Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico

April 8, 2019 by  
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On the edge of Lake Avándaro in the Mexican town of Valle de Bravo is House A, a beautiful, contemporary home that’s designed by Mexico City-based architectural firm Metodo in collaboration with Ingeniería Orca to embrace views of the lake. Named after its sharply pitched A-frame construction, the three-story home is built with walls of glass and folding glazed doors to create a seamless connection with the outdoors. A palette of natural materials complement steel and glass elements to create a modern and warm ambiance. Spread out over three floors with an area of 3,523 square feet, House A was created with large gatherings and entertaining in mind. The ground level, which opens up through folding glazed doors to an outdoor patio and lawn, comprises an open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen; a TV room; service rooms; and a guest suite. The main entrance and parking pad are located on the second floor, where the first master suite and children’s room can be found. The small third floor features a second master suite, a yoga terrace and a secondary children’s room. “The intention of House A is precisely to be able to appropriate its surroundings and give its inhabitants a way to ‘live’ the lake,” the architects said in a project statement.” The ‘ A-frame ’ shape is used to its fullest potential to make this possible. Therefore, it was very important that the structure was present in every space of the house. Additionally, we wanted the structure to be a coherent element with the house’s functionality.” Related: Ruins of Sweden’s oldest church sheltered by a new A-frame building The architects built the dwelling with a contemporary steel structure along with local construction techniques and materials . The house is oriented toward the north for views of the lake while lateral balconies, inspired by boat decks, let in solar radiation in mornings and evenings. + Metodo + Ingeniería Orca Photography by Tatiana Mestre via Metodo

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Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico

Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear

April 8, 2019 by  
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Brazilian company Insecta is defying the stereotype that eco-friendly fashion can’t be stylish with its line of “ecosexy” vegan shoes. In addition to being completely void of animal-derived materials, the company also uses sustainable materials like recycled rubber and recycled plastic to construct its footwear. Insecta has been around since 2014 in Brazil, but the company recently announced it will be making an expansion into the United States. In addition to its flagship stores in Porto Alegre and São Paulo, Brazil, the company is conducting an international launch with a new distribution center in April 2019. The new distribution center, located in North America, will help Insecta distribute shoes to even more customers. Related: VEJA unveils vegan sneakers made from corn waste The shoes are handcrafted from materials like recycled bottles, recycled cotton, recycled rubber, upcycled vintage clothing and reusable fabrics. According to the company, it has recycled more than 6,000 plastic bottles and almost 400 square meters of upcycled fabrics in the past year alone.  Nothing is wasted, even when it comes to already-recycled materials. For example, the “Beetle” shoe design uses recycled plastic for its toe caps, and the cushioned insoles are made from recycled rubber and fabric scraps from the company’s own production. One dress has the ability to produce five pairs of Insecta shoes. All of the vegan shoes are comfortable flats sized from 35 to 47 European — or sizes 4 to 14 in U.S. sizes, meaning almost everyone will be able to find a shoe in their proper size. Don’t worry if you’re unsure about European sizes, because the website offers a handy sizing table to help you pick the perfect fit. There are eight different styles to choose from, ranging from boots to sandals, and they’re all creative and stylish. There are classic, natural colors available, like beige and charcoal, but also bright prints for those looking to make more of a statement. What’s more, all of Insecta’s shoes are unisex. Insecta strives to “pollinate the world with color and mindful awareness,” according to the website . The company believes that no living thing should be sacrificed in the name of fashion or other aesthetic purpose. + Insecta Images via Insecta

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Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear

A series of cylindrical volumes break up this modernist home in Mexico

March 27, 2019 by  
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Merida-based architecture firm Garrido Lizarraga Arquitectos has unveiled a gorgeous,  modernist home comprised of a low-lying structure interspersed by several cylindrical volumes. Marked by clean, simple lines, white cladding and natural light, the contemporary House O + I is 1,776 square feet of pure, unadulterated sophistication. Located in Merida, Mexico, the family residence is set on an expansive plot of land, which inspired the incredible design. To take advantage of the building site, the architects opted to create an elongated, low-lying volume with an open floor plan. This strategy, according to the design firm, would allow the home owners to enjoy multiple perspectives of the natural surroundings from virtually any angle. Related: Award-winning Palm Springs home embraces the California climate in sustainable style The two-bedroom home is clad in smooth, all-white surfaces, both on the interior and exterior, that contrast with the existing rustic environment. Additionally, the home’s modernist aesthetic is enhanced with long, angular cutouts and various cylindrical volumes that rise up over the main structure’s roof line. The cylindrical volumes separate the home according to use, with one side housing the communal areas and the other side containing the two bedrooms. Clean, simple lines define the interior space, which, like the exterior, is clad in smooth, white surfaces. However, to create a bit of contrast, the architects used chukum, a limestone-based, red-hued stucco mixed with resin from chukum trees, to bring in hints of nature into the interior, from accent walls to bathroom features. At the heart of the home is the south-facing living room that leads out to the swimming pool through a series of sliding glass doors. This expansive outdoor space is enclosed with a textured, earthen wall that contrasts nicely with the all-white house. From the large terrace area, a “floating” staircase leads to a rooftop terrace that overlooks the surroundings. + Garrido Lizarraga Arquitectos Via World Architecture Photography by Diego Ayuso via Garrido Lizarraga Arquitectos

