Families in China create an eco-community of timber, A-frame cabins

December 6, 2019 by  
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Spanning more than 20 acres in China’s Mogan River Valley, Wiki Tribe Park consists of multiple A-frame cabins made out of cross-laminated timber. The impressive project was conceived by local architecture firm Wiki World  that wanted to create a collaborative eco-community tucked into an idyllic, natural landscape. The Wiki Tribe Park complex was planned and designed by architects, but the project was organized in a way that would let entire families take part in the construction process. Using a modular system enabled not only the adults to take part in building the cabins, but it even allowed young children to learn the basics of green building. Related: Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater The cabins’ walls were cut through a high-precision, prefabricated construction method, which enabled a faster building process. In fact, the A-frame cabins were finished in just about one month, especially thanks to the families that were involved in the construction. Elevated off of the ground to protect the landscape, the timber cabins are covered in a waterproof , reflective material in order to better blend the structures into the landscape. This coating also keeps the cabins resilient to the climate. From the interior, the families can take in the beautiful views through the large window located on each side of every cabin. Built in collaboration with UN-habitat, World Children Campaign and 7 Billion Urbanists, the Wiki Tribe Park project was conceived by Wiki World with the aim of creating a collaborative eco-community . By allowing the residents to participate in the construction process, not only do they feel a strong bond with their own cabins but with the natural world as well. Plus, the children who were involved were able to learn more about sustainable building practices for the future. + Wiki World + Advanced Architecture Lab (AAL) Via ArchDaily Images via Wiki World

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Families in China create an eco-community of timber, A-frame cabins

Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhis air pollution

November 26, 2019 by  
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According to WHO, air quality in India’s capital of Delhi is among the worst in the world and is the fifth leading cause of death in India. In a bid to fight this silent killer, Indian practice Studio Symbiosis Architects has taken on a pro-bono project to design A?ra, a proposal for a system of air purifiers to clean the city air for the benefit of all residents in Delhi. Developed using the principles of aerodynamics, the A?ra air purifiers rely on a curved shape and air pressure differentials to intake polluted air and produce cool, clean air. Delhi has made headlines year after year for the thick, suffocating smog that has blanketed the city and neighboring areas. With the levels of PM 2.5 spiking to dangerous highs, Studio Symbiosis Architects sought a solution that could be enjoyed by all and not just those able to afford home air purifiers. Related: Pollution Pods let visitors taste pollution from around the world At the heart of the architects’ proposal is A?ra, a series of giant, air purifying towers topped with green planters with drip irrigation. Each tower would have two main chambers: one to increase the relative velocity of the air and the other for purifying the polluted air before blowing it out at high speeds and at lower temperatures to create a pressure difference that then pushes warm, polluted air back toward the tower. The architects estimate that an 18-meter-tall A?ra tower could clean 32 million cubic meters of air every day and have the capacity to clean 1.3 million cubic meters of air per hour. The A?ra towers represent only the first part of the architects’ proposal. The architects’ implementation plan would begin with installing a ring of 60-meter-tall A?ra towers around the city border to stop the flow of external pollution. Smaller, 18-meter-tall A?ra towers with a range of 1 square kilometer would then be installed in select “hot spots” along a grid to ensure clean air within the city. The air purification system would be supplemented with “A?ra velocity” gadgets that can be attached to the tops of cars as well as a network of “A?ra Falcon” drones that would move around the city and monitor air pollution levels. The systems collectively would be called the “A?ra Hive.” + Studio Symbiosis Architects Images via Studio Symbiosis Architects

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Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhis air pollution

Students propose a biomimetic solution to reduce post-harvest food waste in Nigeria

