Calm Booth is a soundproof office retreat made out of recycled plastic bottles

October 21, 2019 by  
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The stresses of work often make us want to crawl under our desks. Now, one innovative firm is providing offices with a designated place to tune out the noise and find inner peace. Designed by New York-based firm ROOM , the Calm Booth, which is made out of 1,088 recycled plastic bottles , was created for companies that want to provide their employees with a space to enjoy a moment of peace while working. According to the designers, the inspiration for the Calm Booth came from the common difficulty that workers face when wanting to find a moment of  peace during a long, hectic workday. The booth is designed to be a place where “meditation meets privacy,” allowing workers to enjoy a respite to relax and refocus during the day. Related: Upcycled plastic bottles are used to create this durable emergency shelter ROOM has long been known for its soundproof booths that are designed to create private spaces for office use . But this time around, it is partnering with a meditation app, called Calm, to create a soothing space that has an extensive library of meditation soundtracks, from nature soundscapes to music to “nap stories.” The Calm Booth is a simple structure clad in a crisp, white facade with a frosted, acrylic privacy door. The booth is made soundproof thanks to three layers of insulation made with more than 1,000 recycled plastic bottles . On the interior, the space is minimalist with a simple, green forest print on the walls. The booth also comes with a small shelf, a built-in Ethernet port, soft motion-enabled LED lighting and a ventilation system. According to the American Institute of Stress , work-related stress accounts for high absenteeism in offices around the country. Hopefully, companies will begin to take notice that providing a place for workers to practice mindfulness within the office is both beneficial to employees as well as the bottom line. Creating that space with recycled materials is better for the planet, too. + ROOM Architects Images via ROOM Architects

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Calm Booth is a soundproof office retreat made out of recycled plastic bottles

Halloween generates frightening amounts of plastic waste each year

October 21, 2019 by  
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Two eco-minded British charities, Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust, have revealed that Halloween generates mounds of plastic waste equal in weight to millions of plastic bottles. Besides food and costume packaging and masks and accessories, plastic lurks in the costumes, which are often made from fabrics like polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fibers. After polling 19 prominent British retailers, Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust found that more than 2,000 metric tons of plastic waste are generated from Halloween clothing and costumes alone. That’s because 83 percent of the materials in costume pieces were made from non-biodegradable, oil-based plastic — the same trash accumulating in both landfills and oceans and equivalent to the weight of 83 million plastic bottles.  Related: How to have a plastic-free Halloween Hubbub Chief Executive Trewin Restorick warned, “These findings are horrifying. However, the total plastic waste footprint of Halloween will be even higher once you take into account other Halloween plastic such as party kits and decorations, much of which are also plastic, or food packaging .” Synthetic plastic fibers are cheap and extremely versatile — able to stretch and breathe while providing warmth and durability — thus making them highly desirable as costume materials. Unfortunately, these plastic-based fabrics and their consequential microfibers leach into the environment, whether through laundry water or refuse disposal, further exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis. Additionally, the study found that about 7 million costumes are tossed annually in Britain. This pales in comparison to the National Retail Federation ’s findings that in the United States, more than 175 million people celebrate the spooky holiday each year, with 68 percent of those people purchasing Halloween costumes. Many of these costumes will quickly find their way in the garbage can before the next Halloween. Both Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust are calling for manufacturers and retailers to rethink Halloween product ranges to go beyond single-use , synthetic garments. Similarly, the charities want industry-wide labels to indicate that textiles like polyester are plastic. Doing so would educate the public on these plastic-based fabrics, informing them that these clothing materials are a significant part of the plastic pollution ravaging our planet. The charities hope that manufacturers, retailers and consumers seek non-plastic alternatives . Both Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust encourage Halloween celebrants to go plastic-free and shift toward a more environmentally sustainable and circular model for the holiday industry. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Halloween generates frightening amounts of plastic waste each year

