Nearly all new US energy capacity came from solar and wind in early 2018

April 25, 2018 by  
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In the first two months of 2018, the United States installed 1,568 megawatts of wind and 565 MW of solar — which accounted for a whopping 98 percent of all new power generation capacity. Meanwhile, only 40 MW of natural gas capacity was installed in the same time period. These findings are detailed in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) latest “ Energy Infrastructure Update ,” which arrives even as the Trump administration attempts to align federal policy with the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Despite administration resistance to renewable energy, several states that voted for Trump in the 2016 election are benefiting from the installation of major clean energy projects within their borders. This includes the 170 MW Beaver Creek Wind Project and the 168 MW Prairie Wind Project in Iowa , as well as the 81 MW Stuttgart Solar Project in Arkansas . As the cost of solar and wind energy continues to drop, the fundamental economics of the situation encourage further investments in clean energy. Related: Solar outshined all fossil-fuels sources combined in 2017 The recent FERC report projects that renewable energy will continue to dominate new power generation capacity installed over the next several years. FERC estimates that 147,000, or 69 percent, of the 212,000 MW power generation capacity expected to be installed between now and March 2021 will be from renewable energy sources. It also predicts that coal plants, despite a more industry-friendly administration, will continue to close without replacement, shrinking the number of active coal plants over time. Net coal power generation is expected to fall by 15,000 MW over the next several years. Via Think Progress Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Nearly all new US energy capacity came from solar and wind in early 2018

Arctic sea ice is filled with record levels of microplastics

April 25, 2018 by  
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Even the Arctic can’t escape plastic pollution . Scientists gathered ice samples from five distinct regions in the Arctic Ocean , and some of those samples contained over 12,000 microplastic particles per liter of ice – a record-breaking amount. All told, they uncovered 17 different kinds of plastic , including paints and packaging. A team of 9 scientists at Alfred Wegener Institute recorded record levels of microplastics, or plastic fragments between a few micrometers to under five millimeters big, in sea ice collected in the Arctic. They gathered these samples aboard the research icebreaker Polarstern in 2014 and 2015. They utilized a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer to scrutinize the ice samples layer by layer to light up microparticles; particles reflect varying wavelengths depending on their ingredients so the scientists could determine their substances. Related: New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected Their methods helped them discover minuscule particles. Scientist Gunnar Gerdts, who runs the laboratory where the researchers carried out measurements, said in a statement , “In this way, we also discovered plastic particles that are tiny 11 microns in size. This is roughly a sixth of the diameter of human hair and was also the key reason why, with more than 12,000 particles per liter of sea ice, we were able to detect two to three times higher plastic concentrations than was the case in a previous study.” 67 percent of the particles in the ice samples fell in the 50 micrometers and below category: the smallest one. Biologist Ilka Peeken said, “We found out in our study that more than half of the microplastic particles trapped in the ice were smaller than one-twentieth of a millimeter and thus easily eaten by Arctic microorganisms such as crayfish, but also copepods.” This is concerning, she said, because “so far no one can say to what extent these tiny plastic particles harm the sea dwellers or end up even endangering humans.” The journal Nature Communications published the research this week. + Alfred Wegener Institute + Nature Communications Images via Tristan Vankaan , Mar Fernandez , and Stefan Hendricks

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Arctic sea ice is filled with record levels of microplastics

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

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

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

Experimental furniture eyeing urban regeneration pops up in Madrid

April 9, 2018 by  
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Enorme Studio teamed up with MINI to create an urban installation that taps into concepts of sustainability and urban regeneration. Called Mountain on the Moon, the experimental project comprises three mobile structures: a glass house/office and terraced bench seating units with attractive greenery on either side. The installation, located in Plaza de la Luna, was created for the Madrid Design Festival. Mountain on the Moon embraces the ideas of flexible and portable architecture as a means of encouraging collaboration and connection in the city. “Every day we all become increasingly aware of the need to improve our habits and the collective awareness about our environment, although nonetheless our cities—gigantic and vast—are often far from reflecting this change of paradigm,” wrote Enorme Studio. “It is urgent that, as citizens we contribute, along with different players like designers, public institutions, brands… and to start to collectively rethink new collective visions for our cities, which can regenerate the urban landscape in a way cohesive with people and their environment.” Related: Portable ParkedBench parklet injects a breath of fresh air in London The installation’s green spaces serve as informal seating, while the gabled glass house doubles as an office or lecture space equipped with USB charging points and reading lights powered by solar energy . Plywood lines the light-filled interior decorated with plants for a greenhouse -like feel. The paintings on the outside of the green terraces, which appear to mimic mountains or waves, reinforce this connection to nature. + Enorme Studio Via domus Images by Javier de Paz García, Luis Alda