November 26, 2019 by  
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As one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producers of tomatoes, Nigeria grows up to 1.5 million tons of the fruit annually, yet nearly half of that harvest fails to make it to the market. In a bid to provide a solution to post-harvest food waste, a team of Pratt Institute students designed a storage facility for tomato farmers in Nigeria that takes inspiration from the respiratory system of a cricket and the ribs of a cactus. The proposal — titled Tomato’s Home — was recently named a finalist in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge and has advanced to the Biomimicry Launchpad, an accelerator program that helps early-stage entrepreneurs bring nature-inspired solutions to market. Unlike consumer-driven food waste that plagues the developed world, much of the food waste in developing countries such as Nigeria occurs during the post-processing stage. The students’ proposal focuses on the small farms around Kano in northern Nigeria, where the majority of the country’s tomatoes are grown. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimcry The students’ solution begins with a storage basket made from natural materials. Inspired by the way peas are protected and arranged in their shell, the students suggest weaving together loofa — the dried, fibrous part of the luffa fruit naturalized in the area — into a basket base for storing the individual tomatoes and to prevent bruising. The soft bed of loofa would be protected and given structure by a layer of woven teak on the outside. To store the tomato baskets, the students have also proposed a modular building constructed from natural materials, including clay bricks and thatch. Designed with an emphasis on natural ventilation and insulation, the buildings take direct inspiration from elements in nature, such as stack flow ventilation that the students say mimic the respiratory system of crickets. Light colors on the facade help reflect heat much like the white shells of certain desert snails, while the thatched roof — inspired by the thatched nests of grass-cutting ants — provide insulating benefits without compromising ventilation. + Pratt Institute Images via Pratt Institute

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Students propose a biomimetic solution to reduce post-harvest food waste in Nigeria

Elevated bamboo housing protects an Indian community from floods

October 17, 2019 by  
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After the catastrophic 2017 Northeast India floods ravaged the state of Assam, the nonprofit SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) teamed up with local organization NEADS (North-East Affected Area Development Society) to create 80 core houses that are resistant to flooding. Designed and built in collaboration with the local community in Assam’s subdivision of Golaghat, the 80-unit development draws inspiration from the region’s vernacular of stilt houses built from bamboo. Concrete footings and rubberized coatings were introduced to strengthen the elevated, disaster-resilient homes. Located within India’s largest bamboo reserve, near the major Brahmaputra River, Golaghat lies in the valley of Assam and experiences a tropical monsoon and rainforest climate that brings heavy rainfall and flooding almost every year, problems that are compounded by the region’s high seismic activity. Related: Concrete fins protect this visitor center from rising tides “Vulnerable to natural disasters, the self-reliant Assamese communities have developed indigenous construction and planning techniques over the centuries, creating a built-environment exclusive to the terrain,” SEEDS explained. “However, due to haphazard development in the region, the traditional knowledge systems are being ignored, leading to an unsafe environment, loss of lives and livelihoods. The intervention was formulated with a vision to build resilient communities through participatory design, illustrating a model of contemporary vernacular architecture.” With financial support from Indian conglomerate Godrej, the community-driven project saw the completion of 80 bamboo stilt houses, each 23 square meters in size and designed to meet Sphere Humanitarian Standards. The stilts that elevate the house are tall enough to create a spacious shaded area underneath that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as weaving, rearing livestock, storing boats or recreation. The building’s flexible joinery system also allows the homeowners to raise the floor even higher in case of overflooding. The construction is strengthened with deeper bamboo footings encased in concrete, rubberized bamboo columns for waterproofing and cross-bracing. + SEEDS Images via SEEDS

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Elevated bamboo housing protects an Indian community from floods

EEA reports poor air quality caused premature deaths of 400,000 Europeans in 2016

