MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center

May 24, 2018 by  
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Albania’s controversial Tirana Pyramid—a former monument to the country’s communist leader—will finally be repurposed after years of decay. MVRDV  has officially unveiled designs to transform the pyramidal structure into a large green technology education center. The pyramid will be opened up to the surroundings and filled with natural light and greenery, ultimately making the interior more welcoming to the public. Set in the center of the city, the Tirana Pyramid originally served as a museum honoring the legacy of Enver Hoxha, the long-time leader of communist Albania. Following the collapse of Communism in 1991, the concrete communist monument was repurposed for a variety of uses, from a nightclub to a NATO base, during the Kosovo War. In recent years, developers have called for the Tirana Pyramid’s demolition, which stirred controversy among its architects and the greater populace, many of whom had developed an attachment to the monument despite its increasingly decrepit and vandalized appearance. Rather than demolish the unique structure, MVRDV aims to preserve the silhouette while making the 127,000-square-foot building more accessible. “Though in the past, there were plans to transform this monumental building into a national theatre, this never materialised which left this fantastic building in ruin for more than a decade,” says Winy Maas , co-founder of MVRDV. “It is a symbol for many Albanians. For the older generation, it is a memory to the cultural events during communist times, for the recent generation it became the place to celebrate the new era. We will open it up to its surroundings as a structure in the park, that can be populated by people, trees, and containers for co-working. We will make the beams accessible and safe so that we can all climb to the top and celebrate the structure, with views of the city of Tirana. We create an inhabited monument.” Related: BIG unveils designs for bow tie-shaped National Theater of Albania In addition to natural light , the architects will introduce greenery to the building atrium. The team will also make the facade roof—a popular hangout spot for young people—officially available to all visitors, populating it with pavilions and other pop-up structures conducive to temporary events and sightseeing. The project is slated for completion in 2019. + MVRDV Renderings by MVRDV, Exterior image by Gent Onuzi and Wikimedia

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MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center

New 3 in 1 Roof solar tiles power your house for half the price of a Tesla roof

April 13, 2018 by  
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Tesla is getting all the attention when it comes to solar roofs , but some competitors out there are innovating in ways that even Elon Musk hasn’t thought of. 3 in 1 Roof , for instance, offers insulation, extreme wind protection and solar power, all in one. The solar roof system comes in a huge range of finishes, has a lighter load than traditional slate tiles, and is the first to claim zero heat transference into the attic – so it reduces your heating and cooling costs while providing you with clean, green energy. All at about half of the price of a Tesla solar roof. The Ft. Lauderdale-based company calculates that its offering will be about $11 less than Tesla’s solar roof per square foot. It’s also lighter than traditional slate roofing at just 110 pounds per 10 square feet, which means that architects can engineer homes with structures designed to support lighter loads. The roofs are designed to eliminate condensation between the attic deck and insulation, preventing mold and rot. The roofs are also hurricane resistant, standing up to winds at 200 mph. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Because of the highly UV-resistant surface and durable foam insulation, 3 in 1 Roofs should last 300% longer than traditional products and can save you up to 38% on your HVAC costs. If you want to nab one, the company is accepting $500 deposits and guarantees it will be ready for installation in 2019 – or you get your deposit, plus $500 back. You can also get a free car station charger if you are one of the first 1,000 to place an order. + 3 in 1 Roof

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A British billionaire is building the world’s biggest battery to rival Elon Musk’s

March 16, 2018 by  
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British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is building the world’s biggest battery in South Australia, knocking Elon Musk’s battery project from the title. South Australia is home to a 100MW battery the size of a football field, which switched online last November. Gupta plans to build his own 120MW battery at a storage facility at Whyalla Steelworks , which he purchased last year. A once-in-a-lifetime storm caused blackouts throughout South Australia in 2017, prompting the state to secure its energy grid against future disruptions. The state began investing in renewable energy – and it’ll invest $7.8 million into Gupta’s project. The SIMEC ZEN Energy storage facility will be located 186 miles north of Adelaide in Port Augusta. Gupta’s GFG Alliance bought the struggling steelmaking giant Arrium last year, of which the Whyalla Steelworks is a part. Related: Tesla’s South Australia battery starts delivering power a day early Musk pledged last year to build a South Australia battery facility in 100 days – or the project would be free . He built it in just 63 days, and the project switched online last November. Musk’s battery is connected to a wind farm operated by energy firm Neoen, and it provides enough energy to power 8,000 homes for 24 hours during a blackout. Via Phys.org Images via GFG Alliance and Tesla