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Experimental furniture eyeing urban regeneration pops up in Madrid

Wind-powered machine mimics the sound of 500 galloping horses

September 11, 2017 by  
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How do you bring an ancient landscape to life? Architecture studio NEON breathes life into England’s historical Chesters Roman Fort by recreating the sound of 500 galloping horses. Architect Mark Nixon led the design of Cavalary 360, a wind-powered installation that mimics the sounds of horse hooves clopping on the ground while framing the North Tyne landscape. The site-specific musical instrument pays homage to the 500 horses that belonged to the Roman cavalrymen that roamed the land 1,600 years ago. Calvary 360 was created as part of Hadrian’s Calvary, an exhibition that celebrates the Roman cavalry with unique installations installed along Hadrian’s Wall . “It can be difficult to make a connection between the preserved walls of the Roman cavalry fort (the most extensive in Britain) and the powerful mounted troops based here,” wrote NEON. “Cavalry 360° is a vast site specific musical instrument which uses the force of the wind to create the sound of the cavalry moving across the landscape beyond. The piece creates an equine soundscape as a means of evoking the imagination of the viewer to fill in the gaps.” Related: Mobile residence for writers to meander the border of England’s former Roman Empire The massive musical instrument is a circular structure made up of 32 wind turbines elevated on tall black frames. Each wind turbine is connected to 15 beaters, each of which represents a single horse in the cavalry. The frame units are visually paired to represent the 30 horses in a turma, the term for a cavalry unit in the Roman Roman army. The cups at the end of the three turbine arms catch the wind, which powers and rotates the insulation that changes sound depending on the direction and speed of the wind. Visitors are encouraged to stand in the middle of Cavalary 360 to experience the full effect and look out to views of the fort and landscape through the black frames. + NEON Via Dezeen Images by Lightly Frozen

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Wind-powered machine mimics the sound of 500 galloping horses

Alex Chinnecks mesmerizing crack on a brick building turns heads in London

August 1, 2017 by  
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From a melting house to a floating building, British artist Alex Chinneck has a knack for turning heads—and his latest work is no exception. For his first permanent artwork, Chinneck created an enormous crack down the side of the building in an optical illusion called “Six pins and half a dozen needles.” Created with a group of engineers, steelworkers, and brick-makers, this monumental artwork at Assembly London is officially unveiled to the public today, August 1. Commissioned by AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets , the surrealist Six pins and half a dozen needles artwork is located at Assembly London , a major mixed-use campus on a site that previously housed publishing facilities. Chinneck references the publishing industry in his design, which resembles a torn sheet of paper. “The work was conceived to engage people in a fun and uplifting way,” said Chinneck. “Although we use real brick , it was designed with a cartoon-like quality to give the sculpture an endearing artifice and playful personality. I set out to create accessible artworks and I sincerely hope this becomes a popular landmark for London and positive experience for Londoners. Following 14-months of development, this represents my studio’s first permanent project and we are excited to be working on more. Forthcoming artworks include a trail of four sculptures with a combined height of 163-metres that will be constructed from over 100,000 bricks.” Related: Alex Chinneck Builds a Wax House in London Just to Watch it Melt Six pins and half a dozen needles is constructed from 4,000 bricks and over 1,000 stainless steel components. A crane was used to carefully position the artwork in place at 20 meters above ground level. The installation leans against a concrete facade and weighs approximately ten-tonnes. + Alex Chinneck Images by Charles Emerson

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Alex Chinnecks mesmerizing crack on a brick building turns heads in London

Studio Gang designs massive paper tube Hive for the National Building Museum

April 19, 2017 by  
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The National Building Museum has welcomed giant ball pits , mazes , and icebergs into its historic Great Hall, and this year the Washington, D.C. museum will welcome yet another imaginative creation: the Hive. Architecture firm Studio Gang designed the latest installation for the Museum’s Summer Block Party series that commissions larger-than-life temporary structures. The massive Hive will be built from thousands of recyclable paper tubes stacked to reach 60 feet in height. Built with over 2,700 wound paper tubes , the Hive will soar to the uppermost reaches of the museum and take on a curved form reminiscent of Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis and even a spider’s web. The tubes, which vary in size, are interlocked to create three interconnected domed chambers, the largest of which has an oculus over 10 feet in diameter. The tubes will have a reflective silver exterior and a bright magenta interior. “When you enter the Great Hall you almost feel like you’re in an outside space because of the distance sound travels before it is reflected back and made audible,” said Studio Gang founding principal Jeanne Gang. “We’ve designed a series of chambers shaped by sound that are ideally suited for intimate conversations and gatherings as well as performances and acoustic experimentation. Using wound paper tubes, a common building material with unique sonic properties, and interlocking them to form a catenary dome, we create a hive for these activities, bringing people together to explore and engage the senses.” Related: ICEBERGS immerse visitors in a beautiful underwater world in Washington, D.C. The Hive will open to the public July 4 until September 4, 2017. A full schedule of concerts, tours, talks, and programs will be hosted alongside the installation . + Studio Gang Images via National Building Museum

