Ending animal exploitation in tourism with World Animal Protection

June 13, 2019 by  
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World Animal Protection works internationally to end the suffering of animals and urge all people to do more to protect our furred, feathered and scaly friends. World Animal Protection (formerly World Society for the Protection of Animals) works on many fronts— including wild animals, farmed animals and those suddenly displaced by disasters. Ontario-based campaign director Melissa Matlow talked to Inhabitat about World Animal Protection’s work to end the exploitation of animals in the name of tourism. Inhabitat: How and when did World Animal Protection first get involved with educating tour operators about animal attractions? Melissa Matlow: World Animal Protection has been campaigning to protect wild animals that are suffering for tourism for several years now. More than 20 years ago we started working with local partners to bring an end to bear dancing in Greece, Turkey and India, and bear baiting in Pakistan. We have been working to protect the welfare of elephants in Asia since 2005. In 2015, we launched the Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign globally and working to influence the tourism industry became one of the organization’s priority campaigns. We decided to shine a spotlight on the problem of elephant riding first because it is one of the cruelest activities and tourist demand is fueling the poaching of elephants from the wild. In 2017 we released our Taken for a Ride Report , which reviewed the welfare of nearly 3,000 elephants used for tourism in 220 tourist venues in six countries (Thailand, India, Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka and Cambodia). We discovered that the majority of these elephants (77 percent) were living in grossly substandard conditions. Related: Conservationists in Florida are making the ultimate effort to protect manatees from tourism Inhabitat: Can you tell me a little bit about the TripAdvisor campaign? Matlow: We showed TripAdvisor our research into the animal welfare and conservation impacts of Wildlife Tourism Attractions (WTA) and how wildlife lovers were unknowingly causing harm to animals by participating in these activities. Tourists were seeing and buying tickets to cruel attractions that offer elephant rides and tiger selfies on TripAdvisor and leaving positive reviews. After more than half a million people joined our campaign and signed our petition asking TripAdvisor to stop selling cruel attractions, they listened and announced in 2016 their commitment to stop selling some problematic attractions and set up an educational portal for people to learn more. Inhabitat:  What other tour operators and companies has World Animal Protection worked closely with?                    Matlow:  World Animal Protection has worked with the Travel Corporation, G Adventures, Intrepid, World Expeditions and many other tour operators to put an end to elephant riding and other forms of wildlife entertainment. Together we formed the Coalition for Ethical Wildlife Tourism to shift tourist demand towards humane and sustainable alternatives. Inhabitat:  What have been some of your biggest wins? Matlow:  We are now working with some of the largest travel companies in the world to put an end to elephant riding and other forms of wildlife entertainment. More than 200 tour operators have signed our pledge committing to never offer, sell or promote elephant rides and shows. After more than half a million people signed our petition and joined our movement, TripAdvisor committed to stop selling tickets to cruel attractions. Expedia soon followed suit and in 2017 we convinced Instagram to educate its users of the cruelty that happens behind the scenes for wildlife selfies. Inhabitat:  What are still the biggest challenges? Matlow: We need to reach the right people— wildlife lovers who are unknowingly causing harm by participating in wildlife entertainment activities and the travel companies who sell them tickets. One of our challenges is to debunk the many myths that these tourists and travel companies are commonly subjected to. Many tourist attractions dupe people into thinking they are protecting the animals and serving some kind of conservation and education benefit but nothing could be further from the truth. Tourists don’t realize that these attractions are commercially breeding and trading wild animals for the sole purpose of entertaining them. The demand is fueling the capture of wild animals from the wild. The animals suffer every day in small tanks and cages to entertain tourists and won’t ever be released into the wild. Tourists aren’t learning about how to keep the animals in the wild, where they belong. If anything, they are being desensitized to their suffering in captivity and learning that it is okay to get up close to them to feed them, pet them and take wildlife selfies. Inhabitat: What are the most important things for tourists to keep in mind when evaluating animal attractions? Matlow: Our simple rule of thumb is— if you can ride it, hug it or take a selfie with a wild animal, chances are it is cruel, so don’t do it. The best place to see wild animals is in the wild from a respectful distance. People can download our Animal-Friendly Travel Pocket Guide and visit our website to learn more about the work we do to encourage animal-friendly tourism and to protect the welfare of animals globally. +World Animal Protection Images via World Animal Protection

