Modern timber winery blends Japanese and Viennese influences

February 7, 2019 by  
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Wien-based architecture practice Architects Collective used innovative timber construction for the contemporary Nett Winery in the Pfalz wine region of Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Germany. Unlike traditional wine cellars that typically feature massive walls or industrial steel, this new winery features comparatively lightweight construction using ecological materials, including a wooden outer shell and an inner structure of pumice-concrete. Inspired by Japanese architecture and Viennese modernism, the contemporary winery features an origami-like facade and a minimalist aesthetic with natural materials throughout. Covering a massive area of nearly 4,500 square meters, the Nett Winery manages the impressive feat of appearing to sit lightly on the land. The building consists of two long rectangular halls connected with a covered passage and includes not only the entire production facilities for winemaking  but also the sales area, tasting room, storage, office and living spaces for the family of winemakers as well. The hall on the west side houses the retail and showroom as well as the wine barrels, steel tanks, refrigeration and the living spaces. The storage facilities, garage and trash area are located on the east side. The roofed passageway that connects the two halls is used as a multipurpose space for seasonal work such as pressing, fermentation, pre-treatment or mobile bottling. Large windows offer panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards , including the famous ‘Mandelberg.’ Related: An award-winning winery in British Columbia elegantly steps down a hillside “With the three distinctive sheds on the roof that let light and air radiate into the interior, the shape of the building unexpectedly resembles a Japanese tea pavilion inspired by the hits of Viennese modernism,” the architects said. “This impression is reinforced by the very special treatment that the large wooden outer walls have undergone, known as Shou-Sugi-Ban, a thousand-year-old Japanese wood finishing technique in which the surface is protected by charring. The wooden surface of the 5-meter-long building was further developed through a brushing and oiling technique, making it extremely durable and giving it an imposing aesthetic.” + Architects Collective Via ArchDaily Images by Rui Camilo via Architects Collective

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Modern timber winery blends Japanese and Viennese influences

Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean heres why

February 7, 2019 by  
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The impacts of climate change are felt most intimately by poor and rural women. Many women rely directly on nature for their income, and their lack of resources prevents them from shifting to alternate jobs or safer locations during disasters. However, the same factors that make women vulnerable — their connection to nature and ties to community — are also the strengths that make women critical and competent leaders in times of crises. In the Caribbean, climate experts are increasingly looking at not only at how they can include female perspectives to alleviate inequalities, but how they can empower women to lead the way toward resilience. Women and climate vulnerability According to a UN Population Fund report , “The poor are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the majority of the 1.5 billion people living on $1 a day or less are women.” With men leaving rural communities to find jobs in urban areas or overseas, women in the country-side are often the primary — and in many cases the sole — caretaker and breadwinner for their families. Many women lack the freedom, flexibility and mobility to relocate or readjust their lives for work, or for safety when disasters hit. Small islands are on the front lines of climate change The Caribbean region is particularly vulnerable, with small rises in sea level and temperatures having drastic consequences ranging from flooding, severe erosion and massive die-off of coral reefs to consecutive category five hurricanes. Caribbean nations depend on natural resources for their economies — namely agriculture, fisheries and coastal tourism. With so much at stake, Caribbean leaders united to demand world leaders commit to curbing global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, arguing that the agreed upon increase of 2 degrees would be catastrophic. As small islands fight to have their struggles and solutions heard in global debates about global warming, they are also fighting for the muffled, but mighty voices of women. Women, advocates argue, are accustomed to being resilient, community-driven and goal oriented — especially when it comes to the goal of feeding their families. “In climate change decision making, when women are in control in critical large numbers, we see the emphasis placed on the social issues of housing, refugees, food , food security — in a way that doesn’t happen if women are absent,” said Dessima Williams, Grenada’s previous ambassador to the UN and Chair of the Association of Small Island States. Related: The world is close to annihilation according to the iconic Doomsday Clock Natural disasters exacerbate inequalities During natural disasters, limited resources are further diminished. Limited jobs — such as clearing roads and restoring power — are often earmarked for men. Social services, such as child care, are slow to restart, preventing women from returning to work as swiftly as their male counter parts. “Homelessness and overcrowding in damaged homes, reduced income, health problems, lack of transportation, disrupted social services and other disaster effects impact women disproportionately, exacerbating preexisting power imbalances between women and men,” wrote  Dr. Elain Enarson in her book, Women Confronting Natural Disasters: From Vulnerability to Resilience . Women are part of the solution Sustainable development experts argue that a power shift to give women decision-making authority would not only uplift women and their dependents, but societies as a whole. In fact, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s website stated, “Women’s participation at the political level has resulted in greater responsiveness to citizen’s needs, often increasing cooperation across party and ethnic lines and delivering more sustainable peace.” Recognizing the benefits of including women in decision making, the Caribbean region has hosted a number of meetings to spur discussion on including gender perspectives into climate adaptation strategies. “There needs to be dialogue, learning and listening. The power relationships determine how action on climate change is played out and the success rate of projects to deal with climate change,” Vijay Krishnarayan, director general of the Commonwealth Foundation, said at a regional meeting on the intersection of gender and climate change in the Caribbean. Related: Is the Green New Deal the all-inclusive climate plan we need? “Much more needs to be done to completely capitalize on women’s potential, requiring methods that encompass their access to education and quality training, to economic resources and financial services, and to new forms of financing,” Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Alicia Bárcena underscored at a High-Level Political Forum at the UN headquarters. The inclusion of women is not unique to the Caribbean, and leaders throughout developing nations have united to recognize the importance of sharing successful solutions across continents and then enabling women’s leadership in implementing localized projects that fit for their own communities. “A lot of women have developed micro-level adaptation approaches, indigenous solutions and traditional knowledge that are not being replicated at the macro level,” said Kalyani Raj, a representative from India during a climate conference in Paris. “We must recognize that women are not just victims, we are powerful agents for change. Therefore, women need to be included in the decision-making processes and allowed to contribute their unique expertise and knowledge to adapt to climate change, because any climate change intervention that excludes women’s perspective and any policy that is gender blind, is destined to fail.” Via Panos Caribbean Images via Shutterstock

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Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean heres why

Honda is looking for your energy or mobility startup

January 29, 2019 by  
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The Japanese automaker has a quiet Silicon Valley group that works with startups across transportation, mobility and energy.

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Honda is looking for your energy or mobility startup

The good news about climate change?

January 29, 2019 by  
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As lists such as CDP’s A List hail business leadership, other reports emerge that businesses are betting on products that will lead in climate crisis.

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Shareholders ask retailers to report on plastic bags

January 29, 2019 by  
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Retailers that aren’t disclosing their plans to reduce or eliminate plastic bag use may be in store for shareholder activism.

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Shareholders ask retailers to report on plastic bags

Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

January 11, 2019 by  
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When tasked with creating a family home in Austin, local firm, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture , decided to go with a blend of charred wood , locally-sourced stone and glass panels. The result is the stunning Llano retreat, a design that was strategically built to embrace the natural landscape, while providing a contemporary, but cozy living space.   Situated along the Llano River in central Texas, the building site was used for years by the family as a camping and fishing spot for the weekends. After years of spending the warm Texas nights under a pole structure with metal roof, the family finally decided to put up a proper shelter, in the form of a beautiful family home that was specifically designed to take advantage of the idyllic natural setting. Related: Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool “After years of getting to know the ranch land, the family chose a site for their home at the top of a hill overlooking the river, only accessible through a low-water crossing,” said the team. “The design is a result of the knowledge of the landscape and the desire to retain the connection to nature.” The U-shaped layout of the home allowed the architects to bring the outdoors into the living space via a front courtyard . In the back of the home, the natural landscape consisting of trees, shrubs and wildflowers was left in its natural state. The home’s exterior is clad in locally-sourced limestone and wood charred in the Japanese shou sugi ban style.   Large glass panels not only further connect the interior with the exterior, but also flood the home with natural light. Large roof overhangs shade the windows during the hot summer months, but allow sunlight to enter the home during the colder months, reducing the need for artificial heating. The home’s doors and operable windows were strategically placed to enable air circulation. Inside the home, the interior design , led by the team from Laura Roberts Design, was focused on providing the family with a rustic yet cozy atmosphere. Double-height ceilings were clad in warm Douglas Fir and crossed with expose beams, giving the home a modern cabin feel. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels enable the homeowners to comfortably enjoy the stunning views from virtually any corner of the home. From the large kitchen, sliding glass doors open up to an outdoor space. + Michael Hsu Office of Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Casey Dunn