Eco-resort in Finland charges guests based on their carbon emissions

October 21, 2019 by  
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A Finnish hotel is changing the tourism industry by showing that sustainability can really pay off. When guests consume less energy, attend ecological activities and make sustainable dietary choices during their visit, the price tag of their stay can be discounted by up to 50 percent. Benefiting the environment means guests can save more at Arctic Blue Resort. Set to open in 2022, Arctic Blue Resort will raise customers’ awareness of their environmental impact by encouraging guests to follow more sustainable lifestyles . It helps that the hotel will be located in the rural town of Kontiolahti, famous for its natural landscape and rich ecosystem of forests and estuaries. Related: Disney’s American parks will now offer hundreds of vegan menu items Some of the green gestures guests can take to reduce their bills include mindfully observing electricity usage, food choices and water consumption. Even planting a tree in the resort’s nearby forest garners another 5 percent off the hotel tab. Designed to be self-sustaining, Arctic Blue Resort will be constructed from natural materials, installed with its own water treatment system and powered by renewable energy sources. Guests can expect accommodations close to nature, with a choice of either enjoying a 360-degree view of the forest or sleeping beneath a star-filled night sky or the Northern Lights. Transportation throughout the resort’s region will be via electric vehicles to assist with the curbing of emissions . “We want to offer people a world-class eco-vacation and encourage them to make sustainable choices by having emission-based pricing for their stay,” explained Mikko Spoof, the vice president and founder of Arctic Brands Group. “We want the resort to be a place of true tranquility and thus encourage our guests to be more present in the moment and embrace digital detox.” Arctic Blue Resort will partner with local farmers to supply its food . The hotel menu will understandably reflect the wonders of the Finnish countryside’s seasons. The hotel will also plan plenty of nature-inspired excursions. Visitors can expect to grow their appreciation of nature with activities such as ice-swimming and snowshoeing in winter, or berry-picking and rowing in high summer. Tourism that centers around eco-friendly awareness and green living responsibility is likewise the goal of Kontiolahti Mayor Jere Penttilä, who said in a statement, “With Arctic Blue Resort, we want to lead an example by putting emphasis on environmental responsibility and by creating solutions to minimize the negative impact of tourism.” + Arctic Blue Resort Image via Arctic Blue Resort

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Eco-resort in Finland charges guests based on their carbon emissions

Aquaponic gardens bring life to an unused balcony in an architects’ office

February 1, 2019 by  
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When a young architecture start-up in Vietnam went looking for office space, the Farming Architects  team, led by founder An Viet Dung, looked to the local vernacular for inspiration. The result is the Urban Eco Balcony, a 376-square-foot office designed to showcase how it’s possible to bring new life to the empty and unused balconies found throughout Hanoi. The interior space is comprised of a unique steel grid system, which was installed with an aquaponic system to breathe new life and green space into the office. According to Farming Architects founder An Viet Dung, when the budding design practice decided to open its first office in Hanoi, the team realized that the city’s ubiquitous balconies were largely unused, most likely because of urban pollution , noise and even security issues. Related: New library in Hanoi aims to show young children the benefits of aquaponics in an urban setting Using this urban challenge as inspiration, the firm decided to rent a downtown office that would focus on the importance of giving purpose to these “dead spaces.” By using a number of architectural solutions, Farming Architects created an open and vibrant working space , referred to as the Urban Eco Balcony, with various multi-functional features. First, the architects installed a steel girder-tree system that helps create a strong connection between the interior and the balcony areas. Large floor-to-ceiling glass doors lead to the outdoor spaces and welcome  natural light inside. The steel grid formations also provide protection from harsh sun rays and help block the rain from coming into the office. Additionally, the steel frames are modular, meaning they can be rearranged depending on necessity. This feature adds a lot of functionality to the office, as the structures can be used as storage, book cases, mounts for additional lighting and more. Perhaps the steel grid system’s best use, however, is to support the office’s aquaponic system , which fills the balcony. Filling the “dead spaces” with plants would be an obvious choice to liven up the work space, but the architects wanted to take it a bit further by creating a system of aquaculture with plants grown hydroponically. This system requires little-to-no maintenance and creates a fresh, healthy atmosphere for the working space. + Farming Architects Photography by Thai Thach and Viet Dung An via Farming Architects

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Aquaponic gardens bring life to an unused balcony in an architects’ office

