Natural ventilation and light filters through this glittering perforated facade

February 17, 2017 by  
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Photo by W Workspace The natural environment permeates through the faceted,  perforated facade of this shopping center in Bankok. Taiwan-based studio Architectkidd designed the project, named The Street Ratchada, by renovating an existing retail development and combining Thailand’s traditional metalwork techniques with digital design to create an engaging envelope that allows air and light to filter through the porous diamond panels. The building features a semi-outdoor atrium , a variety of programs and public activities that help embed the project into the existing urban tissue of Bangkok . Traditionally planned interior gave way to a more flexible layout. Related: Architectkidd’s Blue Bird Hut saves injured birds in Thailand One of the building’s most prominent features is its facade which creates an inviting glow from within at night. Gradient transparencies of the panels facilitate natural ventilation and ever-changing lighting conditions. The metallic surface has a monumental appearance, while delicately influencing the use of the building by functioning as a porous layer composed of triangulated, uniquely cut slivers. + Architectkidd Lead photo by Luke Yeung

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Natural ventilation and light filters through this glittering perforated facade

A lush curtain of greenery provides privacy for this sprawling home in Vietnam

January 4, 2017 by  
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A curtain of lush greenery  flows along the main hallway of this gorgeous residence in Vietnam. MIA Design Studio designed the Drawer House for a family of nature lovers looking for a home that would integrate nature with the interior, all while providing privacy. The architects came up with a solution which protects the residents from noise, maintains privacy, and creates a harmonious environment dominated by greenery. The main concept behind the design of the Drawer House is rooted in the need for individual privacy and direct contact with nature. In order to reconcile all the requirements, the design team created a layout that divides all the functional spaces into “drawers” separated by courtyards . These patches of greenery, conceived as “drawers of landscape”, are connected by an elongated hallway running the entire length of the building and lined with a layer of Bridal Veil Creepers. Related: Solar-powered Elevate Structure is wrapped in a living, breathing wall of green In-between gardens offer privacy while creating a smooth transition to the next space. By opening and closing parts of the partitions, users can ensure better natural ventilation which helps cool down the entire residence. The presence of natural light , breeze and greenery maximize the connection between interior and exterior spaces while preserving privacy for each individual room. + MIA Design Studio Via Archdaily Photos by Hirouyki Oki

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A lush curtain of greenery provides privacy for this sprawling home in Vietnam

German forester says trees are social beings with friends and personalities

January 4, 2017 by  
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A German forester said in a recent interview that trees are social beings that have friends and their own personality. Author of The Hidden Life of Trees , Peter Wohlleben shared with Yale Environment 360 fascinating stories of relationships between different trees he has observed. His revelation of their inner lives may be vital for the battle against climate change . We rarely attribute feelings to trees, but Wohlleben does so without hesitation. He spun compelling tales to illustrate why he says trees are sentient. For example, he said in about one in 50 cases, trees form special friendships, such as the one he glimpsed between two beeches. He told Yale Environment 360, “Each one was growing its branches turned away from the other rather than toward each other, as is more usually the case. This kind of partnership is well known to foresters. They know that if you see such a couple, they are really like a human couple; you have to chop down both if you chop one down, because the other will die anyway.” Related: Trees form special bonds with “friends and family” Trees send signals to warn others of dangerous insects, and pass along food to nearby sick trees. Wohlleben describes an instance of trees keeping each other alive: “This one beech tree was cut four to 500 years ago by a charcoal maker, but the stump is still alive – we found green chlorophyll under the thick bark,” he said. “The tree has no leaves to create sugars, so the only explanation is that it has been supported by neighboring trees for more than four centuries.” He has heard similar stories from other foresters. Some people have criticized Wohlleben for attaching emotional language to trees, but it’s all part of his strategy to help people view trees as living beings instead of commodities. Sustainable forest conservation is crucial in a changing, hot world, and Wohlleben eschews heavy machinery and insecticides, instead hand-harvesting trees and hauling them via horses. He cautioned against the trend of “indiscriminately cutting timber ,” which weakens ecosystems and the trees’ “social structures.” You can read the full interview here . You can also find Wohlleben’s book on Amazon or at your local bookstore. Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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German forester says trees are social beings with friends and personalities