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Ending animal exploitation in tourism with World Animal Protection

Innovative window solar charger is designed for apartment dwellers

June 13, 2019 by  
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Just months ago, the innovative team at Grouphug revealed the adorable Solar Cat that made the world go “Aww.” Now, the New-York based tech company has just released a very practical Window Solar Charger designed to let apartment dwellers generate their own solar energy in order to power their devices. Recently launched on Kickstarter , the Window Solar Charger was conceived from the idea that everyone should be able to generate their own clean energy. While homeowners have much more control over their power sources, renters and people on the go often have very little options to live a truly sustainable lifestyle. Related: Meet Solar Cat, a cute and creative take on renewable energy After years of being frustrated with how hard it is to adapt solar energy in her own NYC apartment, Grouphug’s founder and lead product designer, Krystal Persaud, decided to invent a personal solar-powered charger geared toward those apartment dwellers who want to be more sustainable. Essentially, the charger is a 13-inch-by-10-inch bamboo frame with four thin solar panels. The charger can be hung in any window to soak up direct sunlight into the battery that is built into the frame. After approximately eight to 10 hours of sunlight, phones and other small devices can be plugged directly into the frame’s USB port. Devices can be charged day or night, and on average, a full battery can charge iPhones two times and Android phones one to one-and-a-half times. + Grouphug + Window Solar Charger Kickstarter Images via Grouphug

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Innovative window solar charger is designed for apartment dwellers

India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

May 20, 2019 by  
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The Indian government has embarked on many large scale renewable energy projects that are predicted to enable the world’s second most populous country to surpass its commitment to cut carbon emissions. According to a recently released report from Moody’s, 45 percent of all energy produced in India will be from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022. This is impressive, considering India only committed to 40 percent non-fossil fuel sources under the international Paris Agreement in 2015. Although coal remains the largest energy source, the aggressive additions of renewable sources will decrease coal’s overall contribution. Moody’s report, “Power Asia – Climate goals, declining costs of renewables signal decreasing reliance on coal power,” focuses on the role of investors in the energy industry as well as predictions for investments. Related: India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022 “There is a realization that renewables are quicker, cleaner, cheaper and also strategically in India’s interest because of energy security; it just makes financial sense to invest in renewables,” Sameer Kwatra, from the Natural Resources Defense Council,  said . The Indian government has invested in large scale wind, power and solar projects, including tripling its solar power capacity in three years. Much of the increase in renewable energy has been due to decreased prices in renewable technology and interest from private investors. If battery production and storage capacity also increase, the report expects that renewable energy sector growth could spike. Similarly, banks and private investors are under increased pressure to withdraw investments in fossil fuel companies and pipeline projects. Despite the fact that investments in renewable energy have been higher than fossil fuel investments for three years in a row, the coal industry is still growing steadily alongside the renewable industry, with Indian populations using more electricity annually. India’s success is a considerable achievement for the entire world. After the U.S. and China, India is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases . Via CleanTechnica Image via DoshiJi

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India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

Breezy home in Mexico uses strategic cross ventilation and natural light to reduce its energy use

May 20, 2019 by  
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RDLP Arquitectos have unveiled Casa Puebla, a beautiful family home that incorporates traditional Mexican design with modern passive features . The stunning project features a contemporary shell over two rectangular volumes clad in raw concrete, paying homage to the tilework found in traditional Mexican constructions. The design features several passive design elements, including cross ventilation, natural light and sun shades, all of which reduce the home’s energy needs. According to the architects, one of the principle inspirations behind Casa Puebla’s beautiful,  nature-inspired design was the Popocatépetl volcano, one of the most beloved natural icons in central Mexico. Using the fiery landmark as a pillar of the design, architects then blended a series of natural elements with an avant-garde aesthetic. Related: The Nogal House saves energy with smart site-specific design The structure was built with two interconnecting rectangular volumes that form an L-shape. To add a bit of “visual contradiction,” the heavier concrete block was set on top of the lower glass-enclosed block. This unusual feature was instrumental in creating a double-height formation that ensures continual vertical ventilation throughout the interior. In addition, the design was strategic in creating multiple outdoor nooks that are shaded by the roof of the upper level. These outdoor areas, used for reading, entertaining and dining, forge a strong connection between the interior and the outdoors. As an implicit tribute to the local vernacular, the home was built with locally sourced, natural materials, primarily concrete and wood. The exposed concrete cladding , which provides a strong thermal envelope, pays homage to the use of tiles in traditional Mexican architecture. Vertical wooden shutters provide shade from the harsh summer sun while diffusing natural light throughout the interior. The use of concrete continues inside, where board-formed concrete makes up the walls and the pillars that frame the floor-to-ceiling glass panels . On the ground floor, an open floor plan houses the kitchen, dining and living rooms, and sliding glass doors lead to the exterior spaces. Contemporary furniture and elements run throughout the home, including a “floating” staircase that leads to the upper level. + RDLP Arquitectos Via Archdaily Images via RDLP Arquitectos

