LAGI announces location for 2018 renewable energy design competition

July 18, 2017 by  
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Energy infrastructure of the past, like oil refineries and rigs, aren’t typically considered beautiful. But as the world transitions to more renewable sources of power, what if utility-scale energy installations could double as art ? That’s the dream pursued by the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), which holds a design competition every two years to present visions for energy-generating art able to power hundreds of homes. 2016’s winners included ethereal sailboats that harvested wind for power and fog for water, and a whale-inspired design generating wind, solar , and wave energy . LAGI just announced the location for their 2018 competition: Melbourne , Australia. LAGI is being sponsored by the State of Victoria to bring their 2018 contest to Melbourne, a city which hopes to be net zero by 2020. Artists, scientists, engineers, designers, and other creatives from around the world will be invited to submit designs tailored to the area for large-scale installations that add to the beauty of the area while generating clean energy . Related: Land Art Generator Initiative Santa Monica winners address California’s energy needs and drought One goal for these designs is to show how renewable energy installations, like solar and wind, can be integrated into the nature and culture of a region. LAGI2018 is part of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Action Plan under Action 13, which calls for “supporting important artistic and cultural sustainability events.” 2016’s top three winners included teams from Japan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The last four competitions – Dubai/Abu Dhabi in 2010, New York City in 2012, Copenhagen in 2014, and Santa Monica in 2016 – garnered over 800 submissions from more than 60 countries. The competition will launch in around six months, in January 2018, with submissions due in May. Public exhibitions will introduce some of the ideas to the people of Melbourne and nearby cities. According to LAGI, “2018 will be a year to celebrate the beauty of our sustainable future!” + Land Art Generator Initiative Images via Wikimedia Commons and courtesy of the Land Art Generator Initiative

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LAGI announces location for 2018 renewable energy design competition

Worlds first MUJI hotels to open in China and Japan

July 11, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamt of sleeping in a MUJI showroom, your retail wishes may soon become reality. The Japanese lifestyle brand is building their first-ever MUJI hotels in China and Japan designed in their beloved minimalist style. The hotels are planned for the cities of Shenzhen and Tokyo , with the first hotel expected to open in former later this year. Though it might come as a surprise, MUJI’s plans for its first hotel will be in the Chinese city of Shenzhen , not Tokyo. Creative studio Super Potato will design the MUJI development in Shenzhen that will rise to a height of four floors and include a store, restaurant, and hotel. The hotel will be located on the top two floors and comprise 79 rooms in five different layouts. The designers will furnish the rooms in a clean and minimalist style with MUJI products, from the toothbrushes to the bed sheets. Related: MUJI unveils trio of tiny prefab homes that can pop up almost anywhere Hotel guests will also have access to the fitness room, conference room, and other hotel facilities on the third floor. Retail and restaurant space will be located on the lower two levels. The world’s first MUJI hotel will be located in Shenzhen’s Futian Central District as part of the Shenye Shangcheng project. Japan’s first MUJI hotel is planned for the upscale Ginza district in Tokyo and when complete, will replace the nearby MUJI Yurakucho , currently the world’s largest MUJI store. The new MUJI development will be housed in a 10-story building, where the lower six levels will be used for retail and the remaining floors used for the hotel. Like the Shenzhen location, Tokyo’s MUJI hotel will be decked out in MUJI furnishings in an aesthetic iconic of the minimalist “no-brand” brand. The MUJI hotel in Japan will open Spring 2019. + MUJI Via Spoon & Tamago , ??

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Worlds first MUJI hotels to open in China and Japan

Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie

June 21, 2017 by  
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Dirt may seem an odd material choice for an upscale patisserie in Tokyo , but design studio nendo playfully pulls it off with style. The Japanese designers layered compacted soils of varying colors to mimic the layers of an ice cream cake. The earth walls lend the “à tes souhaits!” shop a sense of warmth and contrast beautifully with the glass-and-steel facade. Located in the trendy Kichijoji neighborhood in Tokyo, à tes souhaits! is a small and elegant shop specializing in ice cream and chocolates . The earth walls comprise stacked soils of varying shades arranged in a staggered pattern to look like cut slices of ice cream cake with different flavors. “The wall guides people into the shop by the soft curvature from the outer wall, and then creates a gentle all-enveloping effect, like melted ice cream, all the way into the back of the shop,” writes nendo. “This created a relaxing ambience, taking advantage of the compactness of the space.” Related: Ancient Japanese tombs inspire nendo’s first public space design Since the new patisserie is the second location of à tes souhaits!, Nendo wanted to differentiate the two shops. The flagship uses bright lighting with mostly white surfaces and hard materials like marble and metal. In contrast, the new location uses a subdued color palette and softer lighting to complement the dominant use of wood and soil . + Nendo Images by Takumi Ota

