Solar powered hotel opens in Indian wine-growing region

March 27, 2020 by  
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Mumbai-based firm  Sanjay Puri Architects  has just completed work on a beautiful hotel in northern India known for wine production. Built on a base of locally-sourced natural stone, the Aria Hotel is a stunning design carefully stacked onto the landscape that boasts several passive and active features to make it incredibly  energy efficient . Located in the ancient city of Nashik in the northern Indian region of Maharashtra, the  beautiful hotel  is located right on the banks of the Godavari River. The idyllic location includes the river on one side and rising hills on the other, providing guests with a beautiful area to reconnect with nature. Related: Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort According to the architects, no soil was taken out of the site or brought into the site during the construction process to protect the natural topography. Stacked multiple levels high, the hotel is built on a base of locally-sourced natural black basalt stone . The north side of the building includes several modules with large balconies that look out over the river. Throughout the suites as well as the common areas, the hotel boasts an abundance of natural light  thanks to several floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors. Additionally, the spaces, including the main courtyards, are naturally ventilated, further reducing the hotel’s energy usage. The hotel meets an estimated 50% of its energy needs thanks to a rooftop solar array . In addition to its clean energy generation, the hotel was installed with a rainwater collection system that provides water for irrigation. All of the luxury units boast large rectangular balconies that are angled to frame the incredible views of the river landscape. However, these angled outdoor spaces with overhanging roofs were also specifically designed to provide shade and  minimize heat gain  throughout the interior spaces. + Sanjay Puri Architects Via v2com Photography by Dinesh Mehta and Sanjay Puri

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Solar powered hotel opens in Indian wine-growing region

cigu creates a hotel room of the future that emphasizes water recycling

March 4, 2020 by  
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For the Hôtel Métropole exhibition at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Parisian design collective ciguë recently showcased “Une chambre pour demain” (A Room for Tomorrow), an experimental redesign of a hotel room that champions water recycling. Created as a reaction against the amount of unseen excess and waste in the hospitality business, the pavilion takes the shape of a minimalist hotel room that uses a series of rainwater harvesting systems estimated to offer 70% water savings as compared to a standard hotel room. The design for A Room for Tomorrow began with the architects’ comparison of hotel rooms to time capsules, in that their designs are typically reflective of the way of living in a particular era. “With our current times accelerating faster than ever, it however seems as if the evolution has wound down, the model has become almost stagnant and is being duplicated indefinitely with a quest focused more and more on comfort, perhaps as a way of forgetting that there is an urgency to react,” ciguë explained in a project statement. “Meanwhile, thousands of bathtubs are being filled, emptied and refilled as we speak.” Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood To bring attention to the urgency to act on environmental concerns and present possible solutions to the excesses in the hospitality business, the architects worked together with environmental engineering experts Le Sommer Environment to create a home room prototype with a focus on recycling. The room is deliberately stripped down to its solid oak skeleton, which was built to be easily dismountable so that the parts can be recycled . The focus of the pavilion is the bathroom, where water-saving technologies are demonstrated. The minimalist pavilion features an open ceiling, through which two water tanks can be seen. One tank is for rainwater collection and the other is for storing water rendered potable through phytopurification plants and activated carbon filters. Graywater from the bathtub and sink are filtered, collected and reused in a closed-loop circuit. In the corner, a transparent composting toilet bowl shows how human excrement is separated into liquids and solids, with the latter to be transformed into compost . A Room For Tomorrow was on display in Paris from October 16, 2019 to January 12, 2020.  + ciguë Images via Salem Mostefaoui and ciguë

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cigu creates a hotel room of the future that emphasizes water recycling

Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

February 28, 2020 by  
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Once known as one of Uganda’s most popular hotels, the Nile Safari Lodge had fallen into disrepair over the years. When it was tasked to breathe new life into the property, Kampala-based studio Localworks decided to pay homage to the building’s history by respectfully and carefully rebuilding the existing facilities instead of tearing them down and starting from scratch. Now, the fully refurbished accommodation is an incredible, solar-powered eco-retreat offering guests a direct connection to the nature surrounding the property. Located on the southern bank of the Nile River, the Nile River Lodge is enveloped in wilderness. Looking over the famed river, the lodge offers guests a chance to recharge their batteries while taking in the views. This calm atmosphere became the focal point of the green renovation process. Related: Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco-retreat Starting with the main building, the architects wanted to break open the communal spaces as much as possible. They did this by covering the existing building with a series of thick, grass-thatched roofs . The design strategy also aimed to implement new openings around the property to allow for indoor-outdoor living. The Ugandan climate is typically very hot and humid, so passive cooling strategies , such as natural light and ventilation, were used whenever possible. The wide, triangular openings and curved walkways found throughout the hotel allow guests to enjoy framed views of the river and surrounding Murchison Falls National Park from nearly anywhere onsite. At the heart of the eco-retreat is a soothing infinity pool that looks out over the river. A covered pavilion opens up to the pool and serves as the perfect spot to take in both the sunrise and the sunset. Guests will be able to enjoy down time in one of the eight cottages, all of which face the river. Although distinct in size and amenities, the cottages, referred to as bandas , are raised on stilts to reduce their impact on the landscape and generate air flow under the buildings. Made of natural materials such as wood, grass and stone, the buildings were all positioned to protect the interiors from the harsh equatorial sunlight. While passive strategies were used throughout the eco-resort, several modern features were also implemented to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Completely free of mechanical cooling systems, the lodge runs solely on solar power . + Localworks + Nile Safari Lodge Via ArchDaily Photography by Will Boase via Localworks

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Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

Shipping container retreat in Brazil is inspired by tiny homes

February 7, 2020 by  
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Airbnb now has another incredible tiny home retreat to add to its unique lodgings on offer. Located on a stunning prairie landscape in Brazil’s Cambará do Sul area, the Cambará Container House is comprised of two 20-foot shipping container units that have been carefully crafted by local firm Mégui Dal Bó Arquiteta into cozy accommodations. The design was inspired by the minimalism and reduced waste ethos behind the tiny home movement. Working with owner Carina Boff, architects Saymon Tech Dali Alba and Mégui Pezzi Dal Bó wanted to create a serene retreat for people to get the most enjoyment out of their visit to the Cambará do Sul area, which is a popular spot for people to use as a base while exploring two national parks that are nearby. Along with the parks, the region is known for its expansive prairies and deep valleys. Related: This tiny home with a rooftop deck is made from two shipping containers Inspired by the area’s beautiful scenery, the architects decided to create two volumes out of repurposed shipping containers . Measuring just 365 square feet each, the shipping container guest houses were designed to be as sustainable as possible. Crafting the shipping containers into rental units allowed the architects to reduce the project’s overall construction time and waste. The shipping containers were also elevated off of the landscape in order to minimize impact on the environment. The shipping containers serve as tiny homes that offer guests all of the conveniences of a conventional luxury getaway but within a minimalist, cozy setting. Using as many environmentally friendly materials as possible, the lodgings feature contemporary living areas, kitchenettes and dining spaces. Each unit can accommodate up to four guests with a double bed and a sofa bed. The retreats are heated thanks to a wood-burning fireplace that lends a bit of a cabin aesthetic to the otherwise contemporary interior design . To foster a strong connection between the interior and the exterior , the shipping containers each feature two outdoor spaces. First, a pair of sliding glass doors open up from the living area to a front balcony. Secondly, guests can enjoy the containers’ rooftops, which were outfitted with spacious open-air terraces. + Mégui Dal Bó Arquiteta + Cambará Container House Via ArchDaily Photography by Guilherme Jordani via Mégui Dal Bó Arquiteta

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Shipping container retreat in Brazil is inspired by tiny homes

Light pollution, habitat loss and pesticides push fireflies toward extinction

February 7, 2020 by  
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There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies, and scientists are sounding the alarm that some of these species are on the brink of extinction . Research published in BioScience indicates that habitat loss, light pollution and pesticides are threatening these delightful insects. According to Tufts University biology professor Sara Lewis, the study’s lead author, “If people want fireflies around in the future, we need to look at this seriously. Fireflies are incredibly attractive insects, perhaps the most beloved of all insects, because they are so conspicuous, so magical.” Related: New Animal Endangerment Map shows global distribution of threatened animal species Habitat loss is the main culprit disrupting the environmental conditions and cues conducive to firefly development and lifecycle completion. One example cited was the Malaysian firefly species Pteroptyx tener , which needs particular mangroves and plants to breed appropriately, but their mangrove swamp habitats have been displaced by aquaculture farms and palm oil plantations. The second issue leaving fireflies vulnerable is light pollution . As CNN reported, light pollution can arise from “streetlights and commercial signs and skyglow, a more diffuse illumination that spreads beyond urban centers and can be brighter than a full moon.” Artificial lights can interfere with firefly courtship. Male fireflies flash particular bioluminescent patterns to attract females, who must flash responses in return. Unfortunately, artificial lights can mimic and thus confuse the signals. Or, worse yet, light pollution can be too bright for the fireflies to emit and properly recognize their ritual signals for mating to be initiated or completed. Thirdly, pesticides have been a significant driving factor in the decline of firefly populations. The Center for Biological Diversity has documented that “Systemic pesticides like neonicotinoids that get into the soil and water harm firefly larvae and their prey. Also, because fireflies are generally found in wetland habitats, they are threatened by insecticide spraying targeting mosquitoes.” As a result, the larvae either starve or have developmental anomalies that prevent population growth. Public outcries by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Firefly Specialist Group as well as the Fireflyers International Network have raised some awareness about the dwindling firefly populations. Yet, as stated by the Center for Biological Diversity, “There are at least 125 species of fireflies in the United States, but despite the many threats they face, none are protected by the Endangered Species Act.” To protect these luminous insects that have long captivated the imagination with their fairytale-like lights, much work still needs to be done, especially given the U.K. Wildlife Trusts ’ similar report on the ‘quiet apocalypse’ taking place now, wherein 41% of global insect species face extinction. + BioScience Via CNN , the Center for Biological Diversity and The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Light pollution, habitat loss and pesticides push fireflies toward extinction

