Your eco-friendly travel guide for New York City

January 9, 2020 by  
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It’s easy to get caught up in New York’s frenetic energy. If you’re there as a tourist, the checklist of must-see attractions is exciting, but long and tiring: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway shows, amazing museums. If you’re there for business, it’s easy to go from hotel to conference room to bar, repeat. But there are plenty of opportunities to find some beauty and tranquility within NYC’s nonstop style. Take some time to get outside, do something healthy, and take a few deep breaths. NYC outdoors Yes, there is nature within New York City’s urban jungle. The most obvious place to get outside is Manhattan’s massive, iconic Central Park. Within this 843-acre green space, you can visit the formal Conservatory Garden, pay your respects at the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial, rent a boat and paddle around the lake, and check out the Literary Walk, which is lined by statues of authors. For a very New York walk, stroll the 1.45-mile High Line. Manhattan’s elevated linear park, created from an old New York Central Railroad spur, has attracted a constant stream of locals and tourists since opening in 2009. Come as you are; you’ll see jogging shorts, haute couture, and everything in between. The 250-acre New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is gorgeous in every season. Peacefully wander through water lilies, lilacs and roses, or take advantage of the ambitious schedule of programming. The NYBG is on a serious sustainability mission, providing research to support government policy and protecting the world’s flora and biodiversity . Manhattan Kayak Company offers guided expeditions on the Hudson River, including its popular Skyline and NY After Dark tours. They also have many excursions for more experienced paddlers. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse has a free kayaking program during the summer. You’ll need to stay within a supervised area to participate. On Sundays, you can join them for kayak polo. Only the bravest visiting cyclists will want to take on Manhattan. But NYC has 300 miles of bike trails. Study this map and see if a bike rental might fit into your New York City plans. Wellness in NYC You can find any type of yoga you like in New York. But if you want to try something new and different, you’re in luck. Are cats your cup of tea ? You can enjoy both cats and tea during a Yoga & Kitties session at Meow Parlour . Like to let it all hang out? Bold & Naked might be the yoga class for you. If you want to get even bolder, one-on-one tantric yogassage is also available. During summer, consider joining a yoga class in a park or on a rooftop farm at sunset in the Brooklyn Navy Yard . Two of NYC’s most popular water therapy options are the old-fashioned Russian & Turkish Baths , serving New Yorkers since 1892, and the modern Great Jones Spa . At the Russian & Turkish Baths, you can get a platza oak leaf treatment, which involves being beaten with a broom made from fresh oak leaves dripping with olive oil soap. At Great Jones, the water circuit atmosphere is peaceful if a bit sterile. NYC appeals to spiritual seekers across the spectrum. Stop into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, opened in 1879, for a few minutes of quiet or prayer. Visit the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island for tai chi, meditation, and a look at one of the biggest collections of Himalayan artifacts in the US. Join devotees of The Path for a nondenominational meditation, followed by relaxing in the Montauk Salt Cave. Or experience the power of spending time with ancient art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dining out in NYC Just as you might want to try an unusual yoga class while visiting NYC, this is a chance to eat vegan food that’s hard to find elsewhere. For example, vegans are out of luck in your average dim sum restaurant. But at Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in Chinatown, vegans can safely grab anything off the dim sum cart. When’s the last time you had gluten-free veg shark fin congee? Vegan star Beyond Sushi has six locations, including in the Chelsea Market food hall, ironically situated in the Meatpacking District. Their sushi rolls are creative and ambitious. For example, the smoky jack contains black rice, pickled cabbage, mango, hickory-smoked jackfruit , watercress, mint, dehydrated olives and tomato guajillo sauce. Cinnamon Snail , in Pennsy Food Hall right by Madison Square Garden, specializes in “vegan kosher food made by a gaggle of wild ponies who live in a magical tree.” Start the day here by raiding their case of vegan donuts and baked goods, or get a hearty serving of mac ‘n’ cheese at lunch or dinner. For dessert, try some matcha cream crunch or lemon ginger cream pie at Rawsome Treats . Founder, head chef and Muay Thai fighter Watt Sriboonruang makes everything raw, vegan and gluten-free . Public transit While a Pew Research Center survey found that about 88 percent of Americans own cars, only about 22 percent of Manhattan households are auto owners. This is good news for tourists, as it means lots of public transportation. Trains serve all three of NYC’s airports , connecting to buses and the subway system to get you wherever you want to go. That said, NY public transit can be overwhelming, and New Yorkers tend to move fast. If you’re unfamiliar with public transit, New Yorker Minh Nguyen kindly put together this website for newbies. Commuter rail lines serve outlying areas. You can also ferry around town. NYC Ferry operates six routes spanning more than 60 nautical miles of waterways, and service is still growing. You can even charge your phone and get a snack while cruising. CitiBike offers a bike share program if you’re planning on short rides. Or hire a pedicab and take a rest while somebody else does the work . Eco-hotels The Benjamin Hotel was one of New York’s first hotel to focus on both sustainability and luxury, partnering with students from the New York Institute of Technology to help them revamp and earn a Green Key Eco-Rating. The hotel’s wellness offerings include the Rest & Renew program that helps guests improve their sleep . The Element New York Times Square West incorporated recycled material into its furnishings, such as carpets made from recycled plastic bottles. This Marriott hotel features loaner bikes for guests and a free breakfast bar with fresh fruit. For budget travelers who value a hotel’s gym over in-room amenities, consider staying at one of NYC’s YMCAs . Your room will resemble a monk’s cell, but you’ll wake up in a huge gym with spin class, weights and a pool. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and New York Botanical Garden

