One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress

February 15, 2018 by  
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Cape Town, South Africa is rapidly approaching what has been called “Day Zero,” the moment when the diverse metropolitan area of nearly 4 million runs out of clean drinking water . While Cape Town has taken drastic measures to conserve water , it is simply not enough to avoid the imminent crisis. And now, as government and residents prepare for the worst, it’s important to understand which other major cities around the world are also at risk. Lack of water is truly a global problem; one in four of the world’s largest cities are currently under “water stress,” with that number expected to rise due to climate change, human activity, and population growth. Water shortages have the potential to aggravate already unstable political and economic conditions, which is of particular concern in cities such as Cairo . Currently confronting violent extremism and managing ongoing political tension, Egypt is also rated by the World Health Organization as ranking high among middle-income countries on the number of deaths related to water pollution. This is tied to increasing pollution in the Nile River. The United Nations estimates that Egypt will suffer critical water shortages by 2025, exacerbating the potential for conflict. Similarly, São Paulo and Moscow are plagued by pollution due to poor public policy decisions. Fortunately, this means that the problem may be fixable, however entrenched it might be. Related: Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain Coastal cities like Jakarta and Miami are facing unique water problems as both attempt to pull freshwater from aquifers. Due to lack of public access to piped water, residents of Jakarta have dug illegal wells, draining the underlying aquifer and actually causing the land to sink. As a result, about 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level. While Miami may not be sinking, its freshwater reserves are suffering from seawater contamination as a result of rapid sea level rise and wetland habitat destruction. Even cities like London are facing a water-scarce future, with severe shortages expected by 2040. Governments can make the necessary policy changes to solve this problem, but they must act quickly. The water crisis is already upon us in many cities. Via BBC News Images via Depositphotos (1) (2)

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One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress

Boeing’s new hypersonic plane could circle the globe in 3 hours

February 5, 2018 by  
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Boeing has developed a hypersonic plane that is faster than a speeding bullet. So fast, in fact, that it could circle the globe in just three hours, according to the manufacturer. The plane is designed to use its own shockwaves to increase its speed, and it could herald an entirely new era of flight. The plane was revealed last month, though we are just now getting real details about what it is like. The hypersonic plane is a ‘waverider’ style, which means that it uses the shock waves it creates to increase its speed. It is being developed as a reconnaissance or strike plane, and if it enters production, it will be the fastest plane ever produced, hitting speeds of Mach 5 or higher (that’s a mind-bending 3,836 mph). The development of a hypersonic plane could change the way we engage in warfare, because it means that a threat could arrive so quickly, there would only be minutes to identify it and prepare a defense. It also means that if it were developed as a passenger plane you would be able to travel anywhere across the Atlantic in an hour, and anywhere across the Pacific in two hours. It would go more than twice as fast as the Concorde . Related: Skreemr concept jet aims to fly 5 times as fast as the Concorde Aviation fans are calling the unmanned aircraft “Son of Blackbird,” because it is expected to be the successor of the legendary Lockheed Martin-developed Blackbird SR-71 plane. Some people speculate that it is being called “Valkyrie II” within the industry. Lockheed Martin and Boeing have been locked in a battle to develop hypersonic travel. Lockheed Martin has also been developing its own hypersonic plane, called the SR-72. Only time will tell who breaks the speed barrier first. Via Daily Mail and Popular Mechanics Images via Lockheed Martin and Boeing

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Boeing’s new hypersonic plane could circle the globe in 3 hours

