These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

November 5, 2020 by  
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Norweigian architectural firm Spacegroup has released renderings of the Movikheien Cabins, a development of raised wooden cabins in Hagefjorden, Norway. The property design purposefully does not include car-accessible roads; this limited access, along with the elevated cabins, aims to exhibit minimal physical encroachment on the natural terrain. According to the architects, the global COVID-19 pandemic that initially hit in mid-March has opened new opportunities in local travel industries despite having negative consequences on the economy. While international travel became limited due to pandemic restrictions, leading to uncertainty in the airline industry and a historically low value for the Norweigan Krone, the locals began to turn to domestic travel to explore the destinations in their own backyards. Related: Snøhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers The new development will boast environmentally friendly design and social inclusivity. In the past, cabin and campground developments meant manipulating the natural terrain by cutting down large areas of forest to produce oversized structures with large carbon footprints. The Movikheien Cabins project breaks this trend, with traditional “light touch” small units measuring about 62 square meters each and made using 100% wood construction. Sixteen new cabins are proposed for the development, each sitting on elevated columns above the terrain to preserve the landscape while remaining connected to the forest. This shared-yet-separate space provides a social community element all while protecting the land. Even better, a principle concept in the planning is dedicated to ensuring that the space would not be accessible to cars, since building roads would require too much intervention in the landscape. Instead, the site is accessed solely by a hiking trail designed by the client and architects as well as a rock climber and arborist who walked and mapped the location. This aspect also contributes to a lower construction footprint, as all building components must be of a dimension to be transported without the use of heavy machinery. + Spacegroup Images via Spacegroup

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These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

Danger looms as world’s largest iceberg heads toward a critical wildlife habitat

November 5, 2020 by  
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In 2004, a giant iceberg identified as A38 grounded on the British Overseas territory of South Georgia Island. Afterward, many local animals, including young penguins and seals, turned up dead. The same scenario is unfolding with the world’s largest iceberg, A68a, as it appears via satellite imagery to be moving toward the island. If the massive iceberg grounds on South Georgia, it is feared that it could cause serious ecological problems in the region. A68a is the largest iceberg on Earth today at about 4,200 square kilometers. There are many concerns about the possibility of such a large iceberg anchoring at South Georgia, given the biodiversity of the island. Penguin chicks and seal pups rely on the hunting prowess of their parents to survive. Timing is critical in sustaining their lives, and delays in the return of parents can be fetal. If an iceberg gets stuck along the hunting route, chances are that many chicks and pups will die. Scientists also warn that if iceberg grounds, it could crush all the living creatures on the seabed. Related: Melting permafrost increases threat of tsunamis in Alaska “Ecosystems can and will bounce back of course, but there’s a danger here that if this iceberg gets stuck, it could be there for 10 years,” said Geraint Tarling , ecologist at the British Antarctic Survey. “And that would make a very big difference, not just to the ecosystem of South Georgia but its economy as well.” While satellite images indicate that the iceberg is on its way to South Georgia, there is a chance that it could still veer off course. “The currents should take it on what looks like a strange loop around the south end of South Georgia, before then spinning it along the edge of the continental shelf and back off to the northwest,” said Peter Fretwell, Geographic Information Officer at British Antarctic Survey. “But it’s very difficult to say precisely what will happen.” Via BBC Image via Nathan Kurtz / NASA

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Danger looms as world’s largest iceberg heads toward a critical wildlife habitat

Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

October 28, 2020 by  
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Norwegian company Zeabuz has announced that it will be launching a self-driving ferry next year. This zero-emission ferry was first developed in 2018 by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The ferry is expected to carry 12 passengers and will operate like an elevator, with passengers able to call the ferry to their location by pressing a button. The launch of the first self-driving electric ferry in Norway just goes to show the strides the country is making in developing water transport . In 2015, Norway was the first country to launch the world’s first electric car and passenger ferry . Related: 100% electric passenger vehicle and cargo ferry could help decarbonize sea travel According to Narve Mjøs, the director of DNV GL — a company that advises the maritime industry and organizes the Green Shipping Program in Norway — the country is on the right track when it comes to pioneering new technologies in water transport. Mjøs said that the use of new boats, like the one being launched by Zeabuz, provides a greener alternative to road transport. Further, he said that the process of automation via self-driving helps cut down operation costs. The newly launched ferry will operate along the canal that connects the port and the city center of Trondheim. Passengers will have a 1-minute travel time, rather than the 15 minutes it typically takes to walk between the two locations. The ferry also has the capacity to transport passenger bicycles, and it is designed to charge while docked. Riding the ferry will be free of charge, at least in Trondheim. Many countries are turning back to water transport, which was a popular means of travel before the invention of cars. For instance, Bangkok intends to launch 30 new electric ferries and 5,000 electric water taxis come next year. In July 2020, Uber announced plans to launch boat taxis along the Thames River in London. If such plans are actualized, we are likely to see a future with fewer cars and more zero-emission boats. + Zeabuz Via CNN Images via Zeabuz

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Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

Mature trees shape a leafy, light-filled home in Mexico

October 9, 2020 by  
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South of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, local architecture firm  Estudio Radillo Alba  has completed the Casa R.A., a family of five’s countryside home that takes its site-specific massing from the existing trees on site. Designed for a client who wanted a home that would make the most of the available land surface, the single-family dwelling embraces indoor/outdoor living with floor-to-ceiling windows and patios full of lush vegetation throughout the home.  Five mature trees shaped the design of Casa R.A., with designers arranging the building around the trees’ root systems. Two of the three trees, located at the front of the site, define the location of the garage, while another tree at the side of the home marks the main entrance. The remaining trees in the rear of the property provide shade and shelter to a back terrace. An  open-plan  living area, kitchen, dining space and small powder room reside on the ground floor. The second floor contains the master bedroom along with three secondary bedrooms and three baths. Sections of the home utilize cut-outs to make way for plant-filled patios, accesses and terraces. The home’s material palette stays light, using only mud-brick from a nearby region known for its mud-brick techniques. Related: Brick cladding conceals a family home’s sophisticated, zero-energy systems “The house was conceived as one single block which called for a single choice of material ,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Close to the plot, there is a region known for its production of mud-brick, a technique still practiced in some parts of the country. Its cultural value and its constructive heritage encouraged us to use it as a single material for the project’s envelope. The customized exposed brick covers and protects all structural elements, slabs, and mechanical installations while intending to reveal the constructive system and pay homage to the laborious process of the artisanal material.” + Estudio Radillo Alba Images via Ce?sar Belio

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Mature trees shape a leafy, light-filled home in Mexico

Equal Recycling Access

September 11, 2020 by  
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Equal Recycling Access How can U.S. communities and industry partners collaborate to ensure access to recycling? While most Americans would agree that recycling is important, access to recycling bins, store drop-off options and other facilities can vary greatly depending on your location. Learn about the challenge of equitable access, hear about example projects to address this problem, and how government and industry stakeholders can work together to address these challenges. Speakers Dr. Shannon Bouton, Global Executive Director, Sustainable Communities, McKinsey.org  Keysha Burton, Community Program Coordinator, The Recycling Partnership Kristyn Oldendorf, Waste Reduction & Operations Coordinator, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Bureau of Solid Waste Jennifer Ronk, Sustainability and Advocacy Manager, NA Packaging & Specialty Plastics, Dow Holly Secon Thu, 09/10/2020 – 19:36 Featured Off

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This modular, off-grid design can adapt to any landscape