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Goodyear unveils a living moss tire that cleans the air as you drive

March 6, 2018 by  
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The future of transportation is looking mighty green. Goodyear just revealed a new tire called Oxygene that integrates living moss to help improve air quality while you travel. Goodyear didn’t just stop there – Oxygene is 3D-printed out of recycled tires and includes technology to help keep pedestrians safe. While we’re excited about any eco-friendly innovations in mobility, this tire is particularly exciting because tires are such a toxic part of the transportation system. The Oxygene tire has moss growing in the tire’s sidewall, which absorbs moisture through the tread to feed the plants inside. The moss sucks in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, and the energy generated by that photosynthesis also powers a light in the tire that alerts pedestrians whether the driver is turning, stopping, etc. Related: Goodyear’s crazy new spherical tires prove moving sideways is actually a giant leap forward The tire is made of recycled tire powder using 3D-printing . It also has built-in connectivity that could come in handy with autonomous vehicles in the future. With over 300 million tires hitting landfills in the US every year, Goodyear’s tire is a sustainable solution to a serious problem. The tire concept was revealed at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show , and while it may remain just a concept, it opens the conversation to what is possible. + Goodyear Via and Clean Technica Images via Goodyear

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Daan Roosegaarde reveals vision for air-purifying Smog Free Drones

February 28, 2018 by  
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Studio Roosegaarde ‘s Smog Free Project continues to create bubbles of clean air throughout the world – the team recently opened a Smog Free Tower in Park Jordana in Kraków, Poland . But Daan Roosegaarde isn’t through innovating new ideas to clean our skies. In an exclusive interview with Inhabitat, Roosegaarde shared the first art impressions for Smog Free Drones, which could create personal pockets of fresh air. Imagine a small gizmo gliding above your head, scrubbing the air as it goes. That’s essentially the Smog Free Drone, or Smog Free Floatable. This new artistic vision from Studio Roosegaarde is still very much in the early stages, but Roosegaarde says they do think it is possible. He tells Inhabitat, “The Smog Free Project is a movement: we’ve done the Smog Free Tower, Smog Ring , Smog Free Bicycle, but at the same time we also wanted to make it personal, make it portable. That’s why we came up with the notion of the floatable; that it would be like a buddy floating above your head, giving you clean air as you walk through the polluted city.” Related: INTERVIEW: Designer Daan Roosegaarde on smog temples, space trash, and what’s next The Smog Free Drone could function as an alternative to a stiff face mask; Roosegaarde described it as “sort of like a Pac-Man moving through the city and keeping you safe.” There are technical challenges to the project: battery life, safety, and sound are a few. But these could be tackled, Roosegaarde thinks, and with enough time and energy, the Smog Free Drones could become reality. “The artist impression we made is also an open call to the community,” he says. “This is our idea, we think it’s possible, we don’t know. If someone wants to make it or knows how to make it, call us or do it yourself, I don’t really care as long as it’s realized. Why not?” The design of drones themselves could assist the idea’s realization. Roosegaarde says, “Drones already have a sort of air flow, because they need to stay up in the air. You might be able to make use of that to design the thermodynamics underneath, or above your head.” So far the Smog Free Tower has been a success in Kraków , which Roosegaarde described as one of Europe’s most polluted cities — worse than Beijing on some days. And while Studio Roosegaarde is continually taking measurements to test the tower’s performance, in Poland there was another surprise indicator of clean air around the tower: little dogs . “Apparently, of the animals they’re having the most trouble with the smog because their noses and lungs are small. They were somehow attracted by the tower, so there were a lot of these really small dogs hanging around, like they were having a secret meeting, and enjoying the clean air,” said Roosegaarde. “Maybe that’s the quality of a good design: that it always triggers something beyond the control of the designer, and you just have to surrender to that.” Overall, the tower’s design is the same as the ones in China and the Netherlands, but Studio Roosegaarde made a few minor alterations in terms of production, and can also monitor the tower online. It’s in a public park , so anyone can freely access the clean air. “We’ve calculated that we can make the park between 20 and 70 percent more clean than the rest of the city in terms of clean air,” Roosegaarde said, adding that the Smog Free Tower in Kraków might become a permanent urban fixture. Studio Roosegaarde held a symposium at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK) with local creatives and activists to discuss creating change around air quality . Roosegaarde said, “It is as much unique technological innovation as social and political innovation. I think the summary of all these dialogues is that we live in an economical system which is all about money and time. And we all want a new economical system which is about clean air, clean water , and clean energy . But how do we get there? What’s the price of clean air? Who is going to decide that? It was incredibly fascinating for me to learn from that, and I hope we have way more conversations.” Stay tuned for more smog vacuum cleaners popping up around the planet — Roosegaarde said they will be launching the Smog Free Project in Mexico, Colombia, and India in upcoming months. And will it be an Inhabitat reader who helps bring the vision for Smog Free Drones to life? We’ll be excited to find out! + Studio Roosegaarde + Smog Free Project Images courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