October 17, 2019 by  
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Coal-fired power plants, vehicle-clogged highways and fossil-fuel spewing factories have contributed to the growing European air pollution dilemma. Industries, households and vehicles all emit dangerous pollutants that are harmful to human health. Indeed, the European Environment Agency (EEA) highlighted the issue when reporting that over 400,000 Europeans met their untimely demise in 2016 due to poor air quality. Air pollution is detrimental to society, harms human health and ultimately increases health care costs. An air quality expert at the EEA and author of the study, Alberto Gonzales Ortiz, warned that air pollution is “currently the most important environmental risk to human health.” Related: Climate change is a public health issue amounting to billions in medical costs According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “Pollutants with the strongest evidence for public health concerns include particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).” The presence of air pollutants produced by fuel combustion – whether from mobile sources like vehicles or from stationery sources such as power plants, biomass use, industry or households – above European skies means the continent is in serious need of more effective air quality plans. Current European Union (EU) legislation requires air quality evaluations to assess whether dangerous particulates have exceeded certain thresholds.  As early as 2017, the EU set limits on certain air pollutants to tackle the scourge that is prematurely claiming hundreds of thousands of European lives each year. In fact, this past July, the European Commission asked the EU’s Court of Justice to reprimand Spain and Portugal for their poor air quality practices. More recently, the British government proposed a new environment bill that legally targets the reduction of fine particulate pollution by requiring automakers to recall vehicles with sub-par emission standards. The WHO has repeatedly said that air pollution is to blame for high percentages of global mortality linked to lung cancer (29%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (43%), acute respiratory infection (17%), ischemic heart disease (25%), stroke (24%) and other cardiovascular ailments. Low-and middle-income countries are disproportionately more vulnerable to the particulate pollution burden, especially poor and marginalized populations. Interestingly, air pollution is also the main driver of climate change . Emissions have been among the largest contributors to global warming , accelerating glacial snow melt as well as causing extreme weather conditions that affect agriculture and food security. Ortiz added, “When we fight pollution, we also fight climate change as well as promote more healthy behavior. It’s a win-win.” Via Reuters Image via dan19878

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EEA reports poor air quality caused premature deaths of 400,000 Europeans in 2016

Kids are hungry for books about eco-activists, in what publishers call ‘the Greta effect’

August 14, 2019 by  
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The soaring popularity of the feisty, outspoken environmental advocate – who is only 16 – has caused a rise in young people seeking stories about saving the planet. Publishers coin the new trend the “Greta Thunberg Effect” and are publishing children’s book about climate change in record time. Publishers have pumped out books across a range of topics related to the environment, from endangered species to climate change, and sales have doubled in the last year, according to Nielsen Book Research. Related: Greta Thunberg will sail across Atlantic to attend the UN climate summit “I absolutely would say there has been a Greta Thunberg effect. She has galvanized the appetite of young people for change, and that has galvanized our appetite, as publishers, for stories that empower our readers to make those changes,” said Rachel Kellehar, who heads nonfiction for Nosy Crow, a publishing company working on a collection of stories about environmental advocates and featuring Greta on the cover. Authors, too, are noticing the change in interest among young people, and seizing the opportunity to write stories that motivate and inspire them. “I want not only to educate but to inspire a new wave of eco-warriors. Kids are the future. Hopefully if they have been educated about environmental issues from a young age they will go on – and go further – than we are right now,” said author James Sellick, who wrote a story about orangutans and deforestation . Because of the popularity, and uncertainty around its longevity, publishers like Nosy Crow are turning topical children’s books around at fast speeds, such as with the new collection of short stories the company will publish that will be cranked out in four months— something unheard of for children’s genres. Part of the rush is also riding Greta’s wave of popularity to October, when she will find out if she wins the Novel Peace Prize. “Whether or not she wins the Nobel peace prize, October will be a key moment to reach out and say Greta’s doing this amazing thing, but also lots of other people you’ve never heard of all around the world are doing amazing things. From young girls in Indonesia who have got plastic bags banned, to an engineer in India who is creating artificial glaciers” said Kellehar. Via The Guardian Image via Flickr

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Kids are hungry for books about eco-activists, in what publishers call ‘the Greta effect’

A global guide to ‘restoration hotspots’ for tropical rainforests

August 2, 2019 by  
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The five countries with the largest potential are Brazil, Indonesia, India, Madagascar and Colombia.

