RIBA crowns Children Village in Brazil as the worlds best new building

November 30, 2018 by  
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On the edge of a rainforest in northern Brazil , a recently built school complex by Brazilian architecture firms Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum has been awarded the RIBA International Prize 2018 for the ‘world’s best new building.’ Dubbed Children Village, the contemporary project earned praise not only for its beautiful and low-impact design but also for its social impact as boarding accommodation to 540 children aged 13 to 18 attending the Canuanã School. The winning entry was selected by a grand jury chaired by visionary architect Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Funded by the Bradesco Foundation, the roughly 25,000-square-meter Children Village is one of 40 schools backed by the foundation that provides education for children in rural communities across Brazil. The architects — Gustavo Utrabo and Petro Duschenes from Aleph Zero along with Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela from Rosenbaum — worked closely with the children while designing the school. Key to the design was creating an intimate environment that felt like a “home away from home.” Instead of dormitories for 40 students, for instance, Children Village offers rooms for six children as well as a mix of private and public spaces that cater to study, play and relaxation. The school comprises two identical complexes: one for girls, one for boys. The building has been praised for “reinventing Brazilian vernacular” by bringing together a contemporary aesthetic with traditional techniques and local resources. The architects also drew from the local vernacular to mitigate the sweltering summertime temperatures in a cost-effective and sustainable way. For instance, the large canopy roof built from cross-laminated timber beams and columns allows for cooling cross-breezes as well as shade. Earth blocks handmade on site were also used for the walls and latticework. Related: Carbon-neutral Caring Wood wins RIBA award for best new house in the UK “Beyond being a standout work of architecture, Children Village embodies the generosity of the Bradesco Foundation’s philanthropic mission to provide much-needed amenities to those who otherwise have limited access to schools,” Diller said. “Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum have achieved a humble heroism, utilizing a sophisticated approach to detailing and construction that belies the fact that the building’s users are predominately teenagers, age 13-18, in a remote area in Brazil. The architect’s inventive rethinking of the region’s traditional techniques and materials succeeds in building community and in proving that space matters in education.” + RIBA International Prize Images via Leonardo Finotti and Cristobal Palma of Estudio Palma

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RIBA crowns Children Village in Brazil as the worlds best new building

Cheap drainage nets keep water pollution at bay in Australia

November 30, 2018 by  
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Water pollution is a growing crisis around the world, but one city in Australia is doing its part to tackle the huge surges of waste that come from stormwater drains. By using a somewhat obvious, simple and cost-effective system of nets, or “trash traps,” the City of Kwinana is moving to prevent waste from entering its waters. In Spring 2018, the City of Kwinana collaborated with supplier Ecosol to install two drainage nets in the Henley Reserve. The netting was simply attached to concrete drain pipes, and these nets have since collected 370 kg (about 816 lb) of waste, including plastic food wrappers and bottles. Related: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution The system, including manufacturing, installation and additional labor, cost the municipality about $20,000 — prior to the nets, city workers would collect debris in the water by hand. The new system is picked up and cleaned out using cranes when the nets become full of waste. Then, the waste is sorted in a designated facility. Here, green waste is transformed into mulch, and other materials are separated into recyclable /non-recyclable. The City of Kwinana has considered the drainage nets a huge success, with plans to install three more nets in the nature reserve area over the next two years. “We know that the Kwinana community is very passionate about environmental initiatives and rallies around actions with positive environmental impact, and if it was not for the drainage nets, 370 kg of debris would have ended up in our reserve,” Mayor Carol Adams said. “The nets are placed on the outlet of two drainage pipes, which are located between residential areas and natural areas … This ensures that the habitat of the local wildlife is protected and minimizes the risk of wildlife being caught in the nets. To date, no wildlife has been caught up in either of the City’s nets.” The system took off on social media, in a viral storm that Adams said shows the importance for all levels of government to focus on initiatives to save the environment . + City of Kwinana Image via Shutterstock

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Cheap drainage nets keep water pollution at bay in Australia

Zaha Hadid Architects weaves energy-saving tech into an otherworldly UAE landscape