Off-grid Utah home nestled inside a natural cave-like opening

January 4, 2017 by  
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The word ‘incredible’ does not begin to encompass the awesomeness of this Utah abode, hidden in the side of a cliff. Built in 1986, Cliff Haven is an off-grid dream come true , and it’s for sale. A closed auction invites bidders to imagine living right in the heart of one of America’s most dramatic canyons, amid orange-hued bluffs and tumbleweeds aplenty. With all the amenities needed to thrive (not just survive) off the grid , the Cliff Haven will make a perfect home for someone looking to escape America’s recent chaos without actually having to leave the country. The unique home sits on 12 acres of land, situated 20 minutes outside of Monticello, Utah, in the scenic Montezuma Canyon, and the home is entirely self-sufficient . Cliff Haven spans 2,100 square feet of indoor living space within its rectangular footprint, including three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a three-car garage. From the outside, the home appears to sink into the cliffside itself, as it was constructed within an existing natural cave-like opening. Behind the home, a tunnel has been dug out to provide natural air circulation and an outlet for rainwater to run off. The tunnel doubles as a fire escape as well. Related: These 6 extraordinary cliffside homes will give you chills In addition to just looking downright cool, Cliff Haven features all the technical amenities necessary for supporting life off the grid. A solar power system with 120-volt current charges a battery system, and the home is also equipped with a backup generator for emergencies. A private well supplies water for use inside the home while two 2,000-gallon water tanks collect and store rainwater for other uses. The property has a mature orchard, vineyard, and garden – so the potential irrigation applications are plentiful. If you’re tempted to bid on Cliff Haven and finally getting away from it all, head to the property’s website to check out the full video tour. Then, mark your calendar for January 21, when the closed auction will take place. + Utah Cliff House Via New Atlas Images via Utah Cliff House

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Off-grid Utah home nestled inside a natural cave-like opening

Irish scientists identify new human organ

January 4, 2017 by  
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You’ve been walking around with an unknown organ without even realizing it. The mesentery, which connects the abdomen and intestine, isn’t exactly a new find, but doctors previously thought it was fragmented, instead of continuous. Now University of Limerick scientists are seeking to reverse the centuries-old viewpoint in an article explaining why this piece of the body deserves to be classified as an organ. For more than 100 years, scientists thought the mesentery was comprised of several different, complex segments. Not so, say J. Calvin Coffey and D. Peter O’Leary. They found the mesentery was in fact “one continuous structure,” according to Coffey, and worthy of classification as an organ. The mesentery serves to help organs like the colon and small intestine maintain their shape, wrapping around them in one ribbon of tissue. Coffey told Discover Magazine, “Without it you can’t live. There are no reported instances of a Homo sapien living without a mesentery.” He and his team established the continuous structure of the mesentery back in 2012, and have been building up evidence since then. Related: Scientists grow test tube human brains with potential to think and feel A better understanding of the mesentery could help doctors as they operate on the body, even resulting in less invasive surgeries and complications, according to the University of Limerick. Patients could recover faster and pay less if the medical community had further knowledge of the mesentery. Coffey said in a statement, “When we approach it like every other organ…we can categorize abdominal disease in terms of this organ.” So who gives the final word on whether the mesentery is officially an organ? Coffey told Discover Magazine he doesn’t actually know. For now his article can be read in the journal The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology , who published the research in late 2016. Via Discover Magazine and University of Limerick Images via Alan Place and J. Calvin Coffey/D. Peter O’Leary/Henry Vandyke Carter

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Off-grid village with game-changing green solutions blooms in the Middle East

