Self-sustainable childrens center in Tanzania harvests water like a baobab tree

October 16, 2019 by  
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In northern Tanzania, a Swedish team of architects, engineers and a non-profit collaborated with local workers to complete the Econef Children’s Center, a self-sustaining facility for orphans in the King’ori village. Asante Architecture & Design , Lönnqvist & Vanamo Architects , Architects Without Borders Sweden, Engineers Without Borders Sweden and Swedish-Tanzanian NGO ECONOF created the center to provide sleeping quarters and classrooms to orphaned children, as well as to also increase ECONEF’s independence by reducing building maintenance and operation costs. The off-grid buildings are powered with solar energy and harvest rainwater in a system inspired by the African baobab tree. Built to follow the local building vernacular, the Econef Children’s Center uses locally found materials and building techniques to keep costs low and to minimize the need for external construction expertise. The new center provides sleeping quarters and classrooms for 25 children. “The aim of the Children’s Center Project is to increase ECONEF’S independence and reduce its reliance on private donations,” explains the team in a project statement. “To help achieve this goal the new buildings are planned to be ecologically and economically sustainable and largely maintenance free. The center produces its own electricity through the installation of solar panels. Systems for rainwater harvesting and natural ventilation are integrated into the architectural design.” Related: Timber-clad waterfront house in Norway epitomizes modern Scandinavian design Inspired by the African baobab tree that can retain up to 120,000 liters of water in its trunk to survive in the desert, the building’s rainwater harvesting system draws rainwater from the roof’s spine through a central gutter that funnels the water into two water tanks tucked beneath the two of the inner courtyards. The collected rainwater is used for showers and laundry. + ECONEF Images by Robin Hayes

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Self-sustainable childrens center in Tanzania harvests water like a baobab tree

How to see these six fascinating animals in the wild while aiding in their conservation

October 15, 2019 by  
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If you’re going to travel , travel responsibly. The best way to show animals that you love them is by respecting their habitats and aiding in the conservation of their species. Here’s how to ethically view six animals in their natural habitats in ways that benefit them rather than disturb them. Sharks on Viti Levu, Fiji There are hundreds of different species of sharks who call earth’s waters home, and a trip to Fiji will give you the chance to see at least eight of them in their natural habitat. Due to the misshapen view of sharks as dangerous creatures paired with many parts of the world’s affinity for shark fin as a delicacy has caused these misunderstood creatures to dwindle in population. The future of sharks is heavily reliant on the changing of that mindset and the conservation of the animals and their habitats. While the ethics of shark diving remains a personal choice for different travelers, those who choose to swim with sharks should ensure that it is done under the appropriate conditions and provide a benefit to sharks through conservation or habitat protection. Beqa Adventure Divers in Fiji uses the funds raised from their shark diving tours to fuel their conservation efforts, from working with the local government to create designated protected marine parks to multiple scientific research projects. The organization is sponsored by is sponsored by the Shark Foundation, the Save our Seas Foundation and PADI Project AWARE. Polar Bears in Svalbard, Norway  It’s no news to wildlife lovers that the world’s polar bear population has been among the worst affected by climate change. Natural Habitat Adventures with Lindblad Expeditions offers expedition ship tours of Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago located between the Barents and Greenland seas north of Norway and 600 miles from the North Pole. Onboard naturalists help spot polar bears in their natural habitat while giving expert insight about these majestic creatures in real time. A National Geographic-certified photography instructor accompanies guests to create timeless memories and the company’s fleet of kayaks and zodiac boats allow for closer, responsible examination of the bears. Natural Habitat Adventures was the first 100% carbon-neutral travel company in the world and a portion of their sales goes towards the World Wildlife Fund, one of the leading voices for polar bear conservation . Dolphins in Akaroa, New Zealand Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa, New Zealand is committed to the conservation of the country’s rare Hector Dolphins. Take a boat tour of the historic village of Akaroa just an hour and a half drive from Christchurch. The Akaroa Harbour is a marine mammal sanctuary , so the protection of these animals is paramount. The company donates a portion of all ticket sales to the research of the area’s dolphins, as well as educational programs. Additionally, Black Cat Cruises was the first boat tour company on earth to receive the Green Globe 21, an international program aimed at ensuring sound environmental practices. They are also the only cruise operator in the Akaroa area to obtain an Enviro-gold certification from the New Zealand tourism quality assurance organization, Qualmark. Humpback Whales on Maui, Hawaii The Pacific Whale Foundation offers whale watching eco-tours on the island of Maui, where Humpback Whales migrate each year from December to May to breed and give birth to their young. The channel that runs between the islands of Maui and Molokai offer some of the best whale watching in the state. The Pacific Whale Foundation , a non-profit organization founded in 1980, puts all profits towards their research, education and conservation programs. Additional funding is raised through donations and local fundraising activities as well. Penguins in Chubut, Patagonia While penguins aren’t exactly difficult to see (they are included in most zoos and aquariums around the United States), these flightless birds are actually quite mysterious in the wild. Scientists understand how they interact on land, but research on how penguins find their food in the depths of the ocean is much more sparse. The Earthwatch Institute offers penguin trailing tours where participants join scientists and conservationists at the nesting colonies in Argentina’s Golfo San Jorge. Tag penguins to track their nesting and feeding locations, as well as help choose a selection of 50 penguins to track with more advanced GPS devices and underwater cameras. Finding out where these animals frequent throughout the year helps scientists better understand which parts of the ocean need the most protection in order to keep penguin populations strong in Patagonia. Wolves at Yellowstone National Park, United States The wolf reintroduction efforts at Yellowstone National Park have influenced and inspired conservationists and scientists around the world. After the wolf population at the park had completely died off by 1926, efforts to reintroduce the animals back into Yellowstone territory in the mid 1990s were completely successful in restoring the balance in the ecosystem. Experts at the park suggest heading to the open valleys in the northeast corner of Yellowstone (specifically the Lamar Valley) to have the best chance of seeing wolves. The winter months offers the best possibilities since the snow helps provide an easy backdrop. Keeping the wolves at the park safe and healthy requires constant monitoring and research from the National Parks Service, and part of your entrance fee into the park goes towards those efforts. Images via joakant , NPS Climate Change Response , Gregory Smith , National Marine Sanctuaries, Celine Harrand , 12019 , Shutterstock

