Solar-powered safari lodge is a gorgeous green retreat in Botswana

April 12, 2017 by  
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Elevated on stilts, the sustainable and cocoon-like lodge takes its inspiration from the pangolin, an endangered scaly animal native to the African bush. The architects clad the curvaceous facade with natural and locally sourced shingles and woven saplings in a bid to minimize the building’s environmental footprint. The building is entirely concrete-free and a solar panel farm powers the electricity. Related: Photographer Zack Seckler Snaps Rare and Beautiful Aerial Photographs of Botswana Wildlife Curved shapes find their way into the interior of the lodge as well, where the 12 suites take on the appearance of suspended weaverbird nests and large timber arches evoke a cathedral-like character. The building opens up towards the river to allow for natural ventilation and lighting, as well as wildlife views. The interior has minimalist décor to keep the focus on the landscape. + Sandibe Okavango + Michaelis Boyd + Nick Plewman Via Contemporist

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Solar-powered safari lodge is a gorgeous green retreat in Botswana

Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification

March 17, 2017 by  
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The Sahara Desert we know, with its rolling sand dunes and hot temperatures, used to be a verdant grassland with lakes. Scientists have traditionally attributed the dramatic change to a wobble in Earth’s orbital axis , but now archaeologist David K. Wright of Seoul National University is suggesting actually, humans may have been to blame. A 10,000-year or so wet period called the African Humid Period brought moisture to northern and eastern Africa. But around 8,000 years ago the moisture balance began to change. Today below the sand-dominated landscape can be found signs of rivers and plants, remnants of a greener history. In an article published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science , Wright explained humans used to be thought of as passive agents in the end of the African Humid Period. But he thinks humans might actually have been active agents in the change. Related: The Mediterranean will become a desert unless global warming is limited to 1.5°C Wright said, “In East Asia there are long established theories of how Neolithic populations changed the landscape so profoundly that monsoons sopped penetrating so far inland.” He thinks a similar phenomenon could have happened in the Sahara. People growing crops and raising livestock could have changed the environment , exposing soil, and sunlight bouncing from the soil could have warmed the air, influencing atmospheric conditions enough so there wasn’t as much rainfall, which only added to the desertification of the Sahara. As yet, Wright needs more evidence for other scientists to fully get on board with his ideas. He said, “There were lakes everywhere in the Sahara at this time, and they will have the records of the changing vegetation. We need to drill down into these former lake beds to get the vegetation records, look at the archaeology , and see what people were doing there.” If Wright turns out to be right, his research could yield insights into how we can adapt to large scale climate change . Via Phys.org and ScienceAlert Images via Charly W. Karl on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification

Dramatic lookout tower in Tasmania is built from repurposed shipping containers

February 11, 2017 by  
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The Devil’s Corner Cellar Door was designed as a contemporary interpretation of the traditional rural vernacular. The project comprises five timber-clad shipping containers carefully placed to form inviting spaces with thoughtfully curated views. Three distinct openings frame unique views—SKY, HORIZON, and TOWER—with the hope that they will help visitors gain a better appreciation for the landscape. Related: Gravity-defying staircase floats above Belgium’s famous “fairytale forest” “By creating a dynamic scenic lookout and providing associated facilities, visitors are drawn to a new upgraded cellar door for the Devil’s Corner wine label,” write the architects. On the opposite side of the building is the Cellar Door, made up of timber-clad volumes set around an open courtyard. The semi-protected courtyard hosts the food market and overlooks views of The Hazards’ granite peaks. + Cumulus Studio Via Dezeen Images via Cumulus Studio

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Dramatic lookout tower in Tasmania is built from repurposed shipping containers