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Studio Gang designs massive paper tube Hive for the National Building Museum

Air-purifying pavilion uses plants to absorb harmful toxins in Hanoi

April 19, 2017 by  
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A green oasis has popped up in Hanoi , a city choked by smog. Hung Nguyen Architects designed and built the Pavilion of Origins, a greenery-draped structure that uses living plants to purify the air. Set on the terrace of a three-story house in Hanoi, the pavilion is minimal and modern with a simple palette of green leafy plants, white upcycled steed frames, and a light gray pebble floor. Hanoi ranks among the worst in the world for air pollution with traffic congestion blamed as the leading cause. In an attempt to bring a breath of fresh air to the city, Hung Nguyen Architects created a pavilion covered with a wide variety of plants, including the peace lily and snake plant, selected for their air-purifying and decorative qualities. The plants are arranged inside and around a collection of simple white cuboid frames of varying sizes built of upcycled steel. A translucent polycarbonate roof allows natural light to pour through while reducing solar radiation. The white frames and light-colored pebble floor keep the focus on the plants, which grow and spread on multiple levels. White netting on the tops of the larger cuboid frames can be used as hammocks for relaxation. Related: 7 indoor plants that purify the air around you naturally “In Pavilion of the Origins, trees and plants play a role as the main users for the amount of time they spent in this space, while the pavilion owners act as the servants who have the duties to take care of those main users and subsequently be paid in clean, fresh air, as well as experiencing the vivid beauty of the natural origins,” wrote the architects. “This slender structure is just a minimal intervention of human to nature. Architecture, in this sense, acts as a rope to tighten up the interaction and connection between humans and nature.” + Hung Nguyen Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Hung Nguyen Architects

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Air-purifying pavilion uses plants to absorb harmful toxins in Hanoi

Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

February 14, 2017 by  
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Over a thousand discarded shipping pallets went into the making of this partly planted, undulating pavilion in New Delhi. Local architecture firm M:OFA Studios drew inspiration from India’s ruins and their love of upcycling to create Pensieve, an award-winning experimental pavilion with a name inspired by the “memory basin” in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The temporary installation served as an urban playground and public gathering space that inspired people to contemplate their surroundings. Built as part of India Design ID 2014, the Pensieve is no longer standing though it continues to be recognized in awards, such as its nomination in the Kohler Bold Design Awards 2016. Over 1,200 recycled pallets were stacked together in an asymmetrical shape inspired by the hundreds of stone ruins that dot the capital, where many locals used as playgrounds in their childhood. Compost added inside some of the open pallets was used as a growing medium for grass and other plants. Related: Charming Wine Shop Built with Repurposed Shipping Pallets Pops Up in Poland “The concept initiated from the basic idea of ‘fluid’ thoughts,” write the architects. “Built out of recycled wood , this pavilion was asked on the idea of unobstructed thoughts associated often with the children. The pavilion became a reminder of those simpler times, where the kids looked at the world beyond a 4 inch by 3 inch display screen in their hands.” The large 800-square-foot installation framed a public gathering space that also included solar-powered furniture that lit up when people sat on them and a hundred fiber-optic sculptures that used motion sensors to light up at night. + M:OFA Studios Images via M:OFA Studios

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Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

A river made of 10,000 glowing books flows through Toronto

October 26, 2016 by  
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This large, interactive  art installation is created by group of anonymous artists/activists who “want literature to take over the streets and conquer public spaces, freely offering those passersby a traffic-free place which, for some hours, will succumb to the humble power of the written word.” Related: Alicia Martin’s Amazing Book Sculptures Pour out of Windows and Into the Streets The team has previously carried out the installation illegally in New York and Madrid, received official permission to appear in Melbourne, and has recently visited Toronto during Nuit Blanche Toronto, an annual, city-wide celebration of contemporary art. For this occasion, the group has used 10,000 books donated by the Salvation Army and worked for 12 days alongside 50 volunteers to replace cars with books on Hagerman Street, downtown Toronto . Related: Guy Laramée Carves a Majestic Lifelike Mountain Range Out of an Encyclopedia Britannica Set The artwork was open to the public for one night, during which visitors could immerse themselves in a literal flow of words and paper illuminated by soft lighting coming from the pages. They would sit down to read, take photos and eventually take pieces of the installation home. It took 10 hours for the installation to self-dismantle. + Luzinterruptus + Nuit Blanche Toronto

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