LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab

June 12, 2017 by  
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LEAPfactory , the Italy -based company known for building gorgeous prefabricated structures in extreme locations , just unveiled their very first LeapHome . Frame is a two-story, 1,400 square foot house built with minimal impact on the environment . The home’s design is super energy efficient , so it can easily go off-grid . LEAPfactory was inspired by the idea of living in harmony with nature to create Frame. The home can be customized and configured according to a buyer’s desires and budget, and includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study area, a kitchen, dining area, an outdoor terrace, and a double height living room. Forest Stewardship Council certified wood , metal sheet cladding, and finishes made with ecological materials comprise the home that includes prefabricated components. Related: LEAPfactory unveils prefab snowboard school at the foot of Mont Blanc The outdoor shell of the home was designed with energy efficiency in mind, so the home doesn’t consume as much power as others do. Solar energy powers the home, which heats water with a solar thermal system. LED lighting and radiant technology electric systems recycle heat in Frame. According to the company’s website , “The structure is designed to maximize air circulation and distribute heat and humidity.” LEAPfactory says the home could potentially be set up in off-grid configurations – sewage can be independently managed thanks to a biological liquid waste treatment system and other sanitation systems. Panoramic openings in the home also serve to connect an inhabitant with nature. Large sliding glass doors, a bay window , a skylight, and a vertical ribbon window can all be part of the design . LEAPfactory co-founders Stefano Testa and Luca Gentilcore said in a statement, “Living immersed in nature represents one of the most important choices to embrace a new style of life. We like to think that we can combine the comforts of a modern home with the profound freedom and the pioneering spirit of a life in perfect harmony with the environment that surrounds us.” LEAPfactory’s process allows them to go from a design to a fully furnished and functioning house “within weeks” according to their website . + LEAPfactory + LeapHome Images courtesy of LEAPfactory

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LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab

Study reveals where climate change is most likely to induce food violence

June 12, 2017 by  
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Much has been written about the affect rising temperatures will have on climate and sea levels, but global warming is expected to dish up a host of other catastrophes as well. According to a new study published in the Journal of Peace Research , the first ever to take into account climate change-induced weather patterns on violence and the strength of governments around the world, certain locations will be more susceptible to food violence than others. Take a closer look after the jump. The study was conducted by Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science at Ohio State University, and former doctoral students Benjamin Jones of the University of Mississippi and Eleonora Mattiacci of Amherst University. Together, they concluded that extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, could hurt agricultural production, which will likely lead to violence in affected regions or elsewhere by those who are desperate for food. “We’ve already started to see climate change as an issue that won’t just put the coasts under water, but as something that could cause food riots in some parts of the world,” Braumoeller said. The researchers used data recorded about the effects of food insecurity and state vulnerability on the occurrence of violent uprisings in Africa between the years 1991 to 2011. Measurements for food shocks and the vulnerability of countries were also taken into account. For food shocks related to climate change , the team analyzed rainfall, temperature and the international prices of food — including sudden spikes in prices. To determine which countries are most vulnerable, the researchers analyzed the country’s dependence on agricultural production, its imports, its wealth, and the strength of its political institutions. Related: Solar-Powered Floating Greenhouse is an Off-Grid Solution to Food Scarcity In the report, Braumoeller explained that the countries that imported food would be most affected by climate shocks as prices increase — even if they weren’t experiencing “significant weather impacts themselves.” “We found that the most vulnerable countries are those that have weak political institutions, are relatively poor and rely more on agriculture ,” said Braumoeller. “Less vulnerable countries can better handle the problems that droughts or food price fluctuations create.” This data is important because it provides insight as to how more developed countries, such as the United States , can respond to these challenges. It is “crucial” to break the links between food insecurity and violence, said Braumoeller, and countries can help accomplish this in a number of ways. A short-term solution is to provide food aid to offset shortages, whereas long-term efforts include strengthening government institutions and helping them invest in “green growth” policies aimed at improving the economy. Braumoeller said, ”Development aid is important now and it is likely to be even more important in the future as we look for ways to increase climate resilience.” + Journal of Peace Research Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Study reveals where climate change is most likely to induce food violence

