Pope Francis calls on oil executives to transition to clean power

June 11, 2018 by  
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Pope Francis hasn’t been quiet about the urgency of combating climate change . Most recently, during a two-day conference in Vatican City, he took oil company executives to task and called for clean power as climate change continues to threaten people and the environment . The pope said, “Civilization requires energy , but energy use must not destroy civilization.” The conference gathered experts, investors and oil executives who support scientific opinion that human activity has caused climate change. The 50 participants included ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, BP  group chief executive Bob Dudley and Equinor (formerly Statoil) CEO Eldar Sætre. Pope Francis said it was worrying that searches for new fossil fuel reserves still continue, and said, “There is no time to lose.” Related: Catholic churches to make massive divestment from fossil fuels Pope Francis said, “We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected. If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it. But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels. Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.” The pope called for attendees to comprise the core of leaders “who envision the global energy transition in a way that will take into account all the peoples of the earth, as well as future generations and all species and ecosystems.” Pope Francis said our situation is dire, and even after the 2015 Paris Agreement , carbon dioxide emissions are still high. The New York Times quoted him as saying, “We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator. Let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness.” Via The Guardian , Reuters  and The New York Times Images via Aleteia Image Department/Flickr , Depositphotos

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Over 1,000 spinning pinwheels make up a moving garden at Euroflora 2018

May 7, 2018 by  
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ENTER Studio and OBR have created a pop-up installation designed in the image of an ornamental Baroque garden with modern and playful flair. Created for the famous international flower show Euroflora 2018 in Genoa, Italy, the pop-up landscape—known as “Locus Amoenus”—comprises 1,200 white pinwheels arranged like a floating flowerbed encircling a timber patio. The project was created as part of the show’s open competition “Wonder in the Parks” that challenges designers to rethink the concept of a garden . Locus Amoenus—Latin for “pleasant place”—is a phrase referring to an idealized place of comfort that has been used through the ages, from Homer to Shakespeare. According to the project statement: “Locus Amoenus is the result of a reflection on the relationship between project and context. In particular, it is the setting of the historic park that has led to the reinterpretation of some of the frequent components in the tradition of designing green areas.” Related: Build your own indoor garden with modular LEGO-like blocks The interactive installation comprises three components: the Field, the Pinwheel Garden, and the Patio. The Field refers to the grassy open site; the Patio is the circular wooden platform punctuated in the center by the Baroque-inspired water tank and calla lily flowers; and the Pinwheel Garden recalls the traditional ornamental gardens with 1,200 white flower-like pinwheels of varying heights that give the project its playful feel. + ENTER Studio + OBR Images by Anna Positano

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Over 1,000 spinning pinwheels make up a moving garden at Euroflora 2018

The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

April 20, 2018 by  
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The  Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an alarming rate — and it’s already three times the size of France . Fortunately, help is on the way: new images show that The Ocean Cleanup  is building an innovative  plastic -scooping system in Alameda, CA, and they’re planning to launch it as early as this summer. There are around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic junk in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Ocean Cleanup , started by now-23-year-old Boyan Slat , is much closer to deploying its technology to tackle the dilemma. The group’s  Road to the Cleanup timeline reveals that, earlier this month, the crew finished “the first weld of two floater sections” — the official start of the assembly process. Days later, the organization shared another image of what they called great progress. Related: The Ocean Cleanup launches San Francisco base in Pacific trash-busting bid Fast Company reported  that a massive floating tube, around 2,000 feet long, will serve as a U-shaped barrier to help trap plastic. It’s flexible enough to bend with ocean waves and is made of HDPE plastic — the same material that the system aims to collect, according to ABC7 News . A nylon screen attached to the tube will catch plastic beneath the waves — but not fish, as it isn’t a net. Big anchors, a concept unveiled by Slat in a presentation last year , will essentially tether the system not to the seabed, but to a deep water layer. When might we be able to see the system in action? The Road to the Cleanup timeline estimates launch will happen in the middle of this year. The first piece of the system, which is about as long as a football field, will be towed out into the ocean for tests in a few weeks. The piece will be connected to the larger system following the local tow test, and a final test 200 miles offshore will occur after assembly is finished. It will take three weeks for the system to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Ocean Cleanup could get there in August if everything goes as planned. Plastic they gather could be transformed into various  products — clothing, for example — and the Ocean Cleanup could have a shipment of plastic in late fall. + The Ocean Cleanup + Road to the Cleanup Via Fast Company and ABC7 News Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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This alpine hotel is built with modular rooms stacked together