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A series of cylindrical volumes break up this modernist home in Mexico

Zaha Hadid Architects break ground on an eco-sensitive multimodal bridge in Taiwan

March 27, 2019 by  
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The world’s longest single-mast, asymmetric cable-stayed bridge has broken ground in northern Taiwan . Not only engineered for minimal visual impact, the bridge is also designed to host a wide range of transit options. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects , the world record-breaking Danjiang Bridge will span approximately 3,000 feet across the mouth of the Tamsui River. The structure’s single-mast design is also meant to minimize site impact to the riverbed as part of an effort to protect the estuary’s ecosystem and nature reserve. Supported by a single 656-foot-tall concrete pylon, the Danjiang Bridge will connect Bali district and Tamsui district in New Taipei City while improving accessibility between Taipei and Taoyuan International Airport, and will also help reduce traffic in the area by an estimated 30 percent. Along with Sinotech Engineering Consultants and Leonhardt, Andrä and Partner Beratende Ingenieure, Zaha Hadid Architects was approached to design the project after winning an international design competition in 2015 with their proposal for a sleek and minimalist bridge . The proposed bridge includes dedicated lanes for high-occupancy vehicles, motorized vehicles, scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. Bicycle racks and benches will also be installed at intervals across the bridge. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects completes highly complex Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre Since the estuary has long drawn locals and tourists alike who flock to the coast every day to watch the sun setting over the Taiwan Strait, it was imperative that the slender bridge minimize its visual impact so as not to obstruct views from popular viewing points along the river bank. The bridge is also designed to minimize environmental impact and to accommodate a potential future expansion of the Danhai Light Rail network across the Tamsui River. The Danjiang Bridge has a construction schedule of 68 months and a budget of NT $12.49 billion (U.S. $405.2 million). The project is slated to open in 2024. + Zaha Hadid Architects Renderings by VA and MIR

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Zaha Hadid Architects break ground on an eco-sensitive multimodal bridge in Taiwan

Activists trying to prevent the vaquita porpoise from extinction

March 18, 2019 by  
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Researchers just confirmed the sad news that only around 10 vaquita porpoises remain in the wild. Unless immediate steps are taken, these sea creatures will undoubtedly become extinct over the next few years. Vaquita porpoises are among the ocean’s smallest cetaceans and they only reside in the northern Gulf of California. The update on population numbers comes after news of the first vaquita death this year. Scientists are expected to release more information on that front later this week. Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans The International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita is leading the charge in preventing these beloved creatures from becoming extinct. The conservation group challenged the president of Mexico , Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, to put a stop to gillnet fishing in vaquita habitats in hopes to boost population numbers. “One of Earth’s most incredible creatures is about to be wiped off the planet forever,” Sarah Uhlemann, the head of the Center for Biological Diversity, explained. “…Time is running out for President Lopez Obrador to stop all gillnet fishing and save the vaquita.” Gillnet fishing practices are the biggest threat to the vaquita and other marine wildlife, including the totoaba, another endangered species. Mexican has attempted to curb gillnet fishing but has yet to initiate any plans that work. Vaquita population declined a staggering 50 percent last year alone. The highest estimates put the number of vaquitas at 22, while some researchers say that number could be as low as six. Mexico has passed laws that outlaw the use of gillnet fishing. Enforcing those laws, however, has been the challenge. Last year, conservationists uncovered over 400 gillnet rigs in the vaquita’s habitat, and their efforts to remove them were met with violence. Unless Obrador and his administration does something fast, the vaquita will be killed off before his term is up. Although the numbers are alarmingly small, scientists believe there is hope for vaquita porpoises . Fortunately, the remaining vaquitas are still having babies and remain healthy, which are the two main elements for recovering an endangered species that is one the verge of extinction. Via Eco Watch Image via Paula Olson