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Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

11 ways to be more self-sufficient in the new year

January 11, 2019 by  
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Self-sufficient living is all about providing for your own needs— and the needs of your household— without resources or help from the outside. To become more self-sufficient, you need knowledge and skills, plus motivation and a spirit of independence. The reasons for living a self-sufficient lifestyle can be political, social or personal, but whatever the motivation may be, learning how to become self-sufficient can offer a feeling of security, even in the event of a disaster. There isn’t a handbook for becoming self-sufficient, but once you change your thinking about dependency, there are things you can do to start living life off the grid in the new year. Plant a Garden Not only can you grow your own food and save the seeds for next year, but you can also plant herbs in pots in your windowsill and use them for medicinal purposes or create your own spice blends . Cook From Scratch This goes hand-in-hand with planting a garden. Cooking from scratch instead of pre-packaged meals in plastic or take-out is a big step towards becoming more self-sufficient. Make A Food Storage Plan Gardens are great, and not having to rely on the grocery store to feed your family is a fantastic goal. But, that will mean that you need to have a plan for storing your food. After properly storing the fruit and veggies from your garden in a freezer or cellar, make a plan for acquiring basics like flour, sugar, water, salt and powdered milk. You can do this one week at a time , and after a year, you will have plenty of essentials. Make Natural Cleaners Ditch those store-bought cleaners that are filled with potentially toxic chemicals and instead switch to making your own natural cleaning products . You can also make your own laundry detergent and set up a clothesline or drying rack for your clothes instead of using a dryer. Learn To Sew This is a big one. Back when our grandparents and great-grandparents were young, there was always someone in the family who knew how to sew anything and everything. Not only could they mend their clothing, but they could also make entire outfits instead of buying clothing from the store. But it’s not always about clothing, as you can sew a number of things like blankets, curtains, towels, napkins, wipes and handkerchiefs. Sewing is a skill that is essential for self-sufficient living. Get Out of Debt When you owe people money it’s impossible to become truly self-sufficient. So, cut up those credit cards, make a budget and put together a plan to get out of debt. It’s not easy, but neither is living a self-sufficient life. Drastically cutting your spending to pay off your debts can be a great experience on what it means to live a self-sufficient life. In addition to getting out of debt, stash some cash in a safe place in your home. Having an emergency fund is a huge advantage when unexpected things happen. Start an Emergency Kit Stock up on basic medical supplies like band-aids, gauze, rubbing alcohol and OTC pain meds, but you want to be prepared for more than just medical emergencies. You also can prepare for power outages with an emergency candle kit . Collect Rainwater Having access to your own water source is a big part of becoming self-sufficient. If you don’t have a well, but want to use your own water to take care of your property, set up a rain barrel with a hose to water your garden. Basic Car Maintenance If you don’t know how to change your own oil or replace a flat tire, now is the time to learn if you want to become self-sufficient. Also, washing your car at home instead of taking it to a car wash is another step you can take when you want to rely on yourself instead of outside sources. Start Exercising If you aren’t in good health it’s difficult to be self-sufficient. Eating food from your own garden and cooking from scratch are big steps towards living a healthy life. Once you add exercise into your daily routine, you will become your healthiest self, which makes it much easier to be self-sufficient. Solar Lights and Windmills One of the biggest ways to move towards a life off the grid is to produce your own power. You can install solar lights outside and put up a windmill on your property to help generate the power you need. Via The Real Farmhouse Images via Couleur , FitNishMedia , Shutterstock

