain bedrock, the building’s layout stretches out to the crest of the plateau, which overlooks the river below. The classrooms are located below the green terraced “strips” and, thanks to strategic orientation and an abundance of windows, have tons of natural light as well as beautiful panoramic views of the green valley below. The lowest part of the complex has a sports area with a running track, a smart gym, and indoor basketball, volleyball and handball court. On the interior, the school’s “Agora” also follows the natural slope of the site, with ramps on either side that lead to the classrooms and workshops. “La Place” is a community area used for breaks and recreation. According to the architects, the school’s “panoptical” design not connects it to its surroundings, but also serves as a strategic measure to help monitor the student body more efficiently. + Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Duncan Lewis, Matthieu Tregoat, and Cyrille Weiner

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Amazing green-roofed school melts into the mountains of France

Mecanoo to update Washington’s MLK Library with massive green roof

February 9, 2017 by  
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Renovating historic architectural landmarks is no easy task, but Dutch firm, Mecanoo , will be taking on the responsibility of breathing new life into the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C, originally designed by modernist master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe . Although the plans certainly call for retaining the original design’s most prominent features, the new version will include contemporary touches focused on adding more public space, such as an expansive green rooftop terrace . https://youtu.be/BUORTgTKBkg The library is a massive 37,000 square feet landmarked building that opened in 1972. The original design was focused on transparency and light, metaphors for the pillars of freedom and knowledge so often referenced by Dr. King. Related: Cedar Rapids turns tragedy into triumph with new LEED Platinum public library Working in collaboration with local firm Martinez+Johnson Architecture , the building will soon be getting a fresh new makeover that still pays homage to Dr King’s legacy. The main entrance and two adjacent cores will become the focal point of the space, opening them up to more light and community interaction. A Great Hall will be at the heart of the building, serving as a central area specifically setup to host cultural and informal events. The design also calls for new spacious stairwells to add a more fluid motion of traffic to the interior. The distribution of the library’s various departments and functional areas will also be rearranged to make the space more people-friendly. The glazed perimeter, previously lined with books shelves, will be converted into public areas. Visitors will be able to enjoy a new café on the ground floor and an expansive green rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the urban surroundings. + Mecanoo + Martinez+Johnson Architecture Via World Architecture News

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Barcelona home camouflaged into its leafy surroundings with glazed ceramic curtain

February 8, 2017 by  
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Barcelona-based architects PMMT Architects have slyly camouflaged a private residence into the surrounding greenery using a checkered screen of green-hued ceramic tiles. The architects worked with four different tones to color match the tiles to the surrounding landscape during the four seasons, seamlessly blending the home into the tree-filled lot. The front and rear facades of the three-story home (previously the city’s Indian consulate) are clad in chestnut board panels, but the rest of the home wrapped in the stainless-steel wire lattice made of ceramic tiles . The home’s unique “screen” not only offers beautiful views of the surrounding nature, but also is used for shade and privacy. Built on a deep incline, the natural landscape also helped tuck the home further into its surroundings. Related: Bird-friendly Invisible Barn camouflages itself against trees PMMT architect, Alex Herráez explains that the facade is inspired by the needs of the home itself, “The building’s design aims to respond to the defined functional needs of the family. With this ceramic curtain, we were able to solve four plans that in architecture are normally solved in separate ways: the facade, the pergola, the curtain walls and the roof.” The home has a large wrap-around patio that, thanks to the checkered screen , is the perfect place to peacefully enjoy the tranquil nature or expansive views of the city. The nature-inspired design continues into the interior, where a pair of birch trees holds court in an open-air patio. The living space on the first level is reached by an enclosed staircase with swaths of greenery planted on the flooring below. + PMMT Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Pedro Pegenaute  

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Barcelona home camouflaged into its leafy surroundings with glazed ceramic curtain

