Basketball museum is meant to be viewed from all angles

January 12, 2022 by  
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The Lithuania House of Basketball Museum is a focal point in the town of Kaunas. The museum sits near the medieval Kaunas castle and Santaka park, where the two largest Lithuanian rivers converge. Designed by G. Natkevicius & Partners, the project stands out as a contemporary building in the urban fabric of the old quarter of the city. Because of the museum’s location, the architects had to consider that the building façade would be like a sculpture all around. Meaning: It would be visible from all sides. The museum can even be seen from above, from nearby multi-story buildings, church towers and from the slope of the Aleksotas hill across the Neman River. Related: Gleaming copper-colored steel wraps this solar-powered Dutch sports campus The House of Basketball’s sculptural façade consists of three primary materials. The front elevation allows for views in and out of the museum through alternating thin, vertical sheets of glass and aluminum framing. Other parts of the façade are more opaque and clad with large, diagonal strips of copper sheets. As the copper will patina over time, the oxidation process will cause the metal to transform to a richer, reddish-brown shade, alluding to the red brick masonry buildings in the city. The museum’s horseshoe form creates a courtyard space at the center. The building wraps around the 100-year-old oak tree that serves as the building’s central axis. Its centrality allows it to be visible from inside the building, while its branches stretch over the rooftop and is visible to passersby. All internal elevations of the courtyard consist of the same vertical glass ribbons and dark aluminum framing as the entry façade. In the near future, the museum plans to erect a statue of James Naismith, the Canadian that invented basketball in 1891. The statue will be placed alongside the central oak tree to emphasize Naismith’s legacy and reinforce the axis around which the building is centered. Although the exterior of the building incorporates simple and elegant materiality, the interior pushes this to an extreme and favors ultra- minimalism . It features concrete structural elements and black and white finishes, which serve as a backdrop for the exhibitions and events. + G. Natkevicius & Partners Images by Lukas Mykolaitis and Martynas Plepys

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Scientists are cleaning art with bacteria

December 30, 2021 by  
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After centuries of trying different techniques and using various chemicals to clean art, scientists found an eco-friendly solution that already exists in the natural world. Bacteria were thought of as art’s greatest enemy. They are evil, microscopic monsters intent on doing damage to the delicate canvases created by the hands of great art masters throughout history. But maybe not. Scientists have learned how to use helpful bacteria to clean and restore great art from the past. Recently, the technique has been used on carvings etched by Michelangelo. Related: What causes zombie plants? The Italian National Agency for New Technologies (ENEA) started experimenting with microorganisms. They performed a “biocleaning” on tombs in Florence, Italy created by the hands of Michelangelo to remove centuries of gunk and grime from the stone . The restored statues are just one more piece of evidence that this type of art restoration is potentially far more effective than anything ever used in the past. It all started back in the 1990s when Giancarlo Ranalli, a microbiology expert, worked in Pisa with the Technical Commission for Restoration to examine how microorganisms damage art. He worked with a team of restorers attempting to undo the damage done to the Camposanto Monumentale, a historic cemetery full of original plaster paintings and carvings. The cemetery was heavily bombed during WWII and restoration of the site proved to be extremely difficult due to animal glues used on the artifacts in the past. Normal methods of restoration just were not working. The chemicals traditionally used in such projects had little to no effect. Finally, someone on the project asked Ranalli a question: “Dr. Ranalli, can’t you do anything with your bugs?” And so, Ranalli gave it a shot. He covered the frescoes that needed to be restored with organic matter. He then experimented with various “ bugs ” until he landed on one that did the exact thing he wanted it to do: consume all the organic material, leaving the stone beneath it untouched. The “bugs” accomplished what decades of restoration attempts had failed at. There is an entire world of bacteria out there to explore. Ranalli successfully used Pseudomonas stutzeri, strain A29, to clean away animal glue. To determine which bacteria can get a restoration job done, a microscopic Hunger Games is carried out in true dramatic fashion. All the potential bacteria candidates are placed together in an environment where they compete for a single source of food . The food source is the target contaminant they will ultimately be tasked with removing. Whichever bacteria win this fight for the food source and learn how to use it to fuel and fed themselves will become cleaning microorganisms once they are thoroughly vetted and tested to ensure that they will not spread beyond the specific art in question, won’t infect humans and won’t cause damage to materials that should be preserved. The method works. A team of restorers in Spain was charged with removing centuries of animal glue, left over from previous restorations, from the glorious Santos Juanes Church. They decided to try Ranalli’s miracle bug, the animal glue-devouring Pseudomonas , to remove the black film of age from the interior of the church . Centuries of dirt were eaten away by the bacteria to reveal glorious details that were covered up before. So when faced by the tombs of the Medici Chanel in Florence, restorers turned to Giancarlo Ranalli for help. You know, the “bug” guy. The tombs were tricky indeed. Full of actual human remains, the tombs also have gorgeous marble statues carved by Michelangelo. Traditional methods would not work. Ranalli’s bacteria did. Silvia Borghini is the conservator at the National Roman Museum. She said that bacteria has really gotten a bad rap over the years because it’s associated with infection . However, it offers up a lot of benefits as well. “Only a very small number of bacteria are pathogens,” Borghini told CNN. “More than 95% of bacteria are not harmful to humans .” She recently used bacteria-laden gel on the statues in the garden at the National Roman Museum, meticulously applying the material to the marble with a toothbrush . She says the bacteria is “easy to apply and afterwards, the artifacts stay clean.” “It doesn’t harm the environment, it’s not toxic for us [humans] or the flora in the garden. It’s perfect,” Borghini said of the bacteria. It’s a marriage of science and art that could truly change the way great works are restored and preserved in the future. This unique biotechnology could solve many problems that chemical solutions have not been able to effectively address. And best of all, it’s organic . The bacteria do their thing and then they’re removed, leaving nothing behind but restored art. It is truly a fascinating example of what is possible when the power of the natural world is harnessed. Via Popular Science and CNN Lead image via Pexels