October 12, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed designs for the Central Hub, a new leisure and entertainment destination for the United Arab Emirates that looks positively out of this world. Marked by swirling pathways and pod-like buildings, the futuristic Central Hub will serve as the focal point for the $6.5 billion Aljada development in Sharjah, the UAE’s third-most populous city. Spanning an area greater than 25 football fields, the 1.9 million-square-foot Central Hub will be entirely car-free and integrate a variety of energy-saving technologies. With Phase One slated for completion in the end of the first quarter of next year, the Central Hub is expected to be the city’s largest mixed-use lifestyle destination. The first phase spans over 328,000 square feet in size and includes the Aljada Community Center; a food truck village; a children’s play area, outdoor activity zone and skate park; outdoor event space for film screenings, pop-up events and markets; as well as Arada’s experiential sales center. The second and third phases of the Central Hub will be completed in 2020 and 2022, respectively, and include more recreational and retail facilities, such as an 11-screen cinema, extreme sports center and an expansive community park . Much like the Aljada masterplan, which is designed with walkability and sustainable systems in mind, the Central Hub is flush with over 700,000 square feet of public squares and gardens that include natural cooling strategies for year-round enjoyment. Inspired by water droplets, the elliptical buildings will also help channel crosswinds into the public spaces. The grounds will be irrigated with recovered and recycled water and planted with native species. Lighting will be powered entirely by smart solar. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects designs robot-assisted vaulted classrooms for China “ Sustainability is absolutely central to Arada’s vision, and that has been reflected in the Central Hub’s design,” said HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, vice chairman of Arada. “We are working hard to protect and encourage local native species and natural environment. We’re doing this in a way that is cost-efficient and leaves as small an impact on the planet as possible.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Lead image by VA, others by Cosmoscube

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Zaha Hadid Architects weaves energy-saving tech into an otherworldly UAE landscape

Green-roofed Czech Forestry Headquarters seeks symbiosis with the forest

March 9, 2018 by  
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Imagine if your office was set in the middle of a forest—that’s the image Chybik + Kristof aims for in their competition-winning designs for the new Czech Forestry Headquarters. Located in Hradec Králové, the office building draws direct inspiration from the surrounding forest with its liberal use of timber, a facade evocative of tree trunks, and canopy-like green roofs that encourage bird nesting. The interiors continue the vision of the forest as a workplace with a calming environment full of greenery and natural materials. The Chybik + Kristof-led design team’s “Forestry in the Forest” proposal was born from an initial site visit. When the team explored the Hradec forest beyond the Lesy ?eské republiky campus, they noticed the dramatic temperature difference between the hot campus buildings and the cool forest . “We asked ourselves what we really are forced to work in the hot interior when it would be best to take your laptop among the trees and work in an environment full of peace? Peace,” wrote the architects. Related: Paris hopes to create a forest 5 times bigger than NYC’s Central Park The forest-inspired office is centered on an open courtyard from where buildings radiate outwards, following the design philosophy that “the building grows into a forest, and the forest into the building.” Natural daylight streams through the buildings which recreate the outdoor environment with exposed timber framework indoors, hanging plants, and a natural materials and color palette. A natural trail with educational signage winds around the building and take visitors through areas planted with particular species like spruce, beech and fir, and oak and hornbeams. + Chybik + Kristof Via ArchDaily Images via Chybik + Kristof

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Green-roofed Czech Forestry Headquarters seeks symbiosis with the forest

Low-impact Abbotsford Eco House uses recycled materials wherever possible in Melbourne

