BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen

August 9, 2018 by  
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Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group , the new home for the Shenzhen Energy Company has just reached completion in the business center of Shenzhen , China. Conceived as a new social and sustainable landmark in the heart of the city, the striking office development comprises two towers — one rising 220 meters to the north and the other to a height of 120 meters in the south — both of which are linked by a 34-meter-tall podium. Dubbed the Shenzhen Energy Mansion, the skyscraper is wrapped in an undulating facade that optimizes solar orientation while minimizing energy consumption. Created in collaboration with ARUP and Transsolar, BIG’s Shenzhen Energy Mansion design was selected the winner of an international design competition in 2009. Spanning an area of 96,000 square meters, this new headquarters for the Shenzhen Energy Company includes a pair of office towers and a mixed-use podium comprising the main lobbies, a conference center, a cafeteria and exhibition space. Circulation for visitors and workers are divided; the commercial spaces can be accessed through sliding glass walls on the north and south ends of the buildings while office workers enter from the front plaza to the lobby. Instead of the traditional glass curtain wall, BIG designed a pleated building envelope specially engineered to reduce solar loads and glare. Site studies and passive solar principles optimize the building’s orientation, which includes maximized north-facing openings for natural light and minimized exposure on the sunnier sides. Green roofs top the building. Related: BIG unveils designs for LEED-certified skyscraper in NYC “Shenzhen Energy Mansion is our first realized example of ‘engineering without engines’ — the idea that we can engineer the dependence on machinery out of our buildings and let architecture fulfill the performance,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “Shenzhen Energy Mansion appears as a subtle mutation of the classic skyscraper and exploits the building’s interface with the external elements: sun, daylight, humidity and wind to create maximum comfort and quality inside. A natural evolution that looks different because it performs differently.” + BIG Images by Chao Zhang

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BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen

This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

July 11, 2018 by  
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More than 1,000 square feet of plastic ultimately destined to pollute the ocean is getting a second lease on life in Rotterdam. On July 4, 2018, Recycled Island Foundation opened its prototype to the public: a floating park made entirely from recycled plastic waste and appropriately named the Recycled Park. According to a report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment , more than 1,000 cubic meters of plastic waste is transported every year down the Meuse River and into the North Sea. The plastics come from landfills, agriculture, sewage and inland shipping. They ultimate reach the river through a number of methods, including dumping, littering and run-off. Instead of letting the plastic reach the ocean, the Recycled Island Foundation and 25 partners created the Recycled Park: a public space in Rotterdam consisting of floating platforms made from recycled plastic waste. The team set traps along the Meuse River that collect waste, which is then gathered and transformed into platforms for the floating park. Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The Recycled Park project is focused on the Meuse River because of the overall viability of plastic in the aquatic space. The collected waste  is newer than in other waterways, so it can easily be made into platforms. To create the platforms, the collected plastic is sent to Wageningen University, which leads the research on effective recycling techniques . From there, the platforms are designed with HEBO Mariteimservice , who removes the garbage from the water. But the platforms aren’t just designed to reduce plastic pollution — they also serve as a wildlife habitat. Plants grow both above and below the river surface, allowing greenery to thrive on top of the platforms, providing a habitat capable of sustaining marine life and encouraging fish to lay eggs below the platforms. With the prototype park open, the organization is now looking for expansion options. Its ultimate goal is to incorporate several aquatic platform types into the park, while finding a permanent location to collect plastic from the Dutch harbor . + Recycled Park + Recycled Island Foundation Images via Recycled Island Foundation

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This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot

July 6, 2018 by  
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Los Angeles-based design practice Michael Maltzan Architecture  has transformed a vacant suburban lot into the Crest Apartments, a LEED Platinum -certified permanent supportive housing center that assists homeless individuals and veterans. Commissioned by the Skid Row Housing Trust, this striking light-filled property promotes healthy lifestyles with its inviting, community-focused design. In addition to serving the homeless, the 45,000-square-foot development also offers major benefits to the local community and environment with its stormwater management system that captures and treats over 90 percent of the site’s rainwater runoff. Located in Los Angeles’ Van Nuys neighborhood, the $23.6-million Crest Apartments building consists of 64 units, half of which are allocated for homeless veterans. Also included are supportive services and community space for residents such as the social services offices, a communal kitchen, laundry room, conference room, residents’ lounge and an outdoor community garden. The building was constructed with a prefabricated timber frame constructed by CTF California TrusFrame and clad with LaHambra Integral Color Plaster. To let in natural light and views of the city, the architects punctuated the white exterior with aluminum-framed Arcadia windows and glazed sliding doors. The Suniva Optimus Series Monocrystalline solar modules and Heliodyne solar thermal collectors help offset the building’s electricity needs. “The building’s arching form stretches the length of the site, creating a sheltered courtyard with four residential floors above,” says Michael Maltzan Architecture. “The low points of the building touch down at both the front and back of the site, creating a physical relationship to the smaller-scale single-family residences to the south, and the commercial facades to the north. The lobby and reception are positioned at the front to welcome residents and visitors and activate the street. Inviting, light-filled spaces throughout the building form a network of healthy community connections that support residents.” Related: Michael Maltzan’s Prefab Star Apartments in Downtown LA Residents at the Crest Apartments also enjoy access to a landscape of native , drought-resistant plantings that form a self-sustaining ecosystem supportive of a variety of uses. The low-irrigation landscape is also fitted out with two bioswales , infiltration trenches and permeable paving to manage almost all of the building’s stormwater runoff on-site. + Michael Maltzan Architecture Images via Iwan Baan