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Netherlands’ massive vault of sustainability and art

October 11, 2021 by  
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Located in Amersfoort, Netherlands, the CollectionCentre Netherlands (CC NL) designed by cepezed architects is a masterpiece of modern architectural design . From the impressive exterior design, to the functionality of the collection center, the CC NL is a true reflection of the future. The building was officially launched on September 13, 2021 by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid Van Engleshoven. With a storage space of about 30, 000 square meters, the building is home to over 500, 000 pieces of art and historical objects , including artifacts, evidence, paintings, jewelry, clothing and furniture. The CC NL holds pieces from the Rijksmuseum, Netherlands Open Air Museum, Paleis Het Loo and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Related: Sculptural roof tops eco-minded Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts expansion CC NL is designed in three sections: the ”head,” ”neck” and ”trunk.” The “neck” is the busiest of the three sections of the building, functioning as workshops where all the objects are processed, shaped and preserved before being transferred to storage rooms. It is also home to the freezer room, oxygen-free area, photo studio and X-ray room. The “head,” on the other hand, contains the entrance and walkways. Lastly, the ”trunk” forms the most co-pact part of the collection center. The CC NL has four stories with large pans for the storage of key objects. The storage in this section features maximum protection and also has small fire compartments. It has rooms with highly classified information stored under special rooms in special facilities. The aim of the building is to achieve durable, sustainable and beautiful preservation of history. To achieve this, the designers constructed the building with special rooms where museum species can be taken to get rid of harmful pests through freezing. With open access, the building’s resources can be used by research institutions. The CC NL is ranked the 15th most sustainable in Holland. The roof and facades used in the construction of the building give it a highly insulating outlook. The ground is less insulated since it was intended to act as a buffer. Its direct contact with the earth buffers the environment within, cutting down the need for air conditioning. On average, internal temperatures are maintained at about 12 and 15 degrees Celsius. This ensures the safety of the CC NL and reduces the risks of fires.Other aspects of the building that make it stand out in terms of sustainability include water recycling and renewable energy . With over 3,600 square meters of solar panels on the roof, the center can manage most of its energy needs without requiring external support in sunny months. It is also fitted with an ATES and gray water flushing toilet. The center also uses a rural rainwater collection system , that acts as an infiltration facility for the local vegetation. The widespread ecological landscape with detailed integration of flora and fauna makes the design one of the most sustainable section centers in the world. For those who work at the CC NL, the breathtaking beauty , comfort and usability are key factors. The working space here is among the best in Europe and will remain so for years. + cepezed architects Photography by Lucas van der Wee

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Siempre Eco is the new wallet-friendly sustainability brand

