This gorgeous shipping container ski resort is tucked into a Georgian mountainside

October 19, 2017 by  
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Skiers whooshing past this picturesque ski resort may want to slow down to take in its stunning beauty. Located in the Caucasus mountain range in Gudauri, Georgia, the Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort resort is almost entirely made out of repurposed shipping containers and tucked into the terrain with steel supports that reduce its environmental impact. The shipping container resort offers guests a tranquil space to both relax and explore the amazing landscape. Built into the mountainside using a pyramid-like scheme, the containers were structured to cascade down the terrain, supported by steel posts in order to leave minimal impact on the environment. The resort has five levels, with the reception and dining area on the first floor and the guest rooms topped on one another. Related: This shipping container hotel is so cool you’ll forget its a shipping container The guest rooms are made up of individual containers clad in wood paneling, each with a glazed wall that leads out to an open-air deck to enjoy the stunning views. The resort offers single rooms as well as larger family and deluxe suites. In addition to many skiing trails found in the area, the resort also offers yoga classes and other healthy activities such as swimming. Of course, for those who’d just like to sit back and relax after a day of whizzing through the mountains, there’s also a toasty sauna. + Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort Images via Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort

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This gorgeous shipping container ski resort is tucked into a Georgian mountainside

Light-manipulating algae could boost solar power technology

October 19, 2017 by  
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You probably learned about diatoms , a prolific type of algae , back in grade school. But you may not have learned these single-celled organisms, which are inexpensive and can be found in different types of water and even tree bark, can manipulate light . Now scientists are putting them in organic solar cells to enhance their energy efficiency. Could diatoms hold the key to better solar power ? A research team from Yale University , Princeton University , Lincoln University , and the NASA Glenn Research Center is utilizing them in organic solar cells, a lower-cost alternative to conventional solar cells . The so-called jewels of the sea have a nanostructured silica or glass skeleton, and study lead author and Yale Ph.D. student Lyndsey McMillon-Brown said, “They help trap and scatter light for the algae to photosynthesize, so we’re able to use something directly from nature and put it in a solar cell.” Related: Ancient Marine Diatoms Could be Used to Make Biofuels, Electronics and Health Foods Organic solar cells usually suffer from a design issue: they need to have thin layers, so their efficiency is restricted. Nanostructures that trap and scatter light can help overcome that issue – but are typically too expensive for production on a large scale. Not so with cheap diatoms. The researchers put the algae – abundant in nature – right in the solar cells’ active layer. They saw the same electrical output levels even as they cut the amount of material necessary for the active layer. The team employed a grinding process because at first the diatoms were too big for the active layer. They think they could obtain even better results by utilizing different species and tailoring them to the correct size. McMillon-Brown’s focus is biomimicry ; she said, “We’re always on the hunt for new patterns in nature because we believe that nature solves all our engineering problems – we just have to find the solutions.” The journal Organic Electronics published the research online this month. Via Yale University Images via Depositphotos , Wikimedia Commons and Yale University

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Light-manipulating algae could boost solar power technology

Mieluisa’s Bilberry Pads are an accessible way to bring the forest to the city

October 4, 2017 by  
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These modular planters bring a taste of the forest to the city. Finnish design collective Mieluisa designed the Bilberry Pad as a way for people without access to nature to grow bilberries, lingonberries, crowberries, different ferns, mosses, bunch grass and spruce wherever they are. They are meant to replicate the experience of a real forest, with birds, ants and long-legged spiders bustling around the plants— like they do in nature. Fresh heath forest floor is transplanted into these movable planter modules that are easy to move and to combine. They are also designed to be accessible, so people can pick berries while sitting or even lying in bed. Related: The Ienami Bonkei Planter is a Green-Roofed Cityscape for Your Desk Ease of access was the motive behind the first version of The Bilberry Pad in Kangasala, Finland , where Mieluisa organized a berry-picking event for residents of the Maijala Service Center. The project was financed by Kone Foundation and The Finnish Cultural Foundation, with support by Messupuu and Piiraisen Viherpalvelu who provided the Siberian larch for the containers and the bilberry heath transplant. + Mieluisa

