Kengo Kuma weaves bamboo and carbon fiber into a nest-like structure at the V&A Museum

October 2, 2019 by  
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At the 2019 London Design Festival, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has crafted a new eye-catching outdoor installation in the John Madejski Garden at the V&A Museum — just one year after his completion of the V&A Dundee museum in Scotland. Dubbed Bamboo (?) Ring, or ‘Take-wa ??’, the temporary doughnut-shaped structure is woven from rings of bamboo and carbon fiber. The sculpture was developed in partnership with Chinese consumer electronics brand OPPO. Best known for his design of the New National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, architect Kengo Kuma has won international acclaim for his contemporary projects that draw inspiration from traditional Japanese design and emphasize natural materials . A recurring theme in his work is the expression of lightness and transparency, qualities that have also guided the design of the Bamboo (?) Ring.  Curated by Clare Farrow, the cocoon-like structure is based on a 2-meter diameter ring made from strips of the bamboo Phyllostachys edulis reinforced with carbon fiber used to laminate each ring. “For Kuma, working with Ejiri Structural Engineers and the Kengo Kuma Laboratory at The University of Tokyo, the installation is an exploration of pliancy, precision, lightness and strength: by pulling two ends, it naturally de-forms and half of the woven structure is lifted into the air,” reads the London Design Festival 2019 press release. “Bamboo (?) Ring, or ‘Take-wa ??’, is intended to be a catalyst for weaving people and place.” Related: Kengo Kuma unveils bold timber museum in Turkey that pays homage to the region’s Ottoman heritage Kuma’s installation was on display at 35 Baker Street for the duration of the London Design Festival , from September 14 to September 22, 2019. The project was developed in partnership with Chinese electronics brand OPPO, which recently built an OPPO design center in London during its new smartphone series launch. The experience center’s temporary installation, called “Essence of Discovery,” blended technology and art to introduce their smartphone products during the festival. + Kengo Kuma Images via Sassy Films

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Kengo Kuma weaves bamboo and carbon fiber into a nest-like structure at the V&A Museum

Tooth: the eco-friendly toothbrush made from recycled and biodegradable materials

September 26, 2019 by  
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As ubiquitous as morning coffee is the practice of brushing your teeth. We know you’re conscientious about water consumption by turning off the faucet while you brush, but there’s that seldom-discussed issue of toothbrush waste, mostly plastic , that equates to around 1,000,000,000 toothbrushes heading to the landfill annually, and that’s just in the United States. Luckily, some passionate designers from London have decided to develop a sustainable option to divert waste from landfills. They call it Tooth, a last-for-a-lifetime toothbrush handle with replaceable heads. Unlike the 98 percent of toothbrushes that are not biodegradable, the Tooth replacement heads will break down. The main portion of the brush head is made from locally sourced sugar beets that have been turned into Floreon. The bristles are made from Nylon 4; both products are 100 percent biodegradable . Related: Your guide to eco-friendly toothpastes The handle is contoured out of recycled aluminum , a durable metal that eliminates the need to create virgin aluminum and the carbon emissions that come with it. The handles are also 100 percent recyclable when they are no longer useful. Tooth has a lifetime guarantee as long as you remain a subscriber. Select one of four colors including ash, charcoal, rose, or gold, and choose from three bristle firmness options. You can also get a recycled steel stand to keep your Tooth aired out and to avoid contact with germs lurking on countertops. There’s also a travel case that protects the Tooth and stores up to three additional replacement heads. Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, so with a subscription, Tooth will automatically send a replacement head directly to your house every three months; you can go ahead and cross that chore off the list. Because the company is sustainably focused, your shipment will arrive in eco-friendly packaging. With recycled cardboard , plastic-free labels and a flat design, everything can go into the recycling upon receipt. Tooth is currently an active and fully funded Kickstarter campaign , due to expire on October 18. Shipments are expected for April 2020. + Tooth Images via Tooth

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Tooth: the eco-friendly toothbrush made from recycled and biodegradable materials

