Sustainable tech powers the Corten steel-clad Cube in Denmark

September 18, 2019 by  
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When Danish architectural firm Christensen & Co. Architects was asked to design the new headquarters for the Helsingør Power Plant, they felt it would be fitting if the project serve as an extension of the client’s commitment to sustainable supply technologies. Clad in Corten steel as a nod to the surrounding industrial architecture, the sustainably powered Forsyning Helsingør Operations Center has been dubbed The Cube after its geometric shape. For a reduced energy footprint, the office complex draws excess heat from a nearby wood-chipping plant, while rainwater is collected from the roof and reused in the building. Spanning an area of 6,000 square meters, the Forsyning Helsingør Operations Center includes the five-story Cube as well as an Operating Facilities complex that contains storage space, garages, and all the operations equipment. The ground-floor of the public-facing Cube is organized around a central light-filled atrium that connects to administrative rooms, a customer service center, as well as an exhibition area. Large skylights and full-height windows also let in ample amounts of natural light and are shielded with Corten steel solar fins . “The design for Helsingør Power Plant´s new HQ supports the narrative about the municipality’s sustainable supply technologies – from wastewater treatment to energy and waste handling,” explains Christensen & Co. Architects in their project statement. “The project comprises the Cube and Operating Facilities, two buildings that will stand adjacent to the power plant with its distinctive architecture. The facility forms a protective shield around the central working area while screening the surroundings from noise.” Related: Danish city becomes world’s first to power water treatment plant with sewage Information about the sustainable technologies used in the building and by the municipality are made available to visitors in the Cube. Visitors can also enjoy views from the ground-floor customer center to the entire building thanks to the large atrium .  + Christensen & Co. Architects Via Dezeen Images by Niels Nygaard

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Sustainable tech powers the Corten steel-clad Cube in Denmark

Vertical forest buildings designed by Stefano Boeri set to center new Cairo Administrative district

August 22, 2019 by  
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In a world of high population growth, it’s increasingly difficult to find adequate housing as green space is diminishing throughout most urban areas. But when Cairo began developing a new administrative capital area, architects and designers jumped into the planning with vertical forest block buildings. Italian architect Stefano Boeri collaborated with Egyptian designer Shimaa Shalash as a local partner, as well as landscape agronomist Laura Gatti to create three, seven-story buildings including a hotel and two apartment blocks. Set in the desert about 30 miles outside Cairo, the buildings will be unique with the incorporation of garden terraces throughout. The design creates the appearance of a living building, with plants cascading down all sides. Related: Egypt’s new Science City International – an oasis of knowledge in the desert Each building will measure 30 meters both in height and width for eye-catching square features in the center of town.  Beyond the shape, the trio of buildings will host an estimated 350 trees and more than 14,000 shrubs and perennials belonging to 100 different species. This remarkable goal represents one third of the total number of living plants in the whole Greater Cairo area. The total green area will cover 3600 sq.m, matching the building footprint. Types of plants will vary to offer visual appeal as the seasons change. As with all trees and plants, the air should be cleaner around the vertical forest with the studio estimating an absorption of 7 tons of carbon dioxide and release of 8 tons of oxygen each year. Not to mention, the buildings will provide their own energy and the greenery will add insulating features. Egyption property developer MISR Italia Properties is building the project, with the vertical concept forest being the first that Boeri has brought to Africa. Previously, he designed building forests in Albania, the Netherlands and even conceptual models for Mars. Architect Stefano Boeri and partner and project director of the office, architect Francesca Cesa Bianchi presented the project and the vision of a ‘ Greener Cairo ‘ at il Cairo last July and construction is set to begin 2020 with finishing touches scheduled for 2022. According to Stefano Boeri and Francesca Cesa Bianchi: “Cairo can become the first Northern-African metropolis to face the big challenge of climate change and of the ecological reconversion”. + STEFANO BOERI ARCHITETTI Images via STEFANO BOERI ARCHITETTI

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Wisconsin plans to go carbon-free by 2050