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LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot

Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species

July 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese earthworms, the Mauritian flying fox and the Bankoualé Palm are joining over 26,000 species categorized as “endangered.” The latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List report  now identifies 26,197 plants and animals facing extinction, out of 93,557 facing serious environmental threats around the world. Australia’s reptile population possibly faces the most threats of all species. 975 reptiles native to the island — nearly every cold-blooded animal living there — have joined the list. In addition, seven percent of those are threatened with extinction due to changing environmental factors , including invasive species and climate change. Estimates from ICUN blame 600 million reptile deaths on feral cats, while a one-degree temperature change could cut the Bartle Frere cool-skink population by half over 30 years. Related: Conservationists sound alarm over US House bill that weakens Endangered Species Act While Australia is facing a mass extinction of reptiles, other areas across Asia could lose species over time. The Mauritian flying fox, an important pollinating species on Mauritius and Réunion, was also added to the endangered species list. Deforestation , cyclones, poaching and death from power lines have significantly reduced the population. In Japan, three species of earthworms were also added to the Red List and face extinction. Nuclear fallout from both World War II and the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, combined with over-farming and city growth, are threatening the species. Animals also aren’t the only species that face extinction before the century’s end. The Bankoualé palm, a plant native to Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen, may also be relegated to textbooks. Between deforestation, drought , destruction from farming and water redirection, the palm could disappear entirely from Yemen first, leaving the Horn of Africa as its only remaining habitat. Although the outlook is grim for the newly endangered species , all hope is not lost. The ICUN is actively working with local populations to ensure both plants and animals can continue to thrive for generations. In Mauritius, a task force is working with farmers to protect crops and orchards with nets and other deterrents, reducing the need for population culling. Via ICUN

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Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species

Solar-powered cube home in Australia hovers over the landscape

June 21, 2018 by  
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Optical illusions go hand-in-hand with architecture, but this tiny cube structure by  Matt Thitchener Architect  truly hovers over the landscape — with some help from embedded supports. Cantilevered on a hill, the North Avoca Studio is completely powered by the large array of  solar panels  on its roof. Located just southeast of New South Wales, North Avoca is an idyllic coastal neighborhood. Architect Matt Thitchener designed the 645-square-foot cube to be both an office and entertainment space for a family who primarily works from home. The studio is merely steps away from the family’s main residence. Related: Tiny Space-Age LoftCube Prefab Can Pop up Just About Anywhere The structural design of the studio was primarily influenced by the challenging landscape. Very steep terrain as well as limited building space required the team to embed 20-foot pillars into the bedrock to create a cantilevered design . Also due to the complexity of the location, building materials for the project had to be craned in piece by piece. The result, however, is a gorgeous multi-use space that looks out over the Pacific Ocean. Clad in dark corrugated Spandek panels, the exterior is modern and sleek. The otherwise monolithic structure is only interrupted by an entire glazed wall that provides the interior with natural light and breathtaking ocean views. The studio’s roof is covered in solar panels , which provide 100 percent of its energy. It’s also equipped with a rain harvesting system that is used to irrigate the garden planted under the structure. The interior of the home counts on an open floor plan to provide ultimate flexibility for different uses. The design is contemporary and airy, also providing an appropriate feel for any occasion. The space can be used as a work studio during the day, but can be easily be converted into an entertainment area for friends and family at night. + Matt Thitchener Architect Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Matt Thitchener Architect and Keith McInnes Photography

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Solar-powered cube home in Australia hovers over the landscape

Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands

June 20, 2018 by  
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When Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects was asked to design a vacation home on the San Juan Islands of Washington state, the Seattle-based design firm didn’t take the easy way out. The site, which overlooks stunning views of Griffin Bay, includes three beautiful old-growth trees that the architects wanted to preserve — a different approach to that of the client’s previous architect, who suggested chopping down the trees. With the existing trees kept intact, the North Bay house celebrates the beauty of the landscape while complementing the surroundings with a natural materials palette. The North Bay house serves as a family’s holiday retreat with plenty of space for entertaining yet feels like an intimate home when the couple vacations there alone. The 2,505-square-foot contemporary home embraces the outdoors with its abundance of glazing, an expansive green roof  and the predominate use of timber and stone. To meet the brief for a low-maintenance home that could withstand periods of non-use when the clients were off the island, Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects used hardy materials like concrete panels for the chimneys and steel-framed windows sheathed in powder-coated steel. Siting the home proved to be one of the project’s most difficult challenges. In addition to preserving the old-growth trees, the architects faced property setbacks and needed to establish privacy from a relatively busy nearby road. The solution came in the form of a stone wall that serves as an organizing element of the vacation home and a shield that blocks unwanted views and noise pollution. The stone wall is offset by the glazed pavilion that overlooks views of the water. Related: Pine Forest Cabin achieves beautiful modern design on a budget “The delineated concept is a stone wall that sweeps from the parking to the entry, through the house and out the other side, terminating in a hook that nestles the master shower,” the architects said. “This is the symbolic and functional shield between the public road and the private living spaces of the home owners. All the primary living spaces and the master suite are on the water side; the remaining rooms are tucked into the hill on the road side of the wall.” + Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects Images by Jay Goodrich

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Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands

Solar-powered home boasts an upside down layout for an expansive feel

June 19, 2018 by  
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When a couple finally decided to fulfill their dream of living by the beach, they reached out to Sydney-based architecture firm Rolf Ockert Design to bring their vision to life. To make the most of the property’s views that overlook the nearby lagoon and beach of North Curl Curl, the beach home was designed with an “upside down” layout where the living areas are stacked on top of the lower level bedrooms. Energy efficiency was also a key driver in the design of the North Curl Curl House, which is powered with solar energy and built with low-energy, recyclable and low-emission materials throughout. Located on one half of a new subdivision on a double-size block, the North Curl Curl House enjoys great waterside views as well as privacy thanks to its siting on a quiet street. “Council regulations asked for a steep angled setback from a rather moderate height on, aiming to encourage pitched roof forms,” explains Rolf Ockert Design in their project statement. “We employed that rule differently, designing instead a two-layered roof within the given envelope, gaining light and 360 degree sky views as well as natural breeze and a ceiling height that adds to the feeling of generosity.” The North Curl Curl House’s “upside down” layout organizes the open-plan living areas on the top floor, with the kitchen occupying the heart of the room. The living room and dining area, which also open up to a large outdoor deck and BBQ area, are placed on the east side of the home to overlook panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean . The floor includes a study area for the family as well. Downstairs, the master bedroom suite also faces east towards stellar vistas of the Pacific Ocean, while the two bedrooms for the kids take up the central space. On the west side is the rumpus room, which connects to the garden and pool. The two-car garage with laundry and storage is discreetly tucked underground so as not to detract from the views. Related: Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes To ensure energy efficiency, the North Curl Curl House makes use of natural light and ventilation over artificial sources wherever possible. The home is also equipped with a rainwater harvesting system and a solar array. The walls in the lower level of the home were constructed from brick to provide high thermal mass. + Rolf Ockert Design Images by Luke Butterly and Rolf Ockert

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Solar-powered home boasts an upside down layout for an expansive feel

An ever-evolving, growing home in Indonesia adapts to its owners’ needs

June 6, 2018 by  
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Indonesian architecture firm Studio SA_e recently completed its most dramatic renovation yet on Rumah Gerbong, a home that has evolved and undergone many expansions since the owners purchased it 18 years ago. Located in the planned township of Bintaro Jaya in Jakarta , the home has evolved from a strictly residential building to a multifunctional dwelling that accommodates residential, office and entertainment spaces. Described as a “multistep development” or “growing house” (rumah tumbuh), this adaptive typology has become increasingly popular in Indonesia. The origins of Rumah Gerbong began in 2000, when the owners, then a young couple, purchased the 387-square-foot two-bedroom building set on a plot of about 968 square meters. Three years later, the couple realized that they needed to expand their living space — they had recently given birth to a child and the husband, an architect, needed an office of his own where he could work with clients. Thus, the couple expanded the built footprint of their home to the corners of the plot and added a second floor to make room for a ground-floor office at the front of the house. The second evolution took place between 2006 and 2007, when the home expanded yet again to incorporate the neighboring house to accommodate four additional bedrooms and living spaces. Ten years later, the husband wanted to expand his office, while the wife wanted a space of her own to run a business from home. Their growing children also wanted places to bond with family. Thus, Studio SA_e designed a home compartmentalized into three sections: living, working and interacting. The bedrooms are concentrated on the second floor to open the ground and third floors for communal activities. The “business compartment” is mostly located on the north side and is divided among the three floors. The architects retained space for a planted interior courtyard to let in daylight. The home also connects to an accessible green rooftop. Related: Village-inspired office in Jakarta is topped with living trees and a green roof “The end of 2017 has turned into the climactic peak in the construction of Rumah Gerbong, with several additional functions in compartment space,” the architects wrote. “The strategy of breaking the density and contrast of functions (living and working) by adding new functions in the form of empty space and interaction space produces a new distinctive typology with strong functional synergism … [we] named this strategy as krowakisme (krowak = perforated , partially hollow).” + Studio SA_e Via ArchDaily Images by Mario Wibowo; Aerial photography by Mario Wibowo & George Timothy

