Shmas Bangkok Green Link wants to add over 30 miles of greenways to Bangkok

December 6, 2019 by  
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At the 2019 Thai Urban Designers Association exhibition, landscape architecture studio Shma unveiled the Bangkok Green Link, an urban revitalization proposal for boosting the livability of the Thai capital with over 30 miles of greenways. In a bid to reconnect the city to nature and encourage residents to adopt healthier lifestyles, the project links major neighborhoods and transportation nodes with lush linear parks with diverse programming. Vibrant and chaotic, the city of Bangkok is infamous for its urban sprawl and haphazard city infrastructure that resulted from rapid growth and lack of urban planning. To accommodate rapid development, many of the city’s green spaces and canals were paved over; an inadequate transportation network has made the city of 8 million people a victim of intense traffic congestion and air pollution . To make Bangkok a greener and more sustainable city, Shma developed the Bangkok Green Link project with the concept of “Revitalize City Infrastructure to Relink Urban Life.” Related: Thailand’s first LEED Platinum “vertical village” to rise in Bangkok Proposed for the heart of the city, the Bangkok Green Link scheme includes 54 kilometers of new greenways with up to 10,800 large trees that can absorb approximately 1,620 tons of carbon dioxide a year and filter 3,580 tons of dust annually. The designers also believe that the greening effort can boost land prices, inspire residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and counteract the urban heat island effect. The greenways — which would be developed alongside canals, railways, existing sidewalks and under expressways — would provide much-needed public spaces. Shma has organized the proposed greenways into a set of 28-kilometer-long outer ring greenways and 26 kilometers of crossover greenways. The outer ring would consist of four main links: a 10-kilometer-long Mixed Urban Activity link split into six sections for different programming; the Sathorn Link that passes through a major road in Bangkok’s central business district; the Rail link that turns the space beside an underutilized railway into a bicycle expressway ; and the Vipawadee link that provides a linear parkway and bikeway that connects inner Bangkok to the north side of the city. The 26 kilometers of crossover greenways comprise eight sub-links to better connect formerly disconnected neighborhoods. + Shma Designs Images via Shma

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Shmas Bangkok Green Link wants to add over 30 miles of greenways to Bangkok

Solar-powered Dutch home produces all of its own energy with surplus to spare

December 5, 2019 by  
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When Marjo Dashorst and Han Roebers set their sights on designing a sustainable home in Zutphen, a municipality on the east side of the Netherlands, the couple turned to Amsterdam-based practice Attika Architekten to realize their dream. The goal was to develop an energy-efficient home that would not only meet all of its own energy needs through renewable systems but also be capable of producing enough surplus energy to charge an electric car . The resulting project, aptly titled the Energy Plant House, combines solar panels, passive solar strategies and a highly insulating envelope to achieve its energy-plus goals. In contrast to its more traditional, gable-roofed neighbors, the Energy Plant House sports a contemporary, boxy appearance. The three-bedroom home is spread out across two floors: a ground-floor volume clad in sand-lime brick and a partially cantilevered upper volume wrapped in reclaimed 60-year-old Azobé campshedding planks. Reused Stelcon plates anchor the terraces. Large sliding glass doors on the north and south sides of the home create a seamless connection between indoors and out. Related: Snøhetta completes world’s northernmost energy-positive building To meet the client’s goals of an energy-plus home, the architects installed 32 rooftop solar panels with a capacity of 9.6 kW. Energy production is supplemented with a 8kW heat pump with a closed source at a depth of 180 meters as well as a heat exchanger in the ventilation system. Energy efficiency is optimized with a well-insulated envelope and vegetated roofs. Strategically located windows — from the skylights to the tall east and west windows — flood the interior with natural light despite the northern orientation. Unwanted solar gain from the south end is mitigated with an overhang from the cantilevered upper volume; advanced remote-controlled outdoor awnings have also been installed to shade the residents from harsh sunlight. + Attika Architekten Photography by Kees Hummel Fotografie via Attika Architekten

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Solar-powered Dutch home produces all of its own energy with surplus to spare

Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

November 15, 2019 by  
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London-based architectural firm Mæ has completed the second phase of Brentford Lock West, a urban regeneration masterplan that is providing quality homes — 40 percent of which are designated for shared ownership — designed to engage the waterfront environment and community. Taking inspiration from the site’s industrial past, the architecture complements its historic setting with distinctive sawtooth roofs that help funnel light into the buildings and the material palette of blond brick, in-situ concrete and reconstituted stone. In addition to designing for optimal daylighting, the architects have included mechanical ventilation heat recovery systems and high levels of thermal insulation to ensure energy efficiency . Completed at the end of 2018, the second phase of Brentford Lock West introduces an additional 157 homes to the mixed-use masterplan and includes a combination of lateral apartments, duplexes, penthouses and townhouses. All homes are “step-free” and follow the Lifetime Home Standard , a set of design principles that emphasize inclusivity, accessibility, adaptability, sustainability and good value. Each home is carefully oriented to maximize privacy as well as views, whether of the canal to the north or the city to the south. Related: RRA unveils mountain-inspired ski resort that emphasizes nature and community In designing the development, the architects worked with the local community and other stakeholders. As a result, community values have been embedded into the design of Brentford Lock West. One such example is the new “neighborhood street” — a shared space for pedestrians and cyclists that is landscaped and paved with herringbone brick — that knits the two phases together. Also at the heart of the development is a landscaped communal garden. Large cantilevered balconies engage the street below. “Continuing the architectural language of phase one, the second phase builds upon scale and massing, alongside the benchmark it set in terms of quality and sense of place,” the architecture firm added. “Holding the corners of each plot, six pavilion buildings are linked through rows of private townhouses and bridge structures that form entrance portals and house further accommodation above.” + Mæ Images via Goodfellow Communications

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Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

Snhetta-designed center may provide a rare look inside the worlds largest seed vault

November 7, 2019 by  
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Snøhetta has unveiled preliminary designs for The Arc, a proposed visitor center for Arctic preservation storage on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a remote island north of the Arctic Circle. Commissioned by Arctic Memory AS, the visitor center will provide a digital glimpse inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — the world’s largest secure seed storage — as well as a look at the contents of the Arctic World Archive, a vault for preserving the world’s digital heritage. Powered by solar energy, The Arc will not only educate visitors about the importance of resource preservation but will also inspire a call to action on global warming. Located in Longyearbyen, The Arc — named in reference to its location in the Arctic — will comprise two visually distinct volumes: an entrance building and an exhibition building. Built of cross-laminated timber and clad in charred wood and dark glass, the low-lying entrance building will house a lobby, ticketing, wardrobe and a cafe as well as facilities for the Arctic World Archive and technical rooms. The building will also be elevated off the ground to prevent heating of permafrost and snow accumulation, and it will be topped with rooftop solar panels. Related: Rising temperatures are putting the Global Seed Vault at risk In contrast to the dark entrance building, the exhibition building will be tall and conical with an all-white facade that looks as though it were formed by the forces of erosion. The exhibition building is connected to the entrance building via a glass access bridge that provides views of the towering geological formations to the south as well as a stunning landscape to the north. The vertical vault of the exhibition building houses a powerful digital archive with permanent and temporary exhibits and an environment that mimics the experience of being inside one of the real vaults. Visitors can experience the vaults’ contents via wall projections managed with touchscreens, VR experiences and other physical and digital exhibit elements. At the heart of the vault is the ceremony room, a conditioned auditorium with a large deciduous tree symbolizing the vegetation that once grew on Svalbard millions of years ago when the temperatures were 5 to 8 degrees Celsius higher. “At the current rate of carbon emissions, temperatures could rise high enough for a forest to grow again on Svalbard within only 150-200 years,” the architects said. “The tree in the ceremony room is both a symbol of the past and a call to action — a living icon for global warming and our responsibility to preserve the Arctic, and all of nature, for future generations.” + Snøhetta Images via Snøhetta and Plomp

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Snhetta-designed center may provide a rare look inside the worlds largest seed vault

Keystone Pipeline leaks 383,000 gallons of crude oil, renewing debate on its expansion