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Mieluisa’s Bilberry Pads are an accessible way to bring the forest to the city

Modular Lego Lunch restaurant built from recycled shipping containers pops up in Lithuania

September 12, 2017 by  
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A modular fast food restaurant popped up in Siauliai, Lithuania, to provide a healthy communal space that can be easily replicated anywhere. Architecture firm Hermann Kamte & Associates designed the restaurant, named Lego Lunch, as an affordable, reconfigurable space built from recycled shipping containers. Lego Lunch is a replicable structure that combines affordability and a low carbon footprint . The architects used recycled 20-foot shipping containers and combined them into a space where locals in Siauliai, Lithuania, can have a meal and relax during workdays. Small design interventions enhance the energy performance of the new building and give with warmth. LED lighting and additional insulation were also introduced to improve efficiency. Related: Nation’s largest shipping container restaurant was installed in just 3 days The architects conducted extensive programmatic analyses to achieve an optimal organization of the space. The purpose of the first analysis was to understand connections and interactions between owners, designers and customers. The second focused on the food preparation process, while the last phase combined the preceding two to create an optimal layout. + Hermann Kamte & Associates

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Modular Lego Lunch restaurant built from recycled shipping containers pops up in Lithuania

Zhang Chenxi creates realistic alien creatures that we actually wish existed

August 23, 2017 by  
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When we think of aliens, we usually conjure up images of green-skinned aliens or knobby-fingered creatures like E.T., but one artist let his imagination run wild with a series of 80 digitally-rendered aliens that are probably more realistic – and certainly more appealing – than the sci-fi fantasy. UI/UX designer and 3D artist Zhang Chenxi developed an art series titled “Unknown x Unknown” in which he explored what other forms these intergalactic beings could take – and the results are far from creepy. Zhang Chenxi’s digital illustrations are bursting with color and so much detail you could almost believe these were photographs of deep sea creatures or animals lurking in the Amazon rainforest. The little critters feature bright antennae, soft and squishy tentacles, fungi-like qualities and beads at the tips of their extremities. Some seem inspired by succulents, sea anemone, squids and insects while others are as completely odd as they are mesmerizing. Related: Jill Bliss’ stunning arrangements capture the magical beauty of mushrooms To bring his visions to life, Chenxi used MAXON Cinema 4D , a software program that allows artists to do 3D modeling, animation and graphics rendering. First he sketches his ideas on paper and then works his concept through Cinema 4D before rendering in Octane. He just finished the series of 80 renderings, but you can see his entire collection on Instagram and high-resolution versions on his Behance portfolio . + Zhang Chenxi Via Colossal

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Zhang Chenxi creates realistic alien creatures that we actually wish existed

Derelict worker’s apartment in Amsterdam is unrecognizable after space-saving renovation

August 7, 2017 by  
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Design Studio Deirdre Renniers renovated this derelict 484-square-foot apartment in Amsterdam into a spacious, modern space dominated by natural materials and daylight. The designers gutted the entire interior and introduced space-saving solutions that utilize its every inch. In need of a complete renovation, this apartment in Amsterdam ‘s De Pijp neighborhood had an unpractical layout, housing a small bedroom and living area and a kitchen, with an enclosed toilet in the kitchen area. It remained in its original condition, as a typical worker’s apartment, for 30 years before the new owners commissioned Deirdre Renniers to transform it into a living space for the 21st century. Related: Sinato cleverly adds an L-shaped wood partition to expand a small apartment in Japan The architects gutted the entire space and placed a new staircase that leads to the loft, formerly used as a bathroom. A galley kitchen connects the main living space with the dining area. A sliding timber panel can separate the living room from the rest of the space in order to create a guest room when needed. In order to optimize the layout, the design team furnished the interior with practical furniture like a sofa that folds into a bed, foldable dining table and other minimalist, space-saving pieces. + Deirdre Renniers Interior Design Via A partment Therapy

