Maven Moment: Lucia the Seamstress

January 16, 2019 by  
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My mother was trained as a seamstress in Italy when … The post Maven Moment: Lucia the Seamstress appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Lucia the Seamstress

A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming alpine village getaway

December 17, 2018 by  
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Bolzano and Berlin-based design practice NOA (network of architecture) recently renovated and expanded the Zallinger Refuge, a holiday guesthouse in the Dolomites that prides itself on its eco-friendly features. Located in Seiser Alm at 2,200 meters with breathtaking mountain views, the updated hotel comprises a cluster of structures that reference the site’s history and South Tyrolean architecture. The project has been certified under Climahotel, a certification program by the Climate House Agency of the Province of Bolzano that recognizes eco-tourism development. The Zallinger Refuge traces its beginnings to the mid-nineteenth century. Seven barns once surrounded the structure, however were later replaced by a single large building near the turn of the century. In a nod to the early site history, the architects constructed seven new chalets arranged in pairs to “bring back the charm of an alpine village.” Crafted to reflect the structure of the ancient barns with a modern twist, the chalets are built using prefabrication methods with stacked wooden blocks and wood shingle roofs to achieve a contemporary “log cabin” appearance. “In this project we have also tried to bring out that strong relationship between architecture and context, which characterizes all our works,” said architect Stefan Rier. “We want to propose new models of life and hospitality that on the one hand recover traditional forms and materials, on the other hand express quality of design, high levels of comfort and sustainability. The alpine environment is a complex and fascinating system that must be understood and respected. We think it’s important to think of new spaces and ways to inhibit it: environments on a human scale, comfortable, welcoming, but above all unique and authentic.” Related: Luxury lakeside hotel promises a return to nature in Italy In addition to the original 13 rooms in the central guesthouse, the Zallinger Refuge has added 24 rooms in the new mini-chalets. Timber lines the interiors for a cozy feel, while an energy-efficient pallet boiler provides the heating and hot water supply. The historic lodge was redesigned to include the reception, the lobby, the lounge and the restaurant. A new metal-clad building introduced to the site houses the wellness area with a sauna overlooking stunning views. + NOA Photography by Alex Filz via NOA

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A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming alpine village getaway

Your guide to natural holiday decorations

December 17, 2018 by  
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The holidays offer the perfect opportunity to gather with family and friends, enjoy good food and create lasting memories. Hosting the party can mean anything from sending a casual invite for game night to creating a 10-course dinner. Whether the season is filled with cozy nights at home watching seasonal movies or nightly entertaining to catch up with friends, a welcoming environment makes you and your guests feel right at home. Fortunately, creating a festive vibe doesn’t require a trip to the commercialized holiday aisle at your nearest department or home improvement store. Instead, look for natural elements that bring a bit of the outdoors in during the otherwise unwelcoming cold season. Here are some ideas to spruce up your space in a sustainable way. Wreaths Wreaths are easy to make and offer a ton of options depending on what you have available in your area. Grab those woody grape vines and form them into a circle. Use gardener’s wire to attach your favorite natural elements , such as berries or dried flowers. Even a single long sprig of eucalyptus makes a quick wreath with a pleasant scent. Evergreen branches are also useful in this endeavor. Attach them to a wire straw wreath frame and add poinsettia leaves and ribbon for a festive door decoration. Smaller wreaths can double as a centerpiece with a pillar candle in the center. Related: Simple DIY upcycled holiday decor Centerpieces Speaking of centerpieces, natural elements make the best appeal for the dining table. Select your favorite glass water pitcher or salad bowl and fill it with colorful citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruit. Mix up the look with some added woody herb stems and leaves, such as lavender or mint. Alternately, pick a color theme such as red apples, currants, pomegranate and cranberries. Because candles are always a welcome addition to the table, hollow out apples or gourds and place tea lights inside. Surround them with vines or leaves to incorporate different heights into the look. Another classic centerpiece can be created out of a long piece of bark or driftwood. Simply balance other natural elements on top, such as nuts and colorful berries. Mantles and tabletops Large, flat surfaces naturally draw in the eye, so mantles, sofa tables and similar surfaces provide a great opportunity to introduce natural elements into a space. Begin with pine boughs trimmed from the tree. Add layers of color with holly berries and pinecones. Then, elevate the interest with varied glass bowls, vases or glasses. Fill each with your favorite combination of nuts, spices, herbs, flowers and fruits. For a particularly cozy appeal, weave LED lighting through the display. Scents Although adding visual elements to your decor makes an effective statement, remember to also invite the scents of nature into your home. While your Christmas tree may offer the smell of evergreen, there are many other opportunities to bring in the subtle essence of the outdoors. Go with an old-fashioned potpourri by leaving a combination of citrus, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon in some water to simmer on the stove. Simplicity When it comes to decorating for the holidays, less is more. Keep displays and centerpieces simple and streamlined. Nature is already elegant, so there is no need to overdress her. Instead, combine elements with small touches here and there. Even a simple bowl of walnuts or hazelnuts brings with it a connection to nature. Rather than blanketing a table with a variety of creations, use a colorful runner with a pinecone-filled wooden bowl instead. Take that lemon tree you brought inside for winter and add a few bulbs for a festive touch. Create subtle appeal with drink markers handmade from cork, seashells or pieces of bark. Natural fibers In your efforts to ring in the season with a touch of nature, remember that in addition to the living elements, there are textiles sourced from nature that can have the same effect. For example, natural burlap comes from jute, a plant fiber. The sight and feel of burlap transports the nature-lover to times in the barnyard feeding grain to the farm animals or out on the lake surrounded by the ropes on the sailboat. Use fibers like burlap to make a natural-looking wreath. Make small bags out of the material and use them as a planter for small cuttings or herbs. Hang them from the curtain rod or place them in the windowsill. Similarly, wrap rope around candle holders for a salty-skin, nautical feel. Related: A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home Materials from nature In addition to textiles and rope, other elements from nature bring harmony and calmness to indoor spaces. Clay is a natural element that makes a nice container for earthy additions like shells and colorful rocks. Moss and cork are two other examples that will make your space more inviting for the holidays. Mirroring nature Remember that nature offers seasons of color and flourish. Winter is a time of light growth and a feeling of calm. Bring that sense inside with basic elements and a few punches of color. Also remember other elements of nature, such as sunlight and water. Make a tabletop fountain from a large bowl with a basic pump and tiered rocks. Add moss for a softer effect. Alternately, feed water through a pump to a water feature of terracotta pots stacked on their sides, pouring into each other. Even though winter is a subtle time, plants and flowers still bloom throughout the season. Your holiday decor can be as simple as a single plant or as bold as a decorated live tree in your foyer. Images via Jez Timms , Couleur , Petra and Shutterstock