Transparent, prefab tiny cabin offers the best views of the Italian Alps

January 16, 2020 by  
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If you need a little getaway, there is a beautiful, tiny cabin retreat in the Italian Alps calling your name. The Immerso cabin, which is available to rent on Airbnb , is a prefabricated timber cabin with transparent roofs and walls that allow guests to completely “immerse” themselves in nature while trying to find serenity in an increasingly stressful world. Designed by Italian architects Fabio Vignolo and Francesca Turnaturi, the Immerso cabin sleeps up to two people. Located in the fairytale-like setting of the Chisone Valley in the western Piedmont, the timber cabin is surrounded by breathtaking views. In fact, according to the architects, this pristine location is what inspired the Immerso design — to meet the “increasing human need to live strictly connected to the nature.” Related: These solar-powered prefab cabins can be set up in just 4 hours Manufactured offsite using CNC-cut birch plywood panels that slot together easily, the prefab cabin measures a total of just 65 square feet. Its transparent, A-frame roof and walls add a spacious feel to the interior; however, curtains can be drawn to provide a bit of privacy. Two large doors open completely to reveal the minimal interior, which is comprised of a double bed and coffee table. In case you are wondering, there is a shared bathroom on the property as well for when nature calls. Currently located approximately 1,900 meters above sea level in the Italian Alps, the tiny cabin was designed to be easily transportable and assembled in nearly any location. The prefabricated design allows the structure to be assembled in just two hours. Additionally, the cabin is elevated off the ground on a platform in order to leave minimal impact on the natural environment. The Immerso cabin is available for rent on Airbnb starting at about $130 a night. + Airbnb Images via Immerso Glamping

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Transparent, prefab tiny cabin offers the best views of the Italian Alps