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New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

February 20, 2018 by  
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Forget lithium – this Barcelona-based company is creating batteries with paper. Fuelium is developing paper -based batteries designed for disposable diagnostic devices, OZY reported . Unlike regular batteries, Fuelim batteries don’t create toxic waste that requires complicated recycling processes. What’s not to love? Paper, carbon, and non-toxic metals: those are the ingredients for Fuelium’s batteries. These won’t be powering cars right now; the company says their paper-based batteries are suited for powering in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) applications, or tests that can detect diseases with blood or tissue samples . Fuelium says their batteries are geared for “single-use electronic devices which can be disposed of without recycling.” Regular single-use diagnostic tests are thrown out after utilizing under one percent of their batteries’ charge, according to OZY. But Fuelium’s paper batteries, according to the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Research Park , “only generate the amount of energy needed for each application and do not contain heavy metals or are harmful to health .” Related: This revolutionary new paper battery is powered by bacteria Fuelium’s batteries can be customized for different applications with voltages between one and six volts, and power between one and 100 milliwatts. They’re cost-effective and can be easily integrated as the battery materials are compatible with manufacturing processes for rapid diagnostic tests. Any liquid sample can activate the paper-based batteries, according to the company, which suggests their product could be used in the areas of infectious disease, veterinary medicine, and women’s health, to name a few. Scientists Juan Pablo Esquivel, Neus Sabaté, and Sergi Gassó of the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona started Fuelium in 2015, and according to OZY, they have signed their first contract. Esquivel told OZY their paper-based batteries are small and inexpensive, and don’t require recycling; instead, they can be tossed out with zero ecological impact. + Fuelium Via OZY Images via Self-Powered Engineered Devices and Dan Taylr on Flickr

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Tesla is selling its solar products in Home Depot stores starting in July

February 2, 2018 by  
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Getting your hands on a Tesla Powerwall is a bit more challenging than simply running to the local hardware store – but that’s about to change. Tesla just announced that it will sell its solar products at Home Depot . Solar panels ? Check. Powerwalls ? You bet. Even Solar Roofs? You got it. It’s all happening in 800 stores by July of this year. Home Depot has 2,200 stores across the US, which can help Tesla go a long way towards reaching new customers. In July, 800 of these stores will have Tesla kiosks, staffed by Tesla employees, with interactive demonstrations, information and purchasing capabilities. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof The move is smart for several reasons. First, when Tesla bought SolarCity , it was going door-to-door to move its products. This was expensive. Additionally, Tesla has advertised its products in Tesla showrooms, but that targets a specific customer with relatively few locations. Initial reports say that the kiosks will be limited to selling solar panels and Powerwalls, with the Solar Roof coming as production ramps up. It’s all part of Elon Musk’s plan to make adding solar to a home an easy and seamless process. + Tesla Via Clean Technica Images via Deposit Photos and Tesla

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Water-based AC cools the air without using harmful chemicals

