Century-old Japanese townhouse reborn as Blue Bottle Coffees first Kyoto location

June 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese architecture firm Schemata Architects has unveiled Blue Bottle Coffee’s first outpost in Kyoto  – and it’s housed in a century-old building. Following the aesthetic of the previous Schemata-designed Blue Bottle cafes in Tokyo, the newest location features a minimalist and modern design that takes inspiration from the surrounding urban fabric. The two-story structure was carefully overhauled to allow for new functionality while preserving and exposing historic elements. Completed in March this year, the Blue Bottle Coffee Kyoto Cafe is located near the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama mountains and along the approach to Nanzen-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple and one of the historic city’s top tourist attractions. The cafe was built inside a traditional Japanese townhouse (known as ‘machiya’) consisting of two separate buildings. Schemata Architects renovated the buildings into a ‘Merchandise building’ and a ‘Cafe building’ with a total floor area of nearly 3,500 square feet. As was typical of traditional Japanese architecture at the turn of the 20th century, the original floors of the machiya were raised nearly 20 inches off the ground. To create a seamless appearance and to accommodate patrons with special mobility needs, the Blue Bottle Cafe’s architects demolished the raised wooden floors and made them level with the ground. The new floors feature terrazzo containing the same type of pebbles used outside. The same terrazzo material was also used in the counters and benches. Related: Tokyo capsule hotel gets a Finnish-inspired refresh and sauna “The floor inside the counter is also level with the customer area to maintain the same eye level between customers and staff following the same concept as the other shops, while integrating Japanese and American cultures at the same time,” said the architects. “The continuous white floor is stripped of all unnecessary things and the structure is stripped of existing finishes to expose the original roof structure and clay walls, and one can see traces of its 100-year old history throughout the large, medium and small spaces in the structure originally composed of two separate buildings.” The second floor has been converted into an open-plan office with glass frontage. + Schemata Architects Images by Takumi Ota

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Century-old Japanese townhouse reborn as Blue Bottle Coffees first Kyoto location

A 1940s home gets a modern update with reclaimed materials

May 26, 2018 by  
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Australian studio Porter Architects has sensitively restored and updated a 1940s dwelling in Lake Wendouree, Australia into a modern and light-filled family home. Large windows, contemporary furnishings and finishes breathe new life into the Ballarat property, but the clients and architects were also careful to preserve the home’s original historic elements as well. As a result, recycled and reclaimed materials were used throughout the renovation. Renovations can often be stressful affairs, especially when it comes to older properties like the Lake Wendouree House. Fortunately, however, clients Tom and Meeghan McInerney bought a home that had been extremely well looked after. Its previous owners were two sisters who had lived there for 60 years and kept detailed records for maintenance. Careful upkeep also meant that the original timber paneling and decorative plasterwork were kept in pristine condition. However, the home felt too dark for the couple, who wanted a home that not only was filled with natural light , but would also embrace the outdoors. To preserve the existing architecture as much as possible, Porter Architects created a contemporary extension that opens up to the north-facing backyard and timber patio through large windows and a folding operable glass wall. The Lake Wendouree House’s original front, which they kept intact, contains bedrooms, bathrooms and a study, while the new addition serves as the heart of the home with an open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room. Unsurprisingly, the client’s favorite room is the light-filled kitchen that features a marble backsplash and counters. Related: Mid-century Dutch farmhouse gets a bold contemporary makeover To match the existing hardwood floors found in the original structure, the architects installed recycled floorboards in the rear extension. To give the traditional brick exterior a modern refresh, the architects added timber paneling and added reclaimed 1940s bricks in a contemporary pattern. The extension’s minimalist interior features whitewashed walls, timber paneling and furniture, and contemporary furnishings and fittings. + Porter Architects Images by Derek Swalwell

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The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

April 23, 2018 by  
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This beautiful brownstone in Brooklyn  has been refurbished into the first Passive Plus House in the United States. Located in Carroll Gardens, 78 Third Place features an impressive array of cutting-edge renewable technologies wrapped in a thoughtful renovation that preserves the original home’s historic character. The house, remodeled by Baxt Ingui Architects , saves 80 to 90 percent of the energy needed to heat and cool the building and nearly reaches net-zero energy consumption. The Brooklyn townhouse was originally built in the early 1900s. Baxt Ingui Architects expanded the building to include a new third floor with a mansard and a modern rear addition that nearly doubles the brownstone’s original footprint. “The homeowners’ goal was to create a beautiful, open and inviting home suitable for everyday living and entertaining as well as respecting the historic character of the original house while incorporating high-performance construction,” the architects wrote. “They emphasized the need for abundant natural light throughout the home as well as an open flow when designing indoor/outdoor living spaces.” Related: Park Slope row home renovation marries historic charm with energy-conserving features The architects collaborated with a team of six contractors, three engineers, Passive House consultants and eco-conscious clients to make the upgrades. Baxt Ingui Architects installed low E and argon-filled triple-glazed windows, cellulose insulation and a 387-square-foot Brooklyn Solarworks solar canopy to help offset the home’s energy needs. The well-sealed townhouse is also equipped with a very quiet Energy Recovery Ventilation system, an air-to-air heat pump and an improved gas-condensing boiler. + Baxt Ingui Architects Via ArchDaily Images © John Muggenborg Photography

