Mountain in Sweden loses highest peak title as global warming shrinks it

September 9, 2019 by  
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Kebnekaise, the highest mountain peak in Sweden, has fallen victim to global heating. Scientists reported that the glacier at the iconic mountain’s summit is shrinking because of rising Arctic temperatures. Now, the peak is no longer considered the highest in the country. “This is quite a symbol,” said Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, a geography professor at Stockholm University who has been measuring the glacier for years. “A very obvious, very clear signal to everyone in Sweden that things are changing.” Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Located in northern Sweden and about 95 miles inside the Arctic Circle, Kebnekaise has two peaks, each of which has been measured regularly since 1880. The southern peak has always been higher, but after scientists measured in early September of this year, they found the northern peak was now the highest by 1.2 meters. “We suspected this was probably the case last year,” Rosqvist said. “But unfortunately, our measurements were not precise enough. Now we can say with certainty: we are accurate to within a couple of centimeters.” In fact, the most recent measurements showed that the southern peak was the lowest it has ever been. “Almost all the shrinkage has been in the past two decades when the glacier has lost an average of one meter a year,” Rosqvist said. But all may not be lost; the glacier could reach its status as the tallest peak once again with winter snow and ice. “It will keep changing for a while,” Rosqvist said. “But the trend is now firmly established and very clear.” This is not the first time there has been trouble atop Kebnekaise. Sweden reached unprecedented high temperatures at more than 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit, above average in May and July 2018. The Kebnekaise glacier also shrunk by about 4 meters because of the Arctic wildfires . Although scientists expected this would happen, the official title loss for the southern peak was emotional for the research team. Rosqvist said, “We can see the climate changing before our eyes up here, and we need to do something about it.” Via The Guardian Image via Kaj Schmidt

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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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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

$87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions

August 23, 2019 by  
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Mountain lions in Southern California will have a safer place to roam by 2023 thanks to an $87 million bridge being designed northwest of Los Angeles and spread out above the busy 101 Highway. California is the only state in the country where shooting the creatures for sport is banned . But a March study published in the journal Ecological Applications suggested mountain lions could be extinct within 50 years if changes to their environment don’t happen. Related: Utah plans $5 million wildlife bridge over deadly I-80 highway “ Animals were able to move around through different parts of the mountains until humans cut them off with giant roads,” said Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation. “GPS tracking shows that the animals are largely isolated in their own small areas, unable to mingle. Segmentation impacts animals both large and small: lizards and birds up to mountain lions.” Once the project is completed, the wildlife bridge will connect various sections of the Santa Monica Mountains, hopefully giving mountain lions and other wildlife better protection. It is designed to blend into the scenery, so the creatures won’t know they are on a bridge. Pratt stressed this ecological environment needs to be rebuilt for the sake of all animal welfare and thinks the wildlife bridge is a good idea. “This is an animal that is particularly beloved in California ,” Pratt said. “We want these animals on the landscape, and the population will go extinct if we don’t do something soon.” The project has been 20 years in the making, with the National Park Service closely studying the area during this time. It wasn’t until about a decade ago the idea became a reality; funds totaling $13.4 million have been raised by private contributors, according to The Guardian. The project has caught the attention of actor Leonardo DiCaprio , who has been a supporter of the project, as well as other big names around the world. About 9,000 comments were posted in favor of the project, and only 15 were against it when the public was given the opportunity give feedback. “We’re doing this in LA, a city of 4 million people,” Pratt said. “If LA can do it, it can work anywhere. Even in a giant city , we’ll make a home for a mountain lion.” + Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains + Clark Stevens Via The Guardian Design and images via Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and Clark Stevens Architect/Raymond Garcia Illustrator

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$87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions

A timber observation tower with a vertical forest is proposed for Zagreb

July 10, 2019 by  
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Istanbul-based design studio SUPERSPACE has proposed a new landmark for Croatia’s capital of Zagreb that combines an architecturally striking observation tower with a vertical forest in the heart of the city. Dubbed Ascension, the timber structure would serve as a “new gate” between the historic parts of the city and the post-war areas. If built, the tower would be the 10th tallest building in all of Zagreb and one of the tallest wooden structures in Europe. Proposed for the heart of Zagreb , the Ascension tower is optimally positioned to take in views of the natural landscape, from the south bank of the Sava river to the forests of Medvednica Mountain. The tower location also marks the split between the old and the new parts of the city, from which the architects drew design inspiration. The history of Zagreb dates as far back as 1094 A.D. and much of the city prior to the 20th century was developed north of the Sava river. After World War II, a construction boom that took place south of the Sava river resulted in a modern development now called Novi Zagreb (“New Zagreb”). Related: Foster + Partners designs solar-powered Tulip observation tower for London “As the Novi Zagreb is the future and modern face of Zagreb, Ascension represents and empowers the connection with the past and future; nature and man-made; old and new; as though the ground ascended to the sky and created this void, to engage this dialogue with a strong flow and visual relation,” the designers explained in a press statement. “As a connecting and reflective feature of the old and the new city, Ascension greets the landmarks of the downtown with respect and claims a unique form with analogical proportions.” The Ascension tower features three main parts: a white and convex outer “shell” that symbolizes the revitalization of the new city; a timber-lined inner “shell” that symbolizes the identity of the old city; and a vertical forest of trees planted on multiple levels of the high-rise to create a visual link to Zagreb’s forested landscape. Viewing platforms are located on different heights of the tower to overlook select vistas including the Sava river, the city and the mountains. + SUPERSPACE Images via SUPERSPACE

