Wherever you go, the Layover Travel Blanket has you covered

August 6, 2019 by  
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While the odds of obtaining a blanket on today’s stripped-down commercial flights are slim, the chances that it’ll do the job of keeping you warm without debating which half to cover are slimmer— just like their density. Luckily the inventors of the Layover Travel Blanket have solved this problem while incorporating sustainability along the way. The Layover, produced by Gravel, is a packable travel blanket that can be used in planes, trains, automobiles, at the stadium or on a camping trip. It has features you’d expect from a travel blanket, like a lightweight design, weighing in at just 11.4 oz. It also easily compresses, similar to jackets that pack into their own pockets. While packed, the Layover measures about 5 by 7 inches but when it comes time to work, it reaches a body-covering 41 by 67 inches. You can conveniently clip the Layover to your backpack or stuff it into your bag. Related:This summer sneaker is completely biodegradable There are also features you might not expect, such as the 100% recycled PET plastic insulation that offers compressibility and a warmth rating of 60 degrees to keep you cozy on those temperature-fluctuating flights. The Layover is easy to use, simply release the paracord opening and pull out the blanket. During use, the bag that it came out of stays attached so it doesn’t get lost. As a thoughtful design touch, there also a small compartment to stuff the dangling bag into. Once done, the blanket easily stuffs back into the bag. The Layover is made from nylon that easily moves across your body. That also means it can easily slide off your body, so the Layover comes with snaps at the top corners that allow you to connect it around your neck. Black snaps along the sides allow you to connect multiple blankets together. A built-in hoodie/kangaroo type micro-fleece lined pouch in the front provides a space for hand warming and an envelope-shaped pocket gives you a safe spot for earbuds and cellphones. Packing the entire blanket into the pocket gives you a soft-sided 8 by 12 inch pillow to use. The bottom portion has a generous compartment to slide your feet into for that tucked-into-bed feel. Water-resistant coating protects against spills but when travel takes its toll, the blanket is machine washable.  With sustainability in mind, the team offers a lifetime warranty on the Layover Travel Blanket, backing up the goal of creating a quality and long-lasting product. To further support eco-friendly practices, the company uses a single cardboard box and paper for packaging . The Layover is fully funded on Kickstarter and shipments are expected to begin in the fall.  + Gravel Images via Gravel

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Wherever you go, the Layover Travel Blanket has you covered

Architects envision a 3D-printed sanctuary tower for Monarch Butterfly

July 1, 2019 by  
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New York City-based design firm, Terreform ONE has unveiled a stunning design concept for an urban Monarch Butterfly sanctuary set in the bustling Big Apple. The incredible project envisions an eight-story commercial building clad in a “vertical meadow” facade made out of 3D-printed carbon components, designed to nourish butterflies. Known for their innovative portfolio that focuses on ecological urban planning, Terreform One has outdone themselves this time around, all in the name of protecting the Monarch Butterfly , which is dying off at catastrophic rates. Related: Old soap factory home features a “terrarium” room that opens up to the Manhattan sky Slated for a new commercial construction in Nolita, NYC, the eight-story, 30,000 square-feet tower would be home to retail and office space on the inside. However, the exterior facade would be a large-scale Lepidoptera terrarium covered in rich vegetation to create a vibrant Monarch Butterfly sanctuary. The pioneering design would feature a 3D-printed facade with a dual skin that would weave butterfly conservation strategies through the building as well as its facade and roof. The interior would also feature a monarch atrium, creating an ecological biome geared to foster an idyllic example of how people, plants and butterflies can coexist in urban environments. The building’s grid-like facade would be wrapped with glass and “pillows” of ETFE foil in order to create a base for growing a three-foot by 70-foot “ vertical meadow ” that will be planted with milkweed vines and flowering nectar plants chosen specifically to nourish butterflies at each stage of their life cycle. The butterfly sanctuary would have two strategies, the first would be to provide a breeding ground and stopover habitat for wild monarchs on the roof and rear facade. The second goal would be to use the semi-enclosed colonies in the atrium and street side double-skin facade as an incubator of sorts to grow  monarchs. The young insects born on site will have fluid access to join the wild population, in hopes of increasing the Monarch’s overall population numbers. + Terreform ONE Via Archinect Images via Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE

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Architects envision a 3D-printed sanctuary tower for Monarch Butterfly

This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm

April 26, 2019 by  
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Along the waterfront on New York’s north shore, Staten Island Urby sits overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan . The millennial-friendly residential space includes 571 units, 35,000 square feet of commercial space and something a little unusual for an apartment complex: a massive urban farm. When it comes to innovation, the urban farm, also known as Rabbit’s Garden, incorporates bio-dynamic, bio-intensive and agro-ecological methods into its farming techniques. Rabbit’s Garden sells its variety of vegetables, herbs, microgreens and flowers to both CSA (“Community Supported Agriculture”) members and wholesale clients, but that’s not all it does. The urban farm is also a place for Urby residents and the larger Staten Island community to familiarize themselves with agriculture, a rare experience in a big city. The garden team provides educational workshops on everything from cooking and gardening to art, science and sustainability. Some of the events planned for 2019 include community volunteer days, a workshop on composting , farm dinners and cooking classes. Urby residents have the chance to use the produce in their own personal cooking, and local, on-site restaurants often use the fresh vegetables for seasonal dishes. Urby also sells produce at the weekly farmers market. Related: SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient The inspiration behind Urby combines the nature of apartment living with the personal touches of boutique hotel hospitality. Plenty of space and natural light with an abundance of communal areas and in-house culture teams that plan neighborly get-togethers further add to the hospitality aspect. The farm is one of these areas, and the cozy Urby kitchen and dining room is another. Along with these spaces, residents of the luxury apartment complex also enjoy amenities such as a fully-equipped gym, a heated saltwater pool, on-site dining options and outdoor spaces aimed at social interaction. Landscaped spots with Wi-Fi capability ensure that residents stay connected, while outdoor courtyards with fire pits and lounging space inspire social interactions and collective creativity. If residents are feeling a little more reclusive, there are plenty of comfortable spots throughout the property to curl up with a good book or get some work done without interruption as well. Rabbit’s Garden is run by farmer-in-residence Olivia Gamber, a longtime urban agriculture-enthusiast with a degree in Environmental Studies and years of community garden experience under her belt. Urby was created by real estate developer and hotelier David Barry, known for his contributions to the New York boutique hotel scene as both a developer and operator. Urby also has two other communities located in Jersey City and Harrison, New Jersey, and it plans to continue growing the collection of complexes in the future. + Urby Images via Urby

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This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm

MAD Architects unveils an organic skyscraper piercing Manhattans skyline

April 16, 2019 by  
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Beijing-based architectural studio MAD Architects has unveiled an alternative vision for the skyline of New York City with the introduction of East 34th, a nature-inspired high-rise proposed near the Empire State Building. The conceptual renderings for the glass-clad building were recently released alongside the launch of the “MAD X” exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Designed as a visual counterpoint to the Empire State Building and the skyline’s hard lines, MAD’s sinuous skyscraper is “planted like a seed” and takes cues from living architecture. Conceived as a mixed-use building, East 34th is envisioned for a 5,231-square-foot site and spans nearly 120,000 square feet of floor space with a building height of 761 feet, about half the height of the Empire State Building. The high-rise would include a commercial podium at street level with retail and public amenities, while luxury residences with double-height communal spaces occupy the upper floors. In keeping with MAD Architects’ philosophy of bringing nature into all aspects of architecture, East 34th would also include a spacious multi-floor atrium with an expansive green wall as an “escape into nature” from the concrete jungle. “Located adjacent to the ‘Empire State Building’ — which held the title of the world’s tallest building for almost 40 years — ‘East 34th’ is planted like a seed, sprouting within the grid, rising with a soft, undulating surface that suggests a more organic, living architecture,” the architects explained in a press release. “Thus, the design opposes the traditional towers that demonstrate the cultural impact of power and capital in our cities. Defying the stacked floor plates and authority of a bygone industrial era that has come to characterize the city’s horizon, ‘East 34th’ softens the hard skyline and introduces a dialogue between New York’s modernist landscape and nature.” Related: MAD Architects’ curvaceous Himalayas Center nears completion in Nanjing Wrapped in a deep-colored glass curtain-wall facade, the slender and sinuous skyscraper is topped with a rounded cap. The model of East 34th is one of 12 architectural models created by MAD Architects currently exhibited at Centre Pompidou in Paris. + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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OMA unveils designs for zigzagging residential towers in Brooklyn