April 27, 2020 by  
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DIY home design is a life-long dream of many, and today’s architects are making it easier than ever to build your own home without toiling for years. Genoa-based firm  TEKE Architects  has just unveiled the MU50, a modular  off-grid home  designed to be configurable to virtually any landscape. Using modules of prefabricated timber frames that can be connected in various layouts, the innovative design is meant to be incorporated into any landscape with minimal impact. The MU50 design is meant to be a feasible solution to sustainable and convenient modern  home design . According to the architects, a basic principle of the innovative home design was to create a modular, highly-flexible system that incorporates reusable and recyclable materials that would ensure minimal environmental impact across the board. The modular frames and enclosure panels, which are prefabricated off-site, are easily delivered on-site where they can be installed in just a few days, depending on size. Related: This ready-made tiny home can be shipped to any destination Part of the design includes a severe pitched overhang roof made out of three possible building materials, either wood, aluminum or copper. As one of the design’s many passive features, the roof offers several climate control features. First, the underside of the roof includes tight thermal insulation and waterproofed panels. Secondly, the large overhangs shade the interior spaces. The roof will also be installed with  solar panels,  which depending on the location and size of the home, should provide sufficient energy to power the entire house. The living space is designed to be an open plan that allows for optimal natural lighting and air ventilation. No matter what the size, the system’s modular pods allow for  maximum flexibility , meaning minimalists can create the tiny home of their dreams, and families can create larger spaces that are suited to their individual needs. This flexible system also allows homeowners to adjust their living space to their changing needs throughout the years. Additionally, the home can run off-grid in any number of climates or terrains thanks to several active and passive climate control features. The modular frames are designed to be elevated off the landscape to allow for air circulation below its base. With proper building orientation, custom windows with double-paned glazing, and piston-operated pine sunshades, the home’s interior is protected from harsh sunlight and heat. In terms of active sustainable systems, the home design is created to run solely on solar power, but additional clean energy-generating systems can be used as well, such as a water collection system. Additionally, ground source heat pumps and underfloor heating create optimal  energy-efficiency  for the beautiful home design. + TEKE Architects Via Archdaily Images via TEKE Architects

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This modular, off-grid design can adapt to any landscape

Volkswagen reveals plans for mobile electric car charging robot

January 27, 2020 by  
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As the number of electric cars continues to increase, the need for charging stations increases with it. Often, finding a charging station not only involves planning to be at the location before the car runs out of battery power, but also being able to pull into one of the (typically shared) spots to complete the actual charge. Volkswagen is developing a mobile robot that eliminates the need to plug into a charging port, bringing the charge directly to your vehicle regardless of which parking space you choose.  Using an app or V2X communication, the owner simply lets the portable charger know the car is ready for a boost. The robot, equipped with cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors maneuvers through the parking garage, dodging obstacles until it locates the vehicle. The robot pulls a trailer that holds a mobile energy storage device. Once delivered to the vehicle, the robot autonomously attaches the charging unit to the car, initiating the charge. At that point, the robot is free to deliver charging devices to other cars. When the car is sufficiently charged, the robot comes back to disconnect the charging station and return it to its charging dock.  Related: Mercedes Benz presents a luxury electric car The system is currently in prototype form, and a manufacturing date has not been set. However, Volkswagen has a history of electric car innovation that leads us to believe it’s only a matter of time before the charging station comes to the car rather than the car having to track down a plugin. “The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities such as multi-storey car parks, parking spaces and underground car parks because we bring the charging infrastructure to the car and not the other way around. With this, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures,” Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components, said. + Volkswagen Images via Volkswagen

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Mirrored outhouse disappears into a lush river valley landscape

November 13, 2019 by  
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In Australia’s Kangaroo Valley, Paddington-based design studio Madeleine Blanchfield Architects carefully crafted a freestanding bathroom that all but vanishes into its surroundings. Designed for minimal impact, the compact outhouse is wrapped in one-way mirrors to blend into the lush landscape. Its use of solar energy and gray water recycling helps reduce the building’s carbon footprint . Moreover, the mirrored building is elevated off the ground and can be easily assembled and disassembled with limited site impact. Built to service a small cabin for overnight stays, the freestanding bathroom is set on a privately owned hillside about 30 meters from the accommodation. Its secluded location helps to enhance the feeling of being immersed in nature. The mirrored facade camouflages the structure by reflecting the lush landscape. When the space is used at night, the interior lighting makes the bathroom visible from the outside; the building orientation and remote location ensure privacy. Related: Mirrored home in the woods is hidden in plain sight The bathroom contains a bathtub and shower at the center that look out to unobstructed views of nature in all directions to give guests the sense of bathing outdoors. The architects also equipped the building with sustainable technologies, including solar-powered lights and a gray water recycling system with septic tanks. The landscape was minimally altered, and the bathroom can be easily removed without harm to the site. “The client’s desire to create a haven that not only provided connection to the landscape but a place to truly escape and unwind was met through the design,” the architects explained. “By avoiding the temptation to create a visually intrusive folly, the brief for the outhouse was met both visually and experientially. The outhouse heightens the sense of place, makes one consider their location.” + Madeleine Blanchfield Architects Photography by Robert Walsh via Madeleine Blanchfield Architects