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How to see these six fascinating animals in the wild while aiding in their conservation

Old bus is converted into a mobile greenhouse to teach students about sustainable eating habits

October 15, 2019 by  
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Sometimes, a little hands-on education goes a very long way when it comes to instilling sustainable and healthy eating habits in children. Parents in New Jersey are rejoicing thanks to a refurbished bus that is on a mission to educate young students on a variety of food education issues, from better eating habits to urban gardening. Designed by Tessellate Studio , the Mobile Food Lab is a 300-square-foot bus that has been customized with a built-in greenhouse, classroom science lab and art exhibit space. Working in collaboration with Reed Foundation , Tessellate Studio designed the bus to offer customized space for sustainable food education for the New Jersey area. Inside the Mobile Food Lab, students will find a hydroponic garden that grows sustainable veggies, fruit and herbs as well as space to conduct food experiments. There’s even an art studio. Related: Toronto’s converted veggie bus brings produce to food desert areas To make space for the educational activities, which welcome up to 30 students at a time, the converted bus is divided into three zones. The central area is “the social zone,” which is comprised of skylights and 4,000 feet of rope that is hung from the ceiling to create a nest-like sanctuary. This space was designed to facilitate conversation and brainstorming. The next area is for cooking and consists of a lush, hydroponic garden. In this space, students can learn the ins and outs of urban gardening , while also using the adjacent food preparation area that includes a stove top, sink and cutting service. Moving farther along the bus, students will find a fun food science area. This space comes complete with digital microscopes, LCD monitor, test tubes of herbs and spices and a “taste” chart, with which students can learn the science of taste. At the end of the mobile lab, there is an arts area tucked into a small nook. This section was customized to store two foldable carts that can be wheeled off the bus to create additional space for arts and crafts activities. According to the studio, the bus was strategically designed to “help children develop a healthy connection to food by harnessing their innate curiosity through a multi-sensory experience of smell, sight, touch and taste. The MFL uses food as the medium to teach a curriculum of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).” Launched in September 2018, the Mobile Food Lab has set up its sustainable food education bus in a number of areas throughout New Jersey, including schools, parks and various public events. In fact, the project has been so successful since its inception that the lab has earned a runner-up award in the Social Impact category of the Core77 Design Awards . + Tessellate Studio + The Mobile Lab Via Core77 Images via Mobile Food Lab