April 13, 2018 by  
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This minimalist and modular hotel in the mountain resort of Lenzerheide, Switzerland offers a streamlined and modern take on the traditional mountain chalet. Carlos Martinez Architekten designed Hotel Revier with prefabricated room modules, each with a glazed end wall and lined in natural, unfinished plywood. The long and narrow larch-clad building comprises three rectangular segments angled to follow the shoreline of the Heidsee and positioned to face panoramic mountain views. An exercise in minimalism, the sports-oriented Hotel Revier is “reduced to the bare essentials,” wrote Carlos Martinez Architekten. “The hotel unites the atmosphere of a mountain chalet with the liberating feeling of a campervan and the functionality of a ship’s cabin. All rooms face West toward the water and bring to mind the image of a VW bus: one park at the lake opens the tailgate and feels a sense of freedom.” Related: Hotel Tverskaya Transforms a Disused Building in Moscow with Sleepbox Modules The hotel’s communal core, made up of the lobby, bar, and restaurant, occupies the ground floor, while the four floors with a total of 96 rooms are stacked above. The 160-square-foot standard rooms, prefabricated and fully equipped offsite, were assembled into a metal framework. Each standard room includes a wall-to-wall bed that can be folded up into a sofa, TV, floor-to-ceiling window , hooks, narrow ventilation wings, a deep windowsill, and a heating unit for drying gloves and clothing. Hotel Revier also includes four barrier-free and 29 triple-bed rooms, also prefabricated. By stacking the modules side by side, the architects create a “double-wall” effect with the advantage of improved acoustic insulation. + Carlos Martinez Architekten Via ArchDaily Images © Marc Lins, Hannes Thalmann, and Revier Mountain Lodge

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This alpine hotel is built with modular rooms stacked together

Piuarch kicks off Milan Design Week with a beautiful urban light installation

April 11, 2018 by  
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Milan-based architecture firm Piuarch has created an amazing light installation for this year’s Milan Design Week . Named AgrAir, the project takes the form of an open-air pavilion with transparent, prism-shaped inflatables that sway in the air. Underneath these lights, the public can enjoy pedestrian walkways lined with herbs and flowers. Piuarch developed the installation to transform unused urban spaces into vibrant social areas. For cities that want to breathe new life into decaying areas, AgrAir provides a pleasant outdoor space. The project includes various light-filled “lanterns” that illuminate the mini-botanical gardens lining the walkways. The landscaping, designed by Cornelius Gavril , will include flowers, bushes and herbs. Related: Piuarch’s FlyingGarden Installation for Milan Features Mossy Japanese Kokedamas The prism-shaped lanterns, which are made out of ultra-soft recyclable film , emit a soft light to create a soothing atmosphere. The lights are supported by acrylic glass rods installed at various heights, evoking the image of trees in a forest. According to the designers, “This ethereal composition is a metaphor of a forest, but also of the city itself, an expression of its identity, versatility, luminosity and lightness.” After its time at the Milan Design Festival, which runs from April 17-22, the installation will move to the architects’ rooftop garden in their Milan office. + Piuarch Via v2com

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Praying mantises wearing tiny glasses help researchers discover new type of 3D vision

