BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC

November 5, 2018 by  
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Creative co-working giant WeWork and acclaimed architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group have teamed up to reimagine education starting with the launch of WeGrow, a new school in the heart of New York City that encourages education through play. Designed for children between three and nine years of age, the light-filled learning landscape is a tactile environment filled with custom-made curved architecture and movable furnishings. The theme of nature runs throughout and can be seen everywhere from the woodsy palette of timber surfaces and shades of green to the Laufen-tiled vertical garden filled with leafy plants. Located in WeWork’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the first WeGrow school spans 10,000 square feet and boasts a variety of communal spaces, which make up more than half of the school’s footprint. Designed to foster “natural education” by promoting activities centered on discovery and collaboration, WeGrow hopes to “undo the compartmentalization found in traditional schools … by interweaving learning with playing spaces,” Bjarke Ingels Group said. “The school environment becomes a third teacher that unleashes the superpower of each child.” In addition to diverse playscapes, the school consists of four classrooms , flexible workshops, community space, a multipurpose studio, an art studio and a music room. Hard corners are eschewed in favor of round, organic forms, like the curved storage units built with three different shelving levels for each age group. Sound-absorbing “clouds” made from felt and decorated with nature-inspired patterns hang from the ceiling and are illuminated with Ketra bulbs that change in color and intensity depending on the time of day. Felt is also used in the lobby and in the lounge. Related: WeWork opens gorgeous WeLive co-living apartments on Wall Street “From the lobby to the classrooms, WeGrow is lit by Gople Lamp and Alphabet of Light — flexible lighting systems designed by BIG Ideas and manufactured by Artemide to create ambiance effects that form comfortable, natural lighting throughout the school day,” Bjarke Ingels Group said in a project statement. “Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow nurtures the child’s education through introspection, exploration and discovery.” + BIG Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu and Dave Burk via BIG

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BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC

China plans to launch the world’s first ‘artificial moon’

October 29, 2018 by  
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A private aerospace institute in China has announced its ambitious plan to launch an “artificial moon” into stationary orbit above the city of Chengdu. Referred to as an “illumination satellite,” the new moon would serve as a sunlight reflector to provide a nighttime and backup light source for residents in the Sichuan province city. The venture — still obscure due to a lack of information — was first reported by Chinese newspaper People’s Daily in mid October. Since then, there have been many conflicting reports and figures on how the new moon would operate — or if it even could. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd. and head of Tianfu New District System Science Research Institute, said the artificial moon has been under development and testing for a few years and “is now nearly ready to launch.” Related: California plans to launch its own satellite to monitor air pollution There have been no accounts of what the stunt-double moon actually looks like or if it has any official support from the government or financial backers. Both experts and the general public have expressed widespread skepticism and even ridicule at the announcement. If the 2020 project does succeed, Wu claimed that two additional moons could be ready for orbit by 2022. “By then, the three huge mirrors will divide the 360-degree orbital plane, realizing illuminating an area for 24 hours continuously,” he said. The project aims to help Chengdu save money and electricity on street lamps and provide a reliable light source during blackouts caused by natural disasters and grid malfunctions. According to the aerospace center’s figures, a whopping $173 million ($1.2 billion yuan) could be saved on streetlights yearly for illuminating even a small portion of 19 square miles (50 sq km). The cost of illuminating the whole city? Well, in the long run, it’s certainly less than putting a moon in space, according to Wu. Dr. Matteo Ceriotti, a professor of space systems engineering, said the project is feasible and not as silly as it sounds. “Think of this as sort of an investment,” he explained to BBC . “ Electricity at night is very expensive, so if you could say, have free illumination for up to 15 years, it might work out better economically in the long term.” Recent social media backlash against the Chengdu moon has centered around the issue of animal protection. While Harbin Institute of Technology Director Kang Weimin insists that the fake moon “should not affect animals’ routines,” because its light would be similar to a “dusk-like glow,” other scientists disagree. Despite his agreeable response to the project, Ceriotti said, “It will disrupt the night cycle of nature [if the light is too strong], and this could possibly affect animals.” Wu insisted that the aerospace company’s technology could dim and brighten the moon. The light, which has the ability to reflect a beam “eight times” brighter than the moon, could also be timed. All in all, the few and contradicting details surrounding the project makes it uncertain whether the new moon will launch successfully in 2020. While experts debate whether or not it should be launched in the first place, those in Chengdu are probably looking upward, wondering whether or not they’ll miss this night sky — one that might never look the same again. Via BBC , China Daily  and  People’s Daily Images via Spencer Arquimedes and Mike Petrucci