November 1, 2019 by  
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About 383,000 gallons (1.4 million liters) of oil has leaked out into the environment from the controversial Keystone Pipeline system. It is the second significant Keystone Pipeline leak in the past two years along the line that transports Canadian tar sands oil 2,600 miles from Canada then southward into the United States. This particular oil leak occurred with the Keystone 1 Pipeline that runs in the northeast region of North Dakota. Once the leak was discovered, crews of the Alberta-based company TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, shut down the leak to investigate the cause. “Our emergency response team contained the impacted area and oil has not migrated beyond the immediately affected area,” the company said in a statement . Related: Largest nature reserve in Niger threatened by oil development The volume of oil released from this recent spill measured approximately 9,120 barrels, which is roughly half the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. No sources of drinking water were affected by the leak, according to North Dakota regulators. The spill affected about 2,500 square yards of land, and its occurrence is once again sparking heated debate about pipeline expansion plans. There has long been debate over the expansion of the Keystone system, particularly from American environmental and indigenous groups. Environmentalists, for instance, have argued against the extraction of crude oil from oil sands. Compared to traditional oil, tar sands oil is more acidic, more corrosive, much thicker and stickier, thereby complicating cleanup efforts should a spill or leak ever occur. Plus, the thicker consistency means this type of oil will have to be combined with other hazardous materials to permit it to be transported via the pipelines, again elevating associated risks. Naturally, these increased risks incited objections from those concerned about environmental impacts should a spill or leak happen, because the pipeline cuts across Native American lands as well as important underground deposits of freshwater. This recent leak in North Dakota was not part of the Keystone XL extension project, which, incidentally, is not yet fully operational. Via Seattle Times Image via Shannon Patrick

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Keystone Pipeline leaks 383,000 gallons of crude oil, renewing debate on its expansion

Waste work shift: Inside the structural changes in the global waste sector

October 5, 2019 by  
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Informal waste workers have long managed the waste of the South, for whom new forms of collectives offer new hope, while the gig economy threatens to de-formalize waste management in the North.

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Waste work shift: Inside the structural changes in the global waste sector

Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

September 30, 2019 by  
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Canadian company Taiga Motors, the creators of the world’s first electric snowmobiles, makes yet another splash in the luxury electric vehicle world with Orca , their first electric personal watercraft. Featuring full carbon fiber hull construction, the luxury jet ski forgoes gasoline in favor of a 23kWh battery that provides energy for up to two hours and can be charged by a regular outlet, standard automotive chargers and DC fast charging. The high-performance electric jet ski will also be fitted with a color integrated digital display for intelligent connectivity via built-in GPS mapping, LTE, wifi and bluetooth. Unveiled on Toronto’s waterfront earlier this month, Taiga Motors’ Orca measures 9.5 feet in length, 3.9 feet in width and 3 feet in height. The personal watercraft clocks in at just under 600 pounds ready to drive and up to 180 horsepower available with instant torque — one of the highest power to weight ratios in the industry, says the firm. Orca also boasts impressive acceleration with a top speed of up to 65 miles per hour and a sub-five millisecond response time. The approximately 125-kilogram lithium-ion battery runs on an automotive standard system voltage of 400 volts and is sealed and vibration isolated to ensure safety even under high shock loads, high humidity environments and temporary submersion. Related: Electric-powered X Shore boats combine sustainability with luxury Scandinavian design In addition to its quiet yet powerful electric engine, the craft heightens the ride experience with a new suspended “floating” seat design made possible by the absence of a combustion engine. According to Taiga Motors, the seat offers the lowest center of gravity of any personal watercraft for improved stability and precision carving on the water. The Orca’s streamlined form is matched with a sleek digital display that can be controlled from the dashboard or the connected app.  Taiga Motors plans to only produce a total of 500 Orca units, with the first one hundred badged as Foundation Edition models with “exclusive design elements and high-performance packages.” The first one hundred models will begin at $28,000 and be delivered to North American customers in summer 2020. Four hundred Orcas will be priced at $24,000 and available to customers shortly after summer 2020. Taiga also has plans to create more electric personal watercraft — priced below $14,000 — in the future. + Taiga Motors Orca

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Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