London’s first floating park slated to open this spring

February 2, 2017 by  
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London is about to get its first floating pocket park as part of a citywide greening initiative. Thanks to recent approval from the local city council, a floating 730-square-meter green-covered platform, designed by garden designer Tony Woods of The Garden Club, is now slated to open this spring at Merchant Square on the Grand Union Canal. The large green platform, which will be the first of its kind for the City, will have a lush green lawn surrounded by nectar-rich mixed raised borders. Various textural herbaceous plants and grasses will decorate the space year-round, but the color scheme will change with the seasons, stem color in autumn, scented winter flowers, spring bulbs, and an abundance of colorful flowers in summer Related: Floating urban greenhouse produces clean energy and organic food The park will also contain a “bespoke planting” scheme aimed at encouraging local wildlife to inhabitat the space, even adding a separate pontoon area for ground-nesting birds . Apart from the feathered friends, the pavilion, which will have its own canal boat mooring, will have a capacity of up to 120 visitors and offer free Wi-Fi for those looking for outdoor work space. The pocket park will have plenty of communal seating as well as a series of decked platforms and walkways where people can walk over water. The park is part of the Greater London Authority’s green infrastructure initiative, which aims to improve local infrastructure, as well as green parks and water canal and riverside spaces across the city. Andrew Scrivener, Chief Executive at European Land hailed the planning approval, “Outdoor spaces are a key ingredient in any successful neighbourhood. At Merchant Square this incredible Floating Pocket Park – the first in London – will not only provide green space for our residents and unique outside workplace for our occupiers, but creates an oasis in the West End, offering Londoners a way to actively reconnect with the canal.” + Tony Woods Via Hyperallergic

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London’s first floating park slated to open this spring

Solar-power system could provide clean drinking water in rural India for the first time

February 2, 2017 by  
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A solar-powered purification system could slake the thirsts of rural India with clean drinking water for the first time. This would be no ordinary feat. Tens of millions of people in India lack access to potable water, and roughly 600,000 Indian children die every year from water- and sanitation-related diseases like diarrhea or pneumonia, according to UNICEF . In the country’s most far-flung regions, where 70 percent of India’s population lives, toxic bacteria routinely fouls at least half of the water supply . But while the Indian government has focused its efforts on treating surface water in rivers and streams, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland want to attack the source of contamination: sewage. They’ve developed a system that uses sunlight to induce high-energy particles within a photocatalytic material, which uses light to generate a chemical reaction. These, in turn, activate molecules of oxygen, mobilizing them to destroy bacteria and other organic matter. Because the materials require no power source, an off-grid system requires little more than attaching the photocatalyst to containers of contaminated water and angling them toward the sun until they’re safe to drink. If necessary, the system could be used in tandem with a filter to catch larger particles. Related: 6 Innovative, Life-Saving Designs for Clean Drinking Water The researchers are now working with the Indian Institute of Science Education & Research to scale up the technologies they honed during a five-month pilot project. “Working closely with our Indian partners, we aim to harness the sun’s energy to tackle a huge problem that affects many people around the world,” Neil Robertson, a professor from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry, said in a statement. + University of Edinburgh Via FastCo.Exist Photo by Jake Givens

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Solar-power system could provide clean drinking water in rural India for the first time

Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

February 1, 2017 by  
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The Japanese reverence for nature has been well established, especially in the world of design. However, if anyone still has doubts, they should take a stroll through the Kayashima train station in Neyagawa, a northeastern suburb of Osaka. The train station was carefully constructed around a massive camphor tree that has stood on the site for 700 years. The Kayashima Station opened in 1910 and was built next to the large tree , whose exact age goes back before local records. As the local population began to grow, it became clear that the station would need to be upgraded. In 1972, plans were approved to expand the site and, according to Spoon and Tamago , those plans called for the tree to be cut down to make space. Related: Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung Although the history of the train station’s upgrades is a matter of records, there are multiple stories behind the tree’s intact presence today. Some say that it was indeed the Japanese respect for nature that saved the tree from being chopped down . Yet, others say it was nothing more than pure superstition. Apparently, the tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity, and its impending demise caused quite the uproar by the local community. Stories began to swirl that the tree was also angry and would curse anyone that dared to cut it down with bad luck. Whatever the case, station officials were persuaded to keep the tree, and ended up incorporating it into a new elevated platform . The construction was completed in 1980, and features a large hole cut into the roof of the platform where the tree majestically sticks out over the roof. Just to be on the safe side, the officials surrounded the base of the tree with a small shrine. Via Oddity Central Lead photo via Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei . Additional photography via Studio Ohana.

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