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Breezy home in Mexico uses strategic cross ventilation and natural light to reduce its energy use

Polls show climate change is a determining issue for 2020 elections

May 20, 2019 by  
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Recent polls indicate that climate change will be a central issue for voters in the upcoming 2020 presidential elections. According to the George Mason University poll , 38 percent of participants indicated that the topic is “very important” for their decision, while the lead researcher, Anthony Leiserowitz said, “This is truly a top-tier issue for the Democratic base.” The poll, released in early May, only sampled 1,000 people, but the results are consistent with similar polls by Manmouth University and CNN, which showed that climate change ranks as the second most important topic, right below healthcare. According to CNN , 82 percent of Democrats say it is “very important” that candidates take aggressive action to combat the climate crisis. The increased interest is likely due to a surge in both public awareness as well as extreme weather events ranging from wildfires to hurricanes. Related: Climate activists will turn up the heat at presidential debate “With the salience of wildfires in the West, sea-level rise in the Gulf Coast and Florida and the way that weather affects farmers, people are beginning to see the effects of climate change,” said Sean Hecht of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. In 2018, an alarming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  report upped the urgency of climate change and massive protests broke out across the globe. In 2016, no candidate had a specific climate platform, but reports indicate that this year, candidates will need to detail specific action plans if they hope to be taken seriously. With protests already planned for the first Democratic debate, it is almost certain that journalists will ask candidates tough questions about their positions on the environment and the fossil fuel industry. According to Bill McKibbens from 350.org , voters will be looking for more than broad support. Many progressive democrats are demanding candidates formally endorse the Green New Deal , while others expect candidates to refuse campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry — a long standing tradition with presidential hopefuls. Currently, only Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand and Jay Inslee have specific climate change platforms. Via Reuters Image via Molly Adams

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Polls show climate change is a determining issue for 2020 elections

