IKEA unveils plan to lift 200,000 people out of poverty

April 19, 2017 by  
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When most people think of IKEA , they most likely think of affordable furniture and trendy home accessories. But many people are unaware of the company’s lofty social goals. In addition to their efforts to promote sustainability , it turns out IKEA is also working on a plan to alleviate poverty for Syrian refugees and other disadvantaged people around the globe. IKEA recently announced it’s building new production centers in Jordan this summer, as part of a plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world. The facilities will be open and running by August, and will provide jobs to refugees producing rugs, cushions, bedspreads, and other handmade woven items. These particular facilities are the result of a partnership with the Jordan River Foundation , a non-governmental organization founded by Jordan’s Queen Rania. To start out, these particular plants will only employ 100 people, rising to 400 within two years. About half will be local workers and the other half will be Syrian refugees . Related: IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program The new production centers are just one of many projects the furniture giant is working to establish around the world. Already, they’ve launched programs to help Indian women and Sweden’s immigrant population, which employ about 2,000 people collectively. The ultimate goal is to eventually employ about 200,000 people around the world through these initiatives. Rather than lead the projects themselves, IKEA is teaming up with local social entrepreneurs – organizations that help use business solutions to alleviate poverty, rather than simply distributing aid. Not only does this help provide jobs for people who desperately need them, it also helps organizations that would normally be too small to meet IKEA’s supplier guidelines to get their work into stores around the globe. Related: IKEA is launching a whole range of “no waste” products made from recycled materials This isn’t the first time IKEA has used its clout for social good. The company also recently established the IKEA Foundation to help children in poor communities, and unveiled an award-winning flat-pack refugee shelter design . So the next time you buy a new bookshelf or visit just to sample the Swedish fare at the restaurant, you can feel good knowing your purchase is helping others around the world. Via Dezeen Images via YouTube/Screenshot

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IKEA unveils plan to lift 200,000 people out of poverty

This spellbinding icy blue throne was 3D-printed by robots

April 19, 2017 by  
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The robotically 3D-printed Voxel Chair 1.0 looks like it came straight out of a science fiction film. The futuristic mesh-like prototype was designed by Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin , and manufactured using extruded PLA plastic through Robotic Additive Manufacturing Platform (RAMP), an innovative process that enables 3D printing of large-scale products with stunning detail and durability. The Voxel Chair, whose shape is inspired by the  Panton chair design, is the first prototype of its kind using new software that is specifically developed for robotic 3D printing. Unlike most 3D printing processes that use pre-defined forms, this innovative software – based on research by Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin – allows for optimal control of thousands of line fragments. Related: Lilian van Daal creates a Biomimicry-inspired, 3D-printed chair Designed in collaboration with fabrication firms Nagami.Design and Vicente Soler, the chair was built out of transparent PLA, a non-toxic, biodegradable plastic that can be made out of various renewable resources like corn starch. Cyan-colored particles were mixed into the plastic to give the chair its unique glass-like appearance. The unique chair is just one example of how the RAMP process can be used to build stronger 3D-printed products . Considering the breakneck speed of advances in the field, unprecedented large-scale 3D objects are only a matter of time. The Voxel Chair 1.0 is currently on display at the Imprimer Le Monde in Centre Pompidou Paris. + Manuel Jimenez Garcia + Gilles Retsin Via Ignant Images via Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Gilles Retsin and Nagami.Design

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This spellbinding icy blue throne was 3D-printed by robots