Artist converts old city bus into public swimming pool

September 12, 2019 by  
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As the the last vestiges of summer are upon us, the residents of one French region can still squeeze out a little summer fun thanks to French artist Benedetto Bufalino . The artist, who is known for converting old automobiles into fun and functional objects, has recently presented the northern French region of Artois with a new public swimming pool , converted out of an old bus. Accommodating up to ten swimmers at a time, The Bus Pool offers locals a respite from late summer heat. The installation is part of a local program, “operation odyssey”, which hosts various events throughout the summer to attract visitors to the area of the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, an UNESCO World Heritage site . The pool was unveiled in late August and will be installed in three local towns until it finds a permanent home. Related: This 18th-century London townhouse hides a swimming pool under a glass floor Adding to his portfolio of transforming discarded vehicles into something fun and useful, the artist salvaged an old Tadeo model bus from the local transport graveyard. Once he completely gutted the interior seats and flooring, the next step was removing an entire side panel. Tipping it over onto its side, he then retrofitted the interior body of the bus with a custom shell so that it would be able to hold water. The finished product is a colorful swimming pool that measures almost 30 feet long and almost 8 feet wide. The pool holds up to 10 swimmers at a time and even boats a lifeguard station at one end. Water temps are kept at around 82 degrees at the swimming pool . The Bus Pool is the latest addition to Bufalino’s long portfolio of public art installations. In 2016, the French artist turned an old cement truck into a giant disco ball . + Benedetto Bufalino Via Designboom Drone photography by Romain Hayem

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Green-roofed community center champions sustainable design in London

August 27, 2019 by  
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In the heart of London , the Phoenix Garden — an acclaimed refuge for urban wildlife and greenery — has gained an award-winning beacon for sustainable design. Local architecture practice OFFICE SIAN Architecture + Design designed the Phoenix Garden Community Center to improve accessibility to the park, which is open to the public and commonly used by visitors for a variety of events ranging from student field trips to weddings. In addition to a thriving green roof and a highly contextual design, the new building also features durable, super-insulating materials and air-source heat pumps. Located in London’s Soho area a few meters from Covent Garden and Leicester Square, the 120-square-meter Phoenix Garden Community Center and the adjoining garden were conceived as a green retreat from the stresses of London’s West End. Although the park is just a third of an acre in size, the community garden has become very popular for both residents and urban wildlife alike. In deference to the landscape, the community center was constructed with natural materials, from the timber doors and walls of brick that match the existing low garden walls to the large white limestone lettering that announces the building’s presence and matches the style of the nearby St. Giles Church. Related: IKEA teams up with London artists to upcycle old furniture into funky abodes for birds, bees and bats Because the two-story building would be the first purpose-built, new-build community center in central London for generations, the client, the Phoenix Garden Trust, thought it especially important that the building promote the garden’s values of sustainability. To that end, the architects created a “super-insulating” envelope made from durable materials and topped the structure with a green roof that increases the landscaped area of the garden by 90 square meters. In addition to air-source heat pumps, the building reuses collected rainwater for irrigation. “The design was developed from an early concept of ‘garden walls’ as a metaphor for ideas of enclosure, secrecy and boundaries,” the architects explained. Glazed timber-framed doors fold open to merge the indoor spaces with the outdoor garden. Brick was also used to line the interior floors to blur the boundary between indoors and out. + OFFICE SIAN Architecture + Design Photography by Richard Chivers via OFFICE SIAN Architecture + Design

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Green-roofed community center champions sustainable design in London

