Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

September 30, 2019 by  
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Canadian company Taiga Motors, the creators of the world’s first electric snowmobiles, makes yet another splash in the luxury electric vehicle world with Orca , their first electric personal watercraft. Featuring full carbon fiber hull construction, the luxury jet ski forgoes gasoline in favor of a 23kWh battery that provides energy for up to two hours and can be charged by a regular outlet, standard automotive chargers and DC fast charging. The high-performance electric jet ski will also be fitted with a color integrated digital display for intelligent connectivity via built-in GPS mapping, LTE, wifi and bluetooth. Unveiled on Toronto’s waterfront earlier this month, Taiga Motors’ Orca measures 9.5 feet in length, 3.9 feet in width and 3 feet in height. The personal watercraft clocks in at just under 600 pounds ready to drive and up to 180 horsepower available with instant torque — one of the highest power to weight ratios in the industry, says the firm. Orca also boasts impressive acceleration with a top speed of up to 65 miles per hour and a sub-five millisecond response time. The approximately 125-kilogram lithium-ion battery runs on an automotive standard system voltage of 400 volts and is sealed and vibration isolated to ensure safety even under high shock loads, high humidity environments and temporary submersion. Related: Electric-powered X Shore boats combine sustainability with luxury Scandinavian design In addition to its quiet yet powerful electric engine, the craft heightens the ride experience with a new suspended “floating” seat design made possible by the absence of a combustion engine. According to Taiga Motors, the seat offers the lowest center of gravity of any personal watercraft for improved stability and precision carving on the water. The Orca’s streamlined form is matched with a sleek digital display that can be controlled from the dashboard or the connected app.  Taiga Motors plans to only produce a total of 500 Orca units, with the first one hundred badged as Foundation Edition models with “exclusive design elements and high-performance packages.” The first one hundred models will begin at $28,000 and be delivered to North American customers in summer 2020. Four hundred Orcas will be priced at $24,000 and available to customers shortly after summer 2020. Taiga also has plans to create more electric personal watercraft — priced below $14,000 — in the future. + Taiga Motors Orca

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Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater

September 4, 2019 by  
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Near the Himalayas, a new eco-conscious residential development known as the Woodside has taken root in the mountains of Kasauli, a small town in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Indian architectural firm Morphogenesis used a site-sensitive approach to design the luxury development, which not only follows the contours of the landscape to minimize site disturbance but also makes use of passive solar conditions and rainwater harvesting systems to reduce energy and water usage. Envisioned as a nature retreat for city dwellers, the Woodside is perched on extremely steep terrain that includes level differences of approximately 100 meters within the site boundaries. The development’s 37 cottages and the internal roads were strategically placed to minimize cut and fill operations as well as to preserve the existing vegetation and body of water on site. Locally sourced natural materials, such as stone, timber and slate, were primarily used for construction. Related: Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape “The cottages are positioned on the slope in a manner that ensures unobstructed panoramic views of the scenic hills of the Shimla valley; the largest ones enjoy the farthest view,” the architects explained. The lush landscape is left mostly untouched save for agricultural uses. “This is achieved by maintaining a minimum height difference between the roof level of each cottage and the ground level of the preceding cottage uphill.” To minimize energy usage, the cottages, which come in four different types, all feature thick outer walls to provide a thermal mass to reduce reliance on air conditioning. The community’s rainwater harvesting systems also help reduce water use. The collected water is used for irrigation or is stored in a sump downhill for later use. + Morphogenesis Photography by Suryan & Dang via Morphogenesis

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Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater

World’s largest solar plant at sea is installed at Maldives resort

September 4, 2019 by  
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There’s more than sunbathers and yachts floating near the resort Lux* South Ari Atoll in the Maldives. The five-star property, located on the beautiful island of Dhidhoofinolhu, called on SwimSol to provide its patented SolarSea system, the world’s largest solar power plant at sea, to help power the island resort. The SolarSea technology helps gather solar energy to power the island and can withstand the often brutal conditions caused by waves, storms and saltwater. Related: The largest solar farm apiary in the US opens for business “Innovation is key to achieving true sustainability , and we are happy to partner with Swimsol to work toward our goal of minimizing our ecological footprint,” said Jonas Amstad, general manager at Lux* South Ari Atoll. Solar energy is not a new concept to the resort , as it was already using a Swimsol rooftop system before deciding to go beyond its shores with 12 SolarSea platforms on the sea. The floating solar panels are not only saving money but reducing the resort’s carbon footprint . The property’s solar capacity increased by 40 percent and reached 678 kWp — enough to power all of the resort’s guest villas at peak times. Lux* South Ari Atoll is saving more than 260,000 liters of diesel annually, an amount that was once needed to produce the same amount of power via combustion engines. Guests can get involved, too, by viewing a live “solar tracker” available in the villas that shows the energy produced, diesel saved and carbon dioxide emissions saved. Visitors aren’t the only benefactors of solar at the resort; the floating solar platforms offer shelter to young fish. Because the platforms float, they are also able to stay well above the coral reefs and seabed dwellers. With the SolarSea system just off of the shore, Lux* South Ari Atoll can boast that it is now home to the largest solar plant at sea. The resort isn’t stopping there — it is already looking to increase its future solar capacity. + Swimsol Via The Island Chief Images via Swimsol

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World’s largest solar plant at sea is installed at Maldives resort

Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

July 11, 2019 by  
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Airbnb has any number of unique properties, but this luxurious cottage in an idyllic French village looks scrumptious enough to eat. Perhaps that’s because the luxury tiny home rental, now listed on Airbnb , was once an ancient bread cottage. Owner James Roeves and his wife renovated the old building with the utmost of care, recycling and incorporating reclaimed materials whenever possible to convert the structure into a boutique retreat. Located east of Toulouse, Vallée de Gijou is tucked into the region’s Haut Languedoc Park, an idyllic area comprised of rolling hills and lush forests. The area is perfect for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while enjoying an authentic French agritourism experience . Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Formerly a structure used for its bread oven, the compact cottage has been renovated carefully to update its living space while retaining the structure’s original features. According to the owner, James Roeves, he and his wife renovated the structure, doing most of the work themselves. From the start of the adaptive reuse renovation, the project was focused on reclaiming as many materials from the original structure as possible. In the end, the bed, window sills, sideboards, shutters, bedroom floor tiles, wardrobe and front walls were all part of the original building. However, to bring the cottage into the 21st century, the process also required some modern touches. To keep the interior warm and cozy during the winter months, the structure is tightly insulated , and the windows are double-glazed to reduce heating costs. A bright, modern kitchen has all of the amenities a home chef could need. Beyond the kitchen, a comfortable living room features a sofa and chair along with a flat-screen television. This space also includes a small table that was made out of recovered wood planks . At the heart of the living area is a wood-burning Esse Bakeheart that has its own oven, a cooking plate and a grill that slides into the firebox for char-grilling. Of course, for those guests who prefer to leave their oven mitts at home, the owners are former restaurateurs who are happy to provide full catering prepared with fresh local produce. The rest of the home is just as lovely, with a spiral staircase leading up to a spacious bedroom. A queen-sized bed sits in the middle of the room, which has a spacious vaulted ceiling with exposed wooden beams for an extra dose of charm. + Converted Bread Oven Tiny Home Via Tiny House Talk Images via James Roeves

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Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