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Activists trying to prevent the vaquita porpoise from extinction

Biofase has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits

February 15, 2019 by  
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A Mexico-based company has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits. Biofase, a startup founded in Michoacan, Mexico, is using discarded waste from the fruit to create biodegradable cutlery and straws in a bigger fight against single-use plastics and food waste. A biochemical engineer named Scott Munguia created Biofase in 2013. The company uses a technique that transforms avocado waste into bioplastics, which are then used to form materials. All of the products the company creates from the pits are fully biodegradable and decompose within 240 days. Related: How to grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit “Our family of biodegradable resins can be processed by all conventional methods of plastic molding,” Biofase explained in a tweet. According to EcoWatch , the organization processes around 15 metric tons of avocado waste every day. Not only is the operation proving profitable, but it is also good for the environment. Apart from the biodegradable utensils and straws, Biofase is preventing a significant amount of agricultural waste from ending up in Mexico’s landfills and surrounding bodies of water. Biofase claims to be the sole biopolymer supplier in its home country of Mexico . The company ships its biodegradable products to more than 11 countries in Latin America. Several chain restaurants also order cutlery and straws from Biofase, including Chili’s Grill & Bar, Fiesta Americana and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Although Biofase is leading Mexico in the production of biopolymers, new laws will likely create a need for more development in the industry. In fact, several municipalities in the region have passed laws against single-use plastics , emphasizing a growing need for eco-friendly alternatives. For example, Querétaro banned plastic bags in 2017, and Tijuana followed suit the following year. Ditching single-use plastics is a growing trend in Mexico. To date, there are more than 15 laws at city and state levels that are meant to discourage the use of disposable plastics. Biopolymers come with their own disadvantages, but these are a viable solution to the growing problem of plastic waste around the globe. If a company like Biofase can come up with an ingenious way to create biodegradable straws and biodegradable utensils, we can only hope that other forms of biodegradable plastics will follow. + Biofase Via EcoWatch Image via Julie Henriksen

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Global warming to blame for insect collapse in Puerto Rican rainforest

January 23, 2019 by  
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35 years ago, scientist Brad Lister left the Puerto Rican Luquillo rainforest after studying the arthropods of the region. He left an area that had a thriving insect population that provided food for all of the birds in the national park. But, when he returned in 2018, Lister and his colleague, Andres Garcia, made a shocking discovery — 98 percent of the ground insects had vanished. “We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” Lister told The Guardian. “We were driving into the forest, and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.” According to Lister’s study , published in October 2018, 80 percent of the insects in the leafy canopy were gone, and on the ground, 98 percent of the insects had disappeared. The believed culprit? Global warming. Lister noticed the huge decline as insects barely covered the sticky ground and canopy plates in the rainforest, and recalled the long hours it used to take to pick them off.  But now, after twelve hours in the forest, there were maybe one or two insects trapped on the plates. Related: Farming insects too much too fast could create an environmental disaster “It was a true collapse of the insect populations in that rainforest,” Lister said. “We began to realize this is terrible– a very, very disturbing result.” Lister’s study is one of a handful of recent studies about the decline of  insect population, and the results are “hyper-alarming” according to experts. In Germany’s natural reserves, the number of flying insects has plummeted 75 percent in the last 25 years. A lack of insects due to drought and heat in the Australian eucalyptus forest has been blamed for the disappearance of birds. Lister and Garcia also studied the insect numbers in a dry forest in Mexico, and found an 80 percent insect collapse within the last three decades. Scientists call the crash of insect numbers a significant development and an “ecological Armageddon” as they are a vital part of the foundation of the food chain. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Global warming to blame for insect collapse in Puerto Rican rainforest

The Nogal House saves energy with smart site-specific design

November 15, 2018 by  
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Mexican architecture practice BGP Arquitectura recently completed the Nogal House, a contemporary dwelling in San Pedro Garza García, Mexico that’s shaped by its environment in more ways than one. Named Nogal after the existing type of walnut trees on site, the building features a curved and asymmetrical layout informed by the locations of the trees and site preservation goals. The residence also adopts passive solar principles to minimize its energy footprint and uses insulated double glazing throughout. Spanning an area of 670 square meters over three floors, the Nogal House stretches east to west on a triangular site. Nature plays a central role in the design of the home, with its curvaceous, organic forms and natural materials palette . The boundary between indoor-outdoor living is blurred through full-height glazing and use of steel, rattan and wood-based furnishings, designed by the architects to match the colors and textures in the gardens. Multiple timber patios built around the walnut trees extend the living space to the outdoors. “The entrance to the house is through the middle level, where living, dining room and kitchen are located besides a home theater that, by opening and closing doors, could be an independent extra room for the house,” explained the architects of the layout. “A double-height space connects this level with the upper library, studio and pool area with a grill. In the ground level, in touch with the patios, are the bedrooms and the family room, in a more intimate atmosphere.” Related: Zigzagging green terraces make up a luxury residential block in Mexico City In addition to strengthening the dwelling’s connection with the outdoors, the operable walls of glass also flood the interiors with natural light to minimize dependence on artificial lighting while allowing for natural ventilation. Windows were minimized on the south facade to further reduce HVAC requirements. The home is also partly buried into the ground to take advantage of thermal mass ventilation and equipped with low-maintenance landscaping, low-flow fixtures and low-energy appliances. + BGP Arquitectura Photography by The Raws via BGP Arquitectura