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Your eco-friendly travel guide for New York City

FAAB reimagines Warsaws largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park

November 22, 2019 by  
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In 2018, after celebrating the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence, Warsaw-based firm FAAB Architektura was inspired to look toward the future for a more permanent commemoration of Poland. To that end, the architects have reimagined Pi?sudski Square — Warsaw’s largest public square that is presently underused — as a sustainable city landmark redefined with Europe’s largest cycle park, photovoltaic panels and a new rainwater harvesting system. The redeveloped square would also “promote the creation of urban ecosystems” and become a celebrated meeting place for Polish arts, culture, innovation and more. Dubbed the Poland 2118 Project, FAAB’s reimagining of the Pi?sudski Square would emphasize the history of the site and surroundings, both existing and destroyed during World War II. One historical landmark of particular importance to the redesign would be the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives for Poland . The architects intend to honor the monument with a museum accessible to locals and foreign visitors. Related: This smog-fighting music academy will have an air purifier as effective as 33,000 trees “This place is to inspire interactions between people with different interests and to provide for varied forms of curiosity,” the architects explained. “The planned investment promotes the creation of urban ecosystems, where buildings integrated with their surroundings and the city contribute to raising the living standards of all inhabitants and actively support the struggle with challenges arising from climate change . The intended plan is a proposal for the permanent commemoration of Poland regaining its independence in 1918.” To help offset the square’s carbon footprint, the architects propose the addition of a rainwater harvesting system that would eliminate the need to connect the development to the municipal stormwater drainage system. Photovoltaic coatings could be overlaid atop pavements and glazed surfaces to generate renewable energy. An addition of 8,100 square meters of green space would also combat the urban heat island effect and purify the air, while new bicycle infrastructure and narrowed roadways would emphasize non-motorized transit and reduce urban noise pollution. + FAAB Architektura Images via FAAB Architektura

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FAAB reimagines Warsaws largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park