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China plans to launch the world’s first ‘artificial moon’

A family’s unique tiny home uses wool and hemp for insulation

October 29, 2018 by  
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Tiny homes come in many shapes and sizes, but for a wandering family of three, the Valhalla tiny home is just the right fit. Built by French tiny home builder  Baluchon , this wood-clad tiny home on wheels is a lightweight structure that measures just under 20 feet long; however, a stunning space-strategic interior, which includes two bedrooms, makes you forget all about its itsy-bitsy size. Clad in red cedar with white and teal accents, the Valhalla tiny home emits a modern cabin feel from the outside. Three porthole-style windows along with a series of clerestory windows on each side give the design a contemporary edge and brighten the interior naturally. To create an energy-efficient shell, the home is insulated with sustainable materials such as sheep’s wool for the floor, cotton, linen and hemp in the walls and wood fiber in the ceiling. Related: The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes The interior is clad in light spruce panels, which help to make the compact space feel larger. The front door opens to the fully-equipped kitchen area complete with custom cabinets, a fridge, a sink and a two-burner propane stove. On the adjacent wall, a narrow desk serves as a work or dining space. The master bedroom, which has enough space for a a double bed, is located on a sleeping loft reached by a set of floating stairs above the desk. On the other side of the home, another elevated platform houses the living room. Underneath the living area on the ground floor, a small room is located right next to the kitchen. Separated from the communal space by curtains, this compact area is well-lit and perfect for a child’s room, guest quarters or extra storage. + Baluchon Via Tiny House Talk Photography by Vincent Bouhours via Baluchon

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A family’s unique tiny home uses wool and hemp for insulation

A 6-foot-tall man lives comfortably in this custom tiny home

September 12, 2018 by  
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We’ve seen tiny homes built for a number of distinct uses, such as homes for veterans , students and families. But one “large” group has been left out of the movement — until now. The Light Haus is a tiny home on wheels custom-built for a couple, including a man who is over six feet tall. Designed by Vina Lustado from Sol Haus Design , the light-filled home has an interior height of 6’8″. Going vertical didn’t mean sacrificing on space or style; the house has two separate offices, tons of storage space, a luxurious bathroom with a rainfall shower and even special access for the couple’s cat. Anna and Kevin approached Vina with their hopes of finding a tiny home on wheels that would be comfortable for Kevin’s height, but still provide the amenities of a traditional home. By creating a height clearance of 6’8″, there would be ample room for him to stand up, but that wasn’t sufficient when it came to creating a spacious living area. Therefore, the solution was to extend the structure horizontally to 24 feet long, which added much-needed space. The living space is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of windows, especially the multiple clerestory windows that wrap around the home’s upper level. The layout has a central living area with a compact kitchen on one side. On the adjacent wall, stairs with hidden storage lead up to the sleeping loft. Again, space efficiency was essential here, so there is a whopping 4’6″ of space above the loft. Related: This off-grid, prefab tiny cabin in Michigan fits a family of five A light color palette and custom-made, multi-functional furniture give the space a fresh, modern aesthetic. Ample storage in every nook and cranny helps keep the space clutter-free. Adding to the healthy atmosphere is the fact that the tiny home was built with non-toxic materials . + Vina Lustado Via Tiny House Talk Images via Vina’s Tiny House

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A 6-foot-tall man lives comfortably in this custom tiny home

An 1820s Catskills manor gets a marvelous modern makeover

June 26, 2018 by  
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Just two hours outside New York City sits a stunning vacation rental that blends old-world charm with contemporary design. Completed by architectural designer Tom Givone , the property was dramatically reworked over the course of four years from a decaying manor into the Floating Farmhouse , a beautiful home that combines historic and modern elements. Crafted to embrace the outdoors, the light-filled home features a veranda that appears to hover over the edge of a pristine Catskills creek as well as a fully glazed gable end wall. Originally built in the 1920s, the Floating Farmhouse had fallen into a severe state of disrepair when Givone came across it in 2007. After a painstaking demolition process that involved careful preservation of original features like the cedar roof shakes, he began rebuilding the structure — 11 pine trees felled on the property were used for the hand-hewn ceiling planks and wainscoting — and inserting a mix of modern and vintage furnishings throughout. “The hope at the outset was to combine archaic and modern elements throughout the home in a way that enhances the innate beauty of each by virtue of its contrast with the other, and create tension between polished and raw, primitive and industrial, sophisticated and simple,” Givone explained. “The Floating Farmhouse is an experiment in how these opposites attract.” Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The grandeur of the spacious interior is emphasized through ample glazing that fills the home with natural light and offers serene views. The most dramatic of the rooms is undoubtedly the “cathedral-like” kitchen with polished concrete floors, a wood-fired pizza oven and a double-story fully glazed wall that frames views of the brook, gazebo, apple orchard and barn. French doors to the side of the living area open up to a shaded veranda that hovers over the creek, where a waterfall cascades over an ancient stone dam. Givone has made his spectacular retreat available for rent . + Floating Farmhouse Images via Tom Givone