Energy-efficient greenhouses surround the new French Open tennis court

August 2, 2019 by  
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Plants from around the world are flourishing in four curved greenhouses in an unexpected place — directly behind the spectator stands of the new Simonne Mathieu tennis court at Roland-Garros, home of the French Open. Designed by the Paris-based studio Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés , the 5,000-seat sunken tennis court not only offers a strikingly modern space for the annual tournament but also offers a visual extension of the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil botanical garden, where the stadium is located. The steel-and-glass greenhouses were built to reference the historical hothouses of the 19th century but feature a modern, energy-efficient design built to the highest technical specifications. Named after the famous tennis player who played at the Roland-Garros in the 1930s, the Simonne Mathieu tennis court is a new venue for hosting the international tennis championships hosted every year in Paris. Taking inspiration from Auteuil’s greenhouses designed by Jean Camille Formige in 1898, Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés introduced new public space around the partially sunken tennis court in the form of four modern, steel-and-glass greenhouses that are visible from the spectator stands. Related: Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year “These new greenhouses form a glass backdrop, a case within which plants from four continents can flourish,” the architects explained. “They refer to the design of the nearby hothouses and are inspired by, without imitating, architecture in metal that, since the construction of the Crystal Palace in London in 1851, still stands, with its delicate relationship between light and structure, as the perfect model of airiness and economy.” Sheathed in double-pane glass for superior insulation, these curved greenhouses feature flora from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. A meandering paved pathway traverses each greenhouse. Because the greenhouses are a new addition of public space, they will be accessible to visitors throughout the year, even outside of the two-week French Open tournament. + Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés Via ArchDaily Photography by Erieta Attali via Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés

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Energy-efficient greenhouses surround the new French Open tennis court

London becomes the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

April 10, 2019 by  
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London is officially the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The zone, which is active all hours of the day and night, will improve air quality in the city by cutting down on pollution caused by vehicle emissions . Any vehicle traveling inside the ULEZ will have to meet strict emission codes or be subject to fines. Scientists believe that vehicle emissions, specifically nitrogen oxide, account for the majority of air pollution in London and are a serious threat to public health. These harmful chemicals have been known to increase risks of dementia and cancer. Related: Teens exposed to air pollution more likely to experience psychotic episodes, new study says “This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan shared. The ULEZ was activated on April 8 and any vehicles traveling inside the zone that do not meet emissions standards will face charges of around $16 per day. Larger vehicles, such as trucks and buses, will have to pay heftier fines upwards of $130. The zone currently covers an area roughly four miles in size and will be expanded to a much larger area by the fall of 2021. The ULEZ is part of a larger plan to discourage high-emission vehicles from travelling around London. The first stage of the plan initiated what was called a T-charge, which went into effect in the winter of 2017. In the two years since, London has witnessed a drop of around 11,000 vehicles every day from the targeted area. The plan has also increased the number of vehicles becoming compliant with emissions standards in the area. The city’s famous fleet of red double-decker buses, for example, is being upgraded to comply with the new ULEZ.  There are approximately two million residents who live inside the ULEZ, and officials hope the new plan will improve the quality of air so that it meets standards enacted by the European Union. London may be the first city to enact an Ultra Low Emission Zone, but other locations, like New York City, are looking into similar plans. Via CNN Image via  Shrinkin’ Violet

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London becomes the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

Designers recycle aluminum production waste into functional ceramic decor

March 25, 2019 by  
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The red clay ceramics produced by the design team at Royal College of Art and Imperial College London may look like the creation of any standard potter. However, these are not your everyday bowls and teapots. In fact, they are the result of a process that uses a by-product from aluminum production that transforms the so-called red mud into a raw material suitable for making kitchen wares. Bauxite residue is a by-product from the refining of alumina, which is a precursor to the process we know as aluminum production. It is not an insignificant by-product either. In fact the process creates bauxite residue at twice the rate of the amount of aluminum produced from it. Around the world, the watery red material is left behind in huge pools of abandoned waste so the team of scientists and designers decided to find a way to make use of it. Designers Guillermo Whittembury, Joris Olde-Rikkert, Kevin Rouff, and Luis Paco Bockelmann were excited to dive into the potential of the otherwise neglected by-product, hoping they could find practical applications for it. To discover the potential of the discarded substance, the team paired up with material experts from Imperial College London and KU Leuven, scored some red mud from one of the oldest alumina production facility on the planet, and headed into R&D. Through hundreds of tests and experiments they discovered a versatile ceramic as well as an alternative concrete. The R.E.D. (residue enabled design) project, also known as From Wasteland to Living Room, resulted in a vast array of cups, saucers, teapots, bowls, vases and a myriad of other design pieces. Related: This British café is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste They also found that the fired color in the finished product produced a range of colors from a standard terracotta to a deep burgundy. To bring out more variety, the team used metal oxides from the residue to make glazes in a range of colors too. “The designers aim to make people at once aware of the impact of materials taken for granted, like aluminium, and to hint to the potential of their byproducts. “We want people to see that Red Mud isn’t a ‘waste’, that industry is keen to find uses for it, and that using it is possible,” states Kevin. This project is a small step towards what they believe as a more sustainable future in which “wastes” will be considered as valuable assets, and they hope it stimulates more uses of the material. + R.E.D. Via Dezeen Images via R.E.D.