Designers made this pavilion out of upcycled paper waste

October 14, 2019 by  
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Originally created for the Copenhagen Art Fair to showcase a new sustainable method of design, the Paper Pavilion is made out of upcycled paper collected from the city itself. The art fair, in its fifth season, had a specific focus on pavilion designs that spotlighted sustainable construction , urbanization and recycling.  The pavilion was created by Denmark-based Japanese architects, PAN- PROJECTS. The architects wanted to combine sustainability with the appropriate amount of durability for their Paper Pavilion design, making sure to sacrifice the longevity of the structure whenever possible for the utilization of the materials that would only withstand through the duration of the three-day event. With this methodology in mind, PAN- PROJECTS decided to use paper as their primary building material due to its strength and recyclability . Additionally, the use of paper adds a certain aspect of uniqueness that sets the Paper Pavilion apart from similar projects at the Copenhagen Art Fair. Related: Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home The designers also took inspiration from the shape of a bagworm moth for the pavilion, taking into account especially the insect’s nesting habits of collecting local materials into a particular shape. The concept will hopefully encourage spectators to find a connection between the natural shape of the moth-inspired design to the urban environment that surrounds it. Moreover, the papers that helped create the paper pavilion were collected from around the city, so the connection between the city’s inhabitants to the artistic structure should provide additional insight. Following the Copenhagen Art Fair, the piece was relocated permanently to the entrance hall inside the Kunsthal Charlottenborg Museum in Copenhagen with slight redesign to fit the new location. The paper used in the piece can be recycled again after the structure comes down, as well. + Pan- Projects Via Archdaily Images via Pan- Projects

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Designers made this pavilion out of upcycled paper waste

Celebrate the second International E-Waste Day

October 14, 2019 by  
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Thanks to its inaugural success last year, the second International E-Waste Day will be observed on October 14, 2019. The day is meant to raise awareness for proper disposal of electrical equipment and electronic devices worldwide. The International E-Waste Day was developed by Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum to promote reuse and recycle practices. Consumers are encouraged to proactively increase rates of repairing appliances for recovery and reuse, recycling devices and properly disposing of electronics . Related: Lawmakers are pushing gadget manufacturers with the Right to Repair movement Consumption of computers, phones, other digital devices and household appliances continues to grow rapidly. Often replaced and discarded, this electronic waste, or e-waste, is a big problem for the planet. Ecological repercussions accompany the heightened demand for electronics. Producing this technology exacerbates mining and depleting natural reserves to procure raw materials. E-waste accumulates, threatening the environment with toxic pollution and contamination hazards. The mess can only be alleviated with plans that enable reuse, repair, resale and recycle initiatives. Global estimates project 50 million tons of e-waste will be generated this year. But only a fifth of that will be recycled, while the rest is placed in landfills, burned or illegally treated. Consequences include tremendous losses to valuable supply chain materials. Moreover, negative health, environmental and societal issues arise from irresponsible e-waste management . Collectively, the WEEE Forum implements high-quality standards for e-waste “collection, handling, storage, transport, preparation for reuse, processing and disposal.” Its proprietary software allows member groups and partners to document recycling and recovery quotas to benchmark operations. Similarly, the nonprofit has provided policy recommendations for improved optimization across its member groups. This year, the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, is partnering with WEEE Forum to ensure global reach. More than 100 member organizations across 40 countries worldwide are expected to join in on activities as part of the second International E-Waste Day. Pascal Leroy, director general of the WEEE Forum, said, “There are many countries worldwide that are currently in the process of implementing e-waste legislation. We are therefore very pleased to have participants from six continents involved in this year’s International E-Waste Day.” Established in 2002, WEEE Forum addresses broadscale e-waste management. The nonprofit is the largest multinational organization harmonizing exchanges of best practices and knowledge on e-waste operations (collection, logistics and processing). To date, the WEEE Forum encompasses 36 producer responsibility groups from 25 countries. Representing the United States, at the moment, are Tennessee’s TERRA (The Electronics Reuse & Recycling Alliance) and Michigan’s VCER (Valley City Electronics Recycling). Whether you repair, reuse , resale, recycle or just spread the word this International E-Waste Day, don’t forget to do your part for the planet. + WEEE Forum Image via Volker Glätsch

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Celebrate the second International E-Waste Day

Artist suspends a giant cube filled with images of ocean plastic inside a London museum