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Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

May 1, 2019 by  
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London-based practice Anarchitect has breathed new life into two stone buildings from the 1960s that had laid vacant in the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah desert for years. Using the crimson landscape as inspiration, the firm converted the abandoned buildings into the Al Faya Lodge , a light-filled eco retreat that was built with a variety of resilient materials to withstand the remote area’s extreme temperature fluctuations. Set into the foothills of Mount Alvaah and surrounded by miles of desert, the boutique hotel  required a very strategic design that would enable the structures to be resilient against the harsh climate. According to Anarchitect founder Jonathan Ashmore, the location was challenging to say the least. “Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure,” Ashmore said. “It is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building and secondly the selection of suitable and robust materials, which go hand-in-hand.” Related: Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil Using the existing frames of the old buildings (formerly a grocery store and cafe) as a guide for the layout, the architects selected a number of robust materials to create a resilient design that would stand up to the elements for years to come. Locally-sourced stone and concrete were chosen to create a heavy thermal mass, which would help keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature year-round. Additionally, using concrete and stone also protects the building from the harsh weather that often sees driving rain, sand storms and freezing overnight temperatures. In addition to these materials, the hotel was clad in a vibrant mixture of weathered steel and teak hardwood to add a refined industrial aesthetic to the design. Large floor-to-ceiling panels let in optimal natural light throughout the interior and provide a strong connection with the amazing setting found outdoors. While guests to the lodge can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and desertscape from the hotel’s dining area, reception room and outdoor fire pit, the rooftop terrace is the place to be at sunrise and sunset. All of the five guest rooms feature large skylights for stargazing. When looking for a little downtime from exploring the area, guests can also take in a luxurious soak in the open-air saltwater pool. + Anarchitect + Al Faya Lodge Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Guerra via Anarchitect

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One-room tiny cabin is a minimalist refuge deep in the Brazilian forest

December 20, 2018 by  
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São Paulo-based architect Silvia Acar Arquitetura has unveiled a tiny minimalist cabin tucked into a lush Brazilian forest. Camouflaged in the tree canopy and set off the ground on stilts, the one-room Chalet L is a simple, 67-square-feet one-room cabin, entirely designed to offer the basics while disconnecting from the usual hustle and bustles of life. Located in the most southeastern part of São Paulo, the tiny cabin is located in an idyllic valley, surrounded by a dense forest filled with soaring trees and greenery. The cabin is lifted off the ground to reduce impact on the natural landscape. Being lifted off the ground also gave the architect the opportunity to orientate the cabin’s large glazed facade to face the best views of the mountains across of the valley. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills Chalet L is made out of steel frames and clad in “a cementitious slab on the sides” which were used to insulate the tiny structure to help the interior space maintain a comfortable temperature year round. The roof was built out of metallic layered tiles, which were used to add extra insulation to help keep the interior space cozy. There are no roads or walkways that provide access to the cabin. Instead, a simple walking trail leads to the structure, which is camouflaged into the tree canopy. Inside the cabin is minimalist space with just one room with light plywood cladding used on the walls. At the heart of the design is the large floor-to-ceiling glazed wall that provides unobstructed views of the forest and mountain range in the distance. The furnishings are sparse, just a bed, desk, sink and built-in nightstand provide the basic necessities needed to enjoy the small refuge. + Silvia Acar Arquitetura Via Archdaily Photography by André Scarpa

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Gorgeous, energy-efficient retreat rests among Utah’s mountains