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Old bus is converted into a mobile greenhouse to teach students about sustainable eating habits

Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

October 9, 2019 by  
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Rob Greenfield is a self-described “adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian and dude making a difference.” Since this Wisconsin native had an eco-epiphany at the age of 24, he’s dedicated himself to spreading a positive environmental message by accomplishing heroic, sustainable deeds. These include things like riding across the U.S. three times on a bamboo bicycle, diving into more than 2,000 dumpsters and traveling internationally with no money. Inhabitat caught up with this pro-humanity, anti-materialism activist to find out about his current foraging project. His answers have been edited for space. Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about your life right now — where you live and what you do in a typical day. Greenfield: I currently live in Orlando, Florida. I’m spending two years there. My current project is to grow and forage 100 percent of my food for a year. So, no grocery stores, no restaurants. Not even a drink at a bar or going over to a friend’s potluck to eat food from there. Literally growing and foraging everything for an entire year. Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food It’s an extremely immersive project, where I’m diving deep into food and really understanding my connection to it. Largely removing myself from the globalized, industrialized food to explore the alternatives, ways of producing food that work with the environment instead of against it and showing those alternatives to people. My day-to-day right now is very food-oriented. Inhabitat: What are your regular daily activities right now? Greenfield: Well, it does vary a lot. Like today, for example, is a work day, so I’m on the computer and on the phone for much of the day. But I had mostly run out of food, so I had to delay my last call to go for a mile-and-a-half bike ride to go to an apple tree that I know about to go pick a bunch of apples. [Note: Greenfield was in Wisconsin visiting family and friends when we talked — hence the apple tree.] So my life is very much revolving around food this year. But with that being said, I still manage to do a lot of other things, and of course have a social life, and still of course talk and spread the message, because that’s the purpose. Some days are just morning to night going out and gathering food and then processing it, whether it’s fishing or going out and picking fruit and making applesauce and pear sauce, for example, or canning . Other days, when I’ve done really well, I’ve prepared lots of food, I get to be a little more leisurely, and do other work or just spend time with friends. Inhabitat: When did you start your foraging project, and when will it end? Greenfield: I started on November 11, 2018, so today is day 320, which means I have just 45 days left of the year [at the time of the interview]. So it is winding down. I’m in the home stretch, which is feeling great. I wouldn’t say I can let my guard down; I’ve still got to stay on top of things. But I could see a bar of chocolate in the near future. Inhabitat: Is dumpster diving allowed? Greenfield: No dumpster diving at all, because what I’m exploring for this year is living outside of the globalized, industrialized food system. Seeing if I can work with nature , work with the earth to produce my food. So dumpster diving, I’ve proved through my other projects in the past that I can live purely off the waste of our society, and really use that as a way to raise awareness about waste. This is taking it to another step. Now I can show that it’s possible in 2019 for us to actually grow and produce our food and improve our communities at the same time, and take power back from the big food corporations and put that power back into the hands of us, the everyday people. Inhabitat: So, what are some of the things you forage? Greenfield: So far this year, I’ve grown and foraged over 250 different species. I’ve probably foraged 30 or 40 different species of greens. Fruits . There’s many species of cherry: pin cherry, black cherry, sand cherry, just to name a few. Apples, pears, plums. Then, there’s all sorts of new plants that I’m learning. Aronia is a berry that I’ve been foraging over the last couple weeks in Wisconsin. In Florida, one of my favorite things to forage is wild yams. That is an invasive species , so it’s actually beneficial for me to harvest it, which is always nice to be harvesting in a way that actually improves the environment. The biggest one I’ve harvested so far weighed 157 pounds. I had a wheelbarrow and I wheelbarrowed it out chunks at a time to the car to bring it back to my place. Related: An explanation on wild yams I mostly chopped it up into cubes, like you cube up potatoes. Then I froze a lot of it. I make flour from it. I dehydrate it, and then blend the dehydrated