These tiny steel cabins in Joshua Tree epitomize off-grid design

May 30, 2018 by  
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Located just north of Joshua Tree National Park, two tiny cabins clad in weathered steel give off the impression that they’ve been abandoned in the beautiful desert landscape. But, in reality, the Folly Cabins ‘ humble facades conceal a complex system that makes these tiny structures, created by architects Malek Alqadi and Hillary Flur, powerhouses of off-grid design. Alqadi says that he has been fascinated with creating sustainable systems since his days as an architectural student. After visiting the Joshua Tree area, he was inspired to convert his dream into reality by building a pair of tiny houses that operate completely off the grid . Alqadi and Flur bought an abandoned single-story home that dated back to 1954, then began bringing their sustainable vision to life. They built two tiny cabins on the site, keeping them strategically separated to create a void that helps the structures blend into the surrounding environment. Related: Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis The architects salvaged the original building’s steel cladding for the project and raised the pitched roof to expand the interior space. The main cabin, which is just 460 square feet, includes a living and dining area, a kitchen, a bathroom and a spacious sleeping loft. Along with adding more space, the high ceilings enable hot air to pass through the tiny homes’  solar-powered skylights . The smaller cabin has a ladder on its side that leads up to an open-air terrace, or “stargazing portal.” This beautiful little space is equipped with a heated queen-sized bed and is the perfect place to watch the stars in between sunset and sunrise. There is also a mini-fridge, a movie projector and bio-ethanol fireplace for guests to enjoy. The tiny cabins are powered by a freestanding “solar tree” that Alqadi and Flur assembled by themselves. “We dug a seven-foot hole to reinforce the solar tree. There was no way we were climbing up twenty feet to put panels on the roof in the desert sun in the middle of summer,” said Alqadi. “We could have dug a well,” he added, “but there was no promise we’d find water. So I spent my money on something we could rely on—using the sun as our utility company.” A open-air deck with a firepit juts out from the two tiny houses, providing an ideal space for guests to enjoy the spectacular night skies of Joshua Tree. The deck also has an outdoor rain shower and a soaking tub, which are both connected to the property’s greywater system . The Folly cabins are available for rent for short-term stays throughout the year. Although they are meant to be a place to completely disconnect, the tiny homes do have some modern amenities guests can choose to use. Alqadi says that the cabin’s design is “about allowing people to experience sustainability” and that he “added amenities and technologies, like Wi-Fi, to stay connected, but you have the option to completely disconnect and enjoy nature.” + Folly Folly Cabins + Malek Alqadi Via Dwell Photography by Sam Frost Studio and Brayden McEwan

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These tiny steel cabins in Joshua Tree epitomize off-grid design

Hawaii’s Kilauea is creating its own weather

May 30, 2018 by  
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Volcanoes can “make their own weather ,” according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) — and the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii is doing just that. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists have observed what are called pyrocumulus clouds, which could possibly turn unstable and cause thunderstorms, over the Kilauea fissure system in Leilani Estates. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Did you know that volcanoes can make their own weather? #HVO scientists are beginning to observe "pyrocumulus" clouds… Posted by USGS Volcanoes on  Monday, May 28, 2018 Pyrocumulus clouds, or flammagenitus clouds or fire clouds, are often caused by fires. Digging into the science behind the clouds above Kilauea, USGS said they form “when intense heating of the air from the ground induces convection, which causes the air mass to rise to a point of stability, usually in the presence of moisture (which condenses and forms the cloud).” Related: 1,000-foot-long fissure opens on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano amid fears of an explosive eruption USGS shared a photograph on Facebook of a pyrocumulus cloud above Kilauea’s Fissure 8, and said there was another such cloud above the volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone. That cloud rose up to an estimated 3.7 miles, and they said it was described as “tightly roiling and set apart from other stratus clouds.” In a recent status update , USGS said Fissure 8 fountained as high as 200 feet into the air. Volcanic gas emissions from Kilauea are still high due to fissure eruptions. Since trade winds could return in upcoming days, vog — or smog with volcanic dust and gases — could impact the southern and western sides of the Big Island. Everyday, a team of #USGS scientists canvass areas along Kilauea Volcano’s east Lower Rift Zone. #science #KilaueaErupts #volcano pic.twitter.com/wCug0tF8eF — USGS (@USGS) May 30, 2018 The USGS also said Pele’s hair — threads of volcanic glass named after the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes — “and other lightweight volcanic glass from high fountaining of Fissure 8 are being transported downwind and falling to the west of the fissure…Residents are urged to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash.” + USGS Volcanoes Facebook + USGS Kilauea Updates Via Earther Image via U.S. Geological Survey

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Hawaii’s Kilauea is creating its own weather