January 9, 2018 by  
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Recycled and reclaimed materials are fitted throughout the Abbotsford Eco House, a sustainable residence that earned a 7.5+ Green Star rating for its energy-efficient features. Design and planning company First Angle completed the home for a client seeking a sustainable low-impact home in Melbourne. In addition to recycled construction material, the designers also turn to recycling in other parts of structure from recaptured heat to recycled rainwater and treated gray water. The Abbotsford Eco House was built largely from materials sourced from the original home on site as well as reclaimed materials taken from local second-hand shops. To minimize energy usage, First Angle placed the residence on a north-east orientation for optimized cross ventilation and solar access for natural heating. Concrete mass stone-clad walls and polished concrete floors throughout the home capture heat during the day and dissipate it at night. Hydronic heating installed in the insulated concrete floor slab complements the natural heating. The designers also take advantage of the stack effect to naturally cool the home in summer. Related: Beautiful Northcote Solar Home shows off modern energy-efficient family living High-performance woolen thermal insulation and double-glazed windows help lock in internal temperatures. Harvested rainwater is reused for flushing toilets and irrigation. A treatment system filters and recycles gray water throughout the home. The interior decorating also echoes the eco-friendly ethos with some of the pieces also salvaged and repaired. + First Angle Photos by Catherine Bailey

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Low-impact Abbotsford Eco House uses recycled materials wherever possible in Melbourne

Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food

January 9, 2018 by  
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C.F. Møller has unveiled new renderings for the New Islands Brygge School, an innovative lower-secondary school that takes a more hands-on and experimental approach to learning. Located in the heart of Copenhagen , the 9,819-square-meter school will teach children how to harvest and cook the food grown in the rooftop garden. In addition to a landscaped roof, the building will feature rooftop solar panels and an array of energy-saving technologies. C.F. Møller Architects won the bid to design New Islands Brygge School in a competition last year. The school combines physical, sensory, and experience-based learning, which informed the architects’ vision to create a building that blurs the line between indoors and out. The triangular-shaped school takes design and material inspiration from the city, port and commons. Since food is a major theme of the school, a double-height dining hall is placed at the heart of the school to serve as the focal point and main hub. Two kitchens flank the canteen area. Students also interact with food in other ways through greenhouses and urban gardens, and even in outdoor kitchens and a campfire for open-air cooking. Physical activity is also important in the curriculum and so the architects created multiple outdoor recreation areas on the roof that include a running track, parkour area, and enclosed ball pitch. Related: Nation’s first K-8 urban farm school teaches kids how to grow their own food “The school’s interior and outdoor spaces are designed to be in close contact with each other,” wrote the architects. “Each class has direct access to the roof landscape from their home area, while the school’s natural science area is linked to an outdoor area with a biology garden, greenhouse for physics and chemistry, and the gardens.” The building is built to follow the strictest Danish low-energy code 2020 and includes ventilation with heat recovery, natural ventilation , day-light-controlled lighting, and a highly insulated envelope. + C.F. Møller Images via C.F. Møller

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Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food

Brilliant zero-energy air conditioner in India is beautiful and functional

September 14, 2017 by  
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New Delhi -based Ant Studio made a zero-electricity air conditioner to combat the brutally hot summers in India’s capital. Built for a DEKI Electronics factory, this low-tech, energy efficient, and artistic solution to the sweltering heat harnesses the power of evaporative cooling. The innovative honeycomb-like installation is made with conical clay tubes that naturally reduce the surrounding temperature. Built as part of a larger beautification project for DEKI Electronics, the innovative cooling installation is highly functional and adds an artistic flair to the factory. The shape and size of the beehive -inspired structure’s densely packed terra-cotta cones were determined using advanced computational analysis and modern calibration techniques. When water runs down the structure—it’s sufficient to wet the cones just once or twice a day—the process of evaporation gradually lowers the air temperature. The porous terra-cotta units absorb water that then seeps to the outer surface where it evaporates and turns into cold air. The flow of water empties out into a collection basic and gives the installation a beautiful waterfall effect. “I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece”, said Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio. “The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders, could allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze.” Related: 3D-printed “Cool Brick” cools a room using only water The prototype is capable of cooling hot air at above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degree Fahrenheit) to temperatures of less than 36 degree Celsius around the structure, while atmospheric temperature drops to 42 degrees Celsius. The architects see the honeycomb-shaped installation as a scalable low-tech solution for natural cooling, as well as an art installation that incorporates ancient craft methods. + Ant Studio Via ArchDaily Images via Ant Studio

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Brilliant zero-energy air conditioner in India is beautiful and functional