March 13, 2019 by  
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OMA’s New York office has unveiled striking designs for the Greenpoint Landing mixed-use towers—two dramatically stepped buildings that appear to be two jagged halves of a whole. Designed to frame views of Greenpoint and vistas of Manhattan beyond, the project is “a ziggurat and its inverse…carefully calibrated to one another,” says OMA Partner Jason Long. Greenpoint Landing, which is expected to break ground in August of this year, is located in the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood of Greenpoint in between Long Island City in the north and Williamsburg in the south. Envisioned as the catalyst for revitalizing Greenpoint’s post-industrial waterfront edge, Greenpoint Landing will expand the public waterfront esplanade and add 2.5 acres of continuous open space along the shoreline as well as 8,600 square feet of ground-floor retail. The complex will include a seven-story building plinth with two towers above that will also bring a total of 745 units of housing, 30 percent of which will be affordable. “Like two dancers, the towers simultaneously lean into and away from one another,” the architecture firm says of the project’s eye-catching design. “The taller tower widens toward the east as it rises, maximizing views and creating a dramatic face to the neighborhood and beyond. Its partner steps back from the waterfront to create a series of large terraces, widening toward the ground and the new waterfront park to the North. A ziggurat and its inverse, the pair are intimately linked by the void between them.” Related: Amsterdam is transforming a prison into a green energy-generating neighborhood To further connect the building with its surroundings, the architects will add two levels of waterfront-facing green space and terraces framed with common spaces and amenities. The facade will be lined with large windows and precast concrete panels with carved angled faces that react dynamically to the sun’s path throughout the day. A bridge housing pool and fitness programs will link the two towers together and provide panoramic views of the waterfront and Manhattan skyline. + OMA Images via OMA

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New York City bans polystyrene foam starting January 1

January 4, 2019 by  
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New York City has officially become the largest jurisdiction in the United States to ban polystyrene foam food and beverage containers. On January 1st, the city’s new policy went into effect after a five-year lobbying and litigation effort from the plastics industry to upend the city’s environmental initiative. Back in 2013, the City Council authorized the statute that states NYC restaurants, food vendors and stores can’t possess, sell or offer polystyrene foam containers for food and beverages. In addition, stores can’t sell or offer “packing peanuts,” which is polystyrene foam used in shipping. They added the ban on the peanuts because they are difficult for both consumers and sanitation officials to dispose of sustainably . Even though the policy took effect on January 1st, businesses will have a six-month warning period to make the necessary changes before the sanitation department starts to enforce the ban. After June 30th, violators will be facing a $250 fine for their first offense. Related: Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world In anticipation of the new rule, many NYC food service establishments have already abandoned polystyrene containers and switched to more environmentally friendly options. Some of the substitutes are containers made from aluminum, compostable paper or easily-recycled plastics. Since hitting the market in the 1970s, polystyrene foam food and beverage containers have been an environmental problem because of their brittle composition, which means they break down into tiny pieces and litter the city streets, park, and beaches. To make matters worse, the foam gets flushed into storm drains and gets into local waterways, where fish and birds mistake the foam pieces for food. And, if the containers do make it to a landfill , they can survive for more than a century. The price of more environmentally-friendly containers is nearly the same as the polystyrene foam. However, if businesses with an annual gross income under $500,000 can’t find a substitute with a comparable price, they can obtain a waiver from the ban. Via NRDC Images via felixgeronimo

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MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone