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Derelict worker’s apartment in Amsterdam is unrecognizable after space-saving renovation

DIY: How to make your own natural deodorant at home

July 31, 2017 by  
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Did you know you can make your own deodorant? It’s not difficult, and you can save money over buying pricey natural deodorants. Best of all, you can mix and match essential oils to create a scent that you really love (or make it unscented). Whether you have sensitive skin or you’re just picky about body care products, making your own natural deodorant is a fun and easy DIY project  you can complete in under an hour. Step One: Gather your materials Most of the ingredients listed below are available in the bulk purchase area of natural food stores or co-ops, as well as online. There are a few ingredients below that can be swapped out, though doing so may slightly change the color, texture, or scent of your deodorant. The recipe listed below makes one batch of deodorant – simply double or triple the recipe to make a larger batch, create different scents, or to share. Ingredients: 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil 1 Tablespoon Shea Butter (or Cocoa Butter) 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder (or cornstarch) 1 Teaspoon Bentonite Cosmetic Clay (or kaolin) 6 Drops Essential Oil – we used Lavender and Tea Tree Tools: Measuring spoons Mixing spoons Small bowl Small jar or tub to store deodorant in Step Two: Measure coconut oil Measure out one tablespoon of coconut oil and, if it is hardened, mash it in the mixing bowl. RELATED: How to make a summery coconut-sea salt lip scrub Step Three: Measure shea butter Measure one tablespoon of room-temperature shea butter into the bowl and mix it well with the coconut oil. You may substitute room-temperature cocoa butter as well, but it will have a stronger scent. Shea and cocoa butters are a bit harder than coconut oil at room temperature and will help stabilize the deodorant mixture. Step Three: Add baking soda Measure out and add one tablespoon of baking soda. Step Four: Add arrowroot starch Measure out and add one tablespoon of arrowroot starch. This rather unusual ingredient can be found in some larger natural food stores or bulk co-ops, as well as online. If you can’t find any, you can also substitute cornstarch, though its absorptive properties may be slightly lower. RELATED: DIY homemade insect repellent sprays and lotions Step Five: Add clay powder Measure out and add one teaspoon of finely ground cosmetic clay (bentonite or kaolin – found in the bulk or body care section of a natural foods market). Thoroughly mix the deodorant into a thick paste, making sure there are no lumps. Step Six: Add essential oils Add six drops of your favorite essential oil . We used a blend of 3 drops of tea tree oil for its antibacterial properties and astringent odor, in addition to 3 drops of lavender oil for its soothing aroma. Step Seven: Jar it Use a spoon or butter knife to scrape the deodorant into a small jar or other container. You can leave it at room temperature in your bathroom. To apply, simply swipe two or three fingers across the surface of the deodorant and gently rub it into your armpits after a shower. You can put some into a smaller container for travel as well. If you’ve been using commercial aluminum deodorants, you may notice more wetness, but give it a week for your body to adjust. The essential oil blend serves as a deodorant, and the baking soda, arrowroot starch, and clay serve to prevent and absorb perspiration. All photos by Emily Peckenham for Inhabitat

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DIY: How to make your own natural deodorant at home

Chicago drinking fountains have been running non-stop for months, and the reason why is infuriating