Desert dome camp in Jordan offers tourists "The Martian" experience

April 12, 2017 by  
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Most of us at this point in human history can only dream of journeying to Mars . But Freedomes and SunCity Camp are making that experience almost possible with a dome tent camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan – close to where the 2015 movie “The Martian” was filmed. Visitors can now get that Martian experience inside one of 20 geodesic dome structures dotting the desert . Freedomes is known for their inexpensive DIY backyard dome kits . But you may not know they also created the domed habitat astronaut Mark Watney survives in for The Martian’s set design. Freedomes’ brand F.Domes created smaller versions of that big screen dome suitable as part of their glamping line , and set them up at SunCity Camp in Wadi Rum, allowing visitors to get about as close as they can get to visiting Mars. Related: Create your own backyard geodesic dome with these super affordable DIY kits The camp is near where the movie was filmed, and Freedomes said the sandstone and granite rock formations amidst the desert allow tourists to feel as if they’ve traveled to the red planet. Each dome includes a private bathroom and panoramic window for a sweeping view of the Wadi Rum desert. 5,000 Bedouins reside in the Wadi Rum desert, which they call the Valley of the Moon. SunCity Camp says they can connect visitors to local Bedouin guides, whom they described as hospitable and friendly. The Bedouins have a deep knowledge of the desert; they are semi-nomadic and many still dwell in traditional goats’ hair tents. SunCity Camp has a restaurant which serves Bedouin meals like zarb, or lamb cooked beneath the desert sand. There’s no mention of how much it costs to stay the night in one of the Martian domes; but SunCity’s other tent accommodations range from around $159 to $318 a night. + Freedomes + SunCity Camp Images courtesy of Freedomes and SunCity Camp Facebook

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Desert dome camp in Jordan offers tourists "The Martian" experience

Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

April 12, 2017 by  
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London-based architect Asif Khan just unveiled plans for a mesmerizing building that explores the evolution of energy since the beginning of time. The massive cylindrical pavilion takes visitors on a computer-generated tour that starts with the origins of energy and ends with present-day sustainable energy production . The project will serve as the UK pavilion at the Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan. Khan’s pavilion, We Are Energy, uses sound and animation to depict the creation of energy from the beginning of time. As visitors enter the 2,200 square-meter pavilion , a computer-generated simulation of the world is projected onto a 360-degree screen. At the center of the structure is an illuminated canopy – a nod to human ingenuity. Related: UN Studio pavilion in Amsterdam rises like a bioluminescent creature from the deep The architect worked in collaboration with Catherine Heymans, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh , to develop the scientific timeline of the presentation, which is broken up into four sections: the “expansion of the universe”, “human ingenuity, “landscape and nature” and “UK innovation”. Each section has its own specific soundscape composed by musician Brian Eno. The pavilion’s ethos fits in perfectly with the theme for the Astana Expo 2017, which is the “Future Energy.” Khan’s says that the pavilion seeks to promote the development of sustainable energy sources and technologies: “The universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago. At that moment all energy and matter was in the same place at the same time. The idea that everything, including life on earth, is comprised of this archaic energy is fascinating to me.” “I wanted to find a way to express this relationship to our visitors and explore how energy is being continually harnessed and balanced around us,” he added. + Asif Khan Via Dezeen

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Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

Dead Sea salt reveals drought on a scale never recorded – and it could happen again

March 29, 2017 by  
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Thick layers of Dead Sea salt found 1,000 feet below the sea bed holds clues to our planet’s past – and a warning. The salt reveals during warm periods in Earth’s history, the region – the Dead Sea is bordered by Palestine, Jordan, and Israel – suffered from drought with no known precedent. The salt, scrutinized by an international team of researchers led by Yael Kiro of Columbia University , doesn’t just offer a history lesson, but a caution climate change could seriously dry the region again in the future. Crystalline salt from beneath the Dead Sea reveals 120,000 and 10,000 years ago, rainfall in the area was a fifth of modern levels. These dry periods were naturally caused. But human-caused climate change today could potentially dry the region – which is already struggling – more than we realized. Right now the Middle East’s fresh water per capita availability is 10 times less than the world average, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Related: Dramatic Video Captures Rebirth of the River Zin in Israel’s Negev Desert Back in 2010, scientists drilled 1,500 feet into the Dead Sea bed’s deepest part. They obtained a cross-section that provided 200,000 years of climate history in the area. Alternating layers of salt and mud showed dry and wet times. Only recently, however, did scientists analyze the core in great detail. The region suffered from what Columbia University called epic dry periods. Kiro said in a statement, “All the observations show this region is one of those most affected by modern climate change, and it’s predicted to get dryer. What we showed is that even under natural conditions, it can become much drier than predicted by any of our models.” The journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters published the research in an early online edition . Six other scientists from institutions in Israel and Spain also contributed to the study. Via The Guardian and Columbia University Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Dead Sea salt reveals drought on a scale never recorded – and it could happen again