‘Overtourism’: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific

May 8, 2019 by  
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The tourism industry is booming throughout the world but nowhere more noticeably than on the small tropical islands of Southeast Asia. Millions of tourists flock to these remote islands every day to enjoy the beaches and snorkel among the coral reef, but the traffic and waste they produce has forced some ecosystems to reach their breaking point. “Overtourism” is the new term for the overpopulation of tourists who wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems. Many Asian governments have had to close entire islands in order to allow habitats and species (like sharks and sea turtles) to rehabilitate. The environmental impact of overtourism The primary reasons that mass tourism negatively impacts the environment include: Discharge of human waste directly into the ocean by boats, cruise ships and hotels A government survey in the Philippines revealed that 716 out of 834 businesses on the famous Boracay Island did not have wastewater permits and were indiscriminately dumping sewage and waste into the water. Cruise ships, private yachts and many hotels along the coasts also dump waste directly into the ocean . Toxic chemicals from sunscreens pollute young coral species Sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate have been found to alter the DNA of young corals , prohibiting normal and healthy growth. Related: Hawaii bans reef-killing chemical sunscreens Massive amounts of garbage and plastic pollution According to the Ocean Conservancy, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are responsible for up to 60 percent of all plastic pollution in the ocean. Globally, eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. Related: New study reveals microplastics are in the air Unsustainable development and the destruction of key habitats, like mangroves Almost 50 percent of all mangrove forests have been destroyed in countries including India, the Philippines and Vietnam. Mangroves are systematically cleared to make way for hotels, resorts and white sand beaches, but healthy mangroves are an essential part of healthy coastal ecosystems. Mangroves protect beaches from erosion and provide critical nursery and breeding grounds for young fish and other species. Why are there so many tourists? The rapid rise in tourism is mostly because of expanding middle classes in many countries. More people are able to afford vacations and travel, particularly in China. In 2018, Chinese citizens made a total of 150 million trips abroad, compared to just 10 million in 2000. Regardless of the origin of the tourists, Pacific islands’ infrastructure and ecosystems are unable to handle the surge and are in desperate need of regulation and management. “I would argue that tourism has not only been badly managed in general, it’s not been managed at all,” said Randy Durband, chief executive officer of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Islands close their borders to tourists When tourism began to rise, most island residents were happy to have the jobs and foreign investment, and their governments did not take the time nor resources to develop a management strategy or implement limitations. Now, many governments are scrambling to preserve the very ecosystems that bring tourists to their shores before they are destroyed beyond repair. After calling the waters around Borocay Island a “cesspool,” Filipino President Rodrigo Duerte closed the entire island and launched a large clean-up effort. A new management plan will reduce the daily visitors from 20,000 to approximately 6,000, ban single-use plastics , impose littering fines and ban jet skis from driving within 100 meters of the shore. With these steps, an acceptable rehabilitation of the island is expected to take at least two years. In Thailand, the government closed the famous Maya Bay indefinitely after conservationists reported that over 50 percent of corals had been destroyed. In addition to sunscreen toxins, boat anchors and physical impact from tourists walking on coral and taking pieces as souvenirs cause major damage. Current coral restoration efforts are underway to replant native corals, and species like black tipped reef sharks have reportedly returned. SEE: Can the Cayman Islands save to Caribbean’s remaining coral reefs? Closing islands is an extreme solution, but it demonstrates that many governments are realizing the importance of ecosystems even at the expense of tourism revenue. Sustainable tourism expert Epler Wood said, “We don’t advocate a closing unless it’s an emergency. We recommend balanced management that looks at supply and demand and measured responses based on planning and science that involves regular benchmarking, like water testing .” Tips for sustainable tourism Tips for governments: The nation of Bali has imposed a $10 tax on international passengers that goes directly toward cultural and environmental preservation initiatives, such as waste management. Many tourism-dependent islands in the Pacific and Caribbean have imposed similar tourist fees. In Palau, visitors are required to sign an environmental pledge that is stamped right onto their passports, promising to act respectfully and without damaging ecosystems. Bans on straws and single-use plastics can also be particularly effective on small islands without proper waste management systems. Finally, governments can invest in marine spatial planning and zoning initiatives that identify key vulnerable areas. Such spatial data allows governments to declare zones and enforce allowable activities within the zones, such as protected conservation areas versus recreation areas. Tips for tourists: According to the South China Morning Post, here are five tips to be a more sustainable tourist : Book hotels that employ sustainable initiatives to reduce waste, energy and water consumption. Choose tour operators who give back to the community — and keep tourism benefits within the local economy — by employing locals, supporting local growers and other initiatives. Be a plastic-free traveler and dispose of your garbage correctly. Research sustainable tourism initiatives you might want to support ahead of your trip. Engage in community-based tourism. “The basic model is: educate yourself, do the right thing and try to be of positive benefit,” said Marta Mills, a sustainable tourism specialist. “Act like you are a guest in someone’s home, because you are.” Via Yale360 Images via Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi , Laznes Binch ,  Stefan Munder , Juanjook Torres González and Jose Nicdao

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‘Overtourism’: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific

A welcoming healthcare center in New Delhi follows passive design principles

May 1, 2019 by  
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New Delhi-based architecture and interior design firm VYOM has completed the Dental Care Centre, a recently opened healthcare facility in New Delhi that offers much more than a teeth cleaning. Designed to follow passive solar principles, the light-filled facility immerses patients in a spa-inspired environment with views of nature from every room. A natural materials palette also helps tie the bright and airy building to the landscape. Built to embrace nature, the Dental Care Centre was carefully laid out on a linear site so as to avoid removing any mature trees. The thoughtful design not only reduced site impact , but also helped maximize access to shade while reducing heat load on the structure. The shaded areas also informed the team’s decision to add an outdoor deck and outdoor seating for patients and visitors, while bamboo screens provide privacy to the staff quarters. Views of the preserved canopy are swept indoors through large glazed openings and include clerestory windows , walls of glass and skylights. The most dramatic opening can be found at the heart of the Dental Care Centre, where an open-air courtyard is punctuated by a square fishpond enclosed in glass on four sides. A raised wooden roof with deep overhangs helps mitigate glare from southern sunshine while allowing natural daylight to flood the interior. Related: Light-filled dentist clinic shows how good design can calm patient fears “Addressing the functional, medical requirements while always keeping the focus on positive patient care has resulted in a scheme where the colors and materiality harmoniously enhance the spatial quality,” the architects explained of the healthcare facility, which is dressed in off-white walls and timber accents. “The Dental Care Centre is a singular and exclusive design that enhances the levels of patient care, while mitigating patient stress levels by giving them an environment which is close to nature, dynamic, cheerful and full of natural light .” + VYOM Photography by Yatinder Kumar via VYOM