July 31, 2017 by  
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For the past few months, drinking fountains in Chicago have been running non-stop because the water pipes there contains “dangerously high” lead levels. Ingesting excess levels of lead   (and just to be clear, health officials say no amount of lead exposure is safe ) can cause symptoms such as constipation, vomiting, developmental disabilities, hyperactivity, irritability, insomnia and memory loss. So to address the issue, the city has simply disabled the “push” buttons to let the fountains flow freely, reducing the hazardous levels of lead that actually make it into the water. In April of 2016, WBEZ began investigating the suspicious act of allowing the faucets to flow freely. This week, investigative journalists finally received answers. Reportedly, 450 Chicago park fountains contain “dangerously high” lead levels — with some spouting water with levels 80 times higher than the EPA limit. As a result of the action taken, 450 fountains met EPA standards. However, 107 were still contaminated with lead , which is why officials plan to keep them flowing until mid-fall. An additional 100 or so will be running round-the-clock for “spring flushing” to clear the pipes after winter. While a temporary solution has been found, one cannot ignore the environmental travesty which is occurring by allowing hundreds of faucets to flow freely for not just days, but months on end. For every spigot that is left on, nearly 600 gallons of drinking water are wasted each day. It’s exactly because of this expense that Chicago spent hundreds of thousands of dollars installing on-and-off buttons on the fountains in 2003. Unfortunately, city officials did not plan for lead contamination . Related: Abandoned fountain transformed into a pop-up urban spa in Mexico For now, district officials say they will continue testing and monitoring mountains throughout the summer with rapid detection tests. Fountains that are found to contain high levels of lead will have their samples followed up with additional lab analyses. All in all, plan on packing some purified, spring water if you intend on visiting a Chicago park in the near future. Via WBEZ Images via Pixabay and Deposit Photos

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Chicago drinking fountains have been running non-stop for months, and the reason why is infuriating

The world’s first all-electric sport utility truck is finally here – and it looks incredible

July 27, 2017 by  
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Electric vehicle buyers are spoiled for choice these days – there’s electric sports cars , sedans , SUVs , minivans , and motorcycles . So where’s the electric truck? New York-based Bollinger Motors just answered that question with the B1 – the world’s first all-electric, all-wheel drive sport utility truck. It’s remarkably refined with a strong, stealthy profile – and it’s rough and rugged enough to haul heavy loads and tackle challenging terrain. The B1 has better horsepower, torque, and ground clearance than any gas-powered truck in its class – plus a few features you simply won’t find in internal combustion engine vehicles. Read on for a first look – straight from Bollinger’s unveil tonight in New York City. Electric trucks make a lot of sense on paper, as EVs produce plenty of torque – which trucks need to cart heavy loads. However this power comes at a price – lithium ion cells are heavy, and automakers must carefully balance battery weight vs performance and cost when creating a new EV. Bollinger Motors found a winning formula by nesting the B1’s batteries in a remarkably strong aluminum chassis that weighs just 295 pounds. Two battery setups are available – a 60 kWh system with 120 miles of range, and a 100 kWh system with 200 miles of range. The longer range beats most electric cars on the road today – which is even more impressive given the B1’s powertrain specs. The Bollinger B1’s full-time, all-wheel drive powertrain features front and rear-mounted synchronous electric motors that produce 360 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. That’s a lot of power – and it gives the B1 a 0-60 speed of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 127 miles per hour. The vehicle’s curb weight is 3,900 pounds, which translates to a 10.8 power to weight ratio – and it has a payload capacity of 6,100 pounds. The sport utility truck measures 150 inches long, 76.5 inches wide, and 73.5 inches tall. It has a 105-inch wheelbase and 15.5 inches of ground clearance, which can be adjusted by the vehicle’s hydro-pneumatic suspension within 10 inches of wheel travel. Since the batteries are sunk into the chassis, the B1 has an exceptionally low center of gravity, and the engineering team dialed in a perfect 50/50 weight balance. This all adds up to an extremely capable off-road vehicle that gets an estimated 67.4 MPGe. The B1’s design is sleek and spartan inside and out. Aluminum interior panels help keep the truck’s weight down, and the dash features an old school mechanical speedometer and tachometer in addition to gauges for battery level, range updates, charging status, and FMVSS warning signals. The vehicle seats four within a steel passenger safety cage, and the interior can be fully hosed down thanks to polyurethane floor pans and rubber seals and gaskets that protect the instruments. The B1’s electric powertrain frees up cargo space for a “frunk” that is accessible through the center console. This is a clever design decision, as a stack of 12-foot boards will fit handily within the enclosed vehicle. It also has another trick up its sleeve: “Since the B1 is an all-electric truck, it’s really a portable energy source,” says Bollinger Motors’ founder and CEO, Robert Bollinger. “So we put 100 volt plugs throughout the truck so you can use it to power any equipment and tools you might need out in the field. USB and 12 volt plugs are also integrated into the dash to cover all power needs.” The inspiration for the B1 is easy to trace – it looks a bit like the iconic Land Rover Defender, stripped of its curves and fitted with a powerful all-electric powertrain. It’s not designed to be a mainstream truck, but as a boutique vehicle it’s stunning with performance to match. “We are so thrilled to be able to finally take the wraps off of our Bollinger B1 SUT,” said Robert Bollinger. “This is the culmination of what has been a 40-year-long boyhood dream of mine and I couldn’t be more pleased with the vehicle and the incredible team who worked so hard to create it.” The B1 prototype was designed, engineered and manufactured in Hobart, New York – and Bollinger is planning to keep all operations within the US as production begins. They’re currently talking to independent vehicle manufacturers with the goal of launching a production run of 10,000-15,000 vehicles later this year and delivering the first vehicles within 19 months. Bollinger has yet to announce pricing, however they’re targeting “ranchers, builders, do-it-yourselfers” with a direct to consumer model and a price point comparable to a “nicely equipped sport utility vehicle.” Interested buyers can reserve a spot on Bollinger Motors’ website, which will enable them to place an order in early 2018 with a $1000 down payment. + Bollinger Motors  