First international Serpentine Pavilion will open in Beijing

February 1, 2018 by  
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The Serpentine Pavilion is going global, with its first international debut in Beijing , China. Launched by London’s Serpentine Galleries and Beijing’s WF CENTRAL, this major international collaboration will be designed by multidisciplinary Chinese practice JIAKUN Architects. The inaugural co-commission will be modeled on the Serpentine’s annual pavilion program in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens. Every year since 2000, the Serpentine Galleries invites an international architect who has not completed a building in England at the time of the invitation to design a temporary pavilion on its grounds. The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing took a different approach to architect selection, and instead began with a competition brief seeking designs sensitive to Beijing’s historic and social context as well as the Serpentine Pavilion’s 17-year history. A selection committee that included representatives from the Serpentine Galleries, Hongkong Land, and Made in China, chose JIAKUN Architects’ design. The winning design draws inspiration from Confucianism and the Chinese philosophical term of junzi, used to describe the ideal man. According to the press release: “The design is characterized by the figure of the Archer, in the form of a curved cantilever beam that incorporates the forces of elasticity through cables stretched between steel plates. Although modern architecture in Beijing has developed a series of powerful techniques to fight the external forces of fierce winds and unpredictable earthquakes , the Pavilion’s integral structure aims—like the Tai Chi Master—to conquer the harshness of those forces with softness.” Related: Diébédo Francis Kéré’s rainwater-harvesting 2017 Serpentine Pavilion unveiled in London today The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will launch in May 2018 at the opening of WF CENTRAL on Wangfujing in Beijing’s Dongcheng District, just 600 meters away from the historic Forbidden City. The temporary public pavilion will be on display for six months. + Serpentine Galleries Images via Serpentine Galleries

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Perkins+Will unveil designs for Suzhou Science & Technology Museum

February 1, 2018 by  
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The Chinese city of Suzhou is ringing in the New Year with newly unveiled renderings of a green-roofed behemoth of museum rivaling those found in its ritzier cousin, Shanghai. Perkins+Will is behind the design of the Suzhou Science Technology Museum, still in its conceptual phase, that’s expected to cover 600,000 square feet. Inspired by the Chinese philosophy of shan sui (mountain and water), the project will be integrated into nature and form the centerpiece of a new cultural district in Shishan Park. It’s little wonder Perkins+Will was tapped for the project; the international architecture firm was also behind the spectacular Shanghai Natural History Museum . The proposed Suzhou Science Technology Museum will be located at the foot of Lion Mountain and next to Shishan Lake. Exhibitions will be housed within a 66,700-square-foot ribbon-shaped building that emerges from the base of the mountain, twists upwards, and then double backs onto itself and into a dramatic cantilever over the lake edge. The form draws inspiration from the infinity loop and is meant to evoke a flowing silk scarf, one of Suzhou’s most famous exports. Related: Form follows function at Shanghai’s new bioclimatic Natural History Museum Like the Shanghai Natural History Museum, the Suzhou Science Technology Museum will boast several green features from the green roof atop the exhibition hall to the addition of new man-made, teardrop-shaped Eco Islands that will be vegetated, accessible to the public, and serve as a natural filtration system for the lake. Natural light is optimized indoors, while a planted forest buffer provides a respite of fresh air from city smog. Permeable paving and bioswales will be integrated into the civic plaza designs and a water restoration strategy will be put in place. + Perkins+Will Via ARCHITECT Magazine Images via Perkins+Will

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Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

January 19, 2018 by  
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Could a 22-mile bridge crossing the English Channel help boost transport between the United Kingdom and France after Brexit ? Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thinks so – he proposed the infrastructure project and spoke about a second link with France’s president Emmanuel Macron . Johnson reportedly said to Macron that it’s ridiculous that two of the largest economies in the world are joined by only one railway line. The publication said Macron “is understood to have responded positively.” Johnson tweeted a picture of the two of them flashing a thumbs-up after what he described as great meetings. En marche ! Great meetings with French counterparts today pic.twitter.com/D73B1rSkd3 — Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 18, 2018 Related: New bridge linking Japan and Russia could enable 8400-mile rail trip from London to Tokyo But some people put the brakes on the idea . The United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, which represents over 180 maritime industry bodies, tweeted there would be challenges with such an undertaking. CEO Guy Platten told The Guardian the Dover Strait – at the English Channel’s narrowest part – “is the world’s busiest shipping lane” and that the largest ships going through the strait can be around 70 meters, or nearly 230 feet, tall. Others pointed out that such a bridge would be incredibly expensive. Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges. https://t.co/jYD5O8B19W — UK Shipping (@ukshipping) January 18, 2018 Reuters reported France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, “All ideas merit consideration, even the most far-fetched ones … Let’s finish things that are already under way before thinking of new ones.” And a spokesperson for prime minister Theresa May said there were “no specific plans” regarding a Channel bridge: “What was agreed yesterday, and I think that’s what the foreign secretary tweeted about as well, is a panel of experts who will look at major projects together including infrastructure.” But according to The Guardian, some engineers said the Channel bridge idea might not be so far-fetched; architect Alan Dunlop pointed to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is around 34 miles long. Bridge designer Ian Firth told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the project would be entirely feasible, and that before construction of the Channel tunnel there were bridge options being considered. Firth said, “There are bridges of a similar, if not quite the same, scale elsewhere…It would be a huge undertaking, but it would be absolutely possible, and shipping impact issues could be dealt with.” Via The Guardian (1, 2) and Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Starbucks to start charging for disposable cups