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Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie

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

China claims major energy breakthrough with ‘flammable ice’

May 19, 2017 by  
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China has claimed a major energy breakthrough, but its eco credentials are dubious at best. Researchers say they managed to extract gas from flammable ice in the South China Sea. A frozen mix of natural gas and water known as methane hydrates, the ‘breakthrough’ is expected to revolutionize the future of energy . We’re not sure that’s a good idea. Flammable ice could be our planet’s final great source of carbon-based fuel , according to the BBC. Vast deposits can be found under essentially every ocean. But it’s incredibly difficult to extract gas from flammable ice – in part because it catches fire so easily – a lighter held up next to the ice will do the trick. Related: Japan Successfully Taps ‘Flammable Ice’ as an Energy Source for the First Time Japan so far has led the way in working to mine the potential energy source, but China’s latest efforts could mark a milestone on the path to extracting gas from methane hydrates. Chinese media said the country had succeeded in extracting an average of 16,000 cubic meters of gas per day in the South China Sea. Scientist Praveen Linga of the National University of Singapore told the BBC, “Compared with the results we have seen from Japanese research, the Chinese scientists have managed to extract much more gas in their efforts. So in that sense it is indeed a major step towards making gas extraction from methane hydrates viable.” But Linga warns extraction must be done carefully. Methane could escape from the methane hydrates during extraction, which could harm the planet as methane holds greater potential to affect climate change than carbon dioxide, according to the BBC. It’s hard to tell if flammable ice extraction will fall into the pitfalls of the oil and gas industry, with greed taking precedence over our planet. The BBC also described flammable ice as a very energy intensive source of fuel. Linga says there’s still a long way to go, and he said realistic commercial options might be ready in 2025 at the earliest. Via the BBC Images via William Winters, USGS and U.S. Geological Survey on Flickr

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Scientists will attempt to be the first to drill into Earth’s mantle

April 21, 2017 by  
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Scientists want to plumb the Earth for one of its last secrets. An international group of researchers led by  Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology say they plan to be the first to successfully drill into the mantle, that is, the region sandwiched between the planet’s outer crust and its inner core. Although the mantel makes up about 80 percent of the Earth’s mass, much of it remains a geological enigma. “We don’t know the exact [composition] of the mantle yet,” researcher Natsue Abe told CNN . To access the mantel, JAMSTEC will deploy the Chikyu, one of its biggest and most sophisticated drilling vessels, to penetrate 2.5 miles of ocean, then another 3.7 miles of sea floor (a.k.a the crust). The Japanese government is backing the expedition in the hopes that the data gleaned will help scientists better predict earthquakes. Related: Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight “In Japan we have some volcanoes, earthquakes and such kind of natural hazards,” Abe said. “People [want to create] some monitoring or analysis equipment but we don’t know … what kind of factor to use. So we need to know the natural system more clearly or precisely … we have to observe the Earth more precisely.” All three drilling sites currently under consideration are located in the Pacific Ocean. The first is off Hawaii, the second off Costa Rica, and the third is off Mexico. “We already drilled and have taken some samples from the ocean floor but [only] from the top,” Abe said. “[We want] to dig from the ocean floor to the deep pristine mantle.” Via CNN Earth image via Wikimedia  and Flickr

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Why scientists will march in over 400 cities on Earth Day

April 21, 2017 by  
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Even if the president of the United States rejects science , scientists plan to make their voices heard. Tomorrow they’ll march on Washington, D.C. and over 400 locations around the world in the March for Science . While organizers say the march was inspired by the success of the January 21 Women’s March, they also emphasize their event is nonpartisan. Their march will celebrate science and highlight “the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.” Tens of thousands of people are expected to show up for the March for Science in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. People will gather at the Washington Monument starting at 8:00 AM, and will participate in teach-ins and a rally program until the march at 2:00 PM. Speakers include Bill Nye and pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha who helped expose Flint , Michigan lead poisoning. Related: Trump inspires 400 scientists to run for office Trump isn’t the only reason for the March for Science. Scientists and academics have been concerned for years now over public distrust of science. The event’s mission page says, “People who value science have remained silent for far too long in the face of policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world. New policies threaten to further restrict scientists’ ability to research and communicate their findings. We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely…We must take science out of the labs and journals and share it with the world.” The American Association for the Advancement of Science , the American Chemical Society , and the American Geophysical Union all support the march. Satellite marches will take place on six different continents. You can register for the march in Washington, D.C. or find a march near you here . If you can’t attend the Earth Day science march, you can march for climate science in the People’s Climate Mobilization on DC on April 29. + March for Science Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and March for Science

