Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

July 8, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor. Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit. “The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.” Related: Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building opens its doors Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use. + ONG&ONG Images via ONG&ONG

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Selfie-seekers are destroying California farmers’ sunflower fields

July 8, 2019 by  
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A rush of tourists seeking the perfect selfie is putting California flora at risk. In the spring, masses of visitors flocked to small towns in southern California to snap photos with the super bloom of poppies along the roads and hillsides. Now, visitors are traveling miles to say cheese next to vibrant, sky-high sunflowers in Solano County. One or two photos might be okay, but when so many people trample — and trespass — on farmers’ fields, the entire farm suffers. Residents of the county made multiple calls to the local sheriff’s department after private property and crops were repeatedly trampled by eager amateur photographers. The sheriff’s department dispatched a public service announcement via social media: “As alluring as a picturesque sunflower field may be to a dedicated selfie seeker, farmers in Solano County are asking visitors to PLEASE respect their property when they’re trying to snap that perfect shot.” Related: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific During the poppy super bloom, Borrego Springs ran out of food, gas, hotel rooms and cash in the ATM just trying to handle the surge of tourists. The line of cars was backed up at least 20 miles down the road as visitors stopped to snap their photos of the blooming flowers . But many of the sunflower fields are part of private land and businesses and are critical to farmers’ livelihoods. Sunflowers are often sold as fresh-cut flowers but also for sunflower seeds and sunflower butter. Many farmers rely on the sunflowers for cross pollination and to feed important pollinators that their crops rely on, like native bees and honey bees . In Solano County, both farmers and residents are distressed that the visitors have little respect for private property signage and boundaries. Some tourists are going so far as to bring picnics and set up on farmers’ land like it’s a national park . “They’re having picnics, wine and cheese right there in the corner and I’m going ‘Really?’” a sunflower farmer, Craig Ginos, told CBS Sacramento . Via The Guardian and CBS Sacramento Image via Peter de Vink

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Prefab housing pods pop up with speed at Dyson Institutes modular village

July 8, 2019 by  
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The future of student housing may mean greater energy efficiency, faster construction times, and less waste if developers follow in the footsteps of the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology’s newly completed undergraduate village in Wiltshire. London-based architectural practice WilkinsonEyre recently completed the student housing development at the Dyson Malmesbury Campus, which was also masterplanned by WilkinsonEyre. Constructed with modular building technologies, the energy-efficient village for engineering students comprises clusters of prefabricated pods that were rapidly manufactured off-site and then craned into place with fittings and furnishings already in place. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology was created to combine higher education with commercial industry, research, and development. To create an immersive live/work experience, the campus tapped WilkinsonEyre to design student housing that houses up to 50 engineering students and visiting Dyson staff. In addition to the housing pods, the crescent-shaped landscaped site includes communal amenities as well as a central social and learning hub. Related: LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses California’s coastal climate Measuring eight meters by four meters each, the housing pods were prefabricated from cross-laminated timber and then stacked into a variety of cluster configurations ranging from two to three stories tall, with some units cantilevered by up to three meters. Each pod is optimized for energy efficiency, which includes harnessing CLT’s thermal massing benefits, tapping into natural ventilation, and maximizing daylight through large, triple-glazed windows. Aluminum rainscreen panels clad the exterior and some units are topped with sedum-covered roofs. The prefabricated units were fully fitted with bespoke furniture and built-in storage before they were transported to the site. Each cluster consists of up to six prefab units with a shared kitchen and laundry area at the mid-entry level as well as an entry area with reception and storage. “The dynamic variety of configurations lends an informal, residential character to the village,” says the project statement. “Green spaces and pathways determine user movement through the village and mediate connections between the residential accommodation and the communal clubhouse, named the Roundhouse, at the centre.” + WilkinsonEyre Images via WilkinsonEyre

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Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change

July 8, 2019 by  
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New research suggests that tree planting isn’t just a feel-good volunteer activity — it could actually be the cheapest and most effective tool against global warming that exists. While environmentalists have been encouraging tree planting for decades, there has been contradicting information about how well nations are adhering to their reforestation pledges and how much they are actually making a difference. A new study, however, calculates just how many trees could be planted in a worldwide reforestation effort and how it would impact climate change if implemented correctly. The researchers concluded that if the entire world organized to plant trees in all available land that isn’t existing farms or urban areas, the new trees could capture two-thirds of all human-related carbon emissions . According to their calculations, there are 1.7 billion hectares available that could support 1.2 trillion additional trees. This area equates to 11 percent of the Earth’s total land surface, or according to The Guardian , “equivalent to the size of the U.S. and China combined.” Related: Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says The researchers calculated the land’s capacity for trees by attempting to reach the goal of 100 percent canopy cover in tropical areas and at least 50 percent tree cover in more temperate zones. “This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said professor and lead researcher Tom Crowther. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.” Even if all 1.2 trillion trees were planted tomorrow, it would take between 50 and 100 years to see the full benefit, and who knows what carbon emissions will look like then? With this in mind, Crowther still emphasized the need to bring emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation to zero. “[Reforestation] is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved,” Crowther said. He also noted that each person can make an impact by growing their own trees, donating to reforestation efforts and avoiding companies that are contributing to deforestation. Via The Guardian Image via Valiphotos