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A welcoming healthcare center in New Delhi follows passive design principles

Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

May 1, 2019 by  
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A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office predicts an alarming $54 billion in hurricane and flood damage over the next few years — much of which can be avoided by spending money upfront to protect and prevent against losses. The frequency of what are called “billion-dollar storms” appear to be increasing. In 2018, there were 39 “billion-dollar” disasters around the world — 16 of which were in the U.S. Already in the first four months of 2019, the U.S. has endured winter storms Quiana and Ulmer, and each one caused more than a billion dollars  in damage to infrastructure and homes. The new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) focuses on hurricanes, which are the mostly costly natural disasters according to NOAA. Since 1980, tropical cyclones have caused a combined $927.5 billion in damages and are also the most expensive individual storm events in both financial cost and lives lost. Related: Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harm’s way Of the annual losses predicted by the CBO, $34 billion is estimated in damage to homes, plus $12 billion for the public sector and $9 billion for private businesses. The direct cost to taxpayers is estimated at approximately $17 billion per year. However, the CBO report also underscores several preventive actions that could significantly reduce these costs. By some analyses , mitigation measures (such as flood prevention or watershed protection) could save Americans $6 dollars in losses for every $1 spent in preparation. Solutions to mitigate hurricane damage The following suggestions from the report include environmental and policy-level recommendations to reduce loss in infrastructure and lives from tropical storms and hurricanes. Reduce carbon emissions Hurricanes, and their rising frequency and intensity, are intricately tied to climate change . Increasing temperatures melt glaciers and cause sea level rise, which leads to higher storm surge levels and more destructive flooding. The rising temperatures have also been linked to increased rainfall. Climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions; therefore,  reducing emissions would slow and prevent some of the future damage caused by intense storms and extreme flooding. One primary way to reduce emissions, according to the CBO, is by expanding cap-and-trade programs. These programs incentivize companies to keep emissions below designated thresholds and allow the purchasing of emission credits between companies that pollute less and companies that pollute more. However, the CBO also acknowledges that limiting emissions may negatively impact the economy by increasing the cost of goods and services and reducing jobs. Likewise, the CBO argues that such strategies must be enforced at a global scale, otherwise corporations will relocate to countries that allow unfettered pollution. Increase funding for flood mapping The weather is changing, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is struggling to keep up. Rapid urban development in wetlands and flood zones, combined with sea level rise and erosion, are changing the landscape of flood risk. The scale of this need is overwhelming — in 2018, FEMA spent $452 million on flood mapping and data collection, but it was nowhere near enough. Expand flood insurance coverage Flood insurance agencies need accurate spatial data and maps in order to adequately provide coverage, charge appropriate rates and adequately inform the public about their specific risks. Most people simply do not buy flood insurance and of those that do, 25 percent drop their plan within the first year. More accurate data and delineated risk zones can help inform residents of their direct risks and incentivize homeowners to implement mitigation measure, such as relocating heating and cooling equipment above of the predicted flood level. Accurate risk data will also help justify changes for long-standing insurance policy holders who have been “grandfathered” into plans that grossly underestimated their vulnerability before climate science and spatial mapping were widely available. An estimated 20 percent of insurance policy holders are paying rates lower than their appropriate risk level, which is good news for the policy holder up until a storm hits and they are in need of benefits that correspond to the damage they endured. Encourage local and state governments to share recovery costs When the president declares a disaster emergency, municipalities receive federal dollars to provide basic needs and support recovery efforts. Though the federal government plans to ramp up funding for preventive measures, such as sea walls, the CBO believes that if local and state governments had to foot more of the bill, they would be more inclined to enforce important mitigation policy . For example, if local and state governments expected to have to pay for damage to infrastructure, they would be more strict about limiting new development in flood zones — something they have more power to control from a local level. The message is clear — mitigation efforts are worth every penny. The National Weather Service already predicted more severe flooding this hurricane season than previous years. As evidence piles up in favor of mitigation, the only question remaining is ‘where do we start?’ + CBO Via The Weather Channel Image via Raquel M  and Pamela Andrade ( 1 , 2 )