August 21, 2019 by  
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Following a year of historic flooding and sweltering heat waves across the Midwest, some states are ready to fight the climate crisis through legislation. If all goes according to plan, Wisconsin residents will be using 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050. Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Anthony Evers recently signed an executive order kicking off the clean energy legislation he has been pitching for a while. “A transition to a clean energy economy will generate thousands of family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin,” Evers said in a news release as reported by Gizmodo . “Our state has a responsibility to current and future generations of Wisconsinites to act to prevent continuing damage to our climate and to invest in solutions that help to mitigate the changes that have already occurred.” Related: California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy Evers introduced the clean energy plan, which is not yet a mandate, in the state’s 2019 budget; however, it was removed by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, according to Madison.com . With its new goal of transitioning to clean energy by 2050, the Badger state is aiming to help curb the climate crisis. Some examples include addressing the higher than normal temperatures from heat waves and earlier 2019 flooding from heavy rains and storms. Additionally, the Wisconsin Initiate on Climate Change Impacts noted that if carbon emissions worldwide keep climbing come 2055, Wisconsin could see its problems increase by 25 percent. To make sure the newly signed legislation meets the 2050 deadline, the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy will be formed. Part of its undertaking will be to hire workers who can develop and research strategies and technologies to implement the carbon-free energy policy. With Evers’ executive order signed, Wisconsin is now the first state in the Midwest to jump on the 100 percent carbon-free, clean energy bandwagon. Others following a similar path include Washington, California, Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Via Gizmodo and Madison.com Image via Anne Marie Peterson

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MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam

July 25, 2019 by  
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A new facility for researching sustainable technologies and green business models is coming soon to the heart of Amsterdam Science Park. MVRDV recently unveiled designs for Matrix 1, an office and laboratory complex that will be home to the University of Amsterdam’s Sustainalab, a specialist research facility aimed at stimulating creative cooperation between academia, government, and businesses on sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Sustainability will also be woven into the design of the building, which will target BREEAM excellent certification and be powered with rooftop solar panels. Located on the east side of Amsterdam , Matrix 1 at Amsterdam Science Park will span 13,000 square meters. The SustainaLab will occupy a quarter of the building footprint. To open the new facility up to the existing buildings on campus, which include the six existing buildings of the Matrix Innovation Center as well as the University of Amsterdam’s Facility of Science, Mathematics and Computer Science buildings, the architects will clad a large portion of Matrix 1 in glass to ensure that the building will be “open and social.” The focal point of the building will be a spacious zigzagging staircase that’s fully visible from the outside. Prominently located at the entrance, the stairwell serves as the social heart of the building that stimulates interaction and “provides a balance in the building between the standardized laboratories and a playful, people-oriented architecture— an important consideration in a building where tech workers, who have high expectations for the quality of their office spaces, will share with science workers, for whom laboratories are unable to provide the same perks,” say the architects in a press release. “Matrix 1’s stairwell will thus allow scientific workers to feel pampered in the same way that has been normal in the tech sector.” Related: Amsterdam announces plan to ban all polluting cars by 2030 To meet BREEAM excellent standards, the six-story building will be optimized for flexibility and reusability. Office spaces can be easily transformed into laboratory spaces and vice versa. The building’s steel structure and concrete floors can also be dismantled for reuse in the future. In addition to solar panels, landscaping will top the roof to contribute to biodiversity and water buffering. + MVRDV Images by MVRDV

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MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam

