‘Floating’ Kayak Point makes a home in the trees

June 22, 2020 by  
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Sometimes architecture means not building, or at least not in the traditional sense. Presented with logistical challenges, the team at Christopher Wright Architecture used innovation and creativity to create Kayak Point, a house perched in the trees along the Puget Sound coastline in Washington state. The clients, one of whom is originally from Switzerland , came to the architects with an idea in mind. They wanted a house that combined Swiss design elements with modern touches all nestled within a wooded coastal lot. With a focus on craftsmanship and attention to detail, they developed a plan for a strong yet environmentally-sensitive home with the smallest footprint available . Portions of the home don’t sit on the ground at all. Suspended slightly above ground, support beams run across the bottom of the home’s center to provide the needed structure. Related: Hawk Nest House combines rammed earth and local stone As with most architectural design, the plan changed and evolved as the team studied the available land. Construction only being allowed on a small portion of the property meant finding ways to work around the challenge. The single-story structure presented an even larger challenge in the form of massive cedar trees that the clients wanted to be kept intact. With such a small available building area, the home had to be situated directly in those trees, but digging a traditional foundation would have endangered the tree roots below ground. To avoid this, the entire center of the house was elevated instead.  “We wanted to create a home that seems to belong where it is–as if it could have always been there–but does not necessarily blend or disappear. Here, I like the strength of the simple form set against the natural landscape,” said architect Christopher Wright. To further this goal, cedar clads the entire structure, both inside and out. An outdoor space connects the expansive views to the function of the interior. For interior design, Kayak Point encompasses natural elements combined with a streamlined, cozy vibe that invites the owners to relax and enjoy the view. The architects catered to requests for a TV viewing area, fireplace and large European -style kitchen, each focusing on dynamic lighting and deliberate lines for a finished home cemented into refined tranquility. + Christopher Wright Architecture Photography by Anna Spencer and Ben Benschneider  

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‘Floating’ Kayak Point makes a home in the trees

Environmental racism in America

June 22, 2020 by  
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The stretch of land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is riddled with petrochemical plants spewing smoke into the air. Huge pipes pump chemicals above and below the highway to load boats in the river. This former plantation land’s modern nicknames are Cancer Alley and Death Alley because of the pollution-induced illness rife in the riverside communities. People familiar with environmental racism won’t be surprised to learn that Saint James Parish, in the heart of this area, is predominately Black. This is some of America’s most polluted air, with eight major industrial plants in 103 square miles and a new, enormous plastic project on the horizon. The cancer rate here is 700 times the national average. All around the country — and, in fact, the world — toxic plants are placed by the least affluent and most vulnerable populations, most of whom are people of color. These low-income communities tend to have the least political power to keep pollution generators out of their backyards. The term environmental racism Environmental racism is not a new concept. But with the Black Lives Matter movement thrusting all forms of racial inequity into the public eye, it’s time to take a look at what it means and how we can create change. Related: Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harm’s way Benjamin F. Chavis, Junior, former president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), defined the term in his 1983 work, “ Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States .” The NNPA is an association for Black-owned newspaper publishers. Chavis described environmental racism as deliberately targeting communities of color for siting toxic waste facilities that expose people to life-threatening pollutants and poisons. Chavis acknowledged different types of racism, but noted, “environmental racism is a particularly insidious and intentional form of racism that negatively affects millions of Black, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans, as well as people of color around the world.” Environmental racism means that people of color feel a disproportionate impact from things like toxic waste dumps, pollution and chemical plants that expose them to pollutants, known carcinogens and contaminated water at a much higher rate than more affluent White neighborhoods. The problem is intensified by officials failing to enforce environmental laws, for example, the thousands of Black children exposed to lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan in the last decade while officials assured everybody the water was safe. Types of environmental threats that communities of color face Whether they are threats to the water , air or land, people of color face them all. According to a 2012 NAACP study , communities of color breathe in 40% more polluted air than White neighborhoods. Much of this is from coal plants. While only 13% of the U.S. population is Black, 68% live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. That’s 12% higher than for White people. Associated problems include higher risks of birth defects, heart attacks and asthma. Black communities suffer from unusually high levels of asthma. Black women are 20% likelier to have asthma than non-Hispanic White people, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health website. In 2014, Black people were almost three times more likely to die from asthma-related causes than White people. Children are hit especially hard, with a much higher rate of asthma-related hospitalization and death. In addition to coal plants, low-income Black communities are disproportionately located near other types of toxic sites. In rural areas, this could be farm runoff. “Swine CAFOs are disproportionately located in black and brown communities and regions of poverty,” stated a study by researchers at School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, are an innocuous-sounding euphemism for animals packed tightly together, living sad and squalid lives around enormous manure lagoons. People who live near these air- and water-polluting operations often suffer from eye, nose and throat irritation, depression, stress and decreased quality of life. In North Carolina, CAFOs center on pigs. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, dairy farm waste, including pesticides , has upped the asthma rates in Black and Brown communities. Environmental racism and COVID-19 The novel coronavirus has preyed especially hard on people of color. Patients with underlying conditions are up to 12 times as likely to die of COVID-19 than those that were healthy before contracting the novel coronavirus. A CDC report released June 15 cited heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease as the most common underlying conditions contributing to COVID-19 deaths. Black communities have a much higher rate of many conditions that predispose people to dying of COVID-19. These include diabetes, asthma, tobacco exposure, strokes, high blood pressure and cancer. Racism leads to and aggravates all of these conditions, from breathing in more pollution and experiencing more stress in the first place, to having less access to healthcare for early diagnosis and treatment of illness. Via Food is Power and The Guardian Images via Pixabay