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An ever-evolving, growing home in Indonesia adapts to its owners’ needs

Tudor-inspired tiny house blends old-world charm with minimalist functionality

June 6, 2018 by  
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From climbing walls  to movable walls , the prolific tiny house team from Tiny Heirloom is well known for creating unique tiny homes , but they’ve outdone themselves with their latest design, bringing a touch of old-world charm to the modern movement. The house, which was built for a private client, draws inspiration from Tudor-style architecture and comes complete with a timber-accented facade, dual gables and dark hardwood floors. The client came to the tiny house builders with an idea to create a small home that would be timeless; “The exterior of [owner] Jenn’s house was very important to her,” according to Tiny Heirloom. “She wanted it to look and feel like you were back in time whenever you laid eyes on it. So together, we drew inspiration from…different architecture but decided Tudor was the best fit. It’s such a unique style but it really finished off the design quite perfectly.” Related: Tiny Heirloom’s luxury micro homes let you live large in small spaces The home has an interior layout of just 220 square feet, but its sophisticated design creates a comfortable and spacious interior. The classic Tudor-inspired theme is reflected in the dark hardwood flooring, all-white shiplap walls and curved windows that flood the interior with natural light . The living room is compact but inviting, with a charming mosaic-clad fireplace and reading chair. The interior living space was equipped with plenty of shelving and storage to avoid clutter. The kitchen, which is just steps away from the living space, features a beautiful hammered copper sink, a propane three-burner hob and oven, and a matching mosaic backsplash. A gorgeous steel spiral staircase next to the kitchen leads up to the sleeping loft , which has a decorative railing that overlooks the bottom floor. The space fits a double bed and is also well-lit thanks to arched windows and a skylight. + Tiny Heirloom Via New Atlas Images via Tiny Heirloom

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Tudor-inspired tiny house blends old-world charm with minimalist functionality

Asheville, North Carolina proclaims 7-Day Vegan Challenge

June 5, 2018 by  
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Asheville, North Carolina has announced a week-long vegan challenge. The City of Asheville 7-Day Vegan Challenge invites residents and businesses to eat plant-based foods between June 4 and 10 “to promote good health, animal justice, social justice, environmental justice, and climate justice,” according to a proclamation signed by mayor Esther Manheimer. The city of Asheville describes the effort as the “first ever ‘city-proclaimed’ vegan challenge in the US.” A no-kill animal rescue organization, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue , is spearheading the movement to try out vegan living for a week in Asheville. They’ve made it easier for people to test out veganism by working with Mission Health Weight Management to create a guide with a seven-day meal plan , grocery store shopping list, and tips for going vegan. Sample meals include dishes like a Quinoa Green Goddess Bowl, Carrot Cake Overnight Oats, or Veggie Fajitas. Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Brother Wolf Animal Rescue is presenting the Asheville VeganFest on June 8 to 10, so the seven-day vegan challenge leads up to the festival. The event’s theme is “to bring awareness to the impacts of global animal agriculture on mass species extinction , climate change , and human health,” according to the challenge’s website, and speakers will discuss “how the transition to the vegan diet is the single most effective change we can make as individuals to help mitigate these crises.” The rescue shelter hopes other cities get involved, too — they’re offering a 7-Day Challenge Start-up Kit including a sample press release, marketing plan, and proclamation; a custom challenge website they’ve created; a guide to securing partnerships and sponsorship; and access to a training webinar. If your city is interested, you can find out more on the 7-Day Vegan Challenge website . + City of Asheville 7-Day Vegan Challenge + City of Asheville Proclamation Images via Depositphotos

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Asheville, North Carolina proclaims 7-Day Vegan Challenge

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