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nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee

November 20, 2018 by  
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Vegan sneakers? You bet! Most people know that the fashion industry is notorious for contributing to global waste, heavy water consumption and high electrical usage. The shoe industry is no exception with the traditional petroleum-based synthetic soles and a reliance on harsh chemicals. One company, nat-2 , has taken a stand against this rampant pollution with its new coffee sneakers, made from — you guessed it — recycled coffee. The unisex design incorporates natural materials from the top to the bottom, and there are two different styles to choose from, a high-top and a low-top. The leather-looking portion of the shoe comes from PET recycled water bottles, helping to remove post-consumer plastic waste from the landfills. Plus, by replacing leather, nat-2 refuses to subscribe to the environmental problems associated with raising beef and toxic tannery byproducts that pollute the planet. The rich chocolate-colored covering comes from up to 50 percent recycled coffee that provides the suede-like texture. The company reports that the shoes do exude a subtle coffee scent. Related: These sustainable sunglasses smell like coffee and decompose into fertilizer The outsole of the shoe features real rubber, rather than the non-sustainable synthetic rubber that many companies use. To avoid harsh chemicals that not only put workers in danger but also leach into the soil after hitting the landfill, the company uses a water-based glue that is free from animal ingredients. In addition, the insole is made from naturally antibacterial cork , and the upper portion features nat-2’s signature reflective glass for added style. Handmade in Italy in a family-owned, high-tech facility, the sneakers are made in a production process that cuts out much of the carbon dioxide pollution from traditional coal-burning facilities that mass produce the estimated 20 billion shoes flooding the market annually. nat-2 founder Sebastian Thies developed the shoe following the release of another eco-friendly shoe, the fungi sneaker, which is made from tree fungus. The first run of the coffee sneakers is sold out, but more shoes are in production. + nat-2 Images via nat-2

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nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee

Beer prices expected to soar as climate change challenges barley production

October 17, 2018 by  
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Shrinking barley yields caused by climate change will be disrupting the beer industry in the coming decades. The grain is central to beer production, and a new study published on Monday signals trouble for brewers who rely on the failing crop. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage worldwide, and consumers are equally as dismayed by the report, which will cause a surge in beer prices up to two times its current cost for some nations. The shortages in barley production are caused by extreme weather that has intensified because of global warming . Both heat waves and droughts are expected to decimate the beer industry in the second half of the century. These events, which are predicted to occur every two or three years, are directly linked to rising temperatures. At the current expected rates of temperature rise, experts say the production drop is inevitable. Related: A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves The study, published by researchers at the University of East Anglia, said that brewery troubles are minor in comparison to other challenges the planet will face from climate change. Among these are food security, fresh water and storm damage. Even so, the 3 to 17 percent drop in barley yields is disheartening for beer fans who will face shortages and price spikes. China is set to face the most shortages this century, with the U.S. as a runner up. Beer production in Germany and Russia will also fall on hard times, but Ireland, Italy, Canada and Poland will see the largest price increases. In Ireland, which is home to a popular brew culture, the price for a 500ml bottle could rise from $2.50 to a whopping $5. “Climate change will affect all of us, not only people who are in India or African countries,” said Dabo Guan, professor of climate change economics and lead author of the study. Guan emphasized the importance of recognizing that climate change is not something that developed nations will be immune to. Ultimately, the answer lies in supporting policies that reduce the emissions causing this climate disruption, and many companies are moving forward and instating their own regulations. One such company is Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewing house, which is planning on cutting its emissions by 25 percent by 2025. The company is also working on a drought-resistant strain of barley that could offset shortages as well as strains that could be grown throughout the winter. Via Reuters Image via Raw Pixel

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A giant tree grows inside CRAs renovated farmhouse proposal

October 9, 2018 by  
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Italian design office Carlo Ratti Associati has unveiled designs for the Greenary, a renovated farmhouse that will be designed around a large, leafy, 50-year-old Ficus tree. Rising to a height of nearly 33 feet tall, the perennial tropical plant will anchor the main living area while the various living quarters will be arranged around the upper canopy. The adaptive reuse project is the first step in CRA’s competition-winning master plan and factory for Mutti, one of the leading tomato brands in the world. Located in a bucolic region in Italy’s “Food Valley” close to the city of Parma in northern Italy, the new Mutti master plan “strives to integrate nature and the built environment,” according to the architects. The Greenary will serve as a private residence located a few hundred meters from the new Mutti factory, a massive building that will process up to 5,500 tons of tomatoes a day. Both buildings will be designed around the concept of biophilia and connection with nature. “The Greenary is not a treehouse or a house on a tree, but a house designed around a tree,” explained Carlo Ratti Associati in its project statement. “Life unfolds in sync with that of a 50-year old Ficus, a perennial tropical plant housed in the middle of the farmhouse south hall. All around the tree, a sequence of interconnected rooms creates six domestic spaces — three above the entrance, three below it — each of them dedicated to a specific activity: from practicing yoga to listening to music, to reading and eating together.” Related: Thousands of tomato-sauce jars to turn into “tomato architecture” at Mutti In addition to the Ficus tree, which thrives in indoor environments, the house will feature a mainly timber palette, from the structural beams and stairs to the various furnishings. Large windows will flood the interior with natural light while framing views of the rural surroundings. Completion for the master plan is slated for 2023. + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via Carlo Ratti Associati

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A giant tree grows inside CRAs renovated farmhouse proposal

Ancient rural hamlet reinterpreted as a solar-powered modern home

July 13, 2018 by  
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Rimini-based GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects  has renovated a cluster of historic buildings into a modernist dwelling set in the lush Italian countryside. Named the AP House, the project comprises three structures with a more streamlined farmhouse aesthetic on the exterior and a light-filled contemporary interior. The striking renovation is located on one of the highest hills in Urbino atop ancient remains that date back to the Medieval Communes. Clad in rustic stonework, AP House consists of three floors constructed with reinforced concrete walls and red concrete floors. To lend the interiors a sense of warmth, GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects inserted custom walnut wall furnishings throughout, from the kitchen storage and dining table to the walnut-lined office and double-height statement wall that rises from the living room. Large openings let in plenty of natural light and views of the picturesque Urbino countryside. “Linked to each other on the hypogeum level, the structures rest on a red concrete platform (38 X 20 mt) dominating the surrounding landscape,” wrote GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects. “The core of the houses, which forms a single housing unit, reestablishes a central role to this site in the landscape, restoring a direct and empathic dialogue between new buildings and historical stratification.” Related: Historic stone stable in Tuscany hides a beautiful contemporary interior To prevent views of any vehicles on the first floor, the architects tucked the main entrance and parking in the basement level. The lower level also comprises a movie room, an exhibition gallery, and a gym with a spa. The ground floor houses the primary living areas including the living room, dining room, kitchen and private studio, while the upper level contains the master suite along with two en-suite bedrooms. All of the systems in the house run on electricity and are powered by a hidden photovoltaic solar system onsite. + GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects Images by Ezio Manciucca