Experimental design-build festival takes over Californian desert

July 16, 2019 by  
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For the second year in a row, design lab Space Saloon has just wrapped up an exciting avant-garde art festival deep in the Southern Californian desert. Aimed to foster innovative design-build and hands-on education, the art festival , named Fieldworks, is an experimental outdoor campus where young artists can learn new techniques and showcase their groundbreaking designs. This year’s festival took place within the expansive desert landscape in the San Bernardino mountains between Joshua Tree, Palm Springs and Los Angeles. According to Space Saloon, the desert was the perfect place to host the open-air campus thanks to the wide open landscape that offers virtually no physical limits. Related: A magical field of solar-powered lights takes over a California landscape Like the first year’s event, Landing , Fieldworks was a week-long program where teams of students and designers live and work together, collaborating on site-specific installations that seek to question the relation between art and the environment. Led by Office Kovacs + Kyle May, Architect and MILLIØNS (Zeina Koreitem and John May), Fieldworks allowed students to attend various workshops that focus on subjects that differ from traditional techniques and processes in an attempt to broaden the students’ artistic horizons . The workshops showcase a range of experimental material, from coding exercises and sound mapping to performances and interactive installations. Using these workshops as guidance, the students developed new art projects, which could include any number of formats, including performances, videos, interactive coded programs, sound installations or immersive objects. One of the standout designs from this year’s event is DOTS, a pink and white framework with various connected platforms that could be used for an almost infinite number of interventions, especially as a flexible, temporary shelter . Another innovative project is Gymnasium 1, an outdoor communal bathing facility made completely out of hempcrete that aims to show that the carbon-negative material can be used in place of traditional concrete construction. The student projects from Fieldworks will be exhibited in Los Angeles in the fall. + Space Saloon Via Archdaily Images via Space Saloon

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Experimental design-build festival takes over Californian desert

Steven Holls new solar-powered concert hall plays up the dramatic contrast between new and old

July 16, 2019 by  
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New York-based Steven Holl Architects and Architecture Acts has won an international competition to design the new 1,300-seat concert hall in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Created as a “perfect acoustic instrument in its case,” the acoustics-driven design has a strikingly contemporary appearance with a rounded zinc-clad exterior that stands in dramatic contrast with the Ostrava Cultural Center, a modern classicism-style building that will be overlapped by the new concert hall. In addition to optimized acoustics, the shape of the new building is engineered to minimize energy demands and the hall will be entirely powered by rooftop solar panels. Slated to begin construction in 2022, the new building has a roughly teardrop-shaped form with the concert hall positioned at the rear to shield it from urban traffic noise. The new entrance on the promenade appears to float over the top of the existing Cultural center and connects to a new sky-lit lobby. The rounded facade is clad in zinc with a titanium oxide smog-eating coating and punctuated with triple-glazed windows to prevent heat gains. The roof is topped with solar panels, while stormwater will be collected from the roofs of the Cultural Center and the new building and then treated and collected in a garden pond to create a cooling microclimate. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid for Russia’s new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall “The smooth case of zinc holds an “instrument” in an extended vineyard-type plan made of concrete and maple wood,” explain the architects in a press statement. “Czech composer, Leoš Janá?ek’s theories of time will guide and give order to the concert hall’s interior geometry. Acoustic wall panels are organized according to scasovani, or rhythm, in three variants: Znici = sounding; Scitaci = counting; and Scelovac = summing.” The new concert hall will fulfill a decades-long dream of Ostrava to provide a more suitable space for the Janá?ek Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the leading orchestras in the Czech Republic . The concert hall competition was the biggest architectural competition in the city’s recent history. The opening ceremony for the new concert hall and refurbished Ostrava Cultural Center building is scheduled for 2024. + Steven Holl Architects Images Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Steven Holls new solar-powered concert hall plays up the dramatic contrast between new and old

A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

July 2, 2019 by  
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New Orleans-based firm Office of Jonathan Tate has unveiled a modern residential complex for combat veterans and their families. Located in the Gentilly district of the city, the Bastion Community is comprised of 29 two-unit apartment buildings laid out specifically in a way to foster social interaction. Additionally, considering the area’s history for severe flooding, the development was constructed with several resilient features . Located on a formerly vacant lot that spans 6.4 acres, the Bastion Community is now a vibrant residential complex comprising 29 apartment buildings, each containing two units. Within the development, there are various one-, two- or three-bedroom options, ranging from 720 square feet to 1,200 square feet. Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen Already known locally for creating modern but affordable housing complexes, the architects specifically designed the Bastion Community to be a “protected but inclusive and thriving live-work environment” for post-9/11 combat veterans and their families. The layout of the homes as well as the on-site community and wellness center were part of a strategy to create a strong sense of community for those who often feel isolated. The homes are uniform in their design, which includes pitched roofs, pale exterior tones and wooden fencing. All units were built to be adapted to be ADA accessible . Considering the location has a long history of flooding , resiliency was at the forefront of the design. All of the structures are elevated off the landscape via concrete piers to allow flood waters to flow freely under the buildings without causing harm. Additionally, landscaping and building strategies for filtering, storing and returning water to the soil were also incorporated into the design. In addition to their resiliency, the apartments were designed to be sustainable and durable for years to come. Tight insulation and high-performance HVAC equipment were used to cut energy costs, and there are tentative plans to install solar panels in the future. Each unit has high vaulted ceilings and operable windows to allow for natural air ventilation. + Office of Jonathan Tate Via Dezeen Photography by William Crocker and aerial photography by Jackson Hill