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The world’s first all-electric sport utility truck is finally here – and it looks incredible

Sono Motors unveils the $18,000 SION solar-powered car

July 27, 2017 by  
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The dream of being able to commute to work in a solar-powered car is finally becoming a reality. Sono Motors just unveiled the SION solar-powered electric car that can travel up to 18 miles using nothing but energy from the sun. The best part is that the SION isn’t just for the wealthy, since it only costs 16,000 Euros (around $18,600) plus the cost of the battery, and it is packed with incredible features like built-in moss filtration, bi-directional charging and integrated solar panels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sMMhO5kbVg Last year, Sono Motors, a German startup raised over $200,000 to bring the SION to life. Using 300 photovoltaic panels, the SION can store enough energy from the sun to travel up to 18 miles, but if you need to travel further, the SION can also be recharged using a standard outlet, like a conventional electric car. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can rent the car battery monthly, or purchase outright. Related: Lightyear unveils solar-powered car with a 500-mile driving range The Extender model starts at $16,000 Euros and has a driving range of 110 – 120 miles and can be quick-charged up to 80% in 40 minutes. Charging it up with the power of the sun will take half a day, but since Sono Motors says you can drive it to work for an 8-hour shift, the battery will be fully recharged thanks to the solar cells when you get off. With room for five passengers, you can bring the whole family along. A unique moss liner is integrated into the ventilation system that acts as a natural air filter to filter fine particles of dust from the air. There are also six airbags to keep everyone safe. Everything is controlled through the cockpit – a smart screen that shows your speed, battery level and everything else you need to run things smoothly. Repairs should be affordable, since Sono is releasing a repair manual and affordable parts along with the car. Sono Motors has also announced the addition of a new mobility system, called “goSono”. With the Sono App and the function of the bi-directional charging, you can use the vehicle as a mobile storage to power external devices, like generators while heading off the grid. Additionally the app makes it easy to offer make money with the SION by either renting it out through car sharing or by giving rides to other passengers, like Uber or Lyft . Sono Motors has already received interest from over 1,200 pre-orders for the SION, but the company is hoping to get that number to at least 5,000 before they can start production. The next step to get to the SION on the road is to get people behind the wheel, which will include unique test drive tours that will take place all over Europe. The first deliveries are expected to arrive in 2018. Images @Sono Motors + Sono Motors

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