Wonderful recipes for the weird veggies in your CSA box

February 11, 2017 by  
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Kohlrabi Sounds like something to be shouted in Klingon, doesn’t it? No need to fear: kohlrabi won’t leap up and devour your face if you lean over it. This bizarre little “turnip cabbage” has a thick skin that needs to be peeled off before you get to its juicy little heart (which tastes quite a bit like broccoli stem), and its leaves can be cooked like collard greens or kale. Great recipes to try: Kohlrabi and zucchini fritters with sriracha mayo  – You can make fritters out of just about any vegetable, but these two pair together perfectly. Kohlrabi, cardamom, and coconut curry – Warming and filling, with just the right amount of heat. Shaved kohlrabi with apple and hazelnuts – This is a beautiful way to highlight kohlrabi’s mild sweetness and crunchiness. Spicy kohlrabi-kale kimchi – If you have more kohlrabi than you know what to do with and you’d like to use it up before it goes bad, make a batch of this kimchi and enjoy it later. Celeriac Root It looks like a tumor and tastes like celery, but what can you do with it? Quite a lot, actually. Celeriac is indeed part of the celery family, but is cultivated for its large root instead of its stalks. Great recipes to try: Celery root puree with balsamic beets and pearl onions – Buhhh. If anyone ever disparages vegan cuisine, feed them this, and it’ll blow their minds. Celeriac, fennel, and pear salad with lentils – Celery root’s refreshing crunch is echoed by both the fennel and sweet pear, and complemented by creamy, nutty Puy lentils. Celery root steaks with tomatillo salsa verde – Way to incorporate 2 CSA box items in one recipe! The savory meatiness of the root steak is brightened by spicy green salsa, and is a perfect summer dinner recipe. Celeriac and roasted garlic soup with parsley oil – This is a delicious, elegant soup that’s both perfect for cooler evenings, and for when you’re aiming to impress dinner guests. Or in-laws. Same idea. Rutabagas Also known as “Swedes”, rutabagas are root vegetables that likely originated by crossing a turnip with cabbage. Sounds bizarre, I know, but these tuberous powerhouses are quite versatile. They have a nutty sweetness from the cabbage, and the firm crunch normally associated with turnips. They can be used raw or cooked, and they make a great substitute for mashed potatoes for Paleo recipes, or for folks avoiding nightshade vegetables. Great recipes to try: Rutabaga fries – They’re low carb, vegan, AIP paleo compliant, and incredibly delicious. Spiralized rutabaga noodles – You can top them with anything you like. Try them with pesto and hazelnuts. Rutabaga hash with chilies and bacon – This can easily be made vegan with veg bacon or even toasted coconut. Latkes – An all-time favorite pancake, only made with rutabaga instead of potato. Fennel It looks like something from an alien landscape with its bulbous base and frilly hair, but fennel is a wonderful vegetable that’s quite versatile with a slight licorice flavor. You can eat it raw or cooked, and the green fronds are edible as well. Great recipes to try: Braised fennel with capers and olives – Magic happens when you combine the ingredients in this recipe. Arugula, fennel, and olive salad – A great mixture of textures, flavors, sweetness, and bite. Fennel, asparagus, and artichoke empanadas – This is a perfect way to showcase summer produce. Roasted fennel and onion gratinati – It’s as scrumptious with vegan almond cheese as it is with regular Parmesan. Garlic Scapes They may look like a tangle of skinny snakes, but these vibrant greens are garlic’s flower stalks, and they’re as delicious as their root bulb, only milder. Garlic scapes can be pureed into sauce, chopped and sautéed like green beans, added to frittatas… they’re really only limited by your own culinary creativity. Great recipes to try: Garlic scape pesto – One of the easiest and most delicious recipes for scapes. You can add in foraged greens like garlic mustard, lambsquarters, or dandelion leaves to. Summer vegetable strata – A brilliant way to use random bits from your CSA box in one delicious dish. Beet, garlic scape, and leek pizza – Pizza is fabulous no matter what you put on it, but these ingredients elevate it to an art form. Grilled garlic scape and asparagus soup with caramelized shallots – A lovely summer soup that’ll impress just about anyone. Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) These adorable little knuckle-shaped roots go quite nutty when you cook them, and are woefully under-used in most people’s kitchens. Not related to globe artichokes, these tubers are part of the sunflower family, and are packed with protein, potassium, iron, and calcium. Great recipes to try: Crispy Jerusalem artichokes with aged balsamic – Roasting the sunchokes brings out their natural sweetness, and the balsamic adds depth to their flavor. Roasted Jerusalem artichoke, chestnut, and thyme soup – All of these rich flavors harmonize into a luxurious, creamy soup. Baked Jerusalem artichoke chips – Who doesn’t love chips? These are low-carb, paleo, vegan, and have a low glycemic index too. Sunchoke banana cake with maple syrup drizzle – Like any other tuber, these add richness, moisture, and texture to baked goods. Tomatillos Most people who are unfamiliar with South American cuisine may never have encountered a tomatillo, but they’re definitely worth getting to know. Relatives of tomatoes and ground cherries (physalis), these papery-coated green gems have a great tart acidity that works beautifully for salsas and other sauces, and can be sweetened for preserves and jams. Great recipes to try: Watermelon, strawberry, and tomatillo salad – If this isn’t a perfect summer salad, I don’t know what is. Tomatillo and lime salsa verde – Sharp and fresh, it’s as good on huevos rancheros as it is scooped up with tortilla chips. Green shakshuka – One of our favorite brunch dishes. Tomatillo jam – It can be made thick or thin (as a spread or as a syrup for pancakes), and is ridiculously good. Radishes Although most people can identify radishes at a glance, these poor little roots often get relegated to salads. Regardless of whether you’ve received cherrybelle, watermelon, or even daikon radish, you’d be amazed at how their flavors change when they’ve been roasted with the aforementioned garlic and olive oil (or butter). Great recipes to try: Watermelon radish tea sandwiches – These radishes are bright pink and green, and are fabulous when sliced thinly on bread. Try these tea sandwiches for a light summer meal, or make open-faced versions for bridal showers. Mulor shaak (spicy sauteed radish greens) – Don’t toss those radish greens into the compost! They’re the tastiest part of the vegetable, and are divine when sauteed with oil and spices. Quick pickled radishes – This one is ideal if you don’t think you’ll be able to eat your radishes before they go bad: just make a quick pickle of them and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Cinnamon sugar radish chips – Although this one sounds a bit weird, the result is startlingly good. The radishes retain their warming bite, which is complemented perfectly by the cinnamon sugar. If you’ve come across some other veggies , herbs, or even fruits that have been new and fun to explore, feel free to share your recipes in the comments section below. Images by Stacy Spensley , ted_major , romana klee , ilovemypit , mom2rays , Green Mountain Girls Farm , stetted , and Oregon State University via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Wonderful recipes for the weird veggies in your CSA box