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Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife

March 5, 2019 by  
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Plastic pollution is becoming a major problem for ocean wildlife. Organisms that ingest plastics are subject to hormone disruption and issues with reproduction that affect their overall health, a new study finds . Wildlife around the world is exposed to plastic pollutants called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Not much is known about how these chemicals affect marine environments, though scientists have been studying them for years. According to The Guardian , killer whales, for instance, have been found with large amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their systems. These chemicals were a common ingredient in plastic products until a global ban in 2004. Scientists monitored a group of killer whales on Scotland’s coast and found PCBs in their system. This pod did not have any children over the course of the 25-year study. Related: Toxic bacteria found in microplastics on 3 different coastlines around Singapore Scientists estimate that the population of orcas around the world will be cut in half over the next 100 years because of high levels of PCBs in marine environments. Although these chemicals have been banned, they still reach the ocean via landfills and other waste sites. Marine life is susceptible to PCBs because of the amount of fat in their tissues, which absorbs the toxic chemicals at a high rate. “We are looking at the possible exposure [of marine life] and evidence of toxicity is still developing,” the Zoological Society of London’s Paul Jepson explained. Once whales have ingested these harmful chemicals, they pass them on to their offspring through the production of milk and extended lactation periods. The cycle is then repeated until the levels of PCBs reach a point where they affect reproduction. Some orcas have been discovered with more than 100 times the safety limit of PCBs, which build up in their lipid tissues. Although EDCs clearly have a negative impact on wildlife , the overall effects of these chemicals remain unknown. Researchers also have not studied how EDCs affect human populations. Scientists believe more research is needed to determine exactly why these harmful substances found in plastic pollution are affecting reproduction systems in ocean wildlife. Via The Guardian Image via Mike Charest

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Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife

The Refill Shoppe enforces zero-waste packaging, provides bulk refill solutions for myriad household and beauty products