EPA repeals water protections, choosing industry over wetlands

September 13, 2019 by  
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On Thursday, the Trump administration repealed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an Obama-era policy designed to protect waterways. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the EPA plans to reinstate 1980s water rules. The EPA and U.S. Army will decide this winter which waterways to regulate. “Today’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2 — a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders and developers nationwide,” Wheeler said in a statement. Related: Nestlé plans to bottle 1.1M gallons of water daily from natural springs in Florida WOTUS stipulated which wetlands and streams would be protected from pesticides , fertilizer, mine waste and other pollutants under the 1972 Clean Water Act . But farmers, miners and other industry players complained the policy was overreach, interfering with their business interests. The states are divided on WOTUS and its repeal. Twenty-two states — as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — have been following the Obama-era policy, while 27 states never moved on from the ’80s regulations. California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, no friend of Trump, plans to fight the repeal, which would cut federal protection to California’s water. Meanwhile, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is celebrating. Environmental groups, including Earthjustice, worry that repealing WOTUS will imperil safe drinking water and thwart safeguards against pollution and flooding. “President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water,” said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice president. “This is shameful and dangerous.” Nor were environmentalists impressed with the repeal being announced at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, feeling this privileged industry over public health . Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group, said, “The EPA is no longer in the business of safeguarding our resources and protecting us from pollution, but is openly working to advance the agenda of those who profit from fouling our water and threatening our health.” Via Reuters Image via Pixabay

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EPA repeals water protections, choosing industry over wetlands

A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

September 2, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Bruno Zaitter with a request for a minimalist and sustainable getaway in Brazil’s Balsa Nova, the Brazilian architect and professor decided that cargotecture would be the perfect fit for the brief. Proving that less can be more, the architect upcycled a secondhand shipping container into a relatively compact 538-square-foot abode with a bedroom, bathroom, living and dining area, kitchen and an outdoor terrace. Most importantly, the structure, named the Purunã Refuge, immerses the client in nature with its large glazed walls that embrace panoramic views in all directions. Protected on the west side by a lush native forest, the Purunã Refuge is set at the foot of a geographical fault called Escarpa Denoviana and enjoys privacy, immersion in nature and views of the city skyline beyond. The project, completed in 2016, draws on Zaitter’s experience with recycling shipping containers into contemporary structures. As with its predecessors, the Purunã Refuge is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact. Related: A modern farmstay suite minimizes site impact in Brazil Raised 3 meters off the ground and accessible by outdoor stairs, the dwelling features a 12-meter-long container — comprising the sleeping area, a portion of the kitchen, the entrance and the bathroom with a soaking tub — that has been extended by two glass-enclosed volumes on either side. The larger of the two boxes houses the living and dining area as well as office space; the smaller box is a bump out of the kitchen that extends into the forest. Stretching northwest to southeast, the Purunã Refuge is accessed from the north side, which leads up to an outdoor terrace . “The project’s concept was to group the essential universes of human life — eating, sleeping, sanitizing, working and socializing — in a space of about 50 square meters with the greatest possible contact with the surrounding natural landscape,” Zaitter explained. “The biggest challenge was convincing people who still believe that large space equals comfortable space, and that small space is uncomfortable space. The refuge proved that less is more.” + Bruno Zaitter Photography by Sergio Mendonça Jr. via Bruno Zaitter

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A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

Reward offered to identify Mojave burro killer

August 30, 2019 by  
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A total of 42 wild burros from the Clark Mountain Herd Area in the Mojave Desert in California have been found shot to death since May in what officials declare as one of the largest killings of its kind on land overlooked by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Currently, BLM and animal rights groups have pooled their funds to offer nearly $60,000 in reward money to find the guilty party. “The cruelty involved in shooting these burros and leaving them to die warrants prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley said in a statement Wednesday . “We thank the animal welfare groups for adding their voices to those organizations who value these iconic symbols of the West.” Related: Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado BLM spokesperson Sarah Webster told the Washington Post that many of the slain burros appear to have been shot from a distance with a rifle aimed at their necks. Victims include both adult burros and foals who were innocently drinking from a water hole when the killer struck. The Platero Project— a collaboration between the BLM and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS)— has offered $32,500 in reward money. Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, American Wild Horse Campaign, Return to Freedom and The Cloud Foundation have also contributed to the fund, plus additional donations by both BLM and HSUS independent of Platero. Originally from North Africa, burros were first introduced to North America by the Spanish but wound up wild when they wandered off, were set free by dejected miners or survived their prospector owners. After finding a home in the desert land of Southern California, the wild burro populations grew exponentially, doubling every four to five years. By the 1950s the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals intervened due to excessive killings and called upon the government to enact proper legislation for their protection. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act has protected them against animal cruelty and animal abuse since 1971, charging anyone caught harming, capturing or killing a burro with fines up to $2,000 or a year in prison. If apprehended, the offender responsible for the 42 burro deaths can face up to 42 years in prison. Via Ecowatch Image via BLM

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