October 11, 2021 by  
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One of the main barriers many individuals face when choosing to live more sustainably is the cost of environmentally friendly products. Compared to disposable, single-use plastic products, items made from materials like bamboo or organic cotton are often more expensive as they factor in costs of materials, ethical labor and production. Started by Rabia Dhanani, Siempre Eco is a lifestyle startup committed to providing affordable eco-friendly alternatives for everyday items. Upon graduating amid the instability of the pandemic, Dhanani found herself with a lot of spare time. To save some money and keep herself busy, she set out on a mission to try making beeswax wraps, an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap that her family had begun using at home. Beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton sheets with a coating of beeswax, pine resin and jojoba oil. These waxy sheets create an antibacterial layer to keep food fresh for up to two weeks and have a year-long shelf life. However, they can be relatively expensive and often cost upwards of $10 apiece. Related: This long-standing natural soap company started by accident After a few weeks of experimenting with different materials and spending over $400 of her savings, Dhanani’s beeswax wrap trials finally yielded some positive results. She decided to continue this venture and sell the wraps to family and friends as a summer project. As the project gained momentum, Dhanani realized that she could create a meaningful impact on people’s daily lives while keeping her costs and carbon footprint minimal. Siempre Eco aims to provide people with sustainable and affordable alternatives for daily use and self-care items. Since the company values impact over profit, the profit margin is a little lower than that of competitors. In doing so, prices remain consistent, encouraging customers to switch to sustainable alternatives, as they can afford to use them in the long run. Over the past year, Siempre Eco has expanded its collection of products that range from lifestyle to kitchen items, all of which use locally sourced materials and/or ethical manufacturing. The products can now be found in over 40 retail stores in Canada, and the website offers worldwide shipping. The most popular products, besides beeswax wraps, include bamboo straws, shower fizzies and reusable wool dryer balls. Approximately 98% of Siempre Eco’s packaging is recyclable, reusable or biodegradable . A lot of the materials are paper-based and use recycled paper and/or cardboard, including recycled paper boxes, wrapping paper and box filling. Other forms of environmentally-friendly packaging include reusable glass jars, rice paper packaging and even corn mailers, which can be composted after receiving a package. In the near future, Siempre Eco looks forward to preparing curated boxes of products and partnering with other small sustainable businesses to create exciting theme-based bundles. The company is also in discussions with a massive North American retailer to bring the product range to over 400 stores. + Siempre Eco Images courtesy of Siempre Ec o

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Siempre Eco is the new wallet-friendly sustainability brand

Clark Street Composts sets example for Chicago and beyond

October 11, 2021 by  
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The natural world has a system for everything, including a natural waste cycle that turns dead  plants  and trees into food and soil for other living things. It’s called composting, and it’s a system as old as the planet itself. But modern garbage services have traditionally lumped all disposed of items together and hauled them to landfills. In a private-public collaboration, Chicago is tackling this issue by building a model for city-wide composting that can be developed anywhere.  The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) has partnered with WasteNot Compost in a project called Clark Street Composts. The initiative is a pilot program the organizers hope will spread to every neighborhood. The program launched in mid-September with a focus on high producers of compostable waste such as  restaurants , bars and other businesses. At the onset, the program has the support of 20 businesses with an interest in diverting compostable waste away from the dump and towards conversion into nutrient-rich soil. Related: The Australian government unveils plan to end plastic pollution Andersonville has a history of embracing environmental and social change in Chicago’s north side, as seen through the Andersonville Recycles program, which launched in 2009. WasteNot is also well-established as an industry leader in composting, earning Treehugger.com’s top rating for the best overall composting company in the U.S. However, even with these resources available, Chicago ranks last in the country in terms of  recycling  habits. According to a press release for Clark Street Composts, “food waste [is] estimated to make up over 50% of landfill contents, and 17% of greenhouse gasses produced in the U.S. are a product of food waste rotting in landfills,” so organizers are hoping to use the program to educate and encourage business owners in regards to composting.  The process works like most other curbside services. WasteNot Compost provides bins and carts for members and informs customers about what items can go into the bin. This includes fruit and vegetable waste, but also lesser-known compostables like cooked and raw  food , meat, dairy products, hair, pet fur, yard waste, compostable products from packaging companies and much more. Many of these items are not recommended for standard backyard composting because they can draw in unwanted animals, and temperatures often don’t get high enough to effectively break down materials as it does at an industrial level.  To provide information on the ins and outs of the program, WasteNot maintains an online membership where customers can find answers and support. The program also provides marketing materials for each business , so they can promote their environmental actions and help educate the public. ACC and WasteNot help promote the businesses to those looking to support environmentally-minded establishments.  The process offered by Clark Street Composts has a multi-tiered effect. Not only does it lower emissions in the landfill and divert the amount of  waste , but it also minimizes rodent problems in alleyways and smells in the city and at home. WasteNot operates a fleet of zero-emission electric trucks and offers a subscription service for both residents and businesses. It’s not a one-way street, though. Twice each year, WasteNot trucks haul nutrient-rich compost back to customers to enrich the soil.  40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez praised the new initiative, commenting, “I think Clark Street Composts is a shining example of a community and partner such as the Chamber showing leadership that puts our planet first. It creates a model the rest of the city should look to so that we can be not only forward-thinking, but forward-acting!” + WasteNot Photography by Jamie Kelter Davis

