Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbournes summers with smart passive design

March 16, 2017 by  
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Sustainability and a tight budget were the driving features for this bright and airy lean-to extension to a detached 1960s home. Designed by Warc Studio , the timber-and-glass addition houses a spacious open-plan living area, dining space, and kitchen that connect to a rear garden. To meet sustainability requirements, the architects used locally and sustainably sourced timber, stressed resource efficiency , and promoted natural cooling with operable window openings and solar shading fins. Located in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh, Australia, the new addition was inspired by the mono-pitched lean-to structures prevalent to the homes in the area. The architects put a modern twist on the seemingly ubiquitous building structure by combining two gabled roofs with differing gradients. “The design program was driven by resource efficiency which was essential to delivering both economic and sustainable objectives,” wrote the architects. “The resulting roof form provides a compact building envelope: the surface area of the additions are around 12% less than if a flat roof / flat ceiling solution had been employed with the same built volume. This in turn translates to increased efficiency of the thermal envelope and reduced capital material consumption.” Related: Old bungalow transformed into a light-filled dwelling with recycled brick Large windows open the new addition up to views and natural light , reducing reliance on artificial lighting. To mitigate solar heat gain, the architects strategically placed window openings and an automated operable roof window for cross-ventilation . Laminated timber fins jut out from the glass panes to provide shade. The roof is lined with white steel sheet lining to minimize solar heat gain. + Warc Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Aaron Pocock

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Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbournes summers with smart passive design

First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

March 16, 2017 by  
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Scientists found the first fluorescent frog in the world – by accident – in South America . Researchers at Buenos Aires’ Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum stumbled across the discovery while studying pigment in polka dot tree frogs, which are common in the continent. Beneath an ultraviolet (UV) light , the otherwise dull-colored frog glows bright blue and green. Fluorescence – or the ability to take in light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths – is found in several ocean creatures but is incredibly rare on land. Only some scorpions and parrots were known to possess it until now, and this is the very first amphibian we’ve found that fluoresces. Scientists don’t really know why creatures are fluorescent; they could be communicating, attracting mates, or concealing themselves. Related: Biofluorescent sharks glow bright green in the depths of the sea The scientists initially thought the frog might glow a faint red because it contains the pigment biliverdin, which gives some some insects a slight red fluorescence. But when the researchers shone a UVA flashlight on polka dot tree frogs that came from the Santa Fe, Argentina area, they were amazed to see the brown-green frogs glow bright green and blue instead. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published their research on March 13. Study co-author Maria Gabriella Lagoria told Chemistry World, “This is very different from fluorophores found in other vertebrates, which are usually proteins or polyenic chains.” And there could be even more fluorescent frogs that we haven’t discovered yet. Co-author Julián Faivovich told Nature, “I’m really hoping that other colleagues will be very interested in this phenomenon, and they will start carrying a UV flashlight to the field.” He plans to seek fluorescence in 250 other tree frog species that have translucent skin like the polka dot tree frog. Via Nature and The Guardian Images via Carlos Taboada et al

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First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

Cramped 19th-century mansion becomes a bright and open modern residence

March 16, 2017 by  
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The renovation of this 19th-century mansion near Paris highlights the historic elements of the original building, while optimizing its spatial organization to fit modern living. 05AM Arquitectura restored the characteristic features of 19th century home while opening the interior of the house toward the rear garden to embrace the outdoors. The owners of the house– a couple with two young children – commissioned 05AM Arquitectura to restore it to its former glory and make its interior compatible with their daily life. Located in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris , Maison à Colombages featured ornate ceilings and wall moldings, a fireplace, alcoves and a layout that divided the interior into relatively small, poorly lit rooms. Related: Beautiful 19th century Tuscan farmhouse renovated with hollow terra-cotta bricks The architects removed some of the existing partitions and connected the main living area with the dining room and kitchen. They improved the functionality of the entry and added built-in furniture with storage areas and wardrobes. This intervention drastically improved natural lighting and established a stronger connection with the garden. + 05AM Arquitectura Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Adrià Goula

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Cramped 19th-century mansion becomes a bright and open modern residence

Melbourne architects renovate an 1880s Victorian home for the 21st century

October 28, 2016 by  
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The architects used white brick for the exterior of the house, as well as elements of the interior, including the fireplace . Natural materials such as cedar timber and hardwood dominate the verandah and extend into the interior. This combination reflects the varied mix of industrial and residential buildings, garages and outbuildings in the neighborhood. Related: Renovated Victorian House in Toronto combines the best of rural and urban living A simple white palette dominates the interior and is set off with elements in grey concrete, colored timber and grey tint mirrors. The front of the house was upgraded, while the rear features a new L-shaped open-plan kitchen, living and dining area with large glass doors that open onto the rear verandah. + ITN Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Patrick Rodriguez

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Melbourne architects renovate an 1880s Victorian home for the 21st century