January 19, 2018 by  
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Our air conditioners still draw on principles that are around 100-years-old, sucking up power in the process. Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) are working on an alternative: water -based air conditioners. Their system doesn’t need energy -intensive compressors or harmful chemical refrigerants – and can cool air all the way down to 18 degrees Celsius, or 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Over 40 percent of the energy consumption of a building in the tropics goes to air conditioning, according to NUS associate professor Ernest Chua . He led a team to develop a new air conditioning system offering several advantages over conventional machines commonly found in buildings today. Related: This amazing Bangladeshi air cooler is made from plastic bottles and uses no electricity Water serves as the coolant in their air conditioner, and an innovative membrane technology sucks moisture out of humid air. The system uses up around 40 percent less electricity than compressor-based air conditioners, which NUS said translates to an over 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions . And the system doesn’t release hot air, instead discharging a less-humid cold air stream. For every liter of water used, as much as 15 liters of drinking water can be harvested, according to NUS – and the water the system harvests from the air is five times purer than Singapore tap water. Chua said in a statement, “Our cooling technology can be easily tailored for all types of weather conditions, from humid climate in the tropics to arid climate in the deserts. While it can be used for indoor living and commercial spaces, it can also be easily scaled up to provide air-conditioning for clusters of buildings in an energy-efficient manner.” NUS said it’s cost-effective to produce the system. Right now the team is further developing the design to boost user-friendliness, and aim to incorporate smart features like real-time tracking of energy efficiency or “pre-programmed thermal settings based on human occupancy.” They’re hoping to collaborate with industry partners on commercialization. Via National University of Singapore and Futurity Images via National University of Singapore and NUSLife on YouTube

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Elegant LEED Gold winery mimics Napa Valleys curves

January 19, 2018 by  
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Cargotecture has found an unlikely home at a winery in Napa Valley. Local firm Signum Architecture completed Odette Estate Winery, a LEED Gold-certified round building powered by solar and fitted with three shipping containers repurposed as offices. Designed to reflect the elegance and femininity of the wines produced there, the winery sports a curved form that evokes a swan’s wing—a nod to the Tchaikovsky ballet character Odette of Swan Lake. Selected as an Industrial Building Category winner in the American Architecture Prize 2017, the Odette Estate Winery was recognized for its elegant and sustainable design. The building’s adherence to LEED Gold standards is a visual continuation of the owner’s commitment to sustainable farming and wine production. Solar panels provide renewable energy while conscientious use of building materials lower the winery’s carbon footprint. Related: 100% solar-powered winery keeps naturally cool with cork-insulated roofs Nestled between the valley’s eastern hills, the Odette Estate Winery is topped with an undulating living roof that replicates the hilly topography. Sliding perforated aluminum screens cut into curving organic shapes shield the winery’s covered crush pad and open-air workspace. The mesh panels allow natural ventilation and light to pass through and, when backlit at night, give the building the appearance of a glowing lantern. The repurposed shipping containers at the front of the building are used for a state-of-the-art wine laboratory and office space. The fermentation and barrel room take up the majority of the building footprint. + Signum Architecture Photo credit: Adrian Gregorutti

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Elegant LEED Gold winery mimics Napa Valleys curves

New satellite paves the way for full-color, full-motion video from space

January 15, 2018 by  
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British company Earth-i just launched a new prototype satellite that paves the way for the “world’s first full-color, full-motion video satellite constellation.” CARBONITE-2 is a test version of the the Vivid-i commercial satellite constellation, and its imaging system “is designed to deliver 1m resolution images and color HD video clips with a swath width of 5km.” CARBONITE-2 (which the Earth-i team calls VividX2) blasted off from the Indian Space Research Organization ‘s Satash Dhawan Space Center aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle late last week. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) manufactured the technology demonstration satellite. In their statement on the launch they said it “will demonstrate a low-cost video-from-orbit solution using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf technologies.” Related: Teen creates world’s lightest satellite and NASA is sending it to space An Ultra High Definition camera on CARBONITE-2 can snap high-resolution images and capture up to two minutes of video. The satellite weighs around 220 pounds, and it will orbit 314 miles, above the planet, moving at around 4.3 miles a second. European Space Agency Earth Observation Programs director Josef Aschbacher said in a statement, “The launch of VividX2 is a significant next development of Earth-i’s constellation, and welcomed by ESA. The Vivid-i Constellation will provide capabilities we haven’t seen before including full-color video, and an assured stream of high-quality data from space to help improve both our planet and lives on Earth.” The company said such images and videos could help governments or businesses monitor assets, track activities or changes, and even “predict future events with more certainty.” Earth-i has already ordered the next five satellites for Vivid-i from SSTL. Via Engadget , Earth-i , and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited Images via SSTL/Beaucroft Photography

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