September 26, 2019 by  
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Architectural and design studio Sam Jacob Studio has unveiled a new installation that highlights the burgeoning threat that plastic waste poses to the planet. Suspended from the ceiling of London’s V&A Museum, Sea Things is a giant, mirrored cube that emits a cartoon-style animated video. The animation takes spectators on a poignant journey from the year the first commercial plastic products were launched to 2050, the year some scientists estimate that the volume of plastic will be greater than fish in the world’s oceans. As part of London Design Festival , Sea Life greets visitors as they enter the V&A Museum’s great hall. Suspended in the air, the massive, transparent cube was inspired by a Charles and Ray Eames textile pattern found in the museum that depicts a pattern of fish and other sea creatures. However, the artist has updated the Eames pattern to reflect today’s growing ocean pollution issue. Along with a bevy of fish, a variety of waste objects found in the ocean these days, namely plastic bottles , has been added floating around in the cube. Related: Artist submerges 24 portraits underwater to raise attention about our plastic waste The animation begins in 1907, the year that one of the first commercial plastic products (Bakelite) was launched. The animation continues through the years, showing how the ocean waters have become more and more polluted with massive amounts of waste. The animation ends in 2050, the year that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has estimated that the volume of plastic waste in our oceans will be greater than the amount of marine life. During the inauguration of the eco-art installation , Sam Jacob explained his inspiration. “The Eames’ were working in a very optimistic time when consumerism was linked to freedom. For us, now, we’re working in a very different context. Our relationship to things, to production, to ecology is far more difficult and complex,” he told journalists. “So, what we’ve done here is to remake the Eames’ pattern from the perspective of 2019.” While Sea Things is located on the ground floor, Jacob is also exhibiting a collection of ceramic water vessels in the museum’s ceramics gallery. The series reimagines some of the museum’s most historic objects remade in modern materials. For example, a water pot from China’s Ming Dynasty is reproduced in recycled plastic, and a 4,000-year-old beaker from Scotland was remade using bioplastic made from sea shells. + Sam Jacob Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Ed Reeve via Sam Jacob Studio

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Artist suspends a giant cube filled with images of ocean plastic inside a London museum

Kengo Kuma unveils bold timber museum in Turkey that pays homage to the region’s Ottoman heritage

September 17, 2019 by  
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The world-renowned architects of Kengo Kuma and Associates have just unveiled a stunning museum in Turkey. Located in Eskisehir, the Odunpazari Modern Museum features several stacked timber boxes that seemingly rise out of the ground at various angles, paying homage to the city’s Ottoman heritage. Featuring a design led by Kengo Kuma partner Yuki Ikeguchi, the new 48,400-square-foot museum is a light-filled, multilevel space that holds a collection of 1,000 pieces of contemporary art . Although the artworks inside the museum are decidedly modern, the building’s design was heavily influenced by the city’s history. Related: Kengo Kuma suspends a cocoon-like timber dwelling for minimal site impact According to Kengo Kuma and Associates , the timber and stacked volumes of the Odunpazari Modern Museum were implemented into the design to reconnect the area with its heritage. For example, the word “Odunpazari” means “wood market” in Turkish. Using bold, square-edged timber logs as the building’s principle construction material pays homage to the region’s long history of wood trading. In addition to its timber materials , which feature strongly on the exterior and throughout the interior, the museum’s volume is also a nod to the city’s Ottoman history. Most of the homes in the city that date back to the Ottoman empire were built with an upper level cantilevering over a base. Using this design as inspiration, the museum features several stacked boxes that cantilever out over the ground floor base at various angles. Inside the museum, these interlocked boxes create distinct spaces of varying sizes. The larger exhibition rooms on the bottom floor house large-scale art works and installations, while the smaller boxes at the upper levels exhibit smaller artworks. A reception area and atrium are found in the middle of the museum. Clad in timber slats, a massive, central skylight leads up through the floors, welcoming natural light into the interiors of each level. + Kengo Kuma + Odunpazari Modern Museum Images via Kengo Kuma and Associates

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Kengo Kuma unveils bold timber museum in Turkey that pays homage to the region’s Ottoman heritage

Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

September 3, 2019 by  
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The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) has unveiled three preliminary masterplan concepts for the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits — the only consistently active and urban Ice Age excavation site in the world. Copenhagen-based Dorte Mandrup , New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro and New York-based WEISS/MANFREDI were selected as the finalist teams in the NHMLAC-hosted “ideas incubator” in June 2019 and have presented their visions at the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits for public viewing through September 15. All three designs emphasize improving community access to the 12-acre site in addition to the creation of sustainable infrastructure and careful site preservation. Because NHMLAC is in a public/private partnership with the County of Los Angeles , all masterplan visions will emphasize the integration of the county-owned, 23-acre Hancock Park with the 12-acre La Brea Tar Pits site. Although the integration of green space with the museum collections is integral to all three proposals, each campus vision is distinct. Dorte Mandrup suggests interweaving the park, the tar pits and a lush landscape of prehistoric plants and trees as well as a Pleistocene solar pixel mural to emphasize the world’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions On the other hand, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “light touch” focuses more on museum activities and will feature a publicly accessible dig site supported by a mobile “digital rig” that can anticipate current and future digs in the park, a new light-filled lobby and an “Archive Block” that allows visitors to peer inside the Research Lab. WEISS/MANFREDI’s proposal is centered on the design of a triple mobius pedestrian pathway to connect the La Brea Tar Pits with Hancock Park, which will be surrounded by enhanced amenities. The three proposals are currently on view at the La Brea Tar Pits museum through September 15 as well as on its website . The public is encouraged to provide feedback onsite or online. In addition to public feedback, NHMLAC will consider input from a jury that it has assembled to help the selection of the one firm that will lead the masterplanning effort. + La Brea Tar Pits Images via Dorte Mandrup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and WEISS/MANFREDI

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Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

Could the Florida Aquarium save ‘Americas Great Barrier Reef?’

August 26, 2019 by  
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Researchers at Tampa’s Florida Aquarium announced that they have managed to make a group of coral reproduce two days in a row. This is the first such successful attempt at Atlantic coral reproduction in a lab setting and could have important implications for saving barrier reefs. “Project Coral” is a program the aquarium designed in partnership with London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens . The objective: to create large coral egg deposits in a laboratory and ultimately repopulate the Florida Reef Tract. Related: Can the Cayman Islands save the Caribbean’s remaining coral reefs? Florida’s coral reefs are the world’s third largest barrier reef ecosystem. This phenomenal system, often called “America’s Great Barrier Reef,” extends from St. Lucie Inlet, north of Miami, to the Dry Tortugas, which are west of the Florida Keys. Biscayne National Park and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary contain about two-thirds of the reef tract. But pollution , climate change and the orange sponge that invades the weakened reefs have destroyed much of the ecosystem. Can Project Coral heal the threatened reefs? “It’s pure excitement to be the first to achieve a breakthrough in the world,” Roger Germann, CEO of the Florida Aquarium, told CNN . “Our team of experts cracked the code … that gives hope to coral in the Florida Reef Tract and to coral in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans.” The researchers started working with Staghorn coral in 2014 but then shifted their concentration to pillar coral. Devastated by disease, pillar coral are now almost extinct . Unfortunately, the female and male clusters are too far apart to reproduce. The aquarium’s coral greenhouses use high-tech gear like LED technology and computerized systems to imitate the real reef ecosystem and send out signals to encourage reproduction. The aquarium has proven doubters wrong — it is possible to generate native Atlantic coral spawn in a laboratory. It’s still too early to determine how this controlled experiment will transfer to all the variables involved in repopulating a wild reef. But this success has spurred scientists’ positive attitudes about a happy future for both the reef and Florida’s tourism economy. Germann said, “Now there really is hope … I think we can save it.” Via CNN Image via National Park Service

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Could the Florida Aquarium save ‘Americas Great Barrier Reef?’