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An 1820s Catskills manor gets a marvelous modern makeover

Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

June 7, 2018 by  
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Street lighting can impact bats’ feeding patterns and internal compasses, as well as the activity of their insect prey, but a town in the Netherlands is taking steps to help the bats out. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , a housing development of around 90 sustainable homes near the Nieuwkoopse Plassen nature reserve, has installed what are thought to be the world’s first bat-friendly streetlights. The red LED  lights from Signify , formerly Philips Lighting, brighten the road for humans, but the the bats still perceive the light as darkness. The town and surrounding area are part of the Natura 2000 , a network of nesting and breeding sites for rare and threatened species across the European Union. These sites don’t all exclude human activities; in fact, most of the land is privately owned. The approach to conservation on these sites revolves around “people working with nature rather than against it,” according to the European Commission. Related: Bat bridge provides shelter for our winged friends in the Dutch town of Monster Bat-friendly lighting could fit that bill. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , according to Signify, is a key feeding ground “for some rare bat species.” The energy-efficient streetlights emit red with a wavelength that won’t interfere with the flying mammals’ internal compasses. The lighting is based on 2017 research from Wageningen University , the Netherlands Institute of Ecology , and Philips Lighting. Nieuwkoop city council member Guus Elkhuizen said, “Nieuwkoop is the first town in the world to use smart LED street lights that are designed to be friendly to bats. When developing our unique housing program, our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat and activities. We’ve managed to do this and also keep our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum.” + Signify + Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop Images courtesy of Signify

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Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

Breakthrough device is ‘100% successful’ in protecting swimmers from sharks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Though it may not feel it in some places, summer is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere and with warmer weather comes a rise in shark attacks. To protect swimmers and surfers from oceanic predators, scientists in Australia have developed a surfboard with LED lights on the underside that may deter shark attacks. In studying the ways in which sharks see and interact with the world around them, the research team at Macquarie University uncovered a surprisingly simple method to hide the silhouettes of surfers from sharks below that has so far proven to be “100% successful” in trials. “Pure basic research can sometimes lead to unexpected applications and potentially contribute to life-saving technology,” study leader Dr. Nathan Hart told the  Macquarie Lighthouse . “Studying the sensory systems of sharks and what triggers them to attack, and how they might mistake a human for a seal was where it all started,” Hart says. “It’s taken us to the forefront of developing shark deterrents.” Initial testing of the light-up surfboards in South Africa have shown promising results and the research team is now working with the Taronga Zoo, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, and a commercial partner to develop a market-ready product. “The designs we have tested have been 100 percent successful in preventing Great white sharks from attacking,” Professor Nathan Hart, associate professor of comparative neurophysiology at Macquarie, said in an interview with The Australian . Related: 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth The well-lit surfboard as shark deterrent was informed by observations of the natural world. “This strategy is a common strategy used by midwater fish, which are trying to avoid predators swimming below them,” Hart told ABC . “Some of these fish have light-emitting organs on their underside, which put out light and help them to camouflage themselves from the light coming from above. Technology and engineering take inspiration from nature, so we’re really trying to use that inspiration that has evolved over many millions of years, and apply that to a very modern problem.” The team expects to continue their research for the next two years before finalizing a product that can be used by the public. Via Australian Broadcasting Corporation Images via Depositphotos and  Macquarie Lighthouse

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Breakthrough device is ‘100% successful’ in protecting swimmers from sharks