January 3, 2017 by  
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An oasis for clean-tech solutions has bloomed in an unexpected place—the arid Negev desert. Located at Israel’s Kibbutz Ketura north of the Red Sea, the Off-Grid Demonstration Village is a hot bed for game-changing off-grid solutions that aim to improve the lives of people outside the grid and to provide a testing ground for eco-minded companies. Rapidly deployable housing, low-cost renewable energy systems, and experimental technologies flourish in this factory of ideas for a greener tomorrow. The availability of off-grid technologies has improved in recent years as the price of solar continues to fall and as research and development chugs along. But for the millions of people in developing and emerging countries who are disconnected from the national water and energy grids, the research has not yet kept up with demand. That’s why the non-profit Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative teamed up to launch the Off-Grid Demonstration Village (also known as the Eilat-Eilot Off Grid Hub) in 2014. The fairly remote and spartan desert with its temperature extremes provides a fitting environment for the village as a place of experimentation to test technologies designed for hard-to-reach, undeveloped areas around the world. “Living off-grid has a direct impact on quality of life and health and it is the most prominent indicator of the global injustice in the distribution of resources,” writes the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative. “In most of these cases, there is no future prospect of obtaining traditional grid connectivity. Consequently, there is a dire need to implement solid strategies and tools to deal with the implications of living off-grid.” The initiative and Arava Institute work directly with African communities and Bedouin communities in Israel to test out the viability and sustainability of these off-grid technologies. Individuals, companies, and governments from around the world visit the Off-Grid Demonstration Village to learn how they can bring these technologies back to their home country. Related: Israel’s greenest building produces more energy than it consumes The products and technologies currently showcased at the village fall under four main categories—buildings, energy, water, and food. The village currently comprises three demo buildings—a rural home, urban structure, and earthbag dome—each host to different off-grid products as well as large-scale technologies like the solar water desalination system by SunDwater ; more buildings are planned for the village in the future. Each building is based on existing building types found in off-grid communities and can be built inexpensively with locally found materials. The innovations lie in the easy-to-implement improvements to these types of houses, such as the addition or solar stoves or a biogas system to substitute fuel for cooking and heating to reduce pollution, risk of asthma, and the taxing labor of collecting wood for fuel. Rural Home Modeled on traditional and existing designs found in rural developing regions, the rural home is a round building topped with a thatched roof. The simple construction of grass, earth, and stone makes it easy and affordable to build. While the traditional rural structure is sufficient in providing shelter, the designer who worked on the project added a pagoda-shaped dome above the roof and inserted more openings to let in more natural light and improve ventilation for hot air and smoke to escape. Plastic bottles filled with purified water and bleach punctuate the thatched roof to serve as low-tech light bulbs that can reach up to 40 or even 60 watts. The backing of the rooftop solar panel was also removed to let in more natural light. A backyard biogas system, called HOMEBIOGAS, sits outside the home to convert household waste into energy and organic fertilizer. Urban Structure The urban structure is the largest of the three demonstration homes and is based on buildings found in informal urban settlements like slums. Built easily and inexpensively, this boxy communal building can suit a variety of needs such as a primary school building. The urban structure was built from plywood, a cheap and commonly found construction material, but the designers improved upon the traditional design by adding an insulating layer made from simple materials like straw or unprocessed sheep wool. Ventilation is also improved with the inclusion of a double roof: the first roof of palm leaves allows for natural ventilation and cooling, whereas the upper metal roof protects the structure from rain. The backyard includes an adjustable solar panel hooked up to a monitoring system so that users inside can adjust the position of the solar panel to maximize energy efficiency. A vacuum tube solar oven on display on the south side of the structure features insulated inner tubes that absorb solar energy to heat up food or water placed in the tubes to boiling temperatures. Earthbag Dome The earthbag dome house was constructed using methods developed by Iranian-born American architect Nader Khalili in the 1980s. The building was cheaply and quickly constructed with sacks of soil, called ‘earthbags,’ to create a stable and thermally balanced structure with no need for deep foundations. Since the roof was built as part of the dome, the builders don’t need to construct beams or a separate support system. To improve insulation, the designers built the earthbag dome with two layers: a thermal mass layer of compacted sacks of soil and an external insulating layer made from straw and soil. The Off-Grid Demonstration Village serves as a crucial step of validation between the research and development phase and implementation in developing countries. This testing ground encourages startups and larger companies to experiment with new ideas and gives them a space to demonstrate their products to potential investors, educators, and other innovators. Open to visitors, this inspiring village hidden away in an unlikely place in the desert is part of a greater aim to tackle world poverty by improving the quality of life for the millions who live off grid, one clean tech solution at a time. + Arava Institute + Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative + Vibe Israel Tour courtesy of Vibe Israel Images © Lucy Wang

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Off-grid village with game-changing green solutions blooms in the Middle East

Green-roofed gallery in Hanoi lights up like a lantern at night

November 29, 2016 by  
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This green-roofed gallery and lighting showroom in Hanoi is wrapped in a layer of perforated terracotta that filters sunlight into the narrow, tall volume of the building. Natural materials and different patterns and textures, trademarks of Vo Trong Nghia Architects , turn the building into a beautiful combination of traditional Vietnamese architecture and contemporary design. The building is located within Dong Da district in Hanoi. Its interior spaces are organized around a central void that houses a staircase which provides glances of the exhibitions. The terracotta blocks, traditionally used in Vietnamese architecture , facilitate natural ventilation and provide shade from harsh sunlight. These affordable building elements are coupled with a bespoke fixing system, enabling quick and simple assembly. Related: Lush green rooftop terrace invites homeowners outdoors in the foothills of Vietnam The top floor, where the gallery is located, overlooks a large neighboring tree and receives additional lighting through skylights that expose the roof garden above. While the building is in shade during the day, its internal nighttime illumination makes it look like a beautiful lantern. + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Hiroyuki Oki , Trieu Chien