This green-roofed castle home in England is cooled by the ocean breeze

June 29, 2017 by  
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With its thick undulating walls and green roof , this villa in England translates the architecture of traditional Celtic fortifications into the language of sustainability. Tonkin Liu Architects ‘s Ness Point House is a castle-like structure that protects its occupants from the elements while achieving a high level of energy efficiency. The house occupies a cliff top site in Dover, South East England, and functions as an airtight shelter that utilizes passive and active sustainable design features. It utilizes heat recovery and solar thermal renewable systems to maximize energy efficiency in the winter, while the long gallery skylight and eco-vents enable passive cooling during the hot summer. Related: A green-roofed Hobbit home anyone can build in just 3 days The undulating plan and inclined sections create a cavernous internal space that offers flexibility of use and captures changing lighting conditions. As if growing out of the land, the house is covered in a vegetative roof that slopes downward at the rear of the site. + Tonkin Liu Architects Via Plataforma Arquitectura Lead photo by Nick Guttridge

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This green-roofed castle home in England is cooled by the ocean breeze

New map provides clues into 500-million-year mystery in Earth’s past

June 29, 2017 by  
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1,000 to 520 million years ago, Earth’s climate was undergoing dramatic changes. From icy extremes in what some have termed Snowball Earth , to warmer conditions as an increase in oxygen led to the Cambrian explosion of biodiversity , it’s a period of the planet’s climate history we knew little about – until now. Scientists recently created the first ever global map of plate tectonics during this time, shedding light on their influence on other Earth systems. Tectonic plate movement helps researchers understand how life evolved and how Earth’s climate changed. But there was around a 500-million-year gap that a group of 12 researchers in Australia and Canada just filled in with their new map, which they describe as the “first whole-Earth plate tectonic map of half a billion years of Earth history .” Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion years old The researchers were able to draw up the map by studying rocks that formed near where tectonic plates meet or where they ripped apart. The rocks came from Brazil, Ethiopia, and Madagascar. The scientists said the work took them a few decades. Their map offers new details, further back in geological time, than we had before. Two of the co-authors on a paper in press at the journal Gondwana Research wrote a piece for The Conversation detailing their map and the role of plate tectonics in our planet’s climate and the evolution of life. Andrew Merdith of the University of Sydney and Alan Collins of the University of Adelaide said the lack of ancient tectonic maps has made it difficult for researchers trying to unravel the mysteries of the past. They wrote, “Understand ancient plate tectonics and we go someway to understanding the ancient Earth system. And the Earth as it is today, and into the future.” Via The Conversation Images via Andrew S. Merdith, et al.

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New map provides clues into 500-million-year mystery in Earth’s past

Church built for $35k stays naturally cool in Malawi

May 1, 2017 by  
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Design nonprofit Architecture for a Change continues their life-changing work with the completion of a new church for the Chimphamba community in Malawi. Built to replace a dilapidated community center, the Rural Church draws inspiration from the traditional African drum with its circular floor plan. The building relies on the thermal mass of earthen bricks, wall openings, and a ventilation tower to stay naturally cool in Malawi’s subtropical heat. Created in collaboration with Youth of Malawi and the chiefs of the Chimphamba community, Architecture for a Change’s Rural Church was designed to meet the skill set of local builders while providing some new learning opportunities. The building was constructed with a cylindrical form, a shape that symbolizes safety and protection in the community. Citing the community’s use of cylindrical chicken coops and maize storage containers, the architects say the Christian church’s shape “was used as a metaphor for the design: as space that will protect and safeguard the sense of community in Chimphamba.” Three boxes, built of locally burnt red brick to match the rural vernacular, are inserted into the round building. The first box serves as a foyer while a second, taller box uses the stack effect to function as a ventilation tower for natural cooling . Using temperature differences and lower air pressures at higher heights, the ventilation tower passively pulls hot air to the top of the building and sucks fresh air into the building. Related: Architecture For a Change Designs Lightweight Church for South African Zandspruit Community Small holes punctuate the building to let in natural light and ventilation. The church’s roof symbolizes a Christian cross and is covered with translucent roof sheeting to allow additional natural light in. The building was completed in early 2017 with a budget of $35,000 USD. + Architecture for a Change Images via Architecture for a Change

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