Escape into nature at Alberto Kalachs timber cabins in Oaxaca

July 16, 2018 by  
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Renowned Mexican architect Alberto Kalach has designed a series of idyllic timber cabins along the Pacific Ocean in Oaxaca , Mexico. Available to rent on Airbnb, these cabins were developed as part of the Punta Pájaros, an ecological development located approximately 25 minutes from Puerto Escondido, a port town with stunning surf, pristine beaches and a buzzing nightlife. The cabins, which are strategically placed away from the hustle and bustle and are oriented to face the ocean, offer a blissful opportunity to reconnect with nature in all directions. The Alberto Kalach-designed cabins include Casa Mar and Casa Arena as well as eight other cabins with private pools and gardens. These holiday getaways are built almost entirely of timber and are raised approximately a meter above the ground to minimize site impact. Each dwelling is fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and al fresco shower. Sliding doors built of palm wood completely open the interior up to the landscape, let in cooling cross breezes and provide panoramic views of the stunning landscape. “Each cabin was designed based on a simple wooden structure, reticulated in modules of 3 x 3m, concentrating the wet core at the center of the house, to leave a bedroom and common area at opposite ends with views of the landscape and a wide perimeter covered terrace,” explained Kalach’s firm. “Using the same modulation, other rooms were allocated to kitchen and dining services. The houses are camouflaged in the local landscape, being identifiable only by their twisted water covers, which look like bird profiles.” Related: Casa Bruma’s blackened concrete pavilions create a serene retreat in Mexico The cabins face a long, nearly private beach with rock climbing and fishing opportunities on one end and the Manialtepec Lagoon on the other. The cabins are also very close to Casa Wabi , a multicultural and multidisciplinary community artists’ retreat designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando . The cabins start at around $200 USD a night. + Alberto Kalach Images via Alberto Kalach

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Escape into nature at Alberto Kalachs timber cabins in Oaxaca

Origami-inspired Aqualagon water park is a site-sensitive extension of the landscape

July 9, 2018 by  
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With their bright, multicolored slides and tubes, most water parks stick out like unsightly sore thumbs in the landscape—but that’s not the case for the site-sensitive Water Park Aqualagon in Villages Nature Paris Marne-la-Vallée, France. Designed by Paris-based Jacques Ferrier architecture , the enclosed water park features a folded and glazed design that takes inspiration from the Japanese art of origami and is largely informed by site conditions. Conceived as an extension of the forested landscape, Aqualagon features full-height glazing, lush greenery, and renewable systems including geothermal energy and water recycling. Spread out across 86,000 square feet next to a large body of water, the Water Park Aqualagon meets the High Quality Environment standard , a certification for green buildings in France. Site studies that mapped the direction of the winds and the path of the sun informed the position and layout of the water park’s multifaceted, glazed building. To make the most of cooling cross-breezes in summer and to protect against cold northeasterly winter winds, the aquatic park opens up towards the west and backs up to the forest. The orientation also optimizes sunlight in winter while minimizing solar gain in summer. The light-filled interior features water slides and multiple pools integrated into a naturalistic landscape of stone-covered terrain, living trees and waterfalls. Continuous outdoor terraces project from the building towards the lake; these walkways overlook stunning views of Villages Nature Paris Marne-la-Vallée. A transparent dome tops the water park and offers a remarkable space for visitors to swim while basking in views of the sky. Related: PHOTOS: Cacheuta Thermal Water Park is a summer escape wedged in Argentina’s Andes Mountains “Like an origami sculpture, our proposal for the aquatic park resembles an unfolding landscape, culminating at around 35 meters. It is a built landscape, rising into the sky,” explains Jacques Ferrier architecture. “The structure is clearly visible from the surrounding area – it becomes a point of reference and a symbol of Villages Nature.” + Jacques Ferrier architecture Images by Luc Boegly

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Origami-inspired Aqualagon water park is a site-sensitive extension of the landscape