November 9, 2018 by  
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Danish interior designer Mette Axboe spent months searching for the perfect U.S. location for a family retreat, but the hunt came to an abrupt end once she set sights on an expansive lot of 10 pristine acres overlooking Utah’s picturesque Park City. The mountain range in the background inspired the stunning design, which was conceived as a “looking box” to enjoy the scenery from any point in the home. Axboe worked with architect Chris Price and his firm Park City Design + Build to develop the idyllic retreat for long getaways. Although the family was open to ideas about the overall design, they knew that the focus had to be on the surrounding landscape. “We wanted something that would fit our lifestyle and family, and cater to frequent (and long-staying) guests from overseas,” Axboe said. “We asked Chris to ‘architect it up’ — keeping our layout in mind, and ensuring a good fit with both the site and surrounding area. It was very important for us to design a house that fit the landscape and not the other way around.” Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof Accordingly, the rolling fields and mountain range in the distance became the focal point of the home’s design. The  low-lying horizontal volume  is tucked into the landscape to help blend the structure into its surroundings. To create a “looking box,” the team included sizable windows and multiple outdoor decks to provide stunning views from virtually any angle. To further blend the home into its environment, the architects and designer went with a muted color palette using a combination of natural cedar and board-formed concrete. These materials continue through the interior, where enormous sliding glass doors and windows provide a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. An expansive deck with large comfy sofas, a dining table and fire pit is the perfect spot for soaking up the amazing scenery. In addition to bringing nature to the forefront of the design, the residents were also focused on creating an energy-efficient home . As such, the architects employed various Passive Haus standards . Triple-pane windows were installed to allow the home to have access to ample natural light and stunning views without massive heat loss. Radiant heat flooring also provides even temperature control during the freezing Utah winters. As for the interior living areas , Axboe used her native Danish roots to create a modern, Scandinavian-inspired design. The home’s all-white walls and light oak flooring open up the space, providing a welcoming atmosphere throughout. According to Axboe, “This is a family home, not a cold art museum.” + Park City Design + Build Via Dwell Photography by Renan Ozturk via Park City Design + Build

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Natural stone and an expansive green roof blend the stunning Gozu House into the Andes Mountains

August 30, 2018 by  
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When it comes to creating a serene living space, Medellín-based firm Opus Studio put nature first in their design for the gorgeous Gozu House. Located in the small Colombian province of Antioquia, which sits in the Andes mountains, the home blends into its stunning natural environment with help from its natural stone cladding and expansive green roofs . Sitting at an altitude of 7,200 feet, the 5,000-square-foot family home sits nested into a lush, green valley within the Andes Mountain range. The structure is comprised of three main modules, topped with two undulating green roofs meeting at the center module. The home’s jagged silhouette is designed to mimic the the mountains in the background. Related: A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest The Gozu House has a subtle presence thanks to its low, elongated volume, which, along with the natural pine wood and stone cladding , virtually camouflages the structure into its natural environment. The entrance of the home sits between the two “wings” of the design. Once inside, the entryway extends into a winding corridor that wraps around the interior, leading to the central living area and the exterior. Large glass panels and sliding doors provide a seamless connection with the outdoor space throughout the home’s layout. At the heart of the design is an open-air courtyard with a swimming pool surrounded by a large wooden deck –  a fun entertainment area for socializing. To create a home that was energy-efficient, the architects relied on a number of passive strategies. For instance, the main living space is oriented to the east to take advantage of the day’s sunlight while the bedrooms face the West to provide shade and privacy. Although the dual green roofs certainly play a part in connecting the home to its surroundings, they also provide an insulative thermal inertia for the living space, reducing the home’s energy needs. + Opus Studio Photography and video by Isaac Ramírez Marín via Opus Studio

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Natural stone and an expansive green roof blend the stunning Gozu House into the Andes Mountains

Historic Chinese granary is transformed into a chic mountain resort

August 27, 2018 by  
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A cluster of historic, rural Chinese buildings has been saved from the ravages of time by Shanghai-based architecture and interior design studio Ares Partners . The architects transformed six granary structures into the new MIYA | LOSTVILLA Huchen Barn Resort, an elegant and modern hotel tucked in the mountains of Ningbo’s Huchen township. Surrounded by stunning views, the sensitively restored architecture is complemented by modern furnishings and new buildings, covering a total site area of 5,430 square meters. Set between Tiantai Mountain and Siming Mountain, the old granary station was built in 1956. Five of the seven existing buildings were mainly built with stone masonry ; the lower part of the white-painted exterior featured rock stone, and the upper part was constructed with brick. The original buildings were fitted with very small windows located on the upper part of the facade. The remaining two buildings featured timber construction. The team’s goal was to preserve the architectural integrity as much as possible yet make the interiors more comfortable and inviting for human habitation. To that end, the architects stripped the white paint from the facade to reveal the beautiful stone masonry underneath and added large windows to let in more natural light and breathtaking views of the mountains. The structures were reinforced, and the utility pipes and conduits were hidden. Interior walls were inserted to create 21 guest suites. The architects also added a new building to house the reception and meeting facilities, and one of the former buildings from the 1970s was replaced with a new-build as well. Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen wins bid to design new Ningbo Library in China “We believe the project is well accomplished to transform between two extreme opposite function spaces,” said the architects, who completed the project in 2017. “The architecture form of the new building is modern and abstract. The contemporary architecture language is yet to be respectful to the existing buildings around as well as to nature. Architecture, people and nature are in harmony.” + Ares Partners Images by Su Shengliang

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