January 4, 2019 by  
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In response to Amsterdam’s increasing housing demands, prolific Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has designed Westerpark West, a sustainable proposal to transform the former ING office complex into a new residential zone flush with green space. Located in the Amsterdam Brettenzone, directly west of the city’s popular Westerpark, MVRDV’s master plan envisions a neighborhood of approximately 750 homes that will range in size, building typology and price. Westerpark West will also follow an “innovative energy master plan” that combines district heating with seasonal thermal energy storage. Spanning an area of 70,000 square meters, the Westerpark West master plan will include twelve buildings, five of which will be designed by MVRDV. To reconnect the isolated area to its surroundings, the architects will work with London-based landscape architecture firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman to extend the landscape of the Westerpark onto the site and align the plot structure with the street patterns found to the south. MVRDV has also enlisted architecture firms TANK, Blauw, KRFT, Studio Maks, and DoepelStrijkers to design the architecture of Westerpark West. A number of existing office buildings on site will also be transformed into comfortable, energy-efficient housing. An abundance of outdoor green space will tie together the buildings and include front gardens and loggias as well as balcony gardens and roof terraces. The master plan also includes catering facilities, a child daycare center, as well as three underground parking garages with charging points and car sharing. Related: Shipping container village for startups pops up in Amsterdam “Amsterdam urgently needs housing in all sorts of sizes and price ranges, for both purchase and rental,” says Nathalie de Vries, co-founder of MVRDV. “Given the large number of homes that this project adds to Amsterdam-West, we have focused entirely on architectural diversity. The public space will be green and closely connect with the Westerpark. The combination of park and urbanity is unique to Amsterdam. Where else can you live in a park in the middle of the city?” + MVRDV Images © CIIID

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MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone

Indonesia unveils first zero-waste restaurant built with sustainably sourced materials

December 20, 2018 by  
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Eliminating food waste is an arduous task for restaurants around the world. But one new eatery in Bali, Ijen , has implemented various strategic methods to become Indonesia’s first zero-waste restaurant. In addition to only serving sustainably sourced food and providing leftover food scraps to local farms, the forward-thinking restaurant was almost entirely built with reclaimed materials . Ijen is part of the Potato Head Beach Club , which has locations in Jakarta, Bali, Hong Kong and Singapore. The zero-waste restaurant is located on the grounds of the Jakarta location. The design and operation of the open-air venue was designed to reflect the company’s ethos of running hospitality zero-waste venues with absolute minimal impact on the earth. Related: Zero Waste Bistro offers four days of sustainable food and design in NYC Ijen’s building materials feature a number of sustainable products mostly made from reclaimed materials. The interior furnishings include items made out of old motorcycle foam remnants and ethically-sourced Mersawa wood. The flooring was made from a cement mix comprised of broken plates and glassware. The candles found throughout the restaurant were with used cooking oil. Deadstock cloth napkins were given new life thanks to a local dye house. Even the menus are printed on sustainably harvested paper bound to boards made from recycled tires provided by local flip-flop brand Indosole. Additionally impressive is the restaurant’s commitment to working with local fisherman and farmers to provide sustainable farm-to-table menu options . Executive Chef Wayan Kresna Yasa works with local fisherman to source fresh fish caught using a hand-reeling process. Vegetables are farm-fresh, and rice served at the restaurant is provided by the UNESCO-protected Jatiluwih terraces. Although the kitchen strives to use all of its stock, there are a variety of methods used to reuse any leftover food scraps. Ijen staff members meticulously separate organic and inorganic waste. Additional food remnants are fed to pigs at local farms or composted on site . Shellfish shells are powdered and used in animal feed or fertilizer. All dry goods are sent to be recycled through a local responsible waste management service. + Ijen Restaurant Via Treehugger Images via Potato Head Beach Club

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Indonesia unveils first zero-waste restaurant built with sustainably sourced materials

BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC

November 5, 2018 by  
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Creative co-working giant WeWork and acclaimed architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group have teamed up to reimagine education starting with the launch of WeGrow, a new school in the heart of New York City that encourages education through play. Designed for children between three and nine years of age, the light-filled learning landscape is a tactile environment filled with custom-made curved architecture and movable furnishings. The theme of nature runs throughout and can be seen everywhere from the woodsy palette of timber surfaces and shades of green to the Laufen-tiled vertical garden filled with leafy plants. Located in WeWork’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the first WeGrow school spans 10,000 square feet and boasts a variety of communal spaces, which make up more than half of the school’s footprint. Designed to foster “natural education” by promoting activities centered on discovery and collaboration, WeGrow hopes to “undo the compartmentalization found in traditional schools … by interweaving learning with playing spaces,” Bjarke Ingels Group said. “The school environment becomes a third teacher that unleashes the superpower of each child.” In addition to diverse playscapes, the school consists of four classrooms , flexible workshops, community space, a multipurpose studio, an art studio and a music room. Hard corners are eschewed in favor of round, organic forms, like the curved storage units built with three different shelving levels for each age group. Sound-absorbing “clouds” made from felt and decorated with nature-inspired patterns hang from the ceiling and are illuminated with Ketra bulbs that change in color and intensity depending on the time of day. Felt is also used in the lobby and in the lounge. Related: WeWork opens gorgeous WeLive co-living apartments on Wall Street “From the lobby to the classrooms, WeGrow is lit by Gople Lamp and Alphabet of Light — flexible lighting systems designed by BIG Ideas and manufactured by Artemide to create ambiance effects that form comfortable, natural lighting throughout the school day,” Bjarke Ingels Group said in a project statement. “Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow nurtures the child’s education through introspection, exploration and discovery.” + BIG Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu and Dave Burk via BIG