New Source solar panels pull clean drinking water from the air

October 20, 2016 by  
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A new kind of solar panel is being tested in water scarce regions of Ecuador, Jordan, and Mexico where the device, called Source, pulls moisture from the atmosphere to provide clean drinking water. Developed by the Arizona-based startup Zero Mass Water , the setup uses solar energy to produce potable water for a family of four or an entire hospital, depending on how many panels are in use. Last year, the company raised $7 million to back a series of pilot programs to prove how simple and cost-effective access to clean water can be. Founder and CEO Cody Friesen is also an associate professor at Arizona State University’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy. Zero Mass Water is the second startup to stem from Friesen’s work at ASU, and it promises a reliable source of affordable drinking water without the need for additional infrastructure. Because the devices can be used alone or in groups, the solar-powered system can scale up or down to meet the water needs of as many or as few people as desired. Related: Wind-powered Water Seer pulls up to 11 gallons of clean drinking water from thin air A single solar panel can produce enough clean water for a family of four, and it’s easy to use because the water flows from a faucet on the back side of the solar panel setup. Source works by passively absorbing moisture from the air using a special humectant material. The solar panel converts solar energy to electricity, which is used to power the process that drives the water back out of the collection material. The water is then evaporated to remove pollutants, leaving behind clean, safe drinking water. Around the world, there are many places primed for this type of sustainable, standalone passive water source. ZMW plans to use Source to provide fresh water to Syrian refugees in Jordan and to Jordanian families, affecting 100,000 households by the end of 2017, with funding from the Clinton Foundation , Duke Energy International, and other investors. Although the pilot programs to date have been conducted in developing countries and areas where water supplies have been contaminated or disrupted by violent conflicts, Friesen sees no reason that residents of the United States couldn’t put Source to work for them as well, and effectively skirt problems with municipal lead contamination and the other threats that increasingly limit access to clean drinking water across the country. Via FastCo Images via Zero Mass Water , Duke Energy , and Arizona State University

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How an ancient civilization flourished in the desolate Arabian desert 2,000 years ago

July 8, 2016 by  
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According to information boards at the Petra visitor center, the Nabateans began to control water supplies across the 900,000 square mile expanse of the Arabian desert around 300BC – long before they established their capital at was then known as Raqmu. Today, southern Jordan receives roughly 4 inches of rain every year. An Arab people, the Nabateans hid water cisterns throughout the desert, enabling them, if attacked for example, to retreat deep into otherwise formidable territory. As their numbers grew and they became more settled, the Nabateans worked with the landscape, “utilizing gradients, wadis and springs to their best advantage” to build a city that could sustain 20,000 people. Inside Petra , the Nabateans’ engineering prowess is still on display. Walking through the Siq, a narrow two-kilometer-long gorge that was the official entrance to the original city, one can still see channels on either side of the towering rock walls that funneled rain and spring water to various points in the city and its suburbs. Cisterns and reservoirs were lined with waterproof cement to mitigate leaking and optimize water purity. “Their hydraulic engineering knowledge extended to understanding the geometry of water flow and pressure,” according to the Petra visitor center, “and use of gradients to minimize leakage and damage to pipes and maintain a constant supply of water throughout the year.” Related: Archaeologists find 2,150-year-old Petra monument hiding in plain sight The city had five major aqueducts. The Siq aqueduct transferred water from a spring in Wadi Musa to Qasar al Bint. A dam and tunnel at the entrance of the Siq diverted flood waters (flash floods are common in the region), keeping residents safe and ensuring not a single drop of water went to waste. Perhaps the most significant symbol of the Nabateans’ superior water management is a large water fountain in the center of the city called the Nymphaeum. Named after the female nature spirits popular in classical mythology, the Nymphaeum mirrored similar Graeco-Roman structures – an enormous luxury in a desert. The fountain not only supplied drinking water, but acted as place for the community to rendezvous. Having control of water also meant the Nabateans could control their food supply . In addition to being able to take care of livestock, they built terraces into the hills, which weakened runoff and prevented erosion. They cultivated olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, and grains, and at least 40 rock-cut Nabatean wine presses throughout the kingdom hints at the sweeping scale of grape and wine production . Having used their knowledge to develop dozens of oases with supplies for traders on the prodigious route stretching from Saudi Arabia to Gaza, which they controlled through a system of taxes and tolls, the Nabateans could focus their attention on the arts – a key indicator of a wealthy community. “They loved beautiful things, as evident [sic] by the intricately carved tomb facades of various architectural styles. Several hundred tombs, houses, banquet halls, altars and niches were carved from the rock, in addition to the construction of a number of free-standing temples, homes and other features,” the information boards read. “The Nabateans also produced fine pottery and painted beautiful frescoes, very few of which remain unfortunately.” + Visit Petra All photos by Tafline Laylin for Inhabitat