The number of electric vehicles on the streets could triple in two years

May 30, 2018 by  
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Good news for the planet: the electric vehicle (EV) industry hit a new record last year, with more than one million EVs sold, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The result? There are now over three million electric vehicles on roads worldwide. And if that weren’t good enough news,  Bloomberg has reported  that the number of EVs traveling the streets could triple in just two years. The IEA just released their Global EV Outlook 2018 report, and it contains some exciting news for the electric vehicle industry. On average, sales could climb 24 percent each year up to 2030, and by the end of this decade alone, the global EV fleet could boast 13 million vehicles. The number of electric buses increased to 370,000 from 345,000 in 2016, and there are now 250 million electric two-wheelers such as scooters or motorcycles. Related: World’s first electric road that charges moving vehicles debuts in Sweden In their press release on the report, IEA said China is still the world’s biggest electric car market; it accounted for over half of the electric cars sold in 2017, with almost 580,000 cars total. The United States followed with approximately 280,000 cars sold last year. To keep up, the world will require at least 10 more battery gigafactories , Bloomberg said. Demand for cobalt and lithium is increasing and could rise tenfold unless technological advances reduce that figure. 60 percent of cobalt in the world is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where child labor still occurs, so battery manufacturers have been pressured to show their wares are made sustainably. Charging infrastructure is keeping pace with the electric mobility revolution, according to the IEA, which said there were nearly three million private chargers around the world at homes and workplaces in 2017. There were also 430,000 public chargers, and about one-quarter of those were fast chargers . The IEA credited electric vehicle growth largely to “government policy, including public procurement programs, financial incentives reducing the cost of purchase of EVs, tightened fuel-economy standards and regulations on the emission of local pollutants, low- and zero-emission vehicle mandates and a variety of local measures.” + Global EV Outlook 2018 + International Energy Agency Via Bloomberg Image via Wikimedia Commons

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The number of electric vehicles on the streets could triple in two years

Starburst shipping container home to rise in the California desert

September 27, 2017 by  
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Don’t rub your eyes—this incredible shipping container home is not a mirage. London-based designer James Whitaker is bringing his crystalline cargotecture vision to life with the Joshua Tree Residence in a rocky California desert. Arranged in a spectacular starburst fashion, the sculptural house will be powered by solar energy and optimized for protection against the desert’s harsh elements. If the Joshua Tree Residence looks familiar, you may be remembering James Whitaker’s previous unrealized work, Hechingen Studio , proposed as an office in Germany. Whitaker earned the opportunity to bring his crystalline cargotecture vision to reality when the client, a film producer who lives in Los Angeles, saw a rendering of Hechingen Studio on a trip to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The client, who owns a 90-acre property near the park, commissioned Whitaker to design a similar structure as a holiday dwelling for him and his wife. “With a background in nurturing creative projects to fruition, [the client] is, in many ways, the dream client!” said Whitaker, according to Dezeen. Related: James Whitaker designs funky light-filled office space out of shipping containers The Joshua Tree Residence may look eccentric, but its sculptural appearance isn’t out of place for the California desert , where L.A. wealthy often commission unusual-looking homes. The 2,153-square-foot cargotecture home will be elevated on concrete columns over a sloped site and surrounded by a rocky landscape with loose boulders. The home’s shipping container elements will be painted bright white and extended in all directions. ”Each container is orientated to maximise views across the landscape, or to use the topography to provide privacy, depending on their individual use,” added Whitaker. The modern and minimalist interior will features angular, white-painted surfaces with simple plywood furnishings and bright red Misfits seating by Ron Arad . + James Whitaker Via Dezeen Images via James Whitaker

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Starburst shipping container home to rise in the California desert

Tiny artist cabins give the California desert a sci-fi-esque appeal

August 22, 2016 by  
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Located on a remote campsite within Zittel’s 35-acre A-Z property, the Wagon Station Encampment was conceived to welcome creative minds to get in touch with their “desert fantasy.” The Encampment is open twice a year when the desert climate is mild—in the spring and fall—with each “open season” divided into weeklong sessions. “It is open to anyone who feels an affinity with Andrea’s mission in the high desert – including (but not limited to) other artists, writers, thinkers, hikers, campers or those who are engaged in other forms of cultural or personal research,” says a statement on Zittel’s website. Related: This iconic desert tree is in danger because of climate change Each tiny portable pod is made from wood and metal and elevated off the ground to keep guests safe from scorpions and other critters. Guests enter through a curved hatch door that opens up to reveal a comfy bed and a small amount of storage space. One of the curved panels is transparent to allow for views to the outdoors. The pods can be collapsed and moved as needed. In addition to the wagons, the site also includes a communal outdoor kitchen , open-air showers, and composting toilets. Interested guests of the Wagon Station Encampment must submit an application for consideration. Each weekly sessions costs $100. + Andrea Zittel Via Dezeen Images via Andrea Zittel

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Tiny artist cabins give the California desert a sci-fi-esque appeal

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