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Environmental racism in America

Rael San Fratello prints amazing 3D mud structures as prototypes for affordable housing of the future

October 24, 2019 by  
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Led by architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, design studio Rael San Fratello has become well-known for creating innovative and sustainable designs, but now the studio is truly breaking ground when it comes to 3D printing . As part of its Emerging Objects series, the design team has created four solid mud structures. Built by a low-cost, portable 3D robot, the four buildings were all printed using soil and wood sourced on site in Colorado’s expansive Valle de San Luis. The team chose Colorado’s San Luis Valley as the site for their series due to its rich history of Ancestral Pueblo and the Indo-Hispano cultures. Referring to the traditional building practices of these cultures, which predominately included using earthen materials to create sturdy housing, Rael San Fratello has managed to create four 3D-printed prototypes: Hearth, Beacon, Lookout and Kiln, that explore the various techniques of mud construction . Related: BigDelta machine 3D-prints durable, affordable houses from dirt The project, called Mud Frontiers, began by researching the typical earthen items that have been made from the clay harvested from the area. They then collaborated with 3D ceramic print company 3D Potter to create a small, portable robot called Potterbot XLS-1, which was built to print the mud creations on site. The first design, Hearth was built using a thin wall of mud reinforced with rot-resistant juniper wood. This structure has a tiny fireplace on the interior that burns the wood as well. The second design, Beacon was designed to research just how thin the mud walls could be by stacking various coils of mudwork. In this structure, light illuminates through the indentations along the walls, serving as a “beacon” of light. The third design, Lookout, was comprised of a network of undulating mud coils that are layers to form a staircase, creating a structure that is strong enough to withstand substantial weight. Additionally, this structure was built with cross sections of mud piping that can be used to create a system of natural air circulation through various openings. The final prototype, Kiln, included a culmination of the anterior designs, but adds a kiln that uses locally-sourced clay fired with juniper wood to create earthen ware items. Using the various traditional techniques helped designers determine that mud could indeed be a viable solution for providing more affordable construction options in the future. Especially as urban and rural area designers and architects look for sustainable materials to build resilient structures. “What we learned was really how accessible, robust and powerful it was to print large scale structures so quickly using the soil just beneath our feet,” Rael told Dezeen. “We discovered work flows for printing, material mixture processes, structural applications and theories about new and old ways of living and designing for the future using humankind’s most humble material.” + Rael San Fratello + Emerging Objects Via Dezeen Photography by Rael San Fratello

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Rael San Fratello prints amazing 3D mud structures as prototypes for affordable housing of the future

The sustainability movement confronts its ‘lean in’ moment

September 25, 2017 by  
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It’s time to think more about diversity and social inclusions, from the inside out.

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The sustainability movement confronts its ‘lean in’ moment

Seen at COP21: The Paris climate talks in pictures

December 10, 2015 by  
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Take a tour inside the Blue Zone at the United Nations COP21 climate change talks, then see the street scenes in Paris.

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Seen at COP21: The Paris climate talks in pictures

Cultivating Havana: An Organic Farming And Urban Garden Revolution

September 24, 2015 by  
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In the United States, we have taken for granted that we’ll always have plentiful food at affordable prices. For many years, food has only cost us around 10% of our income. However, according to a National Geographic article, Inside the Looming Food…

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Cultivating Havana: An Organic Farming And Urban Garden Revolution

INFOGRAPHIC: Why the shipping container revolution became popular

March 31, 2015 by  
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Cargotecture is one of our favorite topics on Inhabitat and it should be no wonder why—building with shipping containers can be an affordable way to provide high-quality housing. Inside Portable Accommodation , a company that specializes in portable buildings, has also caught on to the booming shipping container revolution in architecture. In celebration of cargotecture, the Gloucestershire company put together an infographic comprising facts about shipping container architecture , great cargotecture examples from around the world, as well as tips from experts on building with shipping containers. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: Why the shipping container revolution became popular Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Cargotecture , infographic , Inside portable accommodation , reader submitted content , shipping container architecture , shipping containers

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INFOGRAPHIC: Why the shipping container revolution became popular

France’s oldest tree, alive since Louis IX, hides treehouse chapels within its trunk

March 31, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of France’s oldest tree, alive since Louis IX, hides treehouse chapels within its trunk Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Allouville-Bellefosse , Architecture , Botanical , carved tree , Chêne Chapelle , france , oak chapel , Treehouses

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France’s oldest tree, alive since Louis IX, hides treehouse chapels within its trunk

Scientists Create Complete Organ from Scratch – Inside a Mouse!

September 2, 2014 by  
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Oh, the mighty mouse – the tiny creature on whom humanity’s experiments have saved countless lives, and they’re up to it again. This time, scientists at the University of Edinburgh have managed to grow a fully functional organ inside a mouse, which opens up the possibility that one day we might be able to manufacture compatible organs for transplant from scratch – without the need for human donors. Read the rest of Scientists Create Complete Organ from Scratch – Inside a Mouse! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: artificial , edinburgh , glad , Grow , inside , mouse , organ , thymus , transplant , university

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Scientists Create Complete Organ from Scratch – Inside a Mouse!

Baltimore’s New Bus Shelter Lets Straphangers Lounge Inside Giant Letters

August 11, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Baltimore’s New Bus Shelter Lets Straphangers Lounge Inside Giant Letters Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: baltimore art installation , Baltimore BUS , Baltimore bus shelters , Baltimore bus stops , bus , eco design , green design , green transportation , mmmm , public transportation , sustainable design , typographical architecture

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Baltimore’s New Bus Shelter Lets Straphangers Lounge Inside Giant Letters

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