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An underwater forest of sculptures attracts marine life in the Mediterranean Sea

August 18, 2021 by  
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Environmental activist and artist Jason deCaires Taylor specializes in site-specific sculptural artwork that’s installed permanently underwater and reflects modern themes of  conservation . The artist’s latest project brings him to Ayia Napa, a Mediterranean town on the southeast coast of Cyprus. Titled “Musan,” the art installation is an underwater forest located 8 to 10 meters below the Mediterranean Sea, just 200 meters off the coast of Ayia Napa. Completed in 2021, the underwater forest consists of 93 sculptural art pieces depicting nature and  trees  meant to be consumed and colonized by marine biomass. Related: Explore eerie wonders at the Museum of Underwater Art Perhaps most importantly, the pieces are designed to attract marine life on a large scale; the sculptures themselves are meant to develop organically and interact with their surroundings indefinitely. As time goes on, the pieces will provide food and shelter for a variety of marine creatures, all while serving as a reminder of the connection between humans, the natural world and  art . Additionally, the project references the depletion of marine life in the Mediterranean Sea, as the underwater forest area will replace a previously barren stretch of sand within a marine protected area. Eventually, the site will be accessible to divers and snorkelers. To create variety among the  sculptures , they are placed at different depths ranging from 8 to 10 meters below the water’s surface, laid out to resemble a path through a forest. Differing in height and shape, the “trees” will provide a complex environment for the marine life in the area, while the sculpture materials are pH neutral to attract a more diverse variety of marine flora and fauna. Images of children playing complement the trees, a reference to our need to be included in the wild places that once existed. + Jason deCaires Taylor Images © MUSAN / @JasondeCairesTaylor / Costas Constantinou

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3D-printed House of Dust connects a 1967 poem to modern technology

July 29, 2021 by  
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3D-printed houses and other structures are becoming increasingly more common, but none have a creation story quite like The House of Dust, a livable structure in Wiesbaden, Germany that connects 1967 to today through the words of a poem. “The House of Dust” was initially a poem , created in 1967 by Alison Knowles and James Tenney with the aid of a Siemens 4004 computer. Knowles created word lists that describe attributes of houses. The words were then translated into Fortran computer programming language, and the computer was allowed to spit out word combinations. The resulting iteration of the poem read, “A house of dust / on open ground / lit by natural light / inhabited by friends and enemies / A house of paper / among high mountains / using natural light / inhabited by fishermen and families”. Related: Habitat for Humanity develops its first 3D-printed home in US One year later, the poem was turned into a physical structure in Chelsea, New York and later found new life in Cal Arts Burbank, California, where Knowles taught classes. Fast forward to 2021, and the structure was built again. Technically, it was printed — using Crane WASP technology . WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) is an industry leader in 3D printing, based out of Italy. With the completion of “The House of Dust”, the company said it is the “first and only temporary, livable and sustainable artwork entirely 3D printed based on natural materials.” The use of 3D printing provides minimal site impact . While it avoids a large carbon footprint, The House of Dust does speak to a comparison between the advancing computer science of 1967 and the innovations in the 3D printing industry of 2021, both connecting humans with technology. The project was completed in collaboration with the Museum Wiesbaden and included 50 hours of printing, 500 machine codes (G-code), 165 layers of 15 mm, 15 km of extrusion and 8 cubic meters of natural materials . Today, you can sleep inside the sculpture, which can be booked through the website tinybe.org . + WASP Images via WASP

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Oldest living manatee in captivity, Snooty, dies at age 69