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Mirrored outhouse disappears into a lush river valley landscape

Controversial climate change-inspired skyscraper could become Czech Republics tallest building

October 18, 2019 by  
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Inspired by the apocalyptic imagery from climate change projections, sculptor David ?erný and architect Tomáš Císa? from the studio Black n´ Arch have proposed a visually striking skyscraper that’s sparked controversy with its inclusion of an enormous shipwreck-like structure. Dubbed the TOP TOWER , the project proposed for Prague rises to a height of 450 feet, which means that if built, the tower would be the tallest building in the Czech Republic. The project is led by developer Trigema who aims to create a multifunctional, LEED Gold high-rise that includes rental apartments, a public observation area and commercial uses on the lower floors. TOP TOWER has been proposed to be located near the metro station Nové Butovice on the new nearly one-kilometer-long pedestrian zone in Prague. This location is outside of the protected urban conservation zone and would be far enough away from the city center that it would not disrupt the historic city skyline. Taking advantage of its height, the building would offer a public observation area at the highest point of the building where visitors can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Prague .  Rental housing will make up the majority of the mixed-use TOP TOWER, while offices, retail and a multifunctional cultural center will be located on the lower levels. Parking will be tucked underground. The rusty shipwreck-like sculpture integrated into the building will offer opportunities for outdoor spaces and additional landscaping. Related: Computer modeling informed the whimsical design of this experimental home “We have been preparing the TOP TOWER project for more than two years and the final version was preceded by eight other alternative solutions. During this time, we have collected and are still collecting suggestions from experts, state and local authorities, and of course the local public, whose representatives have already been and will continue to hold a number of participatory meetings,” says Marcel Soural, Chairman of the Board of Trigema a.s. Trigema estimates that the construction for TOP TOWER will begin in 2021 and take less than three years complete.  + TOP TOWER Images via Trigema

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Geometric pavilion with an inverted living garden holds court in a public square in Annecy, France

September 27, 2019 by  
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Almost 10 years ago, New York-based Behin Ha Design Studio erected an incredible green-walled living pavilion made out of recycled milk crates in the heart of Governors Island. Now, the plant-loving designers are back at it, unveiling a beautiful, inverted garden pavilion in a public square in Annecy, France. Installed in the Notre Dame plaza in the old city center of Annecy, the 330-square-foot Living Pavilion is a modular system of dairy crates. Assembled in a three-sided geometric shape, the recycled milk crates serve as the framework for the inverted garden. The exterior shape of the Living Pavilion, with its hipped and gabled roof, was meant to pay homage to the historic buildings of Annecy. With three immense openings, visitors are invited to enter under the pavilion to enjoy the suspended, lush garden planted on the interior walls. Related: A tiny, 96-square-foot rustic pavilion brings the outdoors in The geometric design gives the structure the potential to become a public or private shelter that is open to fresh air yet protected from harsh elements. The crates that make up the structure were strategically planted with drought-tolerant Liriope plants, which are resilient to almost any type of climate and can naturally cool the interior. Like the original installation in Governors Island in 2010, the most recent version of the Living Pavilion uses multiple milk crates to create a planting system for the garden. The drought-tolerant plants are initially cultivated in the crates in an upright position. Once the vegetation has grown, the planted crates are then installed upside-down to form walls. At the end of the Annecy installation, the crates can be removed and cultivated in another environment. According to the designers, the modular system creates a full-circle lifecycle for the structure. The design ensures that the pavilion can be easily disassembled and reassembled in another location while protecting the plants during the transition, allowing for regeneration of the same pavilion year after year. + Behin Ha Design Studio Photography by Aurelien Vivier and Behin Ha via Behin Ha Design Studio

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Geometric pavilion with an inverted living garden holds court in a public square in Annecy, France

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