Zaha Hadid Architects completes first phase of Italys solar-powered high-speed rail hub

June 9, 2017 by  
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Italy is moving full steam ahead on the expansion of high-speed rail. The country recently celebrated inauguration for the first phase of the Napoli Afragola station, a solar-powered high-speed rail hub and major gateway to the south of Italy. Zaha Hadid Architects designed the eye-catching station, which doubles as a pedestrian bridge, and integrated energy-efficient systems such as solar panels and ground source heating and cooling. Located 12 kilometers north of Naples , the Napoli Afragola station will serve four high-speed intercity lines, three inter-regional lines, and a local commuter line. Once complete, the station will connect the 15 million residents of the surrounding southern communities with the national rail network to the north and Europe beyond. An estimated 32,700 passengers are expected to use the station daily once all lines are operational. Zaha Hadid Architects designed the Napoli Afragola station to double as a public bridge connecting communities on either side of the railway. “The design enlarges the public walkway over the eight railway tracks to such a degree that this walkway becomes the station’s main passenger concourse – a bridge housing all the services and facilities for departing, arriving and connecting passengers, with direct access to all platforms below,” write the architects. The elevated station also offers much-needed new public space for the area in addition to shops and other amenities. Related: Wind power now runs all electric passenger trains in the Netherlands Designed as “an extrusion of a trapezoid along a 450-meter curved path,” the sculptural station is constructed with a reinforced concrete base with 200 differently shaped steel ribs clad in Corian and a glazed roof. Natural light pours into the station through the glazed roof to minimize demands on artificial lighting. Integrated solar panels on the roof, natural ventilation, and ground source cooling and heating systems also reduce energy consumption. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by Jacopo Spilimbergo

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Zaha Hadid Architects completes first phase of Italys solar-powered high-speed rail hub

G7 leaders openly say climate change consensus does not include US

May 29, 2017 by  
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The rest of the world is beginning to count the United States out of the climate change battle, if a recent statement after the 2017 Group of Seven (G7) summit is any indication. The G7 leaders met late last week in Taormina, Italy, and naturally climate change was on the agenda. But in a rather blunt statement, they said America “is not in a position to join the consensus” on the Paris Agreement and one of the biggest challenges humanity faces today. Leaders from the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Japan, and the European Union met at the G7 summit to discuss what they described as their citizens’ greatest concerns, which ranged from trade to the global economy to gender equality to climate change. The statement released after the summit declared the leaders committed to strengthening energy security and harnessing economic opportunities stemming from clean energy . The leaders also reaffirmed their dedication to the Paris Agreement – that is, all did but President Donald Trump . Related: China, Canada, EU join forces on climate action – without Trump The statement reads, “The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics. Understanding this process, the Heads of State and of Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement, as previously stated at the Ise-Shima Summit.” There were mixed feelings over the results of the G7 summit. Trump called it an “tremendously productive meeting.” Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said they were satisfied after the meeting but was open about disagreements with the United States: “We do not disguise this division. It emerged very clearly in our conversations.” Recently elected President of France Emmanuel Macron seemed optimistic, saying he was certain Trump would support the agreement after conversations at the summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t seem as hopeful. She told reporters, “The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying. There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.” Via Reuters Images via G7 Italy 2017 on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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G7 leaders openly say climate change consensus does not include US

Stunning wooden Oberholz Mountain Hut branches out of the mountainside like a fallen tree