chunks to make a powder, and that powder’s a yam flour. Then, I make bread with it. It’s actually a really nice bread. Well, it’s really nice for me. It’s not like a wheat bread or something like that that you’d buy at the store. But I make muffins and tortillas and things like that, and I make sourdough bread. It makes some pretty nice stuff. This project has really taught me to do a lot of things from scratch. Because if I want something, I have to figure out how to grow it or forage it and turn it into that thing that I’m wanting. It’s the opposite of that globalized food system, where we can get anything we want without really having to think about it. Inhabitat: What’s your living situation in Florida? Greenfield: Well in Orlando, I live in a 100-square-foot tiny house that I built out of about 99 percent secondhand materials with the help of a bunch of friends. I have an outdoor kitchen set up, a compost toilet, rainwater shower. I do have electricity there to run my food processor and dehydrator and things like that. But it’s a largely close-looped system, demonstrating how you can live in a more sustainable manner. Inhabitat: Do you have advice for anyone who wants to dumpster dive? Greenfield: Well, it’s pretty easy. You look at the front door. You walk past that, you walk around to the back, you look in the dumpster and you get your food from there instead. It really is not hard or complicated. The main thing is you just have to do it. You have to go to the dumpster and you have to look for the food. Then, what you do is you practice common sense. You should practice common sense wherever you’re getting your food from. So with dumpster diving, a lot of people have these preconceived notions about what’s in a dumpster and what it looks like. At a grocery store, it’s mostly food and is emptied fairly frequently. They’re actually a lot cleaner than people would expect. You just take out the good food. An easy way to start is, for example, bananas have a wrapper on them already. Oranges, also. Whereas strawberries and raspberries, they’re more delicate and more likely to get something spilled on them. But a banana, you can take the peel right off. There’s also packaged, processed food. If you get a bag of potato chips, that is still sealed, or even crackers where there’s a box on the outside and then there’s the crackers inside a plastic bag inside the box. You can start there, with those easy things. One note with dumpster diving is just to make sure that you always leave the place cleaner than you found it, and you’re courteous to everybody that you come across. [Greenfield reiterated that dumpster diving is not a part of his current project.] Inhabitat: Do you have any tips for others to live more sustainably? Greenfield: The good news is you don’t have to do these sort of huge projects that I do by any means. It’s all stuff we can adapt into our daily lives. A big one is to go local. Support local business. Try to get as many of your products produced locally rather than things from big corporate stores and stuff that’s shipped around the world, where you don’t know the people and the impact that it has had or the conditions that they are working in. Shop at the local farmer’s market and support local farmers. Eat more unprocessed foods. You can bring your own container and fill up at the bulk food section. Riding a bike more and driving a car less is a really great way to not only save a lot of money and reduce your impact, but also get good exercise. Most people are a lot happier on a bike than they are driving a car. Bikes make people smile. Related: 7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths Eat your food. The average person wastes about 20 percent of all the food they purchase. Anything that can’t be eaten can be composted. There are hundreds of great changes that we can make. But those are some that are at the top of my list that generally make you happier, healthier and help you live in a way that’s more sustainable. Inhabitat: How can Inhabitat followers get involved with your work? Greenfield: Get involved in other things like community projects, such as the Community Fruit Trees project. That is a project where you can plant fruit trees that are publicly accessible to anyone in their community. Gardens for the People , which is where we build gardens for people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it or build one on their own. The Free Seed Project is where we send out free seeds to help people start their own organic, healthy gardens. The mission is to get people living happier, healthier and more sustainable lives . We think food is a great place to start. These are all ways people can get involved, and they’d find information about those projects on my website. + Rob Greenfield Images via Rob Greenfield and Sierra Ford

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Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

Old power station in Berlin is converted into off-grid arts center that runs on energy generated by woodchips

