Milan’s striking wooden UniCredit building is powered by the sun

May 12, 2017 by  
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You wouldn’t expect it, but this radical solar-powered building in Milan is actually owned by a bank. aMDL Michele De Lucchi Studio designed the LEED-certified UniCredit building to house the bank’s general meetings, but also to enrich public life with multipurpose community spaces. Its open structure of curved laminated wood ribs gives it a sense of accessibility and protection. The pavilion has no foundations–it was constructed on a reinforced concrete podium above a parking facility. Inspired by the shape of a seed, the design of the building combines lamellar larch beams with glass. The open structure accentuates accessibility, strengthened by two large wings equipped with monitors for events open to the general public. Related: Floating timber pavilion transforms a Swiss lake into an exciting new public square A 700-seat, multipurpose auditorium situated on the ground floor adapts to different configurations and events, while the overhead walkways that runs along the outer edge of the building can function as a temporary exhibition space . The first floor houses a nursery for 50 toddlers, while the top level features a lounge used for corporate events. Thanks to its strong focus on environmental sustainability and environmental sustainability, the LEED Gold-certified project has won first prize at this year’s WT SmartCity Award competition. + aMDL Michele De Lucchi Studio Via WT SmartCity Award Photos by Tom Vack

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Milan’s striking wooden UniCredit building is powered by the sun

This carved wood bench hides an unexpected surprise

April 13, 2017 by  
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This simple-looking bench hides a two-fold surprise. A closer look reveals that the ‘tufted’ bench is actually carved out of solid wood – and when you sit down it’s bouncy and soft! Valentijn Rieb and Andrea Schimmer perfectly replicated the iconic form of a Chesterfield bench while marrying the look of wood with the comfot of a springy seat. Chester-Block-Hocker updates the classic Chesterfield bench with carved beach wood blocks. The soft, bouncy element comes from the inner support structure of the bench. Thanks to springs located under each diamond-shaped chunk of wood, this bench serves as a cushy seat. The legs of the bench are upholstered with leather to make the transformation complete. Related: Max Lamb’s “Exercises in Seating” is a primitive investigation of materials at Milan Design Week This design is the result of modern technology meeting manual labor and traditional craftsmanship. To realize Chester-Block-Hocker, the blocks were CNC milled and shaped by hand. Made with the utmost precision and a great attention to the detail, this bench offers a soft touch and a surprising material experience that will intrigue you each time you take a seat. The Chester-Block-Hocker won the Baars & Bloemhoff “Master of Materials” prize and is on show at the Masterly Dutch exhibition at Palazzo Turati in the 5VIE design district at Milan Design Week 2017 . + Milan Design Week images by Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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This carved wood bench hides an unexpected surprise

Honda steps up with new green car strategy

April 13, 2017 by  
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Honda’s green car strategy has taken criticism over the past few years for its inability to keep up with the venerable Toyota Prius . Well, the automaker is stepping up with their introduction of the new Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in hybrid recently – at the New York Auto Show. The new Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in hybrid will be sold alongside the Clarity Fuel Cell , which is already on sale. With all three models, Honda hopes to be able to sell at least 75,000 Clarity vehicles in the first four model years. The Clarity will also help Honda reach its goal of having two-thirds of its vehicles electrified by 2030. Related: 2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle is ready for the mainstream The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will have a 42-mile electric driving range, which is still shy of the Chevy Volt, but longer than the Toyota Prius Prime . Once the battery is depleted, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid uses a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine to give it an overall driving range rating of over 330 miles. The Clarity Plug-in hybrid’s electric motor generates 181-horsepower electric motor with 232 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a 17-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery. It will only take 2.5 hours to fully recharge it using a 240 volt outlet. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will have EPA fuel economy rating of 105 MPGe. The Honda Clarity Electric is powered by a 161-horsepower electric motor with 221 lb.-ft. of torque that is mated to a 25.5-kWh battery pack. The Clarity Electric will only have a driving range of around 80 miles, but it can by fully charged in just over three hours at 240 volts or up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes using a DC fast charger . The Clarity Electric will have a 111 combined MPGe rating. The Clarity Electric’s driving range is a bit disappointing, since we now have other electric cars with a much longer driving range. Still, Honda expects the Clarity Plug-in hybrid to be the sales volume leader out of the three Clarity models. Images @Honda + Honda

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Honda steps up with new green car strategy