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A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

Black bear cub in Oregon euthanized after too much human contact

June 20, 2019 by  
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After months of eating trail mix and making human friends, a black bear cub had to be euthanized in Oregon. According to state officials, the unfortunate incident is a reminder to tourists and locals that bears and all wildlife should never be fed or engaged with. Visitors at a boat launch on Hagg Lake frequently saw the bear cub, and many continued to leave food and take photos with the bear. After the Washington County Sheriff’s Office received numerous calls about bear cub sightings and noticed circulating social media photos of “selfies” with the bear cub, they investigated the sightings and set out a trap. Deputies are working to get this bear cub near Hagg Lake to go back into the woods… please stay away from the area near Boat Ramp A. pic.twitter.com/tI8m5yTbyk — WCSO Oregon (@WCSOOregon) June 13, 2019 The state officials eventually caught the bear cub with the intention of releasing him farther into the forest , away from busy roads and popular family recreation sites. However, upon realizing that the bear was not fearful when they approached and instead had become very comfortable around humans, the officials reported that they had no choice but to euthanize the cub. Related: Seven commandments of leave no trace camping “This is a classic example of why we implore members of the public not to feed bears,” wildlife biologist Kurt Licence said in a statement. “While the individuals who put food out for this bear may have had good intentions, bears should never, ever be fed.” According to Oregon state law, it is illegal to scatter food to attract or lure wildlife . The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife explained that miscellaneous food can not only make bears sick, it can also cause them to become habituated to human interaction. This dependency and comfort opens the door for dangerous encounters, especially when the bears become older and larger. Many people expressed outrage upon hearing news of the killing; however, most understood that the state officials had no choice and that the situation could have been avoided by those who fed the bear. “They got the bear killed and that’s not OK,” local resident and frequent visitor to Hagg Lake Jennifer Harrison told the local news . “They tried to do something they thought was a good thing, but it ended up getting the bear killed, so please do not feed the bears.” Rangers guessed that the bear cub was approximately 3 years old. Via Huffington Post Image via Keaton

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Black bear cub in Oregon euthanized after too much human contact