October 9, 2019 by  
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The former industrial town of Luckenwalde now has a beautiful new arts center that not only aims to bring a little vibrancy back to the German region, but a whole lot of sustainability. Artist Pablo Wendel just unveiled E-Werk , a defunct power station that he has turned into an innovative arts center that is projected to run on recycled wood chips rather than coal. Although an artist at heart, Wendel obviously has an admirable talent and passion for creating machinery that generates clean energy. Over the last five years, he has created numerous wind sculptures and mobile battery packs that can usurp energy from supply points. His patented Kunststrom (art electricity) system is what will be used to bring power to the local grid as the old building used to. This time, however, it will be powered by recycled wood chips. Related: Uber transforms 19th-century industrial buildings into hub for futuristic tech To create a system of clean energy for E-Werk, he developed a series of woodchip-burning machines that are compatible with the power station’s pre-existing mechanics. This means that the massive 107,000 square-foot interior has the potential to not only generate its own power, but could possibly become a functional power station that generates clean energy for the surrounding area. “At first, people were skeptical, but Kunststrom has moved far beyond an idea. We forget to talk about how much energy is needed to make art, how much energy museums use through lighting , cleaning, conservation and transport . They spend much more of their budget on this than they do on young artists. I’m offering art as a power supply,” the artists explains. Currently, the building’s eight studios have been already rented to local artists, who can make use of the welding kits, milling machines, lathes and drills. Wendel says that he hopes E-Werk is the first of many similar projects to help Luckenwalde regenerate its urban landscape through sustainable practices, “One day we hope E-Werk will power the whole of Luckenwalde as it used to.” + E-Werk Via Wall Paper Images via Kunststrom

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Old power station in Berlin is converted into off-grid arts center that runs on energy generated by woodchips

Local communities play outsized and overlooked role in global fisheries

October 3, 2019 by  
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Flying along the coast in Senegal, it’s impossible not to notice thousands of dots below in the water. These are large, planked fishing canoes, the product of centuries of design and tradition, and a vital part of the local economy.

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Local communities play outsized and overlooked role in global fisheries

Sports gets in the game during Climate Week

October 3, 2019 by  
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The warming planet is having a drastic impact on the way the planet plays, especially when it comes to winter activities. The good news: Some major U.S. leagues are reconditioning their operations.

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Sports gets in the game during Climate Week

All-bamboo retreat in Bali features all you need for a serene off-grid escape

September 30, 2019 by  
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If the hustle and bustle of every day life getting to you, perhaps it’s time for a little escape to paradise? Located in a hardy tropical forest in a remote area of Bali, the Hideout Falcon is an all-bamboo retreat with a massive pitched roof and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, all designed to help guests immerse themselves in the idyllic tropical landscape. And if the serene sustainable retreat isn’t enough to calm your nerves, the home, which was designed by Studio WNA , comes with an immense wooden deck with plenty of seating for when you’re not soaking your worries away in the large outdoor stone bathtub. The Hideout Falcon is one of three all-bamboo retreats offered by Hideout Bali. At just 538 square feet, the one-room Falcon definitely has a compact interior space. But this lack of interior space is completely by design so that the guests can truly take in the fresh air and nature of one of Bali’s most pristine forests. Related: Gorgeous bamboo hall welcomes visitors to a relaxing coastal oasis in Vietnam Tucked into a lush forest in the Karangasem regency region of Bali, the minimalist design of the idyllic lodging is meant to put the focus on the incredible surroundings. The most prominent feature of the bamboo structure is it’s large wooden deck. Set off the ground so as to reduce impact , this space is the living room of the home. There is plenty of seating, from a small dining space and comfortable lounge chairs, to a hanging chair under the palm trees. Of course, at the heart of the outdoor space, is the large bathtub, which is permanently filled and filtered as a swimming pool. But, rest assured that it can be heated to hot spring temps. The interior space of the tiny retreat houses the bedroom, which is large enough for a king-sized bed, covered with a romantic mosquito net. Additionally, there is a small lounge space, perfect for delving into a good book on a rainy day. The bamboo structure is meant to cater to those wanderers who look for sustainable lodgings on their adventures. Designed to be low-impact, the Hideout Falcon was built with locally-sourced building materials, mainly from the local forests in Karangasem. + Studio WNA + Hideout Bali Via Archdaily Photography by Drifters and Lovers , Gust Indra  and Valentino Luis, courtesy of Hideout Bali and Studio WNA