February 12, 2018 by  
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This praying mantis isn’t just wearing minuscule 3D glasses for the cute factor, but to help scientists learn more about 3D vision. A Newcastle University team discovered a novel form of 3D vision, or stereo vision, in the insects – and compared human and insect stereo vision for the very first time. Their findings could have implications for visual processing in robots . Humans aren’t the only creatures with stereo vision, which “helps us work out the distances to the things we see,” according to the university . Cats, horses, monkeys, toads, and owls have it too – but the only insect we know about with 3D vision is the praying mantis. Six Newcastle University researchers obtained new insight into their robust stereo vision with the help of small 3D glasses temporarily attached to the insects with beeswax. Related: Praying mantises hunt down and eat small birds, including hummingbirds The researchers designed an insect 3D cinema, showing a praying mantis a film of prey. The insects would actually try to catch the prey because the illusion was so convincing. And the scientists were able to take their work to the next level, showing the mantises “complex dot-patterns used to investigate human 3D vision” so they could compare our 3D vision with an insect’s for the first time. According to the university, humans see 3D in still images by matching details of the image each eye sees. “But mantises only attack moving prey so their 3D doesn’t need to work in still images. The team found mantises don’t bother about the details of the picture but just look for places where the picture is changing…Even if the scientists made the two eyes’ images completely different, mantises can still match up the places where things are changing. They did so even when humans couldn’t.” The journal Current Biology published their work online last week . Lead author Vivek Nityananda, a behavioral ecologist, described the praying mantis’ stereo vision as “a completely new form of 3D vision.” Future robots could benefit from these findings: instead of 3D vision based on complex human stereo vision, researchers might be able to take some tips from praying mantis stereo vision, which team member Ghaith Tarawneh said probably doesn’t require a lot of computer processing since insect brains are so small. + Newcastle University + Current Biology Images via Newcastle University, UK/Phys.org

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Why natural stone is the best choice for your fireplace

September 26, 2017 by  
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Now that fall has started to settle in, there’s nothing better than getting cozy next to a roaring fire. And when it comes to fireplace design, natural stone is simply the most elegant, durable, and efficient material around. Natural stone retains heat better than just about anything out there, it’s practically maintenance-free, and it’s incredibly resistant to wear and tear. On top of that, it can handle extremes in temperature and doesn’t suffer from rot and mold like other materials. Whether it’s time to update your old brick fireplace or build something new, read on to find out why natural stone is the greenest choice. Zebrino marble fireplace – Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery Heat retention Natural stone absorbs, stores and radiates heat, so it can actually improve the efficiency of your home as the the warmth of a fire radiates throughout your space. Marble and limestone are particularly good at absorbing heat, while granite is particularly good at conducting heat. Basalt and soapstone are particularly good at storing heat and releasing it slowly over a long period of time. Stacked stone fireplace – Image courtesy of Eldorado Stone Low maintenance Natural stone is exceptionally easy to maintain – simply give it a wipe with a cloth every now and then to keep it looking new. That said, some stones, like marble, are porous so you may want to consider sealing them to help prevent dirt or soot from settling in. Regardless of the type of stone you use, you’ll be able to spend your time enjoying it rather than trying to maintain it. Image via Deposit Photos Longevity Natural stone is one of world’s oldest building materials – and it’s extraordinarily long-lasting. Just look at ancient buildings around the world – stone survives while other materials fade and rot away. Some stone surfaces can last many lifetimes without losing their luster, while others like limestone will weather beautifully over time. Stacked stone fire pit – Image courtesy of Marmiro Stones Durability Natural stone is known for being practically indestructible. It can handle wear and tear without falling apart, and it’s extremely resistant to water damage and mold. That’s why people use stone in areas that take the most beating – like countertops, floors, bathrooms and fireplaces. Related: How stone can help you create a more sustainable home Types of stone While you can choose just about any natural stone for your fireplace, there are a few options that are particularly well suited for the space. Limestone and soapstone are clean and simple, with a more modern feel, while slate is incredibly durable with a rustic vibe. Marble has a rich beauty that is impossible to replicate – and it can be honed or polished if you want a more formal look. Granite is a great choice for any contemporary space, and it’s one of the hardest and strongest stones available. If you prefer something dramatic, you can’t go wrong with a richly textured stone like quartzite. + Use Natural Stone Thanks in part to the Natural Stone Institute for sponsoring this post