Your eco-friendly travel guide for New York City

January 9, 2020 by  
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It’s easy to get caught up in New York’s frenetic energy. If you’re there as a tourist, the checklist of must-see attractions is exciting, but long and tiring: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway shows, amazing museums. If you’re there for business, it’s easy to go from hotel to conference room to bar, repeat. But there are plenty of opportunities to find some beauty and tranquility within NYC’s nonstop style. Take some time to get outside, do something healthy, and take a few deep breaths. NYC outdoors Yes, there is nature within New York City’s urban jungle. The most obvious place to get outside is Manhattan’s massive, iconic Central Park. Within this 843-acre green space, you can visit the formal Conservatory Garden, pay your respects at the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial, rent a boat and paddle around the lake, and check out the Literary Walk, which is lined by statues of authors. For a very New York walk, stroll the 1.45-mile High Line. Manhattan’s elevated linear park, created from an old New York Central Railroad spur, has attracted a constant stream of locals and tourists since opening in 2009. Come as you are; you’ll see jogging shorts, haute couture, and everything in between. The 250-acre New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is gorgeous in every season. Peacefully wander through water lilies, lilacs and roses, or take advantage of the ambitious schedule of programming. The NYBG is on a serious sustainability mission, providing research to support government policy and protecting the world’s flora and biodiversity . Manhattan Kayak Company offers guided expeditions on the Hudson River, including its popular Skyline and NY After Dark tours. They also have many excursions for more experienced paddlers. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse has a free kayaking program during the summer. You’ll need to stay within a supervised area to participate. On Sundays, you can join them for kayak polo. Only the bravest visiting cyclists will want to take on Manhattan. But NYC has 300 miles of bike trails. Study this map and see if a bike rental might fit into your New York City plans. Wellness in NYC You can find any type of yoga you like in New York. But if you want to try something new and different, you’re in luck. Are cats your cup of tea ? You can enjoy both cats and tea during a Yoga & Kitties session at Meow Parlour . Like to let it all hang out? Bold & Naked might be the yoga class for you. If you want to get even bolder, one-on-one tantric yogassage is also available. During summer, consider joining a yoga class in a park or on a rooftop farm at sunset in the Brooklyn Navy Yard . Two of NYC’s most popular water therapy options are the old-fashioned Russian & Turkish Baths , serving New Yorkers since 1892, and the modern Great Jones Spa . At the Russian & Turkish Baths, you can get a platza oak leaf treatment, which involves being beaten with a broom made from fresh oak leaves dripping with olive oil soap. At Great Jones, the water circuit atmosphere is peaceful if a bit sterile. NYC appeals to spiritual seekers across the spectrum. Stop into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, opened in 1879, for a few minutes of quiet or prayer. Visit the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island for tai chi, meditation, and a look at one of the biggest collections of Himalayan artifacts in the US. Join devotees of The Path for a nondenominational meditation, followed by relaxing in the Montauk Salt Cave. Or experience the power of spending time with ancient art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dining out in NYC Just as you might want to try an unusual yoga class while visiting NYC, this is a chance to eat vegan food that’s hard to find elsewhere. For example, vegans are out of luck in your average dim sum restaurant. But at Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in Chinatown, vegans can safely grab anything off the dim sum cart. When’s the last time you had gluten-free veg shark fin congee? Vegan star Beyond Sushi has six locations, including in the Chelsea Market food hall, ironically situated in the Meatpacking District. Their sushi rolls are creative and ambitious. For example, the smoky jack contains black rice, pickled cabbage, mango, hickory-smoked jackfruit , watercress, mint, dehydrated olives and tomato guajillo sauce. Cinnamon Snail , in Pennsy Food Hall right by Madison Square Garden, specializes in “vegan kosher food made by a gaggle of wild ponies who live in a magical tree.” Start the day here by raiding their case of vegan donuts and baked goods, or get a hearty serving of mac ‘n’ cheese at lunch or dinner. For dessert, try some matcha cream crunch or lemon ginger cream pie at Rawsome Treats . Founder, head chef and Muay Thai fighter Watt Sriboonruang makes everything raw, vegan and gluten-free . Public transit While a Pew Research Center survey found that about 88 percent of Americans own cars, only about 22 percent of Manhattan households are auto owners. This is good news for tourists, as it means lots of public transportation. Trains serve all three of NYC’s airports , connecting to buses and the subway system to get you wherever you want to go. That said, NY public transit can be overwhelming, and New Yorkers tend to move fast. If you’re unfamiliar with public transit, New Yorker Minh Nguyen kindly put together this website for newbies. Commuter rail lines serve outlying areas. You can also ferry around town. NYC Ferry operates six routes spanning more than 60 nautical miles of waterways, and service is still growing. You can even charge your phone and get a snack while cruising. CitiBike offers a bike share program if you’re planning on short rides. Or hire a pedicab and take a rest while somebody else does the work . Eco-hotels The Benjamin Hotel was one of New York’s first hotel to focus on both sustainability and luxury, partnering with students from the New York Institute of Technology to help them revamp and earn a Green Key Eco-Rating. The hotel’s wellness offerings include the Rest & Renew program that helps guests improve their sleep . The Element New York Times Square West incorporated recycled material into its furnishings, such as carpets made from recycled plastic bottles. This Marriott hotel features loaner bikes for guests and a free breakfast bar with fresh fruit. For budget travelers who value a hotel’s gym over in-room amenities, consider staying at one of NYC’s YMCAs . Your room will resemble a monk’s cell, but you’ll wake up in a huge gym with spin class, weights and a pool. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and New York Botanical Garden

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Your eco-friendly travel guide for New York City