Contemporary Atlantic house celebrates the history of its coastal landscape

January 17, 2017 by  
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Bates Masi + Architects completed a stunning eco-sensitive home that offers more than just rugged good looks. Located in Amagansett, New York overlooking the ocean from which the home gets its name, the Atlantic is a contemporary beauty that celebrates the maritime, military, and architectural history of the coastal landscape. The house takes design cues from the old military stations that once lined the coast, from the exposed beams used for storage to use of natural weather-resistant materials. The 2,300-square-foot Atlantic house faces the Atlantic Ocean as well as low sand dunes and the historic Life Saving Station. The station, which was built over a century ago, holds historical significance as the place where a guard discovered Nazi invaders coming ashore during World War II. The lifesaving station’s lookout towers and elevated decks provide panoramic views for the crew members, while the use of rugged materials protects the structure from succumbing to the elements. Related: Bates Masi Architects unveil tiny, daylit Beach Hampton House The Atlantic is also built with those same materials, chosen for their ability to withstand the coastal climate. Cedar, bronze, and weathering steel clad the home and will develop beautiful patinas over time: the cedar siding will lighten; bronze bars will turn dark brown then green; and the weathering steel will gradually rust to protect itself from further corrosion. The home was raised above the flood plain to reduce risk and to minimize the building impact on the landscape. Bedrooms are located on the lower levels, while the main living areas are placed atop and overlook stunning elevated views of the ocean. + Bates Masi + Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Bates Masi + Architects

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Contemporary Atlantic house celebrates the history of its coastal landscape

Cross-laminated timber and clay dominate this sustainable holiday home in Belgium

January 13, 2017 by  
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This sustainable holiday home , designed by m u r m u u r architecten , is nestled within a hilly landscape of the Flemish Ardennes in Belgium . Partially concealed by a grassy hill, the house, named Buikberglos, is built entirely using cross-laminated timber covered with clay panels and light green tiles. The house was carefully placed in between existing mature trees in the old garden, with facade openings placed at places that offer best views of the surroundings. The architects built the house in CLT-panels and clad the façade in black clay paneling above a light green tiled skirting board. Related: Fun chalkboard-covered passive house explores public/private space in Belgium The roof line follows the outline of the terrain and looks as if the house has been shifted in the relief of the site. This opened sight lines in the living area where bay windows offer views of the landscape. + m u r m u u r architecten Via Architizer Photos by Dennis De Smet

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Cross-laminated timber and clay dominate this sustainable holiday home in Belgium

Min2s Dune House Sustainably Blends Modern Architecture into the Dutch Landscape

January 8, 2017 by  
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Min2’s Dune House dramatically rises out of a coastal dune crest in North Holland. Designed to match the vernacular of the surrounding landscape, the three-story house and studio echoes the shape of a dune or a windswept group of trees. Fitting into an undulating landscape, the Dune House also explores a reinterpretation of the traditional Dutch farmhouse with a modern and sustainable twist. To create a seamless connection with the landscape from the interior, the architects designed large windows to frame views of the sea to the north and the rolling dune landscapes to the south. Exposed Douglas fir columns with bark, visible arched wooden joists and the warm hues of a boxy poplar staircase help bring the effect of nature indoors. On the exterior, clay roof tiles were specially designed to visually match the rough finish and color of the fir columns to complete the romantic, rustic appeal. The Dune House was also built with sustainability in mind. To generate power sustainably, the architects installed glass with superior insulation as well as an air pump and glass vacuum tube system to provide heating and cooling, rather than relying on natural gas as an energy source. The studio spaces are located on the ground floor while the living areas are situated upstairs in a two-story loft to take advantage of the “marvelous views of the sea and the dune area.” + Min2 Via Dezeen Images via Min2

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Min2s Dune House Sustainably Blends Modern Architecture into the Dutch Landscape