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All-bamboo retreat in Bali features all you need for a serene off-grid escape

Two sustainable rental units dressed in reclaimed brick are self-sustaining through solar power

September 23, 2019 by  
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Melbourne-based firm Breathe Architecture has brought a bit of California flair to a Melbourne suburb. Using the empty space behind two existing Cali-style bungalows, the designers have managed to create two single, light-filled dwellings enveloped in reclaimed brick facades. The two rental properties were designed to offer the area environmentally sustainable and affordable rental housing that homogenizes with the local vernacular. Located in the area of Glen Iris, the Bardolph Garden House was designed as a building comprised of two rental units that blend in with the neighborhood aesthetic and each other. The simple, brick-clad volumes with pitched roofs emit a classic, traditional look while concealing dual contemporary interiors. Related: This home made of broken bricks features a series of rolling green roofs The two units are similar in size, both measuring just over 2,000 square feet. The entrances to the homes are through a covered courtyard and a landscaped garden area. The exterior spaces remain private thanks to several brick screens that also let natural breezes flow into these outdoor areas. When designing the layout of the two properties, the firm was dedicated to creating two energy-efficient units. As such, the project incorporated a number of passive features to reduce the homes’ energy needs. In addition to the greenery-filled pocket gardens that help insulate the properties, the gabled roofs and external steel awnings help maximize northern solar gain during the winter and minimize it during the summer months. Thanks to the region’s pleasant temperatures, the bright living spaces are incredibly welcoming. Vaulted ceilings add more volume to the interior, and an abundance of windows draw in plenty of natural light. The interior design, which features furnishings by StyleCraft and textiles by Armadillo & Co , is bright and airy with a neutral color palette that enhances the natural materials. Concrete flooring and white walls contrast nicely with the timber accents found throughout the living spaces. Additionally, the interior boasts a number of reclaimed materials, such as a repurposed timber bench tops and terrazzo tiles. Carefully designed to maximize thermal performance, the two units are completely self-sustaining. Their energy is supplied through a solar PV array on the roof, and a sustainable heat pump system supplies hot water. A rainwater collection system was also installed so that gray water could be collected and stored on-site for reuse. + Breathe Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Tom Ross via Breathe Architecture

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Two sustainable rental units dressed in reclaimed brick are self-sustaining through solar power

Old Paris railway site will transform into a carbon-neutral ecosystem neighborhood

September 23, 2019 by  
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An abundance of green will soon take over the heart of Paris with the transformation of the city’s old railway site, Ordener-Poissonniers, into a lush 3.7-hectare “ecosystem neighborhood.” The mixed-use masterplan will be spearheaded by Danish landscape architecture practice SLA and French architecture firm BIECHER ARCHITECTES , who won an international competition with the “Jardin Mécano” (“Mechanical Garden”) proposal for a sustainable urban development emphasizing bioclimatic design. In addition to the creation of large public parks, the neighborhood will include carbon-neutral architecture and renewable energy systems. Located in the 18th arrondissement, the new “ecosystem neighborhood” will pay homage to the former railway site by preserving its industrial heritage while injecting new functionality to the underused area. The mixed-use masterplan will include housing for 1,000 residents — half of which will be for social housing, 20 percent for intermediate and the remainder for private housing — as well as 13,800 square meters of office space, new school buildings, an industrial design incubator for SME, a nine-screen cinema complex, urban farming areas and plenty of restaurant and retail space. Related: Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris “The Ordener-Poissonniers project will act as a green generous gift to the city of Paris,” said Rasmus Astrup, partner in SLA. “In the transformation of the old post-industrial railway site, we have especially focused on the values and the qualities we want the new development to give back to the neighborhood. By combining the strong industrial character with innovative, nature-based designs and public ecosystem services, we create a new standard for nature in Paris — where nature is everywhere and where humans, plants and animals can live and flourish together.” To minimize the development’s environmental footprint in the long run, the buildings will be optimized for wind and solar conditions. Other sustainable features include photovoltaic panels mounted onto the roofs, planting plans that promote biodiversity and the use of natural materials and prefabricated low-carbon concrete floors. The project is slated for completion in 2024. + SLA + BIECHER ARCHITECTES Images via SLA

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