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Origami-like alpine cabin brings contemporary style to Chile’s mountains

March 22, 2017 by  
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Alpine architecture has evolved far beyond traditional chalets, as can be seen in this contemporary cabin perched high above in Chile’s Valparaíso Region. Architect Gonzalo Iturriaga completed the blackened pine cabin, named RF C9, on a rocky site near the commune of San Esteban. Like a piece of origami, the angular refuge has numerous folds, some of which are turned into glazed openings that frame spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Elevated off the uneven ground, the 60-square-meter RF C9 cabin comprises two bedrooms and a bathroom at one end of the home, while an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen are located on the other in the larger part of the building. The pine-clad retreat features an asymmetrically pitched roof that evokes the image of a tent evolved into a timber form. The steep angles of the roof shed snow effectively and the retreat is designed to handle the extreme climates. Related: Century-old WWI bunker is reborn as a contemporary alpine shelter “Using a ventilated facade on all sides and a system of piles, the shelter functions as a hermetic element suspended on the ground which, from specific openings, uses the rising current of the mountain to ventilate its interior,” wrote the architect. The interior is clad in untreated pine contrasted with black window frames, blackened pine cabinetry, and a black wood-burning stove . Large windows of varying shapes punctuate the retreat, with the largest panes set on the east façade where they frame stunning views of the mountain enjoyed from the master bedroom and the living area. + Gonzalo Iturriaga Via Dezeen Images via Gonzalo Iturriaga

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Origami-like alpine cabin brings contemporary style to Chile’s mountains

Alpine meadows extend onto the roof of the renovated Lanserhof Lans health center

November 2, 2016 by  
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Nestled at the foothills of Tyrolean Alps, the luxurious Lanserhof health facility offers a serene environment with stunning views of the mountainous landscape. Undergoing major expansion helmed by international firm ingenhoven architects , the complex will soon include a beautiful new oval building will 16 rooms, topped by a terraced alpine meadow on the roof. Image by bloomimages The Lanserhof Lans combines the luxury of a hotel and modern patient care on par with the most advanced medical facilities in the world. The three-part complex comprises a main building and several annexes and extensions . According to the design, a brand new building will replace one of the guest houses, while several structural adjustments will be needed for the entrance building which houses the reception, restaurant, shop, fireplace lounge and library. The addition will include a bathroom area with saunas , showers, expanded medical rooms in addition to an indoor and outdoor swimming pool . Related: Prefabricated green residential building is slated for Berlin’s new ‘live-work city’ Image by bloomimages Natural materials and simple forms dominate the design of the extension. Its facade will feature balconies of varying depths that create an interesting rhythm and offer optimal wind protection. A green roof featuring seven private terraces will extend the surrounding Alpine meadow to the roof of the new building. + ingenhoven architects Images by bloomimages and Alexander Schmitz

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Alpine meadows extend onto the roof of the renovated Lanserhof Lans health center

Is it real? Redditor claims to show first glimpse of futuristic Hyperloop test track

September 3, 2015 by  
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One bold Reddit user claims to have captured a photo of a high-speed  Hyperloop test track being built outside of Los Angeles at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The post, which originally went up yesterday, has Hyperloop enthusiasts and graphics experts in a tizzy, debating about the authenticity of the Redditor’s claim. If this image is genuine, it marks the very first glimpse of the futuristic public transportation system that could someday allow commuters to travel up to 700mph between major cities in California. Read the rest of Is it real? Redditor claims to show first glimpse of futuristic Hyperloop test track

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