February 6, 2017 by  
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Nestled among Italy’s Dolomites mountains  rests a stunning new mountain hut designed by Peter Pichler Architecture and architect Pavol Mikolajcak . The Oberholz Mountain Hut , which is located near the Obereggen Ski Resort , takes cues from the landscape, fitting into the surrounding natural beauty like a fallen tree. One glance at these photographs will leave you yearning to jump on a plane to Italy to explore the gorgeous wooden restaurant . The cantilevered building sprawls out from the mountain, providing visitors with breathtaking views. Three wings span out from one structure like three tree branches, “creating a symbiosis with the landscape,” in the words of Peter Pichler Architecture . The sloping roofs offer a nod to local hut design. Related: Peter Pichler’s Mirror Houses reflect the amazing beauty of the Dolomites Meanwhile the interior, featuring a picturesque restaurant, is sleek and modern. Each wing ends in a massive glass facade facing peaks to the southwest. Branching roofs along with the interior design express “a new and contemporary interpretation of the classic mountain hut.” The Oberholz Mountain Hut is situated right next to a cable station so visitors can hit the ski slopes and then return to the hut for a meal in the intimate dining space or a drink in the cozy bar near the entrance. The stunning interior is matched by a spacious outdoor terrace filled with more tables for dining and relaxing. The hut is entirely constructed with wood , according to Peter Pichler Architecture. Spruce comprises the structural elements and much of the interior, gray larch adorns the facade, and the furniture inside is made of oak. The firm describes the hut as “a homogeneous sculpture with local materials.” Peter Pichler and Pavol Mikolajcak designed the Oberholz Mountain Hut after winning a 2015 competition. The restaurant is now open to visitors. + Peter Pichler Architecture + Pavol Mikolajcak + Oberholz Images courtesy of Peter Pichler Architecture

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Stunning wooden Oberholz Mountain Hut branches out of the mountainside like a fallen tree

Nutella ingredient could cause cancer, says EFSA

January 12, 2017 by  
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Everyone’s favorite breakfast spread is under fire again . The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said last year that palm oil , the ingredient that gives Nutella its smooth texture, could come with a cancer risk. Now Italian company Ferrero , makers of Nutella, are fighting back, even as other big-name companies like Barilla say they’ve ceased using palm oil. EFSA said in May 2016 that palm oil, when refined at temperatures higher than 200 degrees Celsius, produces more of a contaminant called glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE) than other vegetable oils. They said there is sufficient evidence glycidol – what they describe as GE’s parent compound – is carcinogenic, or cancer-causing. Related: Our love of Nutella is wrecking the Earth Ferrero has a high stake in convincing the public of palm oil’s safety; Nutella brings in about one fifth of their sales, according to Reuters. Palm oil is also cheaper than other oils, costing about $800 per ton compared with $845 for sunflower oil or $920 for rapeseed oil. As Ferrero goes through around 185,000 metric tons of palm oil every year, Reuters calculated they would spend an extra $8 to $22 million yearly if they switched to another oil. Ferrero would not give Reuters a comment on those statistics. The company launched a TV commercial that’s played in Italy for the last three months, featuring Ferrero purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella, who told Reuters, “Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward.” Some politicians have criticized the ad, saying it misleads consumers on environmental and health risks. Ferrero argues they process palm oil at temperatures just under 200 degrees Celsius to lower GE levels to the point where scientific instruments can barely trace the contaminant. They also claim to purchase palm oil approved by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil . The palm oil industry has been criticized for contributing to deforestation and destroying the habitats of endangered animals like orangutans and Sumatran tigers. Is it time to give it up? Via Reuters Images via Brian Cantoni on Flickr and Janine on Flickr

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Three-mile-high futuristic skyscraper has a smog-eating, self-cleaning coating

January 12, 2017 by  
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What will the world look like in 2062? Manufacturing company Arconic gives us a preview with their latest campaign called ” The Jetsons “. The firm’s engineers teamed up with futurists to update the world of the Jetsons with new design marvels like flying cars and three-mile-high skyscrapers covered in a smog-eating, self-cleaning coating. The thing is, a lot of the technologies showcased in their campaign are already available. Flying cars inspired by nature, 3D-printed aerodynamic airplanes, and solar-powered rovers are among the technologies dreamed up for The Jetsons campaign. But The Jetsons doesn’t only draw on the stuff of imagination; some of the materials utilized are on the market today, such as EcoClean , a coating released in 2011. When water vapor and light mix with the chemicals in EcoClean, free radicals form. The free radicals suck up and break down pollutants so they can be washed off the building “with just the slightest bit of moisture,” like dew or light rain, according to EcoClean . Related: Cambridge researchers are growing bone for greener buildings Sherri McCleary, a chief materials scientist at Arconic, told Business Insider, “The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it.” The company claims 10,000 square feet coated with EcoClean “has the approximate air cleansing power of 80 trees .” Another futuristic technology that will probably hit markets well before 2062 is Bloomframe , invented by Hofman Dujardin and developed by Arconic company Kawneer . Bloomframe is a motorized window that can transform into a balcony in 55 seconds. An Arconic company spokesperson told Business Insider the technology will be available in the “near future.” 3D printing could allow Arconic to bring futuristic technologies to market today; McCleary said the technology could enable buildings that wouldn’t otherwise be feasible to endure unique climates and high winds, and offer architects more options. You can check out the rest of Arconic’s vision for 2062 here . + Arconic Via Business Insider Images via Arconic Facebook