March 5, 2019 by  
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With the nearly constant conversation about zero waste and minimization in general, single use packaging is a hot topic. For many consumables, customers don’t seem to have many options in avoiding packaging waste. Think about the liquid products in your home and you’ll know what we’re talking about here. Shampoo bottles, hand soap containers, dish soap, cleaners, bubble bath and massage oils are just a few commonly-used items that come to mind. One company has taken a stand against single-use packaging and now provides a refill service so you can use your favorite containers again and again…and again, without the waste of individual bottles. The Refill Shoppe opened their flagship store in Ventura, California in 2010 with the idea that customers should have a place to refill regularly-used products. Think of it as a bulk section for household liquids. The founder, Michelle Stevens admits that she wasn’t sure people would buy into the business model. After all, it was a relatively new idea in this era of convenient consumables. But it didn’t take long for people to find out about the business and begin frequenting the location. Related: Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US The idea took off and now the company offers an online, mail-order options so you can order refills from the comfort of your home, even if you don’t live near the store. The process is as simple as any other form of online shopping. After scouring the website, customers choose the products they want and select their favorite scents. Up to six scents can be combined for variety. If you don’t already have an adorable bottle that you’re looking to refill , you can choose one from the site. Otherwise, you order will be refill pouches filled with your favorite product. Whether you bring your own container into the store or request a mail order, all ingredients are charged by the ounce. In-store, you can even bring a partially-full bottle . You simply weigh it with the contents before adding more and then weigh it again to calculate the amount of product you’re buying. For mail order, all per-ounce prices are listed on the site. Shipping fees are a flat rate $7 or free for orders over $100 throughout the continental U.S. They also ship to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada and Mexico for an additional charge. The website offers hundreds of products you likely use daily. Bathing and beauty products include face wash, shampoo, scrubs, salts and lotions, but they also offer sponges, brushes and mitts to apply the products. For the home you can find dishwashing liquids, laundry products and even yoga mat sanitizer, alongside reusable containers and other zero-waste products. They also stock cleaning products and eco-friendly supplies like wool dryer balls and burlap gift wrap. They even have men’s care, perfume and baby products. The Refill Shoppe realizes that no business model is perfect for the environment but they focus on doing everything they can to operate with a low-carbon footprint . All refill pouches are reusable , so after you’ve emptied the contents into your favorite container at home, simply drop it back into the pre-paid envelope and send it back, where it is sterilized and refilled for the next customer. All packing materials are reused and they try to use paper products exclusively. For packaging glass bottles, however,  they do employ pre-used bubble wrap. Because transportation emissions are a major eco-no-no in general, the company relies on USPS in an effort to deliver using regular, already-traveled routes. This avoids sending trucks out on special routes that increase emissions . Another way the company reduces transportation issues is with domestic production. With the exception of Himalayan bath salts, all items are produced in the United States. Related: Some of the largest manufacturers are going green with the milkman model   In addition to reducing waste, the company aims to provide products that are eco-friendly , cruelty-free, mostly vegan (with the exception of honey and beeswax in a few products), mostly gluten free, although items are manufactured in a facility that handles gluten, 99.7 percent GMO free, and proudly void of a host of toxins commonly used in other cleaners and beauty products. For their efforts, The Refill Shoppe has passed the qualifications to become a Certified B Corporation. This stamp of approval means they’ve passed rigorous standards of environmental and social responsibility up and down the supply and customer chain. In fact, the company has been recognized with awards and accolades by many notable agencies such as the Ventura County Reporter, Ventura County Board of Supervisors, California Air Resources Board, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and the California Resource Recovery Association. In a country a long way from leading the planet in sustainable practices, companies like The Refill Shoppe not only offer an alternative for those aiming to live more sustainably, but also bring awareness to an industry currently guilty of significant plastic waste . + The Refill Shoppe Images via The Refill Shoppe

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The Refill Shoppe enforces zero-waste packaging, provides bulk refill solutions for myriad household and beauty products

Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

March 1, 2019 by  
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A new study shows that close to 2,000 sites across the U.K. have poor air quality due to excess pollution. The cities most affected by high levels of toxic gas were in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, all of which were tested well beyond what is considered safe. One of the main culprits behind the alarming numbers is nitrogen dioxide, a gas that is considered one of the most harmful of urban pollutants. Kensington, Chelsea, Leeds and Doncaster all tested high in nitrogen dioxide in 2017. This gas irritates lungs and creates breathing issues. One of the main sources of nitrogen dioxide is vehicle emissions. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Earlier this week, London’s mayor announced a pollution alert as residents in the country enjoyed a rare warm spell for February. The warning was the first of its kind since last summer and was precipitated by light winds and lack of storms, which usually help drive away harmful gases. While poor air quality is a major issue across the country, London is about to initiate a plan to help clean things up. The city is establishing an ultra-low emission area in central London that will vastly improve air quality. The initiative is expected to remove around 45 percent of emissions by this spring. The researches who conducted the study are part of a group called Friends of the Earth. Based on their findings, the group called for better emission standards throughout the country and are urging ministers to tighten up government control. “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly 2,000 locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air,” one of the researchers, Simon Bowens, explained. Air pollution has been previously linked to major health problems in human populations, including heart disease, dementia and even miscarriages. Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution, which can damage lungs and even impact intelligence levels. If London’s new program is successful, hopefully other cities will follow suit and start improving air quality before it becomes an even bigger problem. Via The Guardian Images via Foto-Rabe

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Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

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