Rotterdam’s new Parkstad development puts urban parks on every block

December 8, 2016 by  
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The new Parkstad residential development will introduce a new city block typology to the city of Rotterdam . The project designed by DELVA Landscape Architects and Powerhouse Company will consolidate three large city blocks and form parks in the heart of each one. Real estate companies Stevast Baas & Groen and Syntrus Achmea commissioned DELVA Landscape Architects and Powerhouse Company to design a new layout for a large residential area on Rotterdam’s Laan op Zuid avenue, part of the Afrikaanderwijk neighborhood which lies in the Feijenoord district of the city. The team’s proposal won the tender for Parkstad in South Rotterdam, and will provide 250 owner-occupied and rental dwellings organized around three unique urban parks . Related: DELVA Landscape Architects created a community oasis for the city of Utrecht Undulating landscapes, vegetables gardens and play areas for kids will dominate the three parks, while warm-toned wood and brick facades will ensure harmony between the built and natural environment. The project’s construction is expected to begin in 2018 and conclude in late 2019 or early 2020. + DELVA Landscape Architects + Powerhouse Company

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Rotterdam’s new Parkstad development puts urban parks on every block

IUCN warns giraffes are in the process of a ‘silent extinction’

December 8, 2016 by  
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Giraffe populations have plummeted so drastically in the past 30 years, they are now considered vulnerable to extinction. In 1985, 151,702 to 163,452 of the magnificent creatures graced the earth, but in 2015 those numbers dropped to just 97,562, a 36 to 40 percent decline , according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The group has called on governments assembling in Cancun, Mexico at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference to take action now before we lose giraffes forever. IUCN updated the status of giraffes on their red list , an authoritative catalog of animals from Least Concern to Vulnerable. Illegal hunting, civil wars, and habitat loss due to deforestation and farming have all played a part in their altered status. Related: Scientists just discovered there are four separate species of giraffes If you were unaware giraffe populations were plunging, you’re not alone – IUCN’s Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group Co-Chair Julian Fennessy told The Guardian giraffes are in the process of a “silent extinction,” and many conservationists didn’t even know about giraffes’ plight. ICUN Director-General Inger Andersen said there are over 85,000 species on the red list, with over 24,000 at risk of extinction, but some species are not on the list because they haven’t yet been studied. Andersen fears before they can even be described, they too will be facing extinction. She said, “This red list update shows that the scale of the global extinction crisis may be even greater than we thought. Governments gathered at the UN biodiversity summit have the immense responsibility to step up their efforts to protect our planet’s biodiversity – not just for its own sake but for human imperatives such as food security and sustainable development.” + International Union for the Conservation of Nature Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Daniel Ramirez on Flickr

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IUCN warns giraffes are in the process of a ‘silent extinction’

Leonardo DiCaprio schools Donald Trump on benefits of renewable energy

December 8, 2016 by  
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Leonardo DiCaprio met with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, just hours after climate denier and fossil fuels champion Scott Pruitt was named to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following Trump ’s inauguration. The actor and activist met with the future US leader in New York at Trump Tower, where they discussed the economic benefits of renewable energy investments, including the fact that it would add millions of jobs—one of Trump’s key campaign promises. Trump’s daughter Ivanka also joined the meeting, making this her second sit-down with “The Wolf of Wall Street” star since he gifted her a copy of his climate change documentary “Before the Flood” just a few days ago. Reportedly, the meeting involved a presentation outlining how a strong focus on clean, renewable energy could lead to the creation of millions of jobs for Americans. Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), told the Associated Press the meeting targeted Trump’s economic hopes, and attempted to demonstrate how clean energy can be a path to stability for the US. “Today, we presented the president-elect and his advisers with a framework – which LDF developed in consultation with leading voices in the fields of economics and environmentalism – that details how to unleash a major economic revival across the United States that is centered on investments in sustainable infrastructure,” said Tamminen in a statement. “Our conversation focused on how to create millions of secure, American jobs in the construction and operation of commercial and residential clean, renewable energy generation.” Related: Leonardo DiCaprio gave Ivanka Trump a DVD of his climate change documentary Given the president-elect’s track record of dismissing climate change as “a hoax by the Chinese,” there is a lot of speculation around what environmental science will look like under the Trump administration. (China did later correct his false claim .) Additionally, Trump’s earlier pick to lead his EPA transition team , Myron Ebell, was also a staunch climate denier with ties to fossil fuel-friendly organizations. More recently, in an interview with The New York Times, Trump softened his stance, saying humans have “some connectivity” with the causes of climate change, but nobody inside or outside his administration believes that admission will drastically change his efforts to dismantle the EPA and limit the study of climate science . Via The Guardian Images via UN and Wikipedia

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Leonardo DiCaprio schools Donald Trump on benefits of renewable energy

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