This skincare and natural deodorant is made from apple cider vinegar

February 27, 2019 by  
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Transitioning to natural skincare isn’t always easy. If you’ve used conventional products for years, it can take some time for your skin to eliminate the build-up of chemicals. Sway is hoping to help with that transition with a line of detoxing natural deodorants and new vegan and cruelty-free skincare, all of which is primarily made from apple cider vinegar. Sway’s mission is to gently help your body adjust from a lifetime of personal care products laden with toxins, synthetic fragrances and more icky ingredients to items made from natural ingredients, like apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, aloe vera and rose water. While anyone can make the switch, Sway’s products aid your body in detoxing years of build-up of chemicals, such as the aluminum used in antiperspirants. Moving from conventional body care items to plant-based products can often cause itchiness and irritation, but using carefully selected ingredients, Sway makes the transition comfortable, quick and easy. Related: These are our favorite beauty retailers from the Indie Beauty Expo We tested Sway at the Indie Beauty Expo in Los Angeles , and we were blown away. Founder Rebecca So is as passionate about skincare as she is about natural ingredients — she helped us try all of her products and explained the ingredients and health benefits of each and every one. Naturally, we decided to push the products to the limit by trying them for several weeks at home, the office, the gym and any other general, everyday situation we could think of. Sway’s claim to fame is a detoxing deodorant as well as an armpit mask. The deodorant’s main ingredient is organic apple cider vinegar. While the deodorant is lightly scented (we tried vanilla), it’s clear upon opening that ACV is the star of the show. Luckily, this smell dissipates quickly. Interestingly enough, this deodorant was originally developed as a face toner, which shows just how gentle it is for skin. Alone, the deodorant works best if you reapply a couple times throughout the day, especially if you are in the process of ditching antiperspirant. While it doesn’t block sweat (and it shouldn’t — sweating is a natural bodily function!), it does keep unpleasant odors at bay. It does take awhile to dry, so it is recommended that you apply it right after a shower and as you get ready for the day. This does make a reapplication more difficult, but Sway offers a dry dusting powder that helps the deodorant last longer. We have not tested the powder, but it would be great to help cut back on the need to reapply the deodorant. The armpit mask is completely game-changing. It’s a charcoal-based mask, not unlike a mud mask you’d use to wind down on a lazy Sunday evening. Other impressive ingredients include the brand’s beloved ACV, as well as bentonite clay and jojoba oil. Together, this roster of plant-based materials helps remove chemical build-up, particularly aluminum, from under the arm. It smooths dryness and flakiness and makes transitioning to natural deodorant simple. Long-term use of antiperspirant is also known to cause underarm discoloration, and this mask helps even out the skin tone in this area. It’s easy (and admittedly pretty fun) to apply, and a quick hop in the shower rinses the mask and all the gunk away. Sway also debuted a brand new line of natural skincare at IBELA, and we’ve been talking about it ever since. Particularly appealing, the cucumber face toner, the Vitamin C serum and the daily moisturizer have all become integrated into our all-natural morning skincare routines. The texture of each is very light, while still providing plenty of moisture to dry, wintry skin. The smell is nice, too — each offers a refreshing, slightly fruity scent. “Extending the same philosophy we used to develop our detox deodorant, we recently launched our skincare line that offers total body care solutions,” So said. “We understand using only flower extracts and oils cannot change the appearance of wrinkles, so we combine the best of nature with biotechnology in making our products. As you can see, all our products are jam-packed with high-quality ingredients, such as peptides, apple stem cell, etc. without the price tag.” + Sway Images via Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Sway. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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This skincare and natural deodorant is made from apple cider vinegar

Two energy-efficient cork homes are elevated off the landscape in northern Spain

February 27, 2019 by  
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Barcelona-based firm López-Rivera Arquitectos has unveiled two beautiful homes tucked into a dense forest in northern Spain. The natural forest, which is comprised of cork and pine trees, inspired the architects to clad both homes in a gorgeous cork facade . The sustainable material helped create an energy-efficient and resilient design that is also raised off the ground to reduce the impact on the landscape. Located in Platfrugell, Catalonia, the two cork houses are located on a rugged landscape, marked by uneven and steep terrain. The challenging topography, as well as the architects’ respect for nature, inspired the design to go vertical. Anchored into a strong base of concrete, the two homes are elevated on cross-laminated timber supports, which were locally-sourced. Related: Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living Both of the homes are entirely clad in two layers of cork to connect the homes into the environment, which is a dense, wooded landscape dominated by the presence of cork trees. The designers also chose the material for its durable and long-lasting features, and for its ability to tightly insulate the homes, conserving energy throughout the year. In fact, the project’s many passive features have earned both of the homes a Class A energy rating. The interior design of the two structures was also based on their natural setting. The wooden walls were left exposed to continue the cabin-the-woods atmosphere. To keep the residents warm and cozy in the cold months, the ceramic-tiled floors are heated through a system of underfloor heating. During the summer months, the adjustable casement wood windows enable almost constant air ventilation  through the interior. For those searing hot days, an adjacent swimming pool is the perfect cool-down spot. With no hallways and rooms of varying sizes, the living spaces were arranged so that there is no clear distinction between them. According to the architects, this was strategic so that the interior spaces would be defined by their relationship to the outdoors. Large open-air decks are at the heart of the design and offer stunning views of the surrounding forest as well as distant views of the sea. + López-Rivera Arquitectos Photos by José Hevia and Juande Jarrillo via López-Rivera Arquitectos

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Two energy-efficient cork homes are elevated off the landscape in northern Spain

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