Solar-powered residence in Thailand takes on a sculptural form with cantilevering cubes

January 29, 2020 by  
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Bangkok-based studio ASWA has unveiled a contemporary home located in the mountainous region of Maehongsorn, Thailand. The 1,000-square-foot, solar-powered home is comprised of three large cubes stacked on top of each other. With massive windows and dual outdoor decks, the energy-efficient house is strategically crafted to let the residents best enjoy the incredible views. Using the surrounding nature as inspiration , the ASWA team came up with the idea to create a structural form that would allow the homeowners to embrace the views from nearly anywhere inside the home. Built out of concrete frames, the blocks, which are of similar height and width, are shifted alternatively as they rise, creating large, covered decks between the levels. Related: A series of cantilevering cubes make up this French social housing complex A smooth cement cladding was used on the three volumes, but the second and third floors were covered in thin panels of artificial wood to create a warm aesthetic that blends in with the surrounding trees. To create a strong connection between the home and its natural setting, the blocks feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer unobstructed views and natural light throughout the interior spaces. Connected via a stairwell that runs through the middle of the home, the three floors each have a designated use. The ground floor houses the main living area along with the kitchen and dining space, while the second floor has an office space. The large master bedroom is located on the top floor. Thanks to the stacked design, there are covered decks on the top two levels, including one with a hammock and another with a hot tub, as well as a rooftop terrace that allows the residents to take in the views and the fresh air. The Maehongsorn home was also built to be energy efficient and operates almost entirely off the grid . An array of solar panels was installed on the rooftop and provides electricity and hot water for the home. There is also a rainwater catchment system installed. Throughout the house, LED lighting helps reduce the energy consumption. + ASWA Via ArchDaily Images via ASWA

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Solar-powered residence in Thailand takes on a sculptural form with cantilevering cubes

Urban Beehive Project creates a buzz around honeybee education

January 29, 2020 by  
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In Charlottetown, Canada, a delightful buzz of eco-friendly activity has descended on a new public destination — the Urban Beehive Project, a community installation that highlights the importance of pollinators and their role in a sustainable ecosystem. Local architecture and multidisciplinary firm Nine Yards Studio designed the sculptural community project to not only provide habitat for local bees but also to serve as a platform for hands-on learning and play. Located at Charlottetown’s largest urban garden, the PEI Farm Center, the Urban Beehive Project draws the eye with its two free-standing geometric structures that house demonstration beehives. Each structure is punctuated with two windows — one at child height and the other for adults — to provide glimpses of the bees working inside the plexiglass hive. Visitors can also watch the bees exit and enter the hive at the bee landing pad; a door provides beekeepers access to the hives. The raised installations are built from timber and secured in place by helical anchors to minimize site impact. Related: SCAD students fight food insecurity in Georgia with organic farming and beekeeping “Plan Bee” of the Urban Beehive Project is a three-tiered, 30-foot-by-15-foot amphitheater also built from a series of wooden 3-foot hexagonal blocks. The honeycomb-inspired hexagon blocks are stacked to create seating for small groups on all sides. At the back of the amphitheater is a series of upright hexagonal elements — some with attached graphic interpretation signage about the bees — that rise up to 9 feet above the platform and are large enough for children to sit in. Grass berms surround the structure to provide an extra play element for children. “The Urban Beehive Project has created a dynamic and multifunctional apiary destination in Charlottetown,” the architects explained in a statement. “The project has become a play structure, a sculpture, a garden as well as a tool for hands-on learning. More importantly for us, it has become an example of how design can play an important role in our community, our development and our environment.” + Nine Yards Studio Photography by Tamzin Gillis via Nine Yards Studio

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Urban Beehive Project creates a buzz around honeybee education

New technological process transforms everyday trash into graphene

January 29, 2020 by  
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Rice University researchers have succeeded in creating graphene, not from costly purified starting materials, but from everyday trash . The amount produced is in kilograms per day, rather than the customary small batches of grams per day produced via traditional methods. With the researchers’ novel technique using electricity, even carbon sourced from food scraps, plastic waste and wood clippings can be the starting material for high-quality graphene. This breakthrough study holds both environmental and market promise for various scaled-up applications. Research team lead James Tour said on The Engineer , “With the present commercial price of graphene being $67,000 to $200,000 per ton, the prospects for this process look superb.” Tour has co-founded the startup company Universal Matter, Inc. to commercialize this new waste-to-graphene technique. Related: ‘Game changing’ graphene concrete is twice as strong and better for the planet Graphene is highly prized in sectors like battery energy, (flexible) electronics, semiconductors, solar and even DNA sequencing for its outstanding mechanical, electric and thermal properties. Structurally, graphene can be visualized as ultra-thin sheets or films of pure carbon atoms, leveraged to create high-strength materials. For decades, graphene had only been conceptualized by theoretical physicists. Then in 1962, it was observed via electron microscopes. However, its instability led to it remaining on the fringes of physics . That changed in 2002, when Andre Geim, a University of Manchester physics professor, re-discovered graphene.  The New Yorker documented Geim’s specialty as microscopically thin materials. Hence, it wasn’t much of a leap for him to rethink stacking carbon atoms into thin layers to see how they’d behave in particular experimental conditions. Geim was thereby the first to isolate and produce graphene so that it was no longer an elusive substance. In 2010, Geim was recognized for his pioneering work with graphene and awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Although the knowledge of isolating and producing graphene has been known since the early 2000s, the costs have been prohibitive. Why? Methods of creating graphene required, as Chemical & Engineering News cited, “expensive substrates on which to grow graphene and/or reagents such as methane, acetylene and organic solids that must be purified before use.” But with this breakthrough from the Rice University and Universal Matter, Inc. team, the industry is about to change. Just think, this new trash-to-treasure technique with graphene poses a win-win in terms of both cost for production and the environment. + Nature Via Science Image via CORE-Materials

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New technological process transforms everyday trash into graphene

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