These biodegradable sweaters ditch fast fashion in favor of sustainable cashmere

June 24, 2019 by  
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With a goal of replacing fast fashion with consciously consumed fashion, Frances Austen’s summer 2019 collection features 100 percent biodegradable sweaters made from sustainably sourced cashmere and silk. After many years in the fashion business, Frances Austen founder Margaret Coblentz was tired of seeing the trends in fast fashion , including a flurry of wasteful production and post-consumer disposal. With the clothing industry consistently falling into the highest-ranking waste production industries, she decided to do something about it with a very basic philosophy — make quality clothing that is versatile and long-lasting. Her goal is to encourage consumers to re-wear clothing, both because it’s good for the planet and because they love what they’re wearing. With that in mind, the luxury product line aims to be both trendy and timeless. Related: H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae “The lightbulb moment was years in the making,” Coblentz said. “After a decade of witnessing firsthand the overproduction of fast fashion that is not re-wearable, recyclable or re-sellable, we decided to do something about it. We saw amazing qualities in luxury fabrics , silk and cashmere, and envisioned game-changing clothing that is 100 percent sexy on you as well as the environment. If you want to help the planet, it starts by re-wearing your clothes, and our aim at Frances Austen is to make that easier for you. All our pieces are made to last, versatile for every occasion and comprised of biodegradable materials and are 100 percent cashmere.” Sustainability begins with the materials used during production, so the yarn comes from specialists in the industry, spun by Cariaggi in Italy. All of the yarn is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, a certification only earned with chemical-free production and high international safety standards. For production, the company partnered with Johnstons of Elgin, a family-owned factory in Scotland. In business for over 200 years, it is the largest employer in the small community of Hawick. Long associated with luxury and an emphasis on craftsmanship, Johnstons of Elgin is a name known for its socially responsible practices. With reliable material and manufacturing partnerships in place, Frances Austen shifted focus to long-lasting durable designs in the sweaters themselves. Dedicated to using the finest fibers (15 micron), the goal of less pilling leads to durability and a softer feel over the life of the garment. Hoping to meet the needs of a range of consumers, the product line includes crop designs, lantern sleeve, raw edge crew and a longer, reversible V-neck in a range of colors from citrine and kiwi to traditional charcoal and soft white. As a result of my interest in writing about the sustainably focused 2019 summer sweater line, Frances Austen sent me a sample sweater to experience. The Reversible V in blush mauve is uniquely designed to allow a deep V front or a stylish V back and crew neck front. In my opinion, this adds to the versatility of the piece, giving it more value as a long-lasting article in my closet. The material is remarkably soft and comfortable on the skin. Time will tell the story of durability, but I’m excited to put it to the test as a staple of my wardrobe for many years to come. + Frances Austen Images via Frances Austen and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product overview and review is not sponsored by Frances Austen. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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These biodegradable sweaters ditch fast fashion in favor of sustainable cashmere

Boston’s mayor announces curbside compost program

June 24, 2019 by  
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Boston’s mayor Marty Walsh wants to know: are you going to compost that? Because chances are you should. Walsh has announced a plan to ensure that 100 percent of compostable waste is diverted from landfills by 2050. According the city’s estimates, 36 percent of the trash that Bostonians are throwing away should be composted and 39 percent should be recycled. This is a huge amount of waste going to the wrong place (landfills or incinerators) and ultimately equates to 6 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions . Related: Washington becomes the first state to allow human composting Mayor Walsh is determined to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and believes an overhaul of the waste services in the city can make major progress in the right direction. The city has requested proposals from companies willing to provide curbside composting services to Boston residents for a subscription fee, which the government plans to subsidize. Right across the Charles River, the neighboring city of Cambridge already started providing free curbside composting for residents last year, but Boston has six times the population. Boston also plans to expand the window of time that yard waste is collected and launch a textile pick-up program. Last year, the city also announced a plan to ban single-use plastic bags throughout the city. “Preparing Boston for climate change means ensuring our city is sustainable, both now and in the future,” Walsh said. “We need to lead and design city policies that work for our residents and for the environment and world we depend upon. These initiatives will lead Boston toward becoming a zero-waste city and invest in the future of residents and generations to come.” To help out with the transition toward zero-waste , Boston received a grant from Cocoa-Cola to increase the number of recycling bins, signage and trash services in city parks. Boston was one of seven cities to receive this pilot funding from Coca-Cola. The switch to a more comprehensive waste system will require re-educating Bostonians about how to recycle and what to compost. The city’s website recommends residents download the city’s free “ Trash Day ” app, with which users can look up specific items and learn exactly how to dispose of them. Via Curbed Image via Shutterstock

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Boston’s mayor announces curbside compost program

LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood

June 14, 2019 by  
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This 39-room inn in the popular Wine Country town of Healdsburg boasts sustainable, natural materials and an eco-friendly design that earned it a LEED Gold certification. Glass is used to encase the lobby entry, while the walls and floors are made of textured and smooth concrete. Steel and reclaimed redwood slats are utilized throughout the exterior to create a naturally open feel and provide views of the surrounding trees and foliage. Artfully-described as “modern organic” by the building’s creators at David Baker Architects, Harmon Guest House is the natural companion to its two sister boutique eco hotels, the swanky Hotel Healdsburg and the trendy h2hotel. As described on the firm’s website , “This contextual new inn slips into the Healdsburg scene as a fresh surprise with an understated California vibe, yet seems as if it’s always naturally been there.” Related: This luxury resort in Canada is recognized globally for its contributions to eco tourism These organic intentions are apparent from the moment you walk up to the building. The design subconsciously promotes sustainable transportation thanks to the sheltered bus stop bench built into the face of the hotel and a shared fleet of bicycles available for guest use. Even the check-in desk has been crafted from one single, fallen eucalyptus tree. The combination of a vast glass entryway, bare polished concrete and unadorned wooden screens is a reminder to all who enter that the condition of being natural is just as beautiful (if not more) than decoration or embellishment. The 39 rooms (including six suites) are connected by a centralized courtyard and glass-enclosed bridges. Each room provides a private outdoor space with a balcony or patio. Both the common spaces and individual rooms feature locally sourced art and fixtures. The presence of the hotel benefits Healdsburg’s own Foss Creek, which is visible from the rear of the inn and accessible via footbridge. A creekside park allows guests to enjoy the restored area between the water and land while the property’s presence spanning the creek aids in the protection of the natural area. + David Baker Architects + Harmon Guest House Photography by Bruce Damonte and Angie Silvy via David Baker Architects

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LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood

This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm

April 26, 2019 by  
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Along the waterfront on New York’s north shore, Staten Island Urby sits overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan . The millennial-friendly residential space includes 571 units, 35,000 square feet of commercial space and something a little unusual for an apartment complex: a massive urban farm. When it comes to innovation, the urban farm, also known as Rabbit’s Garden, incorporates bio-dynamic, bio-intensive and agro-ecological methods into its farming techniques. Rabbit’s Garden sells its variety of vegetables, herbs, microgreens and flowers to both CSA (“Community Supported Agriculture”) members and wholesale clients, but that’s not all it does. The urban farm is also a place for Urby residents and the larger Staten Island community to familiarize themselves with agriculture, a rare experience in a big city. The garden team provides educational workshops on everything from cooking and gardening to art, science and sustainability. Some of the events planned for 2019 include community volunteer days, a workshop on composting , farm dinners and cooking classes. Urby residents have the chance to use the produce in their own personal cooking, and local, on-site restaurants often use the fresh vegetables for seasonal dishes. Urby also sells produce at the weekly farmers market. Related: SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient The inspiration behind Urby combines the nature of apartment living with the personal touches of boutique hotel hospitality. Plenty of space and natural light with an abundance of communal areas and in-house culture teams that plan neighborly get-togethers further add to the hospitality aspect. The farm is one of these areas, and the cozy Urby kitchen and dining room is another. Along with these spaces, residents of the luxury apartment complex also enjoy amenities such as a fully-equipped gym, a heated saltwater pool, on-site dining options and outdoor spaces aimed at social interaction. Landscaped spots with Wi-Fi capability ensure that residents stay connected, while outdoor courtyards with fire pits and lounging space inspire social interactions and collective creativity. If residents are feeling a little more reclusive, there are plenty of comfortable spots throughout the property to curl up with a good book or get some work done without interruption as well. Rabbit’s Garden is run by farmer-in-residence Olivia Gamber, a longtime urban agriculture-enthusiast with a degree in Environmental Studies and years of community garden experience under her belt. Urby was created by real estate developer and hotelier David Barry, known for his contributions to the New York boutique hotel scene as both a developer and operator. Urby also has two other communities located in Jersey City and Harrison, New Jersey, and it plans to continue growing the collection of complexes in the future. + Urby Images via Urby