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The Nogal House saves energy with smart site-specific design

Zigzagging green terraces make up a luxury residential block in Mexico City

October 24, 2018 by  
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A challenging hillside site in Mexico City has given rise to Alcázar de Toledo, a luxury residential development designed by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos to look like an extension of its lush landscape. Embedded into the rugged terrain, the five-unit apartment block is made up of a series of green terraces that zigzag up the slope and provide deep roof overhangs to the bands of glass that wrap around the residences. In addition to its striking and sculptural form, the 5,471-square-meter building also affords spectacular panoramic views of the city. Completed in 2018, Alcázar de Toledo consists of four levels. The parking spaces are located on the topmost floor that descends via ramp down 5 meters to the reception and lobby with views of a large wooded area as well a water focal point with fountains. The five apartment units are spread out across the remaining floors, with two 500-square-meter properties on the level below parking; a 700-square-meter unit on the floor below; and two more 500-square-meter apartments placed on the lowest level. The different sizes of each unit translate to different programming and range from two to four bedrooms. A pool , spa, gym, terrace, dressing rooms and bathrooms are located on the second level from the bottom. “The architectural concept is based on a linear element, which folds itself over the topography in a right-angled zigzag shape,” the architects explained. “Each fold responds to different needs and contains the spaces for the five departments, with large terraces , amenities and parking. This resulting piece of four levels, as it adapts to the ground, is transformed into a structure element (like a wall or slab) or an open plaza or terrace. A solution that creates an elegant and subtle shape with a clear horizontality between the native vegetation of the context.” Related: A lush rooftop oasis flourishes on this renovated Art Deco townhouse in Mexico City Natural light and ventilation are maximized through the interiors, which all feature tall ceilings, open-plan common areas and full-height glazing shaded by the overhanging green roofs. Rainwater is also harvested, treated and reused on site for irrigation. The rainwater cistern is located beneath the building. + Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos Photography by Jaime Navarro via Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos

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Zigzagging green terraces make up a luxury residential block in Mexico City

This elegant vacation retreat rises from the pink earth in Mexico

August 29, 2018 by  
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Mexican design studio Taller Héctor Barroso crafted a cluster of pinkish holiday homes that appear to emerge straight out of the earth. Dubbed Entre Pinos in reference to the surrounding pine forest, this modern vacation retreat derives its natural appearance from local soil that covers the exterior and interior brick walls. The soil was  recycled from the onsite excavations for burying the foundations, and it blends the buildings into the landscape. Located in the idyllic town of Valle de Bravo, two hours west of Mexico City , Entre Pinos comprises five identical weekend houses arranged in a row to follow the site’s sloping topography. Covering an area of 1,700 square meters, the homes were built from local materials, including timber, brick and earth. Each weekend home consists of six smaller volumes arranged around a central patio. The volumes toward the north are more solid and introverted, while those to the south open up to embrace the garden, forest and sunshine, which penetrates deep inside the buildings. The communal areas, as well as one of the bedrooms, are arranged on the ground floor and connect to the outdoors through terraces and patios. Three bedrooms can be found on the top floor and frame views of the pines through large windows. The Entre Pinos project recently received a 2018 AZ Award in the category ‘Best in Architecture – Residential Single Family Residential Interiors.’ Related: This gabled home wraps around an existing pine tree in Mexico “The firm led by architect Hector Barroso seeks to generate architectural proposals that manage to merge with their environment, taking advantage of the natural resources of each place: the influence of light and shadows, the surrounding vegetation, the composition of the land and the geographic,” reads the project statement. “Thanks to this, the projects merge in harmony with the environment that surrounds them, creating spaces that emphasize the habitable quality of the architecture.” + Taller Héctor Barroso Images by Rory Gardiner

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This elegant vacation retreat rises from the pink earth in Mexico

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