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How an ancient civilization flourished in the desolate Arabian desert 2,000 years ago

Archaeologists find 2,150-year-old Petra monument ‘hiding in plain sight’

June 10, 2016 by  
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The ancient city of Petra in Jordan is known for its fascinating ruins built into surrounding rocky cliffs, and now archaeologists have made an exciting new discovery. Using satellite images , they recently discovered a massive subterranean monument that remained hidden for years. The monument is about the length and double the width of an Olympic swimming pool . The archaeologists used satellite imagery to find the platform, which is 184 feet by 161 feet. An interior platform had columns along one end and a huge staircase. Based on pottery studies, the researchers think the platform could be at least 2,150 years old . Related: Family accidentally discovers “extraordinarily well-preserved” Roman villa in England Given the colossal size, it’s surprising no one has yet discovered the monument, but the researchers said it was difficult to get to and “hidden.”Even though the monument is close to the center of Petra – just around half a mile south, prior surveys didn’t find it. The paper the archaeologists published is titled ” Hiding in Plain Sight .” Co-author of the paper Christopher Tuttle told National Geographic, “I’m sure that over the course of two centuries of research [in Petra], someone had to know [this site] was there, but it’s never been systematically studied or written up. I’ve worked in Petra for 20 years, and I knew that something was there, but it’s certainly legitimate to call this a discovery.” Tuttle told The Guardian the platform could have been used for “some kind of massive display function.” Throughout the rest of Petra, there are several shrines and sites used for “various cultic displays or political activities.” However, one reason the new monument stands apart is because the massive staircase doesn’t face Petra’s city center. “We don’t understand what the purpose [of visible shrines], because the Nabateans didn’t leave any written documents to tell us,” Tuttle said. “But I find it interesting that such a monumental feature doesn’t have a visible relationship to the city.” As of now the researchers don’t have a plan for excavation , but they hope to work at the site at some point. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Gorgeous wooden horn speakers are made from reclaimed liquor barrels

May 31, 2016 by  
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https://vimeo.com/165917138 Fiddle + Hammer was founded by Jordan Waraksa, who brought his background in sculpture and music into the making of the Bellaphone. The design was developed over a decade. “The horn is a testament to harnessing the resonant and warm qualities of the wood which they are carved from,” said Waraksa. Each custom-built speaker can be built to a variety of sizes, from two feet in height to a towering six feet. Related: Gigantic wooden megaphones amplify the sounds of the forest in Estonia Waraksa has thus far created a few prototype Bellaphones from reclaimed tequila and whiskey barrels. He also writes and records music that he tests out on his creations. The Bellaphone was recently presented at Wanted Design for New York Design Week. + Fiddle + Hammer Via ArchDaily Images by MannFrau

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Gorgeous wooden horn speakers are made from reclaimed liquor barrels

Sahara Desert Project to grow 10 hectares of food in Tunisian desert

March 17, 2016 by  
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With 75 percent of its country comprised of desert, it’s not easy for Tunisia to grow food. But the Sahara Forest Project aims to change that with a $30 million facility funded by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Building on their first projects in Qatar and Jordan, the group will use solar energy and desalination technology to sprout food in the Sahara Desert . Read the rest of Sahara Desert Project to grow 10 hectares of food in Tunisian desert

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