New graphene super batteries charge up in seconds and last virtually forever

July 25, 2016 by  
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With the aid of one of the strongest materials on Earth, a researcher at Australia’s Swinburne University has created a battery that charges up super fast and can be used over and over and over again, without losing efficiency. Researcher Han Lin developed the battery using a form of carbon called graphene , which is commonly heralded as one of the strongest materials on the planet. The new supercapacitor addresses many of the shortcomings of traditional lithium ion batteries, beating them in charging time, lifespan, and also environmental impact. Researchers around the globe have worked on expanding the capabilities of supercapacitors for many years, but they are typically limited in storage capacity. Han overcame this problem by adding sheets of graphene , which have a large surface area for energy storage due to the material’s honeycomb structure. The material is also strong and flexible at the same time. The researcher used a 3D printer to create the graphene sheets, resulting in a cost-effective energy storage method that could someday replace the batteries in our cell phones and electric cars. Related: Melbourne’s Advanced Technologies Centre by H2O Architects looks like a gigantic LEGO brick The new supercapacitor ’s ultra-quick charging time—just seconds compared to the minutes or hours needed by a lithium-based battery—is its primary selling point, as it eliminates the inconvenience of long charging times. The graphene-enhanced battery also costs less than a traditional lithium ion battery over the course of its lifetime, due to its unique ability to withstand more recharges without losing strength. Han presented his new supercapacitor at Fresh Science Victoria 2016 earlier this year. + Swinburne University Via Phys.org Images via Fresh Science and Wikipedia 1 2

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Zaha Hadid Architects Melbourne high-rise will use 50 percent less energy than the typical mixed-use tower

July 18, 2016 by  
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Located between Collins Street and the Docklands on the west edge of Melbourne’s Central Business District, 600 Collins Street is set in a high-density and pedestrian-friendly environment. The 178-meter-tall, 54-storey tower will comprise 420 apartments, offices, retail, and public spaces that will seamlessly link the building to the surrounding urban fabric . Its sculptural facade looks like a series of stacked and tapered vases, each of which contains a different programmatic element. “The design has been defined by Melbourne’s rich and diverse urban landscape, reinterpreted in a contemporary solution driven by the logical division of its overall volume that will enhance the city’s public realm with generous communal spaces,” said Zaha Hadid Architects’ Michele Pasca di Magliano. “We are honoured to be working with our partners in Melbourne to deliver this project for the city.” Related: Zaha Hadid Architects win Danjiang Bridge competition in Taiwan The tower’s curvaceous facade will help deflect harsh solar gain to reduce cooling needs. High-performance glazing, high-efficiency central cooling, smart energy lighting, and graywater -reuse systems will also help reduce resource consumption and the building’s energy footprint. The new civic spaces will include public plazas, terraces, and pedestrian pathways that connect to the Southern Cross railway station and the tram network. Shared car clubs, electric vehicle bays, and 350 bicycle parking spaces will also be integrated into the building. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Zaha Hadid Architects Melbourne high-rise will use 50 percent less energy than the typical mixed-use tower

Watch thousands of giant spider crabs colonize the seafloor near Melbourne

June 17, 2016 by  
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Did you know that crabs migrate? Unlike birds that fly south for the winter to avoid the frigid cold, giant spider crabs head to the shallow waters of Australia’s southern coast in pursuit of warmth . Each year, hundreds of thousands of crabs migrate, and one scientist was lucky enough to capture video of a giant horde of spider crabs as they gathered in Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne. Crowding together like this is an odd behavior that scientists don’t completely understand, but it is quite a spectacle to behold – check out a video after the jump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQSHfutIzh8 Australian aquatic scientist Sheree Marris, a documentary film producer and former winner of three Young Australian of the Year awards, was exploring just off the coast when she came upon a mass of the giant spider crabs that she described as several hundreds of meters long. With the crabs stacked up to 10 individuals deep, it’s impossible to know how many crabs were present. Each crab can measure up to 12 feet from claw to claw, giving them greatest leg span of any arthropod on the planet. Related: More than one-third of coral is dead in parts of the Great Barrier Reef The reason for the giant spider crabs gathering together en masse is something scientists don’t completely understand. The prevailing theory, though, is that they cluster for protection during the molting season, when they become more vulnerable to predators after shedding their hard outer shells. Certainly, a crab that strays from the crowd would be easily picked off by a dogfish or a sea turtle. An alternative theory suggests the behavior may be related to mating. Regardless of the reason for the giant spider crab mob, Marris hopes her video will help raise awareness of the diversity of marine animals off Australia’s coast, an area where many people have misconceptions about the nature of sea life. “Who would have thought something like this, that is so spectacular, could be happening in Australia on the southern shore?” she said. Via BBC Images via Sheree Marris

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Watch thousands of giant spider crabs colonize the seafloor near Melbourne

A half-timbered house in the Swiss Alps saved from near ruin

June 17, 2016 by  
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The architects preserved the two street-facing facades and a vaulted cellar. Parts of the building had to be demolished and built anew, mimicking their original form. Three apartments were created between the north facade that features a filigree truss and muntin window, and the south facade that offers beautiful views of the mountainous landscape. Related: Traditional Swiss ski chalet renovated into two modern flex-space units The new facade contrasts the street front and features grey spruce cladding with bay windows . Inside, several elements inspired by vernacular architecture are combined with modern design. Small, wooden chambers are surrounded with large, white spaces of varying ceiling heights. + L3P Architekten Via Plataforma Aquitectura Photos by Sabrina Scheja

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A half-timbered house in the Swiss Alps saved from near ruin

Neglected brick warehouse converted into a flexible daylit home for a family in Melbourne

March 30, 2016 by  
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Gorgeous solar-powered THAT House is an eco-friendly rebel “with just enough space”

February 25, 2016 by  
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