Henning Larsen Architects brings sustainable Scandinavian design to Minneapolis

May 30, 2018 by  
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Henning Larsen Architects and MSR Design  unveiled their competition-winning designs for Minneapolis’ New Public Service Building — a municipal building that will integrate the Scandinavian ethos with sustainable design. Located across from Minneapolis City Hall, the multi-purpose structure is envisioned as the city’s new face of public service and will offer healthy work spaces for city employees as well as public areas. The building is designed with the hopes of achieving  LEED Gold certification. Expected to include 250,000 to 300,000 square feet of interior space, the New Public Service Building will accommodate hundreds of employees. The project draws inspiration from the abundance of greenery and parks in Minneapolis by incorporating a public landscaped plaza. The green, open space will not only reinforce the new building’s connection to the adjacent City Hall but will also help activate the street level. To minimize energy demands, the architects used climatic simulations and analysis to determine the massing and orientation of the building. “It will truly be a building for everybody,” Henning Larsen Architects said in a statement . “As an urban gesture, the scheme invites the public into the building by placing extroverted and public functions towards Government Plaza. The design approach, influenced by our Scandinavian ethos, focuses on creating collaborative and innovative work spaces, integrated sustainability and highlighting daylight as a human right and contributor to a healthy workplace .” Related: The 2018 Super Bowl stadium in Minnesota offsets 100% of its energy The interior design of the seven to 10-story building encourages collaboration through open stair connections and shared spaces. An optimized facade system will help modulate the amount of natural light in the building, while indoor plants and a natural materials palette will promote employee well-being. Minneapolis’ New Public Service Building is slated for completion by the fall of 2020. + Henning Larsen Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Henning Larsen Architects

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Henning Larsen Architects brings sustainable Scandinavian design to Minneapolis

This whimsical retail store with a mesh wall is home to designer bags in Thailand

May 29, 2018 by  
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Bangkok-based firm  ASWA Architects  created a stunning retail studio for a popular bag brand in Thailand. TA.THA.TA bags are known for being functional and whimsical — a reputation that inspired the architects to create a similar feel for the new store. The front glass facade is covered with a white metal mesh shade system that, along with the extra-tall pitched roof, gives the structure a modern and ethereal atmosphere. The structure stands on a very narrow lot in the center of Bangkok, and the size of the lot forced the architects to utilize vertical space as much as possible. The site’s existing large tree helps provide shade . Inside, the studio is approximately 1,300 square feet and spans three floors. A welcoming retail store is located on the first floor. The second floor houses the design and assembly studio, while guests and employees can enjoy a third-floor lounge space with a mezzanine level. Related: Apple’s new Regent Street store is filled with daylight and living trees The brand’s identity greatly influenced the architectural concept and is noticeable throughout the space. Variations of metal mesh are in many areas, but a bespoke shade system marks the design. Made from white mesh, the screen acts as a double facade for the building’s all-glass front wall. This unique feature allows plenty of natural light to stream into the interior while also providing shade during the searing summer months. The interior design is functional and uncluttered, again a nod to the company’s brand. To add a touch of wellness, the architects added  greenery on every level. Bright drop lamps add extra lighting, and TA-THA-TA designed much of the furniture to leave a final mark of its identity on the structure. + ASWA Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Phuttipan Aswakool  

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This whimsical retail store with a mesh wall is home to designer bags in Thailand

A Victorian cottage transforms into a light-filled passive solar abode

May 29, 2018 by  
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Australian modular design and build firm Habitech Systems has breathed new life and improved sustainable standards into an original Victorian cottage in Hawthorn, Australia. In addition to the renovation of the existing home, the designers replaced the existing rear addition with a modern extension that boasts a strengthened connection with the rear garden. The energy efficiency of the new home—named Lawes St Extension – Hawthorn—was vastly increased through improved insulation, energy-saving heating and cooling systems, and the integration of passive solar principles. The existing home had been clad in brown brick in the 1980s, creating a dated look that Habitech Systems rectified with a new street facade made from naturally oiled Cypress timber battening. They also gave the front veranda a modern refresh with a new porch entry, while adding black metal-clad box-bay windows to provide a visual pop of contrast. Inside, the floor plan of the original cottage was kept largely intact; it includes a long entrance hall, two secondary bedrooms, a study and bathroom. After the previous extension was torn down, the designers grappled with height restrictions and the challenging terrain, which slopes down to the north and east at a point lower than the existing floor level. “The two primary challenges were leveraged together to produce the connected but varied arrangement of spaces designed,” wrote Habitech Systems. “The stepped floor level provided an opening up of the space to the northern sun and daylight, while the roof of the addition slopes up to the light.” Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs A lowered laundry room and lobby roof occupies the transitional zone between the existing structure and the extension. Just beyond are the master suite and an open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen awash in natural light. The extension receives direct north solar access and was built with highly insulated Habitech SIPS walls and roof. Double-glazed and thermally broken aluminum-framed windows flood the interior with natural light without letting in unwanted solar gain. Heat reclamation ventilation and floor- and wall-based hydronic heating and cooling also reduce energy demands. Materials from the existing house were reused wherever possible. + Habitech Systems Images via Nic Granleese

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A Victorian cottage transforms into a light-filled passive solar abode

Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

November 3, 2017 by  
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Airbnb may offer thousands of luxury lodgings around the world, but employees won’t want to leave the rental sharing company’s swanky new San Francisco headquarters. Located at 999 Brannan Street,  Airbnb’s own Environments Team and WRNS Studio  designed 150,000 square feet of healthy, light-filled working space with plenty of whimsical flare like a sky boat, a castle and themed floors that represent the company’s international presence. The design of 999 Brannan – just mere steps from its existing San Fran headquarters – began by removing every non-structural element in the corner lot building, essentially creating a massive blank canvas. By scrapping the interior walls and hallways, the focus was put on flooding the interior space with as much natural light as possible. The huge atrium is a light-filled space with a curvaceous stairwell that winds up through the levels. A long mezzanine leads to the various offices as well as think spaces and conference rooms. Related: Airbnb’s brand new Paris office is a loft-like space that feels like home For design guidance, the teams concentrated on the company ethos of “Belong Anywhere” as well as the company’s new feature, Airbnb Trips, which offers users custom travel experiences designed and led by locals around the world. To highlight the new service and the company’s world-wide presence, international design elements were used on every floor. For example, each cafe has been styled according to a different city, such as Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Jaipur, and Amsterdam. The building’s work spaces are divided into 16 “neighborhoods” that house up to 50 employees who spend their days working at the sitting or standing desks , brainstorming at the communal tables, or enjoying down time in one of the many cozy lounges. Aaron Taylor Harvey, Airbnb Environments Executive Creative Director, explains that the design was based on providing employees with a comfortable working environment , “we wanted to bring the same bespoke nuance to this very large space that we brought to the first small office we designed in Portland. We want it to feel like a custom home to every inhabitant.” + WRNS Studio + Airbnb

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Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders

November 2, 2017 by  
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Steven Holl Architects just beat out a slew of other firms with plans for the new Doctors Without Borders headquarters in Geneva. The energy-efficient “Colors of Humanity” building features an innovative facade made of multi-hued photovoltaic glass and it’s topped with a lush green roof . The New York-based architect’s design was chosen over various proposals from architecture firms around the world. According to Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the MSF Operational Centre Geneva, the winning design best represents the MSF ethos of community: “Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future.” Related: Steven Holl Architects designs LEED Platinum-targeted cultural center for Shanghai The massive photovoltaic facade , which is 40% transparent, pulls double duty: it produces up to 72% of the building’s energy needs and creates an interior framework for the community inside. Solar panels will also be installed on the building’s roof, sharing space with a large roof-top garden . Additionally, the innovative glass wall system is “open ended,” which means the building could be expanded in the future if need be. The inside layout is focused on the needs of the MSF community, and each individual space is designated by its color. Designed to foster interaction , the building has various circulation paths where workers and visitors can take a break in one of the many seating alcoves. This design feature was strategic to encourage community collaboration: “These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building.” + Steven Holl Architects Via Archdaily

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Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders

Foster + Partners Bloomberg HQ opens in London as worlds most sustainable office building

October 25, 2017 by  
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Bloomberg’s new European headquarters—billed the “world’s most sustainable office building”—opened yesterday in London. Designed by Foster + Partners , the 3.2-acre Bloomberg HQ achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating with a 98.5% score that the architects say is the “highest design-stage score ever achieved by any major office development.” The nine-story headquarters is estimated to save 73 percent in water consumption and 35 percent in energy consumption when compared to typical office buildings. Clad in nearly 10,000 tonnes of English sandstone and bronze, the massive Bloomberg HQ mitigates its size by carving out a public pedestrian arcade between its two buildings, while bronze fins give the buildings human scale and also allow for natural ventilation and protection from solar gain. Located between the Bank of England and St. Paul’s Cathedral, the city block-sized development is also meant to blend in with and respect its historic surroundings. In addition to the pedestrian Bloomberg Arcade, the building features three public plazas and ground-floor restaurants to engage the urban fabric. Site-specific art installations, from artists like Cristina Iglesias and Olafur Eliasson , punctuate the development. Related: Bloomberg’s new London HQ rated world’s most sustainable office “From day one, we talked with Mike Bloomberg about creating an elegant stone building that responds to its historic setting yet is clearly of its own time and which would be a good neighbour in the City of London in every sense of the word,” said Lord Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners. “We wanted the building to have an integrity and continuity of expression both inside and out, creating an inspiring, innovative, dynamic and collaborative workplace for Bloomberg that embodies the core values of the company. Above all, we had a shared belief with Bloomberg that we should provide the highest standards of sustainability and wellbeing for its occupants, as well as create major new public spaces at ground level, making a significant contribution to the daily life of the City of London and its inhabitants.” + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners , photos by Neil Young

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