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Why Italian earthquakes could pile up in a ‘domino effect’

November 1, 2016 by  
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Three earthquakes measuring over 6 on the Richter scale have hit Italy in the span of a little over two months, killing 297 people in the 6.2 August quake. On October 30, another destructive 6.6 earthquake battered central Italy, devastating the historic Basilica of St. Benedict. Now a seismologist from an Italian national institution said there could be more quakes in a process akin to a ‘domino effect.’ Seismologist Gianluca Valensise of the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology in Italy told Reuters, “An earthquake measuring 6 or larger creates stresses that are redistributed across adjacent faults and can cause them to rupture, and this is probably what we have seen since August. This process can continue indefinitely, with one big quake weakening a sister fault in a domino process that can cover hundreds of kilometers, in principle.” Related: Dozens killed by powerful earthquake in picturesque rural region of central Italy Italy has seen processes similar to the domino effect before. In 1783, Southern Italy experienced five earthquakes that measured 6.5 or higher in under two months. In 1997, two earthquakes struck central Italy over two days and about 20 days after still another hit, with small ones scattered in between. Valensise said the 2016 earthquake sequence thus far is “on a larger scale” than in 1997. On August 24, a 6.2 earthquake rattled central Italy. This past week the region saw a 6.1 earthquake on Wednesday, and a 6.6 earthquake on Sunday. Valensise said the August earthquake is connected to the others through a “geodynamic link.” He can’t predict whether or not there will be more large quakes in central Italy this year, but said there will certainly be aftershocks for “at least a few weeks.” But since fault lines to the southeast and northwest of the beleaguered central region have been hit lately, according to Valensise, “if the process of stress redistribution finds other faults close to rupture level they could go off in the next days or weeks.” Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons and US Army Africa on Flickr

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The design for this stylish house was inspired by a traditional party game

October 7, 2016 by  
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The house is located on a forested plot close to Trousers Lake in Montréal, Canada . Surrounded by trees, the building aims to become a strong expression of the landscape. Once the crux of the design was agreed upon by the architects and the owner, the design changed hands from one creator to the other, slowly emerging as a composition of two timber-clad volumes. While one volume is clad in light wood, the other features a dark facade. Related: Timber artist’s house and atelier imitates northern Italy’s mountainous landscape The open-plan layout of the house offers a spatial fluidity that connects various views of the surroundings. A mezzanine lounge on the top floor features a large canopy that transforms the space into a kind of observation tower or panoramic belvedere so that the inhabitants can feel like a part of the surrounding landscape. Massive windows on all levels further this effect. + YH2 Architecture Via v2com Photos by Francis Pelletier

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The design for this stylish house was inspired by a traditional party game

Millennia-old cave dwellings in Italy renovated into luxurious hotel suites

September 21, 2016 by  
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The architects designed four new suites, a common area and a spa for the La Dimora di Metello Hotel in Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Southern Italy. They added new walls and luxury hotel amenities to the existing configuration of dwellings that date back to the Paleolithic era. Tuff, a light porous volcanic rock, and plaster were used to recreate the earthy feel, complementing the cave walls’ existing texture. Related: 6 Awesome Caves to Call Home Details made of wood , neutral fabrics and subtle lighting fixtures make the spaces look and feel luxurious and modern. This mix marries the traditional and the contemporary, providing an exclusive space that has become a real tourist attraction. + Manca Studio Via Contemporist Photos by Pierangelo Laterza

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Millennia-old cave dwellings in Italy renovated into luxurious hotel suites

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