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Studio Lotus designs an innovative and low-impact visitor center for Jodhpurs Mehrangarh Fort

July 4, 2019 by  
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Delhi-based multidisciplinary design practice Studio Lotus has won a competition to design the new visitor center and knowledge center for Jodpur’s Mehrangarh Fort, one of India’s largest forts that dates back to the 15th century. Now a major tourist destination and repository for cultural and historical artifacts, the Mehrangarh Fort has been undergoing adaptive reuse and redevelopment projects that include the recent design competition organized by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust. Studio Lotus’ winning proposal for “sensitive spatial interventions” was selected due to its use of a highly flexible construction methodology capable of handling high volumes of pedestrian traffic with minimal ecological impact. Selected from three finalists, Studio Lotus’ winning proposal was conceived as an “architectural system” rather than a set of buildings. The modular construction — made primarily from metal and stone to blend in with the environs — are scalable and can be easily inserted and adapted for a variety of areas within the Mehrangarh Fort. The construction system can be used to create a variety of structures, from raised pathways to buildings. “Studio Lotus’ proposal seeks to create new linkages in the fort precinct by means of sensitive spatial interventions that bolster the existing circulation scheme,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The towering edifice of Mehrangarh and its various outcroppings constitute a staggeringly intricate built character, as much a testament to the beauty of the built form as it is an embodiment of the region’s culture and heritage. It was pertinent that any additions or modifications to this dense fabric enmesh with the existing; the proposed intervention aims to do just that — through expressive and adaptable additions that make the most of modern construction technology, yet stand deferential to the historic site’s timeless magnificence.” Related: An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant Located at the junction of the Jai Pol Plaza and a new parallel pathway along the main fort entrance, the new visitor center will mark an alternate entrance and be built from woven steel lattice-based modules fitted with stone ‘tukdi’ slabs. The Knowledge Center will be set on the northwestern ramparts overlooking the Chohelao Bagh and be made up of a series of interconnected decks descending from the Palace Plaza and arranged around a steep lightwell. The programming along the decks will progress from public to more private spaces and include exhibition galleries, seminar halls, community spaces and a space for scholar studies. + Studio Lotus Images via Studio Lotus

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Studio Lotus designs an innovative and low-impact visitor center for Jodhpurs Mehrangarh Fort

Sustainable timber house in the UK is a modernist’s dream

July 4, 2019 by  
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When it came time for London-based architect Catja de Haas to build her own home outside of the city, her first objective was to design a sustainable retreat that, although modern in aesthetic and scale, would blend in seamlessly with nature. Designed in collaboration with Takero Shimazaki Architects , the resulting Burwood House was built to Passivhaus standards featuring sustainable CLT cladding, a green roof and several energy-reducing strategies. Located in southeast England, the Burwood home design consists of three block volumes topped with a green roof . The two principle forms are linked together by a third volume, which wraps around the side of the structure. Large roof overhangs create several shaded outdoor spaces, and help regulate solar gains in the summer time. Related: Circular garden walkway cuts straight through Japanese timber home Clad in a light-hued oak CLT panels , the home holds court in an idyllic setting, enveloped by a thick forest to the back and a rolling green countryside that expands to the seaside. As for the home’s building materials, the architect wanted to use this picturesque natural setting to create a home design that is harmonious with nature. “Burwood is a type of wood that grows in existing woods, becoming a new tree”, de Haas explains. “It is the name of the house, and we hope the house will itself slowly disappear in the green.” In addition to its timber cladding, the home uses floor-to-ceiling glass panels on the ground level to further blend the home into its setting. Surrounded by several sliding glass doors that provide optimal natural ventilation, the main living area is a light-filled oasis . The soft, neutral color palette found on the exterior continues throughout the home’s expansive interior. Built-in furniture, along with oak frame doors and concrete touches create an airy  minimalist atmosphere that is both modern and welcoming. + Catja de Haas Architects + Takero Shimazaki Architects Via Wallpaper Images via Catja de Hass Architects

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Sustainable timber house in the UK is a modernist’s dream

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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