Chic B&B in New South Wales is inside a shed made of upcycled materials

December 4, 2019 by  
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Australia was recently voted the destination of the year for 2020 . If you are thinking about going down under for a vacation, make sure to check out this beautiful B&B located in a shed in New South Wales. Made almost entirely from upcycled materials , The Shed is an old machinery shed that has been converted into a unique, eco-friendly accommodation. Guests to The Shed will take comfort in not only staying in a unique hotel but also one that has been crafted from reclaimed materials. Walking into the spacious living area through a set of vintage doors, guests will find that the building materials, such as reclaimed wood and timber ceiling beams, were left exposed. Related: These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials The living space of the fun hotel consists of a large lounge area with vintage sofas centered around a fireplace. An open kitchen with a breakfast bar comes with all of the typical amenities. A family-style dining table provides a great place for everyone to gather around and eat or play games together. The Shed sleeps up to seven guests among its three bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms have spacious, king-sized beds, while the third room is home to bunk beds. The full bathroom has a free-standing bathtub, a walk-in shower, a sink and a toilet. There is also a half bathroom. Just over two hours away from the NSW capital , Sydney, the Shed is set on an idyllic plot of land with chickens and an herb garden. Visitors can enjoy dining al fresco in the outdoor dining area, which comes complete with a barbecue grill and a pizza oven. The location offers all types of activities for nature-lovers, including hiking and biking trails. + Glamping Hub Images via Glamping Hub

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Chic B&B in New South Wales is inside a shed made of upcycled materials

Fiji’s Cousteau Resort launches a new botanical program for guests

November 8, 2019 by  
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For travelers who want to learn more about the environment they are visiting, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort , a leading eco-luxe property in Fiji, is helping guests do just that with a recently expanded program for botanical education. Guests to the resort can take new tours, where they learn about medicinal and edible plants as well as rare palms. The initiative is part of a larger goal to protect the island’s natural environment. “At our resort, we’ve felt firsthand the great impact nature can have on the mind and the body, so we’re trying to preserve the traditional knowledge of this area, and, in turn, preserve culture,” said Bartholomew Simpson, general manager of the resort. Related: Jean-Michel Cousteau eco resort showcases traditional building Billy Railala, the resort’s expert on traditional herbal medicine , leads the Fijian Medicine Walk. The resort has offered this walk for several years, but recently expanded it to feature more than 120 species of Fijian medicinal flora and fauna. For example, the bark and stems from Fagraea berteriana flowers, or “bua ni viti,” are pressed into liquid and used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems. Fijians dry and burn a feathery bamboo called “bitu,” then mix the ashes with coconut oil to treat burns. Liquid from the small tropical tree Syzygium gracilipes , or “leba,” is used to increase fertility. Edible plants like papaya, guava, taro and avocado flourish in the resort’s two-acre organic garden. Kids can participate in an organic farming program and dress up in chefs’ uniforms to help prepare their own meals. The resort has also been collecting rare palm trees endemic to Fiji. Most are threatened, critically endangered or even extinct in the wild. Horticulture expert and nursery manager Jim Valentine is working with the resort to propagate these rare palms and repopulate Fiji with them. Simpson said, “This initiative not only serves to pay homage to Fijian culture, which is a key mandate of the resort concept, but also serves to remind the younger generation of Fijians of the important uses of these plants and how the elders used them in centuries past; preserving the fragile Fijian culture , which is eroding quickly in the modern age.” + Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Images via Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

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Fiji’s Cousteau Resort launches a new botanical program for guests

First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

November 8, 2019 by  
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Milan-based architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled innovative designs for a nature-infused smart city in Cancun, Mexico that will serve as a model for resilient and sustainable urban planning. Created for Honduras-based textile conglomerate and property developer Grupo Karim, ‘Smart Forest City – Cancun’ is a proposed alternative to plans for a shopping district in the area. The masterplan would reforest a 557-hectare site — currently used as a sand quarry for hotels — and create mixed-use development that would be completely food and energy self-sufficient. The proposed Smart Forest City – Cancun would house 130,000 residents as well as 7,500,000 plants of 400 different species selected by botanist and landscape architect Lauri Gatti. More than 200,000 trees would be planted to create a ratio of 2.3 trees per inhabitant, while the remainder of the vegetation would be mostly shrubs, bushes, green roofs and vertical gardens. “Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,” the press release stated. Related: Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design With help from the German company Transsolar, the mixed-use development would be surrounded by a ring of solar panels that provide enough renewable energy to meet the residents’ needs. The city would also include an agricultural field belt that wraps around the urban area. The fields would be irrigated by a water channel fed by an underwater maritime pipe and treated with a desalination tower. Parking for traditional vehicles would be located on the city periphery; a MIC (Mobility in Chain) system would provide internal electric and semi-automatic vehicles to transport residents and visitors throughout the development. As a testing hub for sustainable urbanism , the Smart Forest City – Cancun proposal includes a center for advanced research large enough to host international organizations, university departments and companies. The center would include research and development facilities dedicated to sustainability issues and green infrastructure. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti and The Big Picture

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