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Green-roofed gallery in Hanoi lights up like a lantern at night

Striking 13-foot-wide family home in Vietnam looks like a jungle in the city

October 27, 2016 by  
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The main challenge for designers Ho Khue Architects was the spatial constraints of the plot. Despite the fact that the house is only four meters (13 feet) wide, the team managed to optimize the design to create a naturally ventilated , light-filled family home that feels spacious and relaxing. They created two separate blocks with a beautiful garden located in the central core. This particular area helps the house “breathe” and allows natural light to reach all the rooms. Trees and planters were introduced to the top floor, creating an open “sky garden”- an unlikely respite in a noisy and cramped area. The rooftop garden reduces heat radiation and significantly lowers the need for heating. Related: Gorgeous Green House is Wrapped in a Lush Vertical Garden in Belgium The rear of the building is most exposed to the elements, which is why it features a wall constructed using the same brickwork present in the interior. The porous dwelling also has small vents that deter rain, enable natural ventilation and draw optimal levels of natural light inside. + Ho Khue Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Hiroyuki Oki

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Striking 13-foot-wide family home in Vietnam looks like a jungle in the city

Sustainable eyeglass hut demonstrates closed loop recycling in Australia

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Australian architect describes the project as a demonstration of efficient resource use. In a statement on the project’s website, he explains that “sustainable materials in architecture is about thinking how we can most efficiently use the world’s resources in a respectful manner, I believe we need to create closed loop manufacturing systems where no material goes to landfill or pollutes our natural ecosystems, but is rather up-cycled to minimize resource depletion and environmental degradation.” Related: Tiny new flat-packed off-grid homes offer affordable housing breakthrough In the portable shop, Dresden cuts precision prescription lenses right on site. All components of the eyeglasses are interchangeable for eco-friendly repairs, and everything is recyclable as well. Inspired by the tiny house movement, Symes designed the portable workshop to be a sustainable example of portable architecture, while housing a sustainable business. Lens edging equipment is powered by a generator due to its high voltage needs, but most other electrical equipment, including lighting and the point of sale system, are powered by built-in photovoltaics and the accompanying battery storage system. To create a portable workshop that would also be lightweight, Symes called for a polycarbonate facade, which blocks out 70 percent of solar radiation and insulates better than double-glazed materials. Dresden Mobile’s awnings open to allow cross ventilation, so that climate control systems are not necessary. When closed, the polycarbonate sides allow daylight to filter through to the interior, further reducing the need for additional artificial lighting. + Alexander Symes Architect Images via Brett Boardman Photography

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Sustainable eyeglass hut demonstrates closed loop recycling in Australia

Grass-roofed arches and planted terraces bring nature into this modern bazaar in India

September 26, 2016 by  
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Avadh Shilpgram contains nearly 200 craft shops, some of which are air-conditioned; craft courts; a dormitory hostel; auditorium, and food court. The walled bazaar’s layout is organized along a centrally placed spiral that culminates into a tight curl with an open plaza at the center. The spiral comprises a series of steel-framed arches clad in Red Agra sandstone in a Jaali pattern, the motif of which was inspired by the renowned Lucknowi embroidery craft called ‘Chikan kari.’ The grand arches let natural light and ventilation flow through the space and recall the large arches found in the Buland Darwaza in Agra. Related: 7,000 Shipping Containers Used to Create Bazaar in Kyrgyzstan Craft shops and courts line the arches and offer local craftspeople a place to sell their wares and teach their craft. “During the design process, the layout of the twenty-acre Awadh Shilpgram evolved organically from the commercial, cultural, social and leisurely interactions of people,” write the architects. “An elliptical form enables a smooth corner-free circulation; it narrows down while spiralling inward, and emulates the density and vibrancy of the Lucknowi Bazaars of yesteryears; the bazaars with the streets that got progressively narrower.” To balance the paved surfaces, the architects added large amounts of landscaping, from the green space that hugs the outer rim of the spiral to the planted terraces in the amphitheater and the grass-covered arched workshop spaces. + Archohm Via Dezeen

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Grass-roofed arches and planted terraces bring nature into this modern bazaar in India

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