Glowing, celestial-inspired shelter communes with nature in Denmark

August 8, 2019 by  
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The Munkeruphus Art Museum on the coast of Denmark has recently gained a striking new addition — the Observatory, an organic pavilion by Danish designer Simon Hjermind Jensen . The commission, which was supported by the Danish Arts Foundation and Knud Højgaards Fond, marks the start of the museum’s long-term vision for integrating art and nature-related projects on its grounds. Crafted with 3D modeling and CNC technology, the curvaceous pavilion has a cave-like interior that encourages visitors to gather within and reconnect with nature. When Jensen received the commission for the project, he started the design process with a 24-hour stay on the site to observe the landscape conditions from dawn to dusk as well as the trajectories of the sun and the moon. The site-specific study inspired the placement of the Observatory as well as the architectural design, which began with a ceramic model he crafted on-site. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork Back at his studio, Jensen refined his concept with additional ceramic models before overlaying a construction pattern on top that was 3D-scanned for computer modeling . Finally, the pavilion shell was CNC-cut from plywood and polycarbonate, bent into place and fastened together with custom, leaf-inspired joinery. Thanks to parametric modeling, the Observatory is optimized for strength and material use. Measuring nearly 19 feet in height, the Observatory features an asymmetrical teardrop shape topped with an oculus angled toward the south, framing views of the moon and creating more access to natural light . Inside, the curved interior is weighed down by a gravel floor and includes a built-in wooden bench that accommodates 25 people as well as a concrete podium. The central fire pit, when lit, makes the pavilion glow at night. “Like the characters of our surroundings changes and shift from day to night, the Observatory changes too, especially when a bonfire is lit after nightfall.” Jensen said. “The inside spatial experience changes with the light coming from the ground and, seen from the outside, the upper part glows in a pink color created from the light from the flames.” + Simon Hjermind Jensen Images via Simon Hjermind Jensen

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Glowing, celestial-inspired shelter communes with nature in Denmark

Carbon-neutral science museum in Sweden will be powered by bicycles

July 19, 2019 by  
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Danish architectural firm COBE has unveiled designs for a new science museum in the Swedish university city of Lund that will be powered not only with rooftop solar energy but also with pedal power. Museum visitors will be invited to help generate electricity for the carbon-neutral museum by riding “energy bikes” on its concave roof. Constructed primarily from prefabricated cross-laminated timber, the eco-friendly building will be a sustainable landmark and help cement Lund’s position as a science city on the international stage. Winner of an international competition, COBE’s proposal for the science museum will be located in the heart of the city’s new urban district, Science Villa Scandinavia. The museum will be sandwiched between the high-tech institutions ESS (European Spallation Source) and MAX IV, which are currently under construction and slated to become the world’s most powerful and advanced research facilities within neutron and X-ray research. The science museum’s purpose is to make the institutions’ groundbreaking research more accessible and inviting to both children and adults and to promote general interest in natural science and research. Spanning a total floor space of 3,500 square meters, the two-story science museum will comprise exhibition halls, a gallery, a reception area, workshops, a museum shop, a restaurant, offices and an auditorium. A viewing platform and patio will top the concave 1,600-square-meter roof as will energy bikes and a solar array large enough to meet the museum’s electricity needs. A large, nature-filled atrium will sit at the heart of the museum to help absorb carbon dioxide, boost biodiversity and serve as a water reservoir and overflow canal in case of extreme rainfall. Excess heat from ESS will be used to heat the museum through an ectogrid system. The timber building is expected to reach completion by 2024. Related: Industrial building is reimagined as a zero-carbon paragon for Paris 2024 Olympics “Ambitions for the design of the museum have been sky-high, and we feel that we have succeeded in designing a unique and inviting building, whose open atrium and concave roof lend it a dramatic and elegant profile that stands out and offers novel and innovative ways of using a museum,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “Moreover, we have made climate, environment and sustainability integral aspects of the process from the outset. By choosing wood as the main construction material, incorporating solar cells, using excess heat and creating an atrium with a rich biodiversity and a rainwater reservoir, among other features, we have achieved our goal and succeeded in creating a CO2-neutral building, if the design is realized as intended. Our hope, as architects, is that we can continue to increase the focus on and improve our ability to create sustainable architecture and construction for the benefit of future generations and the condition of the planet.” + COBE Images via COBE

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Carbon-neutral science museum in Sweden will be powered by bicycles

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