How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being

April 4, 2018 by  
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Dive into the practice of forest bathing. Doing so does not clean your body, per se, but rather refreshes the spirit and benefits your mood and health. Even scientific studies back forest bathing. So what are you waiting for? Discover the new trend that can make you feel more connected to the world. What is forest bathing? Since 1982, forest bathing — called shinrin-yoku — has been practiced in Japan as a means of reconnecting with nature. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries created forest bathing as a way to promote national health and being outdoors. While this is not an ancient practice, many see it as a cure for modern ailments. Thanks to the internet, forest bathing has dramatically increased in popularity all over the globe. For the full experience, participants walk with trained guides–experts who help people see nature in a new light. Forest bathing has many similarities to meditation — it quiets the mind and spirit, and it aims to use the five senses to experience nature as never before. The activity unfolds at a much slower pace than hiking, and the destination itself is less important than the journey. What are the benefits forest bathing? As the popularity of forest bathing increases, science has begun to provide evidence for the practice’s benefits. In a 2011 study, scientists found that people walking in nature had lower blood pressure than those in the city. Another study in Japan showed that inhaling the aroma from cedar trees boosts stress-fighting compounds in the body. Most of all, forest bathing benefits your mood. Participants have seen improvement in both focus and attention, and researchers have even linked this practice to better focus in those with ADHD . Mental conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety and anger all show improvements in people who forest bathe. Related: Tiny meditation shelters are the perfect place for hikers to connect with the forest Forest bathing also has physical benefits — during the activity, measurable differences in several bodily processes occur. The immune system increases production of white blood cells that kill disease, and blood pressure and surgical recovery time decrease as well. If these weren’t reasons enough to try forest bathing, you may be surprised by how accessible the practice is. How to forest bathe While you may forest bathe on your own, it’s better to have a certified guide take you through the process. Like therapists who take their clients through guided meditation, these professionals are trained to help people put their minds in the moment. By 2019, the world will have 450 certified forest bathing guides across 23 countries around the world, so finding one will be easier than ever. If you don’t have a forest guide near you, you can still experience forest bathing on your own. The secret is integrating all your senses. Look, listen, feel, taste and smell your surroundings as though experiencing them for the first time. Don’t carefully focus on everything. Instead, examine your surroundings and look at things that capture your attention . A soft gaze relaxes you more than the constant, close focus of modern life. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice the peculiar scent of the forest. Plants have different scents, which act as natural aromatherapy. Don’t forget the soil. Microbes in it produce a smell that may act as an antidepressant . Feel tree bark and leaves. Run dirt between your fingers. If you feel adventurous, embrace a tree trunk. The variety of textures will give your sense of touch a treat. Close your eyes, stop walking, quiet your mind and just listen. The longer you open your ears to the sounds of the forest, the more you’ll hear, boosting your experience. Sounds include more than just the chirping of birds. Listen for the wind in the trees, the scuttling of insects in the soil and the noise of larger animals deep in the woods. Though you don’t want to taste anything in a forest without a guide, you can bring natural foods and drinks with you, such as tea or fresh fruits. This will be especially effective if the fruits are native to your area. Bringing your own food allows you to taste the forest without putting yourself at risk of ingesting a toxic substance. Where to forest bathe Forest bathing locations in Japan must meet rigorous standards set by the practice’s founding organization, but elsewhere in the world, forest bathing typically can be done anywhere. Several American resorts offer forest bathing , including The Lodge at Woodloch, Blackberry Farm and Big Cedar Lodge. While many people opt for their nearest natural space, those stuck indoors can still benefit from connecting with nature. Forest bathing guides take groups outside, but for those without access to the outdoors, just connecting with nature in any way seems beneficial. A study from Texas A&M University researcher Robert Ulrich showed lowered pain, anxiety and blood pressure in those who looked at photos or paintings of nature. Though still a new practice, forest bathing has already shown great promise in treating real conditions without the side effects of medication. Next time you go outside, why not find your nearest nature trail and begin your own forest bathing experience?

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How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being