January 9, 2018 by  
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2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are tossed away every single year in the United Kingdom, according to Member of Parliament (MP) Mary Creagh , and Starbucks is planning a new initiative to see if they can persuade drinkers to switch to reusable cups . In 20 to 25 central London locations, they’ll charge five British pennies for a disposable cup and then donate the resulting funds to the Hubbub Foundation for a behavior change study. Will a 5-pence (p) charge convince Londoners to drink their Starbucks in reusable cups? The coffee chain hopes to find out with a three-month-long trial commencing in February. In a statement , they detailed their efforts to influence coffee drinkers to make the change, from implementing a 10p incentive in 1998 to a 50p discount in 2016, but say a mere 1.8 percent of their customers are using reusable cups. Related: This giant Cup Monster wants Starbucks to use recyclable cups It seems they have a motivation to try something new. MPs want a 25p latte levy – and a total ban on disposable cups by 2023 if they aren’t all getting recycled . Starbucks’ disposable cup isn’t easily recyclable due to a thin layer of plastic to help keep a beverage hot. Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said the UK’s 2.5 billion thrown-away disposable cups could circle the Earth five and a half times, saying, “Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and the government has sat on its hands.” Starbucks said they’d boost efforts to ensure customers drinking coffee in their shops are offered a ceramic option, as well as reminding customers about the 25p discount for using a reusable cup with in-store marketing. The 5p charge money will go towards a study to help the chain better understand how they can encourage people to choose reusable cups. Via the BBC , Starbucks , and Inc. Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Low-impact Abbotsford Eco House uses recycled materials wherever possible in Melbourne

January 9, 2018 by  
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Recycled and reclaimed materials are fitted throughout the Abbotsford Eco House, a sustainable residence that earned a 7.5+ Green Star rating for its energy-efficient features. Design and planning company First Angle completed the home for a client seeking a sustainable low-impact home in Melbourne. In addition to recycled construction material, the designers also turn to recycling in other parts of structure from recaptured heat to recycled rainwater and treated gray water. The Abbotsford Eco House was built largely from materials sourced from the original home on site as well as reclaimed materials taken from local second-hand shops. To minimize energy usage, First Angle placed the residence on a north-east orientation for optimized cross ventilation and solar access for natural heating. Concrete mass stone-clad walls and polished concrete floors throughout the home capture heat during the day and dissipate it at night. Hydronic heating installed in the insulated concrete floor slab complements the natural heating. The designers also take advantage of the stack effect to naturally cool the home in summer. Related: Beautiful Northcote Solar Home shows off modern energy-efficient family living High-performance woolen thermal insulation and double-glazed windows help lock in internal temperatures. Harvested rainwater is reused for flushing toilets and irrigation. A treatment system filters and recycles gray water throughout the home. The interior decorating also echoes the eco-friendly ethos with some of the pieces also salvaged and repaired. + First Angle Photos by Catherine Bailey

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Low-impact Abbotsford Eco House uses recycled materials wherever possible in Melbourne