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11 ways to be more self-sufficient in the new year

MVRDV proposes a glowing Times Square Taiwan with interactive media facades

January 11, 2019 by  
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Prolific Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has unveiled a bold proposal to transform Taipei’s Main Station into a “Times Square for Taiwan.” Designed as part of a consortium led by Nan Hai Development, the Taipei Twin Towers aim to reactivate the area with two high-rises clad in interactive media facades. The mixed-use project would offer new retail, office space, two cinemas and two hotels, in addition to the unification and redevelopment of the existing plazas. Located on the east side of the city, Taipei Main Station is currently ensnared in an aging concrete jungle and offers an arrival sequence — the transportation hub includes access to inter- and intra-city buses, metro and the airport railway — that MVRDV principal and co-founder Winy Maas has described as an “anti-climax.” To revitalize the area as a tourist and shopping destination, the architects have proposed stacking a mix of small and large blocks together into “vertical village” skyscrapers. The smaller blocks, located near the bottom, would house different retail outlets while the larger blocks above would contain the offices, cinemas and two hotels. The blocks will be strategically stacked to not only create public atriums  but to also allow for natural ventilation. Landscaped terraces will be located on the top of the retail blocks and connected via escalators and elevated walkways. Some blocks would also be covered with interactive media displays that can be programmed to show major cultural spectacles, sporting events or advertising for the retail tenants. Related: Shimmering bamboo-shaped skyscraper to rise in Taipei “The Taipei Twin Towers will turn this area into the downtown that Taipei deserves, with its vibrant mixture of activities matched only by the vibrant collection of facade treatments on the stacked neighborhood above,” Winy Maas explained. “We break down the required program into pleasant small blocks that echo the surrounding urban quarters, thus fitting the density fit into its surroundings. People can climb over the blocks to the top — a true vertical village . And the space in between allows for social gatherings and natural ventilation.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV proposes a glowing Times Square Taiwan with interactive media facades

Endangered bluefin tuna sold for $3.1 billion to sushi tycoon

January 10, 2019 by  
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A recent predawn auction at Tokyo’s new fish market brought a record-breaking bid for the endangered bluefin tuna. Sushi tycoon Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns the Sushi Zanmai chain, paid $3.1 million for the enormous fish, more than double the price from five years ago. Kimura’s Kiyomura Corp has won the annual action in the past, but the high price of the tuna this year definitely surprised the sushi king. Nonetheless, Kiyomura says: “the quality of the tuna I bought is the best.” The 612-pound (278 kg) tuna was caught off Japan’s northern coast, and the auction prices this year are way above normal. Normally, bluefin tuna sells for about $40 a pound, but the price has recently skyrocketed to over $200 a pound, especially for the prized catches that come from Oma in northern Japan. The biggest consumers of the bluefin tuna are the Japanese, and the surging consumption of the fish has led to overfishing which could result in the species facing possible extinction . Stocks of Pacific bluefin have plummeted 96 percent from pre-industrial levels. “The celebration surrounding the annual Pacific bluefin auction hides how deeply in trouble this species really is,” said Jamie Gibbon, associate manager for global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts. However, there have been some signs of progress when it comes to protecting the bluefin . Japan and other governments have endorsed plans to rebuild the stocks of Pacific bluefin, and the goal is to reach 20 percent of historic levels by 2034. Last year’s auction was the last at the world famous Tsukiji fish market. This year, it shifted to a new facility which is located on a former gas plant site in Tokyo Bay. The move would have happened sooner, but was delayed repeatedly over concerns of soil contamination. Via The Guardian  Image via Shutterstock

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Endangered bluefin tuna sold for $3.1 billion to sushi tycoon

The 2018 sustainability year in review, in haiku

December 28, 2018 by  
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A recap of significant milestones and events, organized in the 5-7-5 syllabic structure of a three-line Japanese poem.

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The 2018 sustainability year in review, in haiku

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