How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being

April 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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Dive into the practice of forest bathing. Doing so does not clean your body, per se, but rather refreshes the spirit and benefits your mood and health. Even scientific studies back forest bathing. So what are you waiting for? Discover the new trend that can make you feel more connected to the world. What is forest bathing? Since 1982, forest bathing — called shinrin-yoku — has been practiced in Japan as a means of reconnecting with nature. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries created forest bathing as a way to promote national health and being outdoors. While this is not an ancient practice, many see it as a cure for modern ailments. Thanks to the internet, forest bathing has dramatically increased in popularity all over the globe. For the full experience, participants walk with trained guides–experts who help people see nature in a new light. Forest bathing has many similarities to meditation — it quiets the mind and spirit, and it aims to use the five senses to experience nature as never before. The activity unfolds at a much slower pace than hiking, and the destination itself is less important than the journey. What are the benefits forest bathing? As the popularity of forest bathing increases, science has begun to provide evidence for the practice’s benefits. In a 2011 study, scientists found that people walking in nature had lower blood pressure than those in the city. Another study in Japan showed that inhaling the aroma from cedar trees boosts stress-fighting compounds in the body. Most of all, forest bathing benefits your mood. Participants have seen improvement in both focus and attention, and researchers have even linked this practice to better focus in those with ADHD . Mental conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety and anger all show improvements in people who forest bathe. Related: Tiny meditation shelters are the perfect place for hikers to connect with the forest Forest bathing also has physical benefits — during the activity, measurable differences in several bodily processes occur. The immune system increases production of white blood cells that kill disease, and blood pressure and surgical recovery time decrease as well. If these weren’t reasons enough to try forest bathing, you may be surprised by how accessible the practice is. How to forest bathe While you may forest bathe on your own, it’s better to have a certified guide take you through the process. Like therapists who take their clients through guided meditation, these professionals are trained to help people put their minds in the moment. By 2019, the world will have 450 certified forest bathing guides across 23 countries around the world, so finding one will be easier than ever. If you don’t have a forest guide near you, you can still experience forest bathing on your own. The secret is integrating all your senses. Look, listen, feel, taste and smell your surroundings as though experiencing them for the first time. Don’t carefully focus on everything. Instead, examine your surroundings and look at things that capture your attention . A soft gaze relaxes you more than the constant, close focus of modern life. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice the peculiar scent of the forest. Plants have different scents, which act as natural aromatherapy. Don’t forget the soil. Microbes in it produce a smell that may act as an antidepressant . Feel tree bark and leaves. Run dirt between your fingers. If you feel adventurous, embrace a tree trunk. The variety of textures will give your sense of touch a treat. Close your eyes, stop walking, quiet your mind and just listen. The longer you open your ears to the sounds of the forest, the more you’ll hear, boosting your experience. Sounds include more than just the chirping of birds. Listen for the wind in the trees, the scuttling of insects in the soil and the noise of larger animals deep in the woods. Though you don’t want to taste anything in a forest without a guide, you can bring natural foods and drinks with you, such as tea or fresh fruits. This will be especially effective if the fruits are native to your area. Bringing your own food allows you to taste the forest without putting yourself at risk of ingesting a toxic substance. Where to forest bathe Forest bathing locations in Japan must meet rigorous standards set by the practice’s founding organization, but elsewhere in the world, forest bathing typically can be done anywhere. Several American resorts offer forest bathing , including The Lodge at Woodloch, Blackberry Farm and Big Cedar Lodge. While many people opt for their nearest natural space, those stuck indoors can still benefit from connecting with nature. Forest bathing guides take groups outside, but for those without access to the outdoors, just connecting with nature in any way seems beneficial. A study from Texas A&M University researcher Robert Ulrich showed lowered pain, anxiety and blood pressure in those who looked at photos or paintings of nature. Though still a new practice, forest bathing has already shown great promise in treating real conditions without the side effects of medication. Next time you go outside, why not find your nearest nature trail and begin your own forest bathing experience?

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Japanese builder unveils plans for worlds tallest timber skyscraper in Tokyo

February 15, 2018 by  
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Japanese builder and developer Sumitomo Forestry has unveiled designs for the world’s tallest timber skyscraper in the heart of Tokyo. Designed by Nikken Sekkei , the 1,148-foot-tall wooden tower will form part of the W350 Project, a mixed-use environmentally friendly development that the firms aim to complete in 2041 to mark Sumitomo’s 350th anniversary. The company says these steel-and-timber structures will help “transform the city into a forest.” Early renderings of the W350 project show the timber buildings covered in greenery and filled with natural light as part of Sumitomo’s message of promoting a healthier living environment. The buildings will be built to withstand earthquakes and be constructed with a 9:1 ratio of wood to steel. The development’s skyscraper centerpiece will house a hotel, offices, retail and residences. When complete, it will not only be the tallest timber tower in the world but also the tallest building in Japan. Related: Magnificent timber skyscraper will sequester carbon and add greenery to Bordeaux W350 is estimated to need over 6.5 million cubic feet of wood and cost approximately 600 billion yen. While the building framework will be made of a hybrid timber-steel structure, the interior will feature exposed wood in an attempt to bring people closer to nature. The company hopes that the project will popularize timber architecture and help jumpstart a revitalization of the forestry industry in rural areas and interest in reforestation . + Sumitomo Forestry + Nikken Sekkei Via Telegraph Images via Sumitomo Forestry