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Ancient rural hamlet reinterpreted as a solar-powered modern home

RepAir T-shirt cleans the air while you wear it

June 11, 2018 by  
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Italian fashion company Kloters has created a T-shirt that cleans the air through a specially designed insert capable of capturing and disintegrating pollutants and foul odors. Called RepAir, the shirt was designed to be both comfortable and environmentally friendly. “RepAir is born from the desire to go beyond the traditional concept of sustainable fashion,” said Kloters co-founders Federico Suria, Marco Lo Greco and Silvio Perucca in a press release. “[We] want to make fashion a vehicle to raise awareness and to think of new solutions to the pollution problem through nice, comfortable and, most of all, virtuous clothing .” The company is currently raising funds for the new product through a Kickstarter campaign . RepAir’s unique anti-pollutant features are made possible by the Breath , a patented absorbent fabric. “The company that produces it, Anemotech, has been very enthusiastic about the project and our collaboration started immediately,” De Greco said. “Our dream has become a reality.” The material is capable of absorbing pollutants that could contribute to health problems such as respiratory illness or cancer. The Breath has undergone extensive testing at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, which demonstrated the fabric’s ability to absorb up to 97 percent of volatile organic compounds, 92 percent of sulfur dioxide and 86 percent of nitrogen oxides. The Breath fabric insert is contained within a pocket on the T-shirt , which can be removed and replaced when necessary. Related: This startup is turning air pollution into art In addition to its pollutant fighting qualities, RepAir keeps  sustainability in mind throughout the production process. Produced in Italy, RepAir is manufactured with the support of suppliers that focus on making sure that no workers are exploited, which often occurs in the production of clothing for global consumption. The T-shirts are made from high-quality cotton and are designed to last, reducing the amount of waste created in its production. Kloters hopes that its shirts can start a conversation and a movement to improve air quality around the world. As its motto goes, “a single T-shirt may not save the world, but many can.” + Kloters Images via Kloters

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RepAir T-shirt cleans the air while you wear it

Uninspired basement reborn as a chic and light-filled bistro

May 9, 2018 by  
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A poorly lit basement space has undergone a tremendous transformation at the hands of Italian design firm Studio DiDeA . Now home to Palermo’s trendy bistro Cento61, the renovated space combines natural lighting and greenery with eye-catching materials to bring attention to a venue tucked below ground in an early twentieth century building. Formerly an old restaurant with no character to speak of, the site includes a 1,400-square-foot interior that opens up to a large external courtyard . According to Studio DiDeA, the client asked for “a special place with an informal atmosphere that could become a meeting place for Palermo’s people to eat, drink, share and coming back”. To create an airy and attractive atmosphere, the designers brought the outdoors in with potted plants that hang from the ceiling and a color palette that evokes the sky with different shades of blue. Related: HHF Architects’ renovated a group of crumbling buildings to help revitalize an entire neighborhood A white iron grid used in the interior and exterior tie the two spaces together. Inside, the white grid also forms a neutral backdrop for a variety of materials that include timber durmast panels, Calacatta marble , and Niagara blue inserts. “The result is geometric-patterned wall surfaces that match the cobalt-blue sofas and the light blue and yellow colored chairs, adding vibrancy and a sense of playfulness to the otherwise simple space,” wrote the architects. The outdoor dining area—which, like the interior, seats 40—was designed around a 200-year-old Cycas plant and is outfitted with vibrant yellow and blue wire chairs. + Studio DiDeA Images via Studio DiDeA

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Uninspired basement reborn as a chic and light-filled bistro

Rome is banning all oil-burning cars by 2024

March 1, 2018 by  
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Rome is jumping on the diesel-banning bandwagon – the city just announced plans to ban oil-burning cars within the city by 2024. That’s huge news, because roughly two-thirds of new cars sold last year in Italy were diesel, and Rome has struggled with poor air quality. The news comes on the heels of a court case in Germany that enabled cities to ban diesel vehicles . Rome is one of the most congested cities in Europe due to a constant stream of tourists on decidedly un-modern streets. Rome also lacks any major industries, which means that a majority of the air pollution plaguing the city is caused by vehicles. That pollution doesn’t just harm the health of people in the city, but it also causes serious damage to the ancient buildings and monuments. Related: German cities get the green light to ban diesel vehicles Rome has tried to limit pollution before. In the past the city has experimented with limiting older cars and limiting cars with even or odd plate numbers on alternating days. Neither tactic has done much to help, because many people just flout or skirt the laws. The decision was announced by mayor Virginia Raggi on Facebook . Via AutoBlog Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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