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This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm

This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

July 20, 2018 by  
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Blessed with serene mountain vistas and a rich history, Moganshan also boasts a wide array of beautiful resorts including Anadu, a new rural retreat designed by local architecture firm Studio 8 . Located at the northern foot of the Mogan Mountain in Huzhou, about two hours from Shanghai , the luxury resort embraces its enticing surroundings comprised of lush bamboo forests, tea fields and ancient villas. Constructed with natural materials throughout, the hotel is undeniably connected to its rural setting while still offering a contemporary edge. Completed in 2017, Anadu covers nearly 13,000 square feet spread across three floors. Studio 8 was commissioned to oversee the architecture, interior design and visual identity of the luxury resort, which highlights  local resources from the ingredients used in the restaurant to the selection of construction materials. Following the brand’s motto of “Find yourself in nature,” every floor embraces the outdoors through large windows and stunning water features. “Water itself, and especially a very calm water surface, generates immediately a sense of relax,” explained Studio 8 in a statement. “[We] decided that this element would be the core of the hotel, a connection between the rooms that articulates the structure of the entire building. For that purpose, the roof of each floor was turned into an infinity water feature. By bringing natural elements into the architectural spaces, the design fosters a connection between the building and the outside.” Related: Heatherwick Studio wants to build a tree-covered mountain in the middle of Shanghai The resort’s various rooms are organized in four major narratives inspired by the immediate surroundings. The Tea Room, for instance, faces the white tea fields and is dressed in a material palette echoing the tea theme. To the south, the Mountain Room features a dark gray color palette and a water feature that reflects the distant mountain range. On the east side, the Bamboo Room mimics a bamboo forest with its bamboo wood furnishings and a rice-pink palette. The penthouse suite on the third floor follows the theme of Sky and is surrounded by an infinity pool to create the effect of a “floating island.” + Studio 8 Images by Sven Zhang ???

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This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

Historic warehouses transformed into a swanky boutique hotel in New Orleans

July 12, 2018 by  
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New York City-based architecture and interior design firm Stonehill Taylor tapped into New Orleans’ storied past for its design of The Eliza Jane , a new boutique hotel a few blocks west from the city’s iconic French Quarter. The unique hotel was created from seven centuries-old warehouses that were combined and renovated to form a variety of elegantly dressed spaces including 196 guest rooms with 50 suites, a fitness center, garden courtyard, lounge, restaurant, and lobby. Created as part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, the Eliza Jane hotel was named after Eliza Jane Nicholson, the first woman publisher of a major metropolitan newspaper in the United States. In the late 1800s, Eliza Jane had worked as the publisher of ‘The Daily Picayune,’ which was one of the original warehouse occupants. Moreover, Stonehill Taylor wove references to ‘The Daily Picayune’ and the buildings’ other original occupants—like the Gulf Baking Soda company and the Peychaud Bitters Factory—throughout the adaptive reuse design. The ‘Press Room’ lounge on the ground floor, for instance, is decorated with typewriters and other antiques referencing a 19th-century newsroom. “The intent was to create a quintessentially New Orleans setting, a sophisticated blend of old and new, that pays homage to the building’s past,” says Stonehill Taylor in a statement. “The hotel is built within seven historic warehouses that stand distinct on the outside but have been internally conjoined to create the luxury accommodations with a 2,000-square-foot open-air interior courtyard .” Related: Abandoned NYC warehouse is reinvented as LEED Gold-certified apartments The arrival sequence is anchored by a 60-foot-tall light-filled atrium surrounded by lush greenery and the original exposed brick and slate-colored plaster walls. Repurposed materials can also be found throughout the interior, while new custom wall coverings reference the different historic uses in each building. The opulent material palette is combined with vibrant patterns and rich colors to create a setting that feels luxurious and uniquely New Orleans. + Stonehill Taylor Images via The Eliza Jane

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Historic warehouses transformed into a swanky boutique hotel in New Orleans

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