Thousands of grafted flowers grow on the entire face of this Milan building

April 7, 2017 by  
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A stunning show for the eyes—and nose—has taken over the facade of a building in Milan . Local design studio Piuarch teamed up with landscape architect Cornelius Gavril to create ‘Flowerprint,’ a gardening facade installation with 2,000 aromatic flowers and herbs grafted onto tubers. The plants, which range from roses and lilies to thyme and lavender, create a multicolored “flower embroidery” exploring a new multi-sensory way of decorating surfaces. Created for Brera Design Week in Milan, Flowerprint is a temporary gardening facade installed on the facade of the building where Piuarch is located in the courtyard of Via Palermo 5. The constellation of flowers comprises 200 vertical lines of 2,000 suspended plants to cover the entirety of the 10-meter-tall and 20-meter-wide building facade from ground to roof. “The flowered wall uses the different varieties in their colour and material condition to create a pattern, a sort of actual floral graphism, in three dimensions: olfactory, material and in constant transformation depending on light and humidity conditions,” writes Piuarch. Related: ‘Kinetic’ rooftop garden uses pallets and plants to create the illusion of movement To extend the lifespan of the cut flowers, the designers grafted the plants onto potato plants using an ancient technique. The potato plants provide a structural basis and nutrients to the flowers. The fragrance of the flowers and aromatic herbs are enhanced with natural outdoor perfumes produced by Adar. Flowerprint is on display from April 4 to April 9, 2017. + Piuarch

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Thousands of grafted flowers grow on the entire face of this Milan building

Zaha Hadid Architects 3D prints an experimental structure with the help of robots

April 6, 2017 by  
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Robots are revolutionizing architecture and Zaha Hadid Architects is hopping on board to show what that technology can do for custom building design. The world-renowned architecture firm unveiled Thallus, a beautifully ornate experimental structure created with the help of robots for Milan Design Week’s White in the City. The sculpture was programmed and executed by the firm’s Computation Design (ZHA CoDe) research group. Located at Milan’s Brera Academy, Thallus joins a series of temporary installations all created for White in the City , a project that explores the color white as a symbol of health, sustainability, and serenity. Thallus is named after the Greek word for flora and features a tapered shape that opens up at the top like a flower or unfurled leaf. Six-axis robotic 3D printing technology was used to create the sculpture, made up of continuous and repeating loops. The nearly three-meter-tall Thallus was 3D printed from premium polylactide plastic . Related: MINI’s tiny innovative home for three purifies the air in Milan “The design explores differential growth methods through expansion and diffusion arising from a single continuous seed curve guided iteratively via simulation parameters while constrained to a reference surface,” writes the firm. “Density gradation and direction of growth have been defined by parameters such as proximity to boundaries, angled direction of rulings, as well as structural requirements.” Thallus is on display at the Pinacoteca di Brera from April 4 to April 9, 2017. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by Luke Hayes

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MINIs tiny innovative home for three purifies the air in Milan

April 5, 2017 by  
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How do we cope with the increasing shortage of attractive housing in today’s cities? Car manufacturer MINI teamed up with New York architects SO – IL to tackle this challenge by producing an innovative solution: MINI LIVING — Breathe. Unveiled at the Milan Salone del Mobile 2017, the tiny housing prototype reinvents urban living and offers owners a refreshing garden-like environment and the freedom to move and adapt their home. Located on a previously unused 50-square-meter urban plot, the MINI LIVING — Breathe installation comprises six compact living spaces and a roof garden for three people inside a five-meter-wide microhome. Built with a modular metal frame, the home can be easily disassembled, moved, and reassembled or expanded upon in a new location. A flexible and light-permeable outer skin wraps around the metal skeleton instead of opaque walls. The light-filled housing prototype follows MINI’s principles “Creative use of space” and “Minimal footprint.” MINI Living — Breathe’s forward-thinking design is centered on the idea of a house as an active ecosystem. The translucent outer skin, which can be replaced with different fabrics depending on the urban climate, features a special coating that filters and neutralizes the air. The ten-meter-tall home acts as a giant air filter and helps improve the surrounding microclimate with its lush rooftop garden with plants that help clean toxins from the air. “The approach we took with MINI LIVING – Breathe extends far beyond purely a living concept,” says Oke Hauser, Creative Lead of MINI LIVING. “We view the installation as an active ecosystem, which makes a positive contribution to the lives and experiences of the people who live there and to the urban microclimate , depicted here by the intelligent use of resources essential to life – i.e. air, water and light.” The kitchen, located on the ground floor, serves as the main entry area and social gathering point of the home. Living spaces are located in the above three levels, while the sleeping areas, a potential wet area, and a roof garden are placed in the uppermost floors. Textile walls divide the living areas and allow for privacy while still permitting light to seep through. A water catchment system on the roof harvests rainwater for reuse in the tap. Related: A rolling garden on wheels recently popped up in the middle of Milan SO – IL writes: “By making living an active experience, the installation shines a spotlight on environmental awareness and encourages visitors to confront our tendency to take resources for granted. Instead of a traditional organization with rooms dedicated to specific functions, this house is composed as a loose stack of porous realms. A variety of atmospheres and spatial experiences are generated through the manipulation of light, air and water.” MINI Living — Breathe is open to visitors of the Salone del Mobile on Via Tortona 32 in Milan, Italy from April 4 to April 9, 2017. + SO – IL Architects Images © Laurian Ghinitoiu