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Japanese builder unveils plans for worlds tallest timber skyscraper in Tokyo

Stunning chapel in Japan brings a fractal forest indoors

December 13, 2017 by  
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Not all chapels need stained glass windows and soaring archways to take your breath away. This Japanese timber chapel in Nagasaki injects a stunning fractal-like forest indoors for an instant wow factor. Yu Momoeda Architecture Office designed the minimalist chapel with floor-to-ceiling windows to take in sweeping views of the surrounding views of the national park and sea. The boxy 125-square-meter Agri Chapel is a modern interpretation of Oura-Tenshudo, Japan’s oldest timber gothic chapel and national treasure that’s also located in Nagasaki. In contrast to its 19th century predecessor, the new-build chapel is a modernist temple of glass and steel. Seven-meter-tall windows on all sides of the building frame different views of the landscape including the sea, park, mountains, and hills. Related: Mexico’s gorgeous Sunset Chapel looks like a gigantic boulder The tree-like wooden units inserted into the interior are made up of three layers with varying thickness of cedar . Steel rods provide horizontal support. The timber installation’s fractal pattern is based off of 45-degree rotations. Simple wooden furnishings complement the vertical timber supports in the otherwise all-white building. + Yu Momoeda Architecture Office Via ArchDaily

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Stunning chapel in Japan brings a fractal forest indoors

Critical climate record satellite program at risk after Congress slashes funding

November 6, 2017 by  
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Scientists all over Earth depend on sea ice data from United States military satellites . But one of those satellites recently broke down – and only three aging ones remain. Even worse, the United States Congress  said a new backup probe had to be dismantled because they reportedly didn’t want to pay to keep it in storage. Almost four decades of essential  Arctic and Antarctic sea ice satellite measurements could soon be disrupted. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) puts together a sea ice record used by scientists worldwide with satellite information. That record is at risk, as a new satellite can’t be launched until at least 2023, according to scientists. Related: Total sea ice levels on Earth lower than ever before recorded Satellites have aided scientists in measuring Earth’s dramatically shrinking sea ice. Over the years, America’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) has overseen the building of eight F-series satellites monitoring sea ice, but now just three aging probes, DMSP F16, F17, and F18, are operating. And they’re starting to drift out of their orbits. The satellites have lifespans of up to five years – but these three are over eight, 11, and 14 years old. F19 is the satellite that broke, and should have been replaced with F20, which was being stored by the United States Air Force . But it was dismantled in 2016 after Congress cut funding for the program, according to the Scientific American. The Air Force reportedly spent $518 million on F20. NSIDC satellite remote sensing expert David Gallaher said, “This is like throwing away the medical records of a sick patient. Our world is ailing and we have apparently decided to undermine, quite deliberately, the effectiveness of the records on which its recovery might be based. It is criminal.” Scientific American said a Japanese satellite is collecting sea ice data – but it was designed to last five years and is already five years old. A Chinese satellite might offer an alternative – and experts will discuss options at a December meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Via The Guardian and Scientific American Images via Depositphotos

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Critical climate record satellite program at risk after Congress slashes funding