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Why scientists will march in over 400 cities on Earth Day

Deadly new bird flu strain could lead to devastating pandemic

April 21, 2017 by  
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You probably haven’t thought about the bird flu in a couple of years, unless you’re a virologist, but a new strain that resurfaced in China has the potential to be pandemic. The H7N9 virus only caused mild illness in poultry until recently, but a genetic change means the new strain is deadly for birds . Now, H7N9 has led to more human deaths this season than any other season since it was detected in people four years ago. Between September and March 1, 162 people perished from H7N9. Human cases have increased since December, with reports from eight different provinces in China. Hong Kong University research lab director Guan Yi told NPR, “We’re trying our best, but we still can’t control this virus. It’s too late for us to eradicate it.” Related: U.S. avian flu outbreak drives up the price of eggs as supplies are threatened The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for increased surveillance. FAO animal health officer Sophie Von Dobschuetz said China has started intensified observation while the FAO Beijing office has been providing recommendations for the country’s ministry of agriculture . As with past avian flu strains, patients said they were exposed to infected birds or went to live bird markets. Guan is concerned with how rapidly the H7N9 strain is evolving. He said ten years ago chickens were barely affected by the strain, but his lab’s research revealed the new strain can kill every chicken in his lab in 24 hours. There isn’t evidence the new strain will be deadlier in people, but when people do catch the virus from birds over one third of them perish. Guan said China’s government is already investigating vaccinating chickens. “Today, science is more advanced, we have vaccines and it’s easy to diagnose. On the other hand, it now takes hours to spread new viruses all over the world,” Guan told NPR. “I think this virus poses the greatest threat to humanity than any other in the past 100 years.” Via SciDev.net and NPR Images via CDC Global on Flickr and M M on Flickr

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This gorgeous glowing building is wrapped in an elegant slatted screen

April 4, 2017 by  
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This multi-use building in Niigata City, Japan , functions like a small town with its own park, restaurant, cobblestone alley and offices. Takeru Shoji Architects wrapped the building in an envelope made of dense wooden louvers which protect the privacy of the occupants while allowing them to glimpse the surrounding urban fabric. The building is named Wow! Sta., and it’s located in Horinouchi, an area where Niigata City center meets the suburbs . It provides a calm, private space just steps away from a busy main road. The architects addressed space, time, scale and ambiance in order to bring some order to the messy, hurried city life. Related: Airbnb launches nature-filled Tokyo office that feels like a beautiful cozy home A restaurant occupies the ground floor, and the building features a park-like outdoor dining area. Office spaces occupy the second floor, which is enclosed by trees rising up from the lush garden below. The third floor houses a multipurpose rental space with a kitchen and bathroom. A path meanders through the building, connecting all three floors and allowing visitors and occupants to enjoy the surrounding foliage. + Takeru Shoji Architects Via Architizer Photos by Takeru Shoji Architects, Koichi Satake

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This gorgeous glowing building is wrapped in an elegant slatted screen

Four dolphins escape from Taiji center after nets were slashed

January 6, 2017 by  
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Four dolphins escaped from a recreational center in Taiji , Japan, the town that’s home to the yearly horrifying dolphin hunts. The pod swam outside their pen at DolphinBase after nets surrounding their seaside enclosure were slashed. Three animals returned to the facility but one is still out in the wild. DolphinBase, a facility that offers tourists the opportunity to swim with dolphins and watch them perform, contained the bottlenose dolphins in a pen divided from the ocean with nets, where they’d been kept and trained for over six months. The dolphins are about three to five years old. Police say they do not yet know who cut the nets, allowing the animals to escape. Related: The first dolphins have been slaughtered in this year’s annual Taiji hunt In a blog post translated by the BBC, DolphinBase said, “We are enraged by this heinous act which can easily lead to the dolphins dying. They think that once out of their pen, dolphins will swim far away but that is not true. Dolphins will not stray far and they will not leave their group.” Three of the dolphins did swim back into the pen; the fourth is “scared” and confused about how to get back inside using the new entrance, according to DolphinBase, although it is close by. When asked by the BBC if the dolphins were bred in captivity or wild, the facility would not respond. Activist organization Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project , which monitors the Taiji cove, said in a statement , “While we are against keeping dolphins in captivity, we do not condone illegal behavior…It is our hope that Taiji will ultimately turn into a tourist destination, where no dolphins are hunted or captured for display.” The controversial Taiji dolphin hunt happens every single year between September and March. Hundreds of dolphins are captured, and then either slaughtered for their meat or sold to aquariums . Via the BBC Images via FollowYour Nose on Flickr and DolphinBase

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Four dolphins escape from Taiji center after nets were slashed

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