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7 tips for decorating a tiny home

July 8, 2019 by  
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Tiny homes mean less room for items of all kinds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add decor that fits your personality and lifestyle. Decor includes furniture but also those little touches that gel your interior design style, whether that be eclectic, zen or cultural. With a few tips in mind, you’ll be able to pull together a look while adding function and flair. Pick a theme Your tiny home doesn’t have to fall into one category of interior design, but take the time to think about what makes you happy. Do you want to be surrounded by images of waterfalls or native objects from your travels? Is it more important to have a vase of flowers, a jar of paint brushes or a fruit bowl? The easiest way to funnel down the myriad decor options you face is to choose a theme of sorts. Select certain colors, fabrics or styles that appeal to that theme, at least in a general way. If you’re aiming for a beach-y feel, incorporate shells, sand and the natural tans and blues of the coastline. If southwestern appeal is your thing, opt for cacti, rock art and tribal prints. For a retro vibe, add in some old records, classic small appliances and a vinyl cover for the sofa. Related: Is a tiny home right for you? Think multipurpose With exceedingly limited space, every item in a tiny home should serve dual functions — especially those related to decor . There are endless ways to achieve this goal, so aim to source decor items that serve multiple functions. For example, that adorable small trunk you just have to have for the bookcase can hold candles, office supplies, paperwork, medicine or any number of other needed household items. Any bench, bed or table should allow for storage, too, so while it’s functional on its own as furniture, it also doubles as a storage cabinet. Be selective If you’ve begun your tiny living lifestyle, you’ve already whittled down the kitchen accessories, clothing options and bathroom clutter. The same process applies to decor. Be selective so that each item you choose has the impact you want without adding clutter. Don’t keep any items out of guilt, say those you feel obligated to keep because it was a family heirloom or a gift. Items kept out of guilt will not bring joy to your space. Let it go, and replace it with an item that brings positive feelings of contentment, satisfaction or inspiration. Choose versatile pieces With minimalism and tiny living becoming increasingly more popular, modern designs aim to offer two or more products in one. Look for wall art or tapestries that have a different design on each side. This offers an easy way to change your decor by simply flipping it over. For the kitchen, tile art in a frame can be swapped out with different tiles to freshen the look or welcome a new season. You can even use this idea at the front door with rubber mats that allow you to switch out the carpet in the center to accommodate different holidays without replacing the mat altogether. Go big In a small space, one large item creates a cleaner look than several smaller items grouped together. Plus, that larger ottoman on the floor or stainless steel canister on the counter can provide a storage option that small items cannot. This is an idea that also allows you to display larger items that you may not have cupboard space for, such as a colorful water pitcher or an appealing serving platter on a stand. Embrace the light Tiny spaces can mean less windows and natural light . Take advantage of the windows you do have by making sure the light isn’t blocked out by furniture or bulky window coverings. Counterbalance the dark with light colors throughout your decor theme. From sand to white walls to soft textiles, create a foundation of neutral colors for a brightening effect on the entire space. You can fulfill your desire for color with a sprinkle here and there throughout the home. Your color splashes will have a bigger impact against a muted background than in a bold space. While we’re on the topic of light, make sure to add plenty of lighting options to your decor, too. LED strip lighting on stairs and ladders adds a cozy touch and a safety measure. Task lighting in the kitchen and bathroom will aid in your daily activities, and efficient overhead lighting will provide a general glow to the home. Use wall space While attempting to find adequate storage in your tiny space, remember the walls go all the way to the ceiling. Use that vertical space to your advantage, but make sure you keep it from becoming overly cluttered. Attach hooks for your more attractive shopping bags, umbrellas, canes and coats. Add shelving and line it with attractive baskets that discreetly hide hats, gloves and scarves. Also use wall space to mount hanging plants so that you don’t have to rely on the limited surfaces available in the living area. Save the kitchen counter and tables for daily activities instead of decor. Mount canning jars filled with herbs to the wall, and provide a hanger for a hot pad and kitchen towel. Tiny living doesn’t have to equal tiny decor. In fact, streamlining your selections with a focus on the overall design can easily provide a homier feel than a large house crammed with clutter. Images via B&C Productions , Tiny Home Builders , Perch & Nest , Modern Tiny Living , A Tiny House Resort , Mint Tiny Homes , Borealis Tiny Homes and Tiny Heirloom

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100,000 giant white balloons invade London’s Covent Garden Market

August 27, 2015 by  
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100,000 giant white balloons invade London’s Covent Garden Market

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