This secret tiny house in the Belgian countryside could be yours for the weekend

April 11, 2018 by  
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We’ve seen lots of tiny house rentals that offer the chance to get away from it all – but this new service adds a touch of mystery to the experience. Slow Cabins rents tiny houses set in idyllic locations across Belgium, with one catch–their locations are only revealed after the reservation is made. By keeping the location of the rental a mystery, the company removes all of the stress when it comes to planning relaxing, off-grid getaways. Slow Cabins is the brainchild of entrepreneur Xavier Leclair. The service offers solar-powered wooden cabins with built-in rainwater collection and filtration systems, as well as dry toilets. The cabins come in two sizes: one size for couples and a family size that sleeps up to five people. Regardless of model, the cabins are designed to provide a healthy atmosphere built with a small deck to enjoy the natural surroundings. Related: Escape the city in this new Harvard startup’s affordable tiny home rentals near NYC The interiors have been left as “raw” as possible. Wooden floors and walls keep the cabins rustic, and blonde wooden furniture provides a minimalist, Scandinavian feel. The furnishings are simple, with a wood-burning stove to keep guests warm during the chilly nights. Renters looking for a relaxing getaway have no absolutely no say in the location, but are guaranteed a complete, off-grid , back-to-nature vacation in a truly picturesque setting. The cabins have no WiFi or TV; instead, they feature large insulated windows that let the renters enjoy views of the idyllic fields and forest landscape. + Slow Cabins Via The Spaces Photography by Jonas Verhulst / Slow Cabin

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This secret tiny house in the Belgian countryside could be yours for the weekend

Scientists aim to use lasers to turn light into matter

March 20, 2018 by  
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Scientists at Imperial College London are attempting to use powerful lasers turn light into matter, potentially proving the 84-year-old theory known as the Breit-Wheeler process . According to this theory, it is technically possible to turn light into matter by smashing two photons to create a positron and an electron. While previous efforts to achieve this feat have required added high-energy particles, the Imperial scientists believe they have discovered a method that does not need additional energy to function. “This would be a pure demonstration of Einstein’s famous equation that relates energy and mass: E=mc2, which tells us how much energy is produced when matter is turned to energy,” explained Imperial Professor Steven Rose . “What we are doing is the same but backwards: turning photon energy into mass, i.e. m=E/c2.” The Imperial team’s system centers around two lasers , which create two different kinds of photons to be smashed. One photon has the energy equivalent to ten thousand times that produced by visible light, while the other has that of one billion times that of visible light. Both lasers are aimed at two small targets in the target chamber, where the charged particles are deflected and documented. The team will be observing the particles bouncing from the collision to see if they were successful in creating matter from light . Related: New quantum tunneling application captures electricity from Earth’s heat If the scientists successfully convert light into matter , they will have proven an old theory once thought impossible to confirm while offering a glimpse into the earliest moments of our universe. “When Gregory Breit and John Wheeler first proposed the mechanism in 1934, they used the then new theory of the interaction between light and matter known as quantum electrodynamics (QED),” explained study co-leader Dr. Stuart Mangles. “Whereas every other fundamental prediction of QED has since been demonstrated experimentally, the ‘two-photon Breit-Wheeler process’ has never been seen. If we can demonstrate it now, we would be recreating a process that was important in the first 100 seconds of the universe and that is also seen in gamma ray bursts, which are the biggest explosions in the universe and one of physics ‘ greatest unsolved mysteries.” Via Phys.org Images via Imperial College London

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Scientists aim to use lasers to turn light into matter

Greenery fills this sustainable glass-and-timber tower planned for Oslo

January 25, 2018 by  
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Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter AS and C.F Møller Arkitekter have won a design competition for a stunning new cultural hub set to rise in Oslo. The project, called Nordic Light, comprises a master plan for the area and a modular glass-enclosed timber tower that will further develop the Oslo Central Station area into Norway’s largest mixed-use hub. The renderings show Nordic Light with greenery growing inside and out of the building on multiple levels as part of the architects’ sustainable vision for the tower, which will aim for BREEAM Excellent certification. Created for Fjordporten Oslo S, Nordic Light is designed to revitalize the area around the main train station with new publicly accessible cultural, retail, and dining facilities. The project will consist of four main elements: the area around the 19th-century station, a cultural and conference base, a pergola that links Queen Eufemia’s Street with the station, and the modular tower housing hotels and offices. The timber structure will be wrapped in a transparent glass facade allowing views of large trees and plants that will grow inside the building at multiple levels. The building will be designed to BREEAM Excellent with a focus on life cycle costing and life cycle assessment to inform sustainable building decisions. Related: Northern Europe’s largest aquarium unveiled for former Oslo airport site “‘Nordic light’ takes its strength from a controlled and careful form expression,” said the jury. “The project’s proposed integration with the station areas and the overall draft of the blueprint will help to further develop Oslo S as the country’s largest collective hub, and will offer the travellers great new spatial and qualitative experiences. The project showcases good solutions for the design and connection of the adjacent spaces to the project. The architect’s approach provides a good potential for the rehabilitation and enhancement of the protected Østbanen structure, and will give it a central role as part of the station’s future visual identity.” + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter AS + C.F Møller Arkitekter Images by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter AS and C.F Møller Arkitekter

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Greenery fills this sustainable glass-and-timber tower planned for Oslo

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