London store recycles 60,000 plastic bottles for 3D-printed interior

January 5, 2018 by  
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You can tell that Bottletop , a “sustainable luxury” brand that transforms castoff materials into chic carryalls, takes its zero-waste philosophy to heart. Case in point? Its new flagship store on London’s Regent Street, which boasts a 3D-printed interior derived almost entirely from recycled plastic bottles . Together with Krause Architects and Ai Build , Bottletop conscripted a troop of Kuka robots to print sections of the boutique using a filament made from plastic waste gathered from the streets Delhi in India. There’s a social component to the process, too. ReFlow , the Netherlands-based company that makes the filament, says it reinvests part of its profits into local manufacturing projects. “Our mission is to significantly improve the lives of the nearly 40 million waste collectors worldwide who earn less than $2 a day and to create a global, socially responsible 3D-printing community,” ReFlow says on its website. Related: 3D-printed pod homes for the homeless could hang from NYC buildings Inspired by the work of Paolo Zilli, a senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects , the Bottletop store is a “world-first in retail” that “contributes to a broader positive ecosystem, in line with the values … of sustainable luxury, ethical design, technical innovation, and cross-cultural collaboration,” the company says in a statement. The recycled plastic isn’t the store’s only sustainable element, either. Look down and you’ll find that the flooring is composed of recycled rubber tires; glance up and you’ll discover a canopy made up of thousands of used metal cans suspended within a 3D-printed filigree. Related: World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands The store is a work in progress—literally. The KUKA robots are still hard at work producing whole segments, meaning that the space will evolve over time. You can even take home a piece of the store, in a manner of speaking: For a limited time, customers will be able to employ an on-site robot to print personalized bag charms using the ReFlow filament. “For the first time, visitors to our store will be able to witness the sustainable use of this technology first hand while shopping the Bottletop collection and learning about the mission of the brand,” the company says. “This is so exciting for us as our customers can watch the transformation of the store.” + Bottletop

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London store recycles 60,000 plastic bottles for 3D-printed interior

YouTuber designs a DIY solar device to help power Puerto Rico

January 5, 2018 by  
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Swaths of Puerto Rico still lack electricity . Jehu Garcia, film-making equipment company owner and YouTuber , wondered how he could help. He’s built his own do-it-yourself version of a Powerwall , and tackled the Puerto Rico power issue with his technical know-how by building a solar generator , and providing information for others to also build the DIY generators. Garcia created a solar generator , which he explained in his video is “essentially a small, lightweight, portable Powerwall .” The solar generator is a box “containing batteries , an inverter, a solar charge controller, and all kinds of different connectors to get the power in and out.” His 13-minute video details how to make the device, and the text below includes links to the various components a builder would need – costing around $550, a figure which includes the cost of a solar panel , an extension cord to connect the device to the panel, and around six light bulbs. “This is a complete system ready to deploy in Puerto Rico to light up a home and to give at least power communications or medical devices,” Garcia said in his video. The device can be equipped to offer around one kilowatt-hours worth of battery. Related: More than 20 organizations launch Solar Saves Lives to power clinics and food markets in Puerto Rico Garcia called for people to build the solar generators, and send completed devices or parts to Javier Camacho, a contact of Garcia’s in Puerto Rico. Camacho recorded a video sharing his experience on the island, saying, “We are at the mercy of the people that can actually put the grid on – or, we could help them. We could make something.” Camacho has access to a maker space, according to Garcia, with people who could build the solar generators. OZY reported there have been 15 installations so far. + Jehu Garcia on YouTube Images via Jehu Garcia on Instagram ( 1 , 2 )

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VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing

December 4, 2017 by  
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Uber , get ready for more competition. Volkswagen’s mobility startup Moia just introduced a fully electric vehicle optimized for ridesharing . Unveiled at TechCrunch in Berlin, the concept also includes an app so customers can book and pay for rides easily. The startup plans to roll out the six-seaterout on the streets of Hamburg, Germany next year, with an overall goal of removing one million cars from roads. Moia could offer travelers an easy, eco-friendly new way to get around cities. The startup, which began just a year ago at TechCrunch in London, aims to get cars off the streets to ensure cleaner air and reduced traffic . Six people can ride inside the vehicle, which features standalone seats with USB ports and dimmable reading lights so everyone’s comfortable. Passengers can check their emails or surf the Internet with WiFi. There’s also a storage area next to the driver for luggage or bags. Moia’s range is 300 kilometers, or over 186 miles, and can be charged to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Osnabrück designed and built it in a record 10 months. Related: Volkswagen confirms when the Microbus is coming back as an EV With the app, users can see available cars and ride costs before booking. The startup said they’ll employ a pooling algorithm to put riders with similar destinations in the same car to avoid detours and have as many people riding in one car as possible. Since October of this year, Moia has been testing their service in Hannover. They’ll debut the concept in Hamburg, with more locations to follow. CEO Ole Harms said in a statement, “In 2018, we’ll be ready to launch our ride pooling concept internationally and take the first steps toward our goal of reducing the number of cars in major cities by one million in Europe and the USA by 2025.” + Moia Via Moia Images via Moia

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