July 25, 2017 by  
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Grab your tissues, folks. A 1,300-pound manatee named Snooty recently passed away after celebrating his 69th birthday. In the wild, manatees are fortunate to live into their teens, which is partly why the elder marine mammal was beloved by so many. According to the South Florida Museum, Snooty’s death was accidental and that the circumstances are being investigated. Snooty was born in captivity in 1948 — before laws were passed to protect marine wildlife . Every year, a party was thrown to celebrate the manatee’s birthday. This year, thousands of people traveled from all over to visit the celebrity mammal. Regarding Snooty’s untimely death, the museum said in a press release, “Snooty was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. Early indications are that an access panel door that is normally bolted shut had somehow been knocked loose and that Snooty was able to swim in. Snooty’s habitat undergoes a daily visual inspection and there were no indications the previous day that there was anything amiss. The Aquarium will remain closed while Museum staff continues its investigation and staff who worked with him have an opportunity to grieve.” In 2015, the manatee was certified as the world’s oldest captive manatee by the Guinness World Records . Just a handful of years prior, he gained notoriety when his life history made him one of the most renowned stewards for endangered species and the environment. Following the manatee’s death, the museum posted on their Facebook page, saying: “We know that our community and Snooty fans around the world share our grief.” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); The South Florida Museum is deeply saddened to share the news that our beloved Snooty has died. Snooty’s death was a… Posted by South Florida Museum on  Sunday, July 23, 2017 Via BayNews9 Images via Sarasota Herald Tribune , Wikimedia Commons

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Oldest living manatee in captivity, Snooty, dies at age 69

New Traveler XL Limited tiny house can comfortably sleep up to 10 people at once

July 25, 2017 by  
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This tiny home on wheels features a surprisingly spacious interior that can sleep up to 10 people. The new Escape Traveler XL Limited comes with two bedrooms, 344 cleverly-designed square feet, and it can go completely off the grid with solar panels, battery storage and composting toilets. The Traveler XL Limited features the modern, clean design of the original, but offers much more space and a wide array of functions and amenities. Based on a triple-axle trailer, the Traveler XL Limited measures 30 feet (9.1 meters)-long and has a total floorspace of 344 square feet (32 square meters). Related: Georgia couple convert old Blue Bird school bus into a cozy home on wheels It features larger windows and optional extras like a sofa bed, a pop-up TV, and Blu-ray player. The kitchenette includes a range cooker and sink, which the bathroom includes a 5-foot-long tub and shower, toilet, and cabinet, with an optional washer/dryer. The new Traveler XL Limited can accommodate up to ten people, assuming a few of those are kids. The design also offers off-grid options with the standard solar package packing a 500 W solar panel array, linked to an upgradable 200 Ah battery storage. A standard RV hookup is also available, as are composting and non-composting toilets. The Traveler XL Limited starts at US$78,500. + Escape Traveler Via New Atlas

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New Traveler XL Limited tiny house can comfortably sleep up to 10 people at once

Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown

July 24, 2017 by  
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Digital fabrication and traditional woodworking fuse together in Y, a modern sculpture with a provocative and pixelated appearance. A team of international architects and carpenters comprising &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] collaborated with the Finnish National Museum to create the funnel-shaped art piece in Helsinki’s Seurasaari open-air museum. The intriguing artwork is built from horizontal prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements interlocked by 568 timber wedges. The temporary Y was built in the historical Niemelä Tenant Farm courtyard , creating a new social space on museum grounds. “Y is an equation of temporality, time and provocative use of wood in the museum milieu,” wrote the architects. “As Y is the mathematical symbol for the unknown, the installation Y points to the future and the possible outcomes of Nordic built heritage. In Niemelä, Y is a variable within the parameter of time.” The funnels-shaped sculpture is large enough to climb into and explore like a cave, and its hypnotic effect encourages meditative practice. Related: Palestinian architects give the ancient stone vault a modern twist in Jericho Architecturally, the most interesting aspect of Y is its combination of digital fabrication with traditional woodworking . The project’s carpenters used traditional handicraft methods to help develop the project, while the architects brought their set of digital design and production tools to the table. The result is a sculpture that functions like a giant wooden joint that’s built from prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements. The use of timber gives the artwork a feeling of familiarity, however the pixelated appearance adds a touch of the futuristic and unknown. + &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] Images by SWANG

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