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Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

May 1, 2019 by  
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London-based practice Anarchitect has breathed new life into two stone buildings from the 1960s that had laid vacant in the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah desert for years. Using the crimson landscape as inspiration, the firm converted the abandoned buildings into the Al Faya Lodge , a light-filled eco retreat that was built with a variety of resilient materials to withstand the remote area’s extreme temperature fluctuations. Set into the foothills of Mount Alvaah and surrounded by miles of desert, the boutique hotel  required a very strategic design that would enable the structures to be resilient against the harsh climate. According to Anarchitect founder Jonathan Ashmore, the location was challenging to say the least. “Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure,” Ashmore said. “It is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building and secondly the selection of suitable and robust materials, which go hand-in-hand.” Related: Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil Using the existing frames of the old buildings (formerly a grocery store and cafe) as a guide for the layout, the architects selected a number of robust materials to create a resilient design that would stand up to the elements for years to come. Locally-sourced stone and concrete were chosen to create a heavy thermal mass, which would help keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature year-round. Additionally, using concrete and stone also protects the building from the harsh weather that often sees driving rain, sand storms and freezing overnight temperatures. In addition to these materials, the hotel was clad in a vibrant mixture of weathered steel and teak hardwood to add a refined industrial aesthetic to the design. Large floor-to-ceiling panels let in optimal natural light throughout the interior and provide a strong connection with the amazing setting found outdoors. While guests to the lodge can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and desertscape from the hotel’s dining area, reception room and outdoor fire pit, the rooftop terrace is the place to be at sunrise and sunset. All of the five guest rooms feature large skylights for stargazing. When looking for a little downtime from exploring the area, guests can also take in a luxurious soak in the open-air saltwater pool. + Anarchitect + Al Faya Lodge Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Guerra via Anarchitect

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Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home

April 30, 2019 by  
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When Ramanujan Basha decided to build a modern, eco-friendly home in Kerala, he turned to Wallmakers , a local design practice with a decade’s worth of experience designing sustainable architecture. Unlike its more conventional neighbors, the house, dubbed Chirath, is built primarily of mud, recycled elements and natural materials . Passive solar principles were also applied to the design to let in light and much-needed natural ventilation for relief from Kerala’s tropical climate. In addition to wanting a sustainable home, the client told the architects that he wanted to steer clear of the traditional Kerala home system. To combat the heat and the monsoon rain, most conventional homes feature sloped roofs with thick overhangs that protect against the elements but also lead to an undesirably dark interior. Moreover, the client felt that the traditional architectural systems’ delineation of space promoted gender inequality. “Thus during the early days of the project, the client had made a point that the house should be a symbol of a new light, or a new outlook to our age-old systems and beliefs,” the architects said. “‘Chirath,’ which denotes a traditional lamp in Malayalam, is the name given by Mr. Ramanujan Basha for his house at Pala, Kerala. The client thus asked for a solution by throwing away the bad and utilizing the good. We decided to break the roof, split it open and let the light flow in, all while using waste and mud to build the house. This is the concept of Chirath.” Related: Solar-powered home stays naturally cool in Kerala’s tropical heat Clad in locally sourced earth, Chirath’s structural walls were constructed with a mix of cement, soil and recycled coarse aggregate for strength, while ferrocement was used for the roof and partition walls. Other recycled materials include waste wood repurposed to make furnishings, such as the beds and kitchen cabinets, as well as unwanted steel given new life as beautiful window grills and ventilators. Locally sourced tiles were assembled into the terracotta tile jali that lets in cooling breezes and light. For added passive cooling, the architects installed a pool in the living area that connects to a rainwater harvesting tank, which collects runoff for reuse in the home. + Wallmakers Photography by Anand Jaju, Jino and Midhu via Wallmakers

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