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BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC

UN Environment and Yale present a sustainable tiny home in NYC

July 13, 2018 by  
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U.N. Environment and Yale University’s School of Architecture has unveiled an innovative tiny home that explores the intersection of policy and eco-conscious design. The Ecological Living Module, located at the U.N. Plaza in New York City, is a sustainable dwelling that embodies many of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals , several of which are under review this month at the U.N. High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Designed by an interdisciplinary group of engineers, architects and designers from the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, the 22-square-meter tiny home includes integrated systems for on-site water collection, solar energy generation (using less than 1 percent of toxic semiconductor materials), micro-agricultural infrastructure, natural daylighting, plant-based air purification, passive cooling and cross-ventilation and various other cutting-edge technologies that allow the home to function off-grid. In addition to being powered solely by renewable energy with a net-zero footprint, the housing module is composed primarily of locally sourced, bio-based renewable or recyclable materials. Several of the materials used to construct the particular model on display were reused or repurposed from previous projects. Related: 10 eclectic tiny homes built with 99% scrap At a minimum, the living tiny house module includes a kitchen, bathroom, dining area and sleeping space for four people, and it can be adapted for both domestic and commercial needs. The project demonstrates what can be accomplished in a small space with a minimal environmental footprint. The tiny home symbolizes the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals and brings sustainability closer to home and to the forefront of our lives. U.N. Environment’s communications officer Sophie Loran said, “We really enjoyed the work that went into this project because it brought together such a wide variety of experts interested in making sustainability real for people.” Related: Architecture students build a tiny CLT classroom in just 3 weeks One billion people currently inhabit informal settlements across the globe, and many more live in structures that are not environmentally friendly. Communities faced by rapid economic growth and urbanization are increasingly facing the need for new infrastructure solutions in order to grow sustainably. “Everybody on this planet has a right to a decent home, but the housing sector uses 40 percent of the planet’s total resources and represents almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions,” said U.N. Environment Head Erik Solheim. “In the face of a growing world population, smart new housing solutions, such as the Ecological Living Module, will be needed to balance our need to house everybody while protecting our planet’s ability to support life.” In addition to examining where we live, the exhibition calls attention to how we live, namely, how our daily at-home habits impact the planet. As visitors move through the various spaces within the tiny home, they will have the opportunity to learn more about energy-efficient lighting and appliances, urban farming , composting toilets and methods for reducing water consumption and food waste. In the bathroom, visitors will be exposed to information about avoiding hygiene products containing microbeads and videos about various initiatives to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems. In the kitchen, they can explore information on global campaigns to reduce food waste or to redirect it from landfills to livestock food. Some of the Sustainable Development Goals embodied by the tiny house include “Responsible Consumption and Production,” “ Clean Water and Sanitation ” and “Climate Action.” After exploring how eco-conscious home design can directly support these goals, visitors can apply similar sustainable technologies and techniques to their own homes, making sustainability initiatives more personal and approachable. Related: Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development The tiny home exhibit will be on display at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City until July 18, after which it will be moved to the U.C. Berkeley campus. This first demonstration unit contains location-specific features that consider the climate and context of New York. Plans for future applications, including an adaptation in Kenya, will likewise incorporate features that cater to the local climate and culture. By demonstrating the practicality and benefits of eco-conscious affordable housing, the Ecological Living Module showcases the ability of sustainable design to meet the challenges of the 21st century. + U.N. Environment + Yale University Images via U.N. Environment

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