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Vertical forest Mountain Hotel will clean the air in Guizhou, China

October 23, 2016 by  
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The Milan-based design firm  made headlines with Bosco Verticale, the world’s first vertical forest built right in the company’s hometown. A few years later, the firm’s design for a second green skyscraper won a competition to add an eco-friendly building in Lausanne, Switzerland, which will break ground next year. The Mountain Hotel will be built in Guizhou, China for the Hong Kong-based Cachet Hotel Group, and the design follows the same principles as their previous projects, with a focus on sustainable architecture and a green facade that can improve the quality of the air around it. Related: World’s second vertical forest will rise in Switzerland SBA will design the building as a vertical ‘forest mountain’ in the Wanfenglin region, which is also known as the Forest of Ten Thousands Peaks. Local artist Simon Ma will provide the interior design for the 250-room hotel which will offer amenities including a gym, lounge, VIP area, bar, restaurant, and conference facilities. The New York Times named China’s Guizhou region on its list of “52 Places to Go in 2016,”  predicting an increase in tourist traffic there. The forested area was largely inaccessible until 2014, when the government opened a $20 billion high-speed railway that cut the travel time from the nearest major city from 20 hours down to four. Tour activities and new hotels are sprouting up throughout the area, but certainly none are as likely to improve the local environment as much as the Mountain Hotel. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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MIT researchers create a "second skin" that could make you look younger

October 23, 2016 by  
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As we age , our skin loses elasticity and moisture. It’s a natural process that happens to everyone, but ten years ago a team of researchers decided to see if they could change that. They set out to design a coating that could revitalize skin, making it healthier . Now they are announcing successful experiments of this ” second skin ” that appears to give wearers a youthful appearance. Led by biomedical engineer Robert Langer of MIT , the team included researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital , beauty company Living Proof , and Olivo Labs . Their second skin, made of ” a silicone-based polymer ,” creates a breathable layer on skin, keeping in moisture and appearing to smooth and tighten skin. The team tested their coating on areas of the body such as under eye bags, legs, and forearms . The invisible, wearable coating can last for around 24 hours , and will stand up to water and sweat . Related: Is this protein the key to an anti-aging pill? When they experimented with skin water loss, the researchers found that the second skin performed better than moisturizers on the market, keeping in more moisture. They performed multiple studies and none of the experiment participants reacted negatively to the coating. The BBC spoke with Dr. Tamara Griffiths of the British Association of Dermatologists who seemed optimistic about the research . She said , “The results [with the polymer film] appear to be comparable to surgery, without the associated risks. Further research is needed, but this is a novel and very promising approach to a common problem. I will follow its development with interest.” The researchers noted that the second skin may have applications beyond beauty . With more research, the coating could be adapted to transmit medicine or protect wearers from harmful sun rays, or treat conditions such as eczema. What do you think? Is this second skin a medical breakthrough or simply an appeal to our vanity? Via the BBC Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and Olivo Labs

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MIT researchers create a "second skin" that could make you look younger

Soothing pyramidal LED lamp illuminates etchings of familiar cityscapes

June 3, 2016 by  
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The LED -powered All Around Lamp was first featured at Milan Design Week 2016, hosted by Local Design Australia . Its ambient light shines through plastic panels etched with various landmarks from Milan and Sydney, chosen as homages to the cities integral to the exhibit. Novozhilova also offers personalized etchings for those interested in owning her creations, which come in either a large or a small size. Related: 14 brilliant new lighting designs that will inspire you The tetrahedron shape is modified by cutting off one of the corners, creating an option for the lamp to transform into a chic side table. Otherwise, the lamps can be placed onto any side to become a unique piece of self-illuminating artwork . The etchings overlap and take on a variety of abstract combinations, depending on how the lamp is placed, which allows for an endless variety of bright and creative decor. + Maria Novozhilova Images via Maria Novozhilova

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Soothing pyramidal LED lamp illuminates etchings of familiar cityscapes

Chile is generating so much solar power that it’s giving it away for free

June 3, 2016 by  
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In recent years, Chile has invested so much in its solar power industry that the country is now generating more electricity from the sun than it knows what to do with. A new report reveals that spot prices on solar electricity dropped to zero for 113 days of the year through April, and many more days of free solar power are expected to come. Taking advantage of free solar power is a huge benefit for residents, but analysts are concerned about how this will impact the market, since investors and owners of solar power plants may lose money.

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Chile is generating so much solar power that it’s giving it away for free

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