Stanford’s new accelerator on a chip could revolutionize medical care

October 31, 2017 by  
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Researchers at Stanford University are developing a linear accelerator that is the size of a chip — instead of two miles long — and it could herald a medical breakthrough. Linear accelerators are commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer . However, only a handful have been constructed as they are very expensive to build, maintain and operate. Stanford’s accelerator on a chip could provide every hospital with access to this life-saving technology. Standford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory houses a linear accelerator that measures 3.2 kilometers in length. Because it emits radiation , it’s buried 25 feet under the hills of northern California. Dubbed LINAC, it relies on klystrons to generate high-energy electron beams. At one end of the line, electrons are generated. They are then accelerated to 99.99999 percent of the speed of light and zip down the 2-mile long instrument. The setup is expensive, however – which is why scientists in the same lab are working to create an accelerator small enough to fit in a large shoebox. After receiving a $13.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2015, the “accelerator on a chip” (ACHIP) project was born. When the project launched in 2013, SLAC physicist Joel England said: “Making them much smaller and cheaper would democratize accelerators , potentially making them available to millions of people. We can’t even imagine the creative applications they would find for this technology .” The minuscule device would work similarly to the LINAC. However instead of shooting electrons down a copper vacuum tube, they would be pushed along with microwaves. Engadget reports, “The AoaC will shove electrons through a precisely-engineered silica chip, smaller than a grain of rice, and excite them with laser beams.” Related: Japanese ‘mutant’ chickens are laying eggs with cancer-fighting drugs By adjusting the width of the ridges in the channel, with respect to the wavelength of the laser, the chip’s acceleration gradient could be tuned to a whopping 700 megavolts per meter (MeV/m). That’s ten times what the LINAC can generate. The inexpensive device could replace multimillion-dollar radiotherapy machines in hospitals – and it could be paired with a simple fiber laser power source to “burn out” tumors faster than traditional radiation therapy — and without the need for anesthesia. Said Joel England, SLAC’s lead researcher for this program, “Once you get into a million electron volts or more then you’re sort of in the regime of where you can have practical applications; where something like a medical accelerator is more viable. So typically for cancer treatment, you’re using particles with between one and 20 million electron volts of energy.” He explained in 2013, “We still have a number of challenges before this technology becomes practical for real-world use, but eventually it would substantially reduce the size and cost of future high-energy particle colliders for exploring the world of fundamental particles and forces.” + SLAC Via Engadget Images via Stanford University

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Airless tires could help Toyota make lighter electric cars

October 30, 2017 by  
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Airless tires could boost performance and cut down the weight of electric cars – and Toyota is interested. The automaker recently unveiled the hydrogen-powered Fine-Comfort Ride concept car fitted with the tires at the Tokyo Motor Show . The Fine-Comfort Ride is about as big as a crossover SUV, but chief engineer Takao Sato said the airless wheels could be used on any electric car. The airless tires on the Fine-Comfort Ride are comprised of a band of rubber around a plastic-aluminum hub, reports Bloomberg . Sumitomo Rubber Industries supplied the tires for Toyota . Sumitomo unveiled their Smart Tyre Concept, which includes the airless component, at the Tokyo Motor Show and said in a press release , “Airless tires contribute to greater safety and peace of mind in transportation by freeing the driver from worries about punctures and the trouble of having to manage tire pressure.” Sumitomo said there’s interest from other Japanese carmakers as well. Related: Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever Sato said, “For automakers, the attraction of airless tires is for electrified vehicles.” At the moment the concept tires still weigh about as much as pneumatic tires, but the technology could develop to trim five kilograms – around 11 pounds – from each tire. That’s around 30 percent of each tire’s weight, and the development could come as early as 2025. Sumitomo airless tire project head Wako Iwamura said he aims to have a commercial product by 2020, according to Bloomberg, and that his tires are already comparable in price with those requiring air. The company has already been testing the tires on golf carts and minicars. Sumitomo also pioneered what they called the world’s first 100 percent fossil resource-free tires using all-natural materials back in 2013, and said since then they’ve been working to create “proprietary biomass materials based on raw materials derived from plants .” Via Bloomberg Images via Toyota

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Leading Stanford climate scientist builds incredible net zero home, complete with Tesla Powerwall

October 30, 2017 by  
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A leading climate scientist — who has dedicated his career to proving the feasibility of transitioning the world off fossil fuels — walks the walk with his personal home. Professor of civil & environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, Mark Z. Jacobson has built an incredible Net Zero home using energy-efficient features that enable the house to generate all of its own energy from renewable sources . Jacobson is one of the founders of The Solutions Project , an initiative backed by scientific research that aims to show how every state in the USA can transition to 100 percent renewable energy . Using the organization’s ethos and his own research as a guide, Jacobson worked with luxury custom homebuilders, BONE Structure to design and build his ultra-efficient home . Related: This new energy concept from Sweden can make any building net zero Located in Stanford, California, the structure is the epitome of future efficient home design that doesn’t sacrifice on style or comfort. The project’s planning began by creating an ultra-low energy thermal shell that would insulate the home and reduce energy requirements. Next, to generate and conserve energy, the home was equipped with solar panels along with a couple of Tesla Powerwall battery packs for storage. This system meets all of the home’s energy needs, including heating, cooling, plug loads and even transportation charging. Jacobson moved into his Net Zero home last summer and has been monitoring its performance ever since. Not only does his energy system generate enough clean energy to meet his family’s needs, but Jacobson has also been able to sell 67 percent of the clean electricity back to the utility grid. + BONE Structure

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Leading Stanford climate scientist builds incredible net zero home, complete with Tesla Powerwall

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