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The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

Gogoro launches Smartscooter 2 with better handling, brighter headlights, and extra storage

May 25, 2017 by  
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Groundbreaking transportation company Gogoro is at it again. Today, they are expanding their innovative scooter family with the Gogoro 2 Smartscooter. The new scooter will appeal to even more people, thanks to better ergonomics, more storage and seating space and customizability options. If you haven’t heard of Gogoro , the Taiwan-based company is kind of like the Tesla of two-wheeled transportation, with smart electric scooters, home batteries and a battery-swapping infrastructure that is changing the face of urban transportation. The Gogoro 2 has all the features that makes the original Smartscooter great, but it adds more comfort, safety and control. It features a 6.4 kilowatt G2 motor with a high-performance electric powertrain with both Smart and Sport modes, so you can choose between range or speed. Related: Paris launches electric scooter sharing program with Coup and Gogoro The Smartscooter 2 introduces more seating and storage, so it is more comfortable and convenient to ride. It also has better handling, a new Synchronized Braking System and is just as easy to maintain as the original. The LED lighting also gets an upgrade, along with a new color dashboard with a full LED display. You can also mount your device to the new dashboard for real-time riding info. And if you want to make your scooter all your own, you can choose from 6 exterior colors, 50+ accessories, and dynamically tune dashboard colors, sound themes and lighting patterns. And, of course, you get access to the Gogoro Energy Network. Pricing starts at $1,295 in Taiwan after government subsidies, and the scooter comes in two models – The Gogoro 2 and the Gogoro 2 Plus – so you can choose how much you want to spend. + Gogoro

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Gogoro launches Smartscooter 2 with better handling, brighter headlights, and extra storage

Former garment factory next to NYC’s High Line to be topped with new green spaces

March 31, 2017 by  
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The Warehouse , a massive multi-unit complex a mere stone’s throw away from the High Line in New York City, is getting a facelift. A garment factory in a previous life, the 65,000-square-foot space at 520 West 20th Street currently houses a parking garage and art galleries. But Elijah Equities , the real-estate firm that is redeveloping the building, has grander plans. With the help of Morris Adjmi Architects , Elijah Equities is looking to transform the Warehouse into 100,000 square feet of office and retail space. The proposed increase in footprint will require the addition of three steel-framed, cantilevered stories to the existing four. More than 18,000 square feet of rooftop space will crown the new steel-and-glass extension, which will appear to float above the original unit on a pair of elevator and stairway cores. Related: New renderings of Studio Gang’s Solar Carve building reveal a faceted jewel that hugs the High Line The rear of the building will also be subject to readjustments. Planned upgrades include bigger windows, open floor plans, and plenty of outdoor space. “My intent was to capture the spirit of the original warehouse and develop a creative tension between the powerful brick-and-mortar base and the elegant new addition,” Morris Adjmi told Arch Daily . “I wanted to connect these two beautiful structures without simply fusing them together.” Related: Check out the vibrant outdoor art gallery coming to NYC’s High Line park The abundant greenery “draws parallels” from the High Line next door, Adjmi added. Construction is slated to begin this spring. The Warehouse is expected to receive tenants around the first quarter of 2019. + The Warehouse Via Arch Daily

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Former garment factory next to NYC’s High Line to be topped with new green spaces

ExxonMobil exhorts White House to keep Paris agreement

March 31, 2017 by  
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When a fossil fuel company under fire for covering up past knowledge of climate change exhorts the President of the United States to stay in the 2015 Paris agreement , something’s not quite right. ExxonMobil manager of environmental policy and planning Peter Trelenberg wrote a letter to the White House earlier this month reiterating ExxonMobil’s position on the deal. He made it clear ExxonMobil thinks President Donald Trump should not pull out of the historic, hard-fought agreement. On the campaign trail Trump promised to yank the United States out of the Paris agreement. But so far the White House hasn’t taken that step, even in a recent environmentally devastating executive order . Meanwhile Trump’s new Secretary of State, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson , has said in the past the president is wrong about climate change , and perhaps could have now persuaded Trump to stick with the deal. Related: Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says Trump is wrong about climate change On March 22, Trelenberg wrote to G. David Banks, Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment, thanking Banks for a recent inquiry on the oil and gas giant’s views regarding the agreement. Trelenberg said ExxonMobil welcomed the agreement both in December 2015, when it was announced at COP21 , and in November 2016 when it went into force. Don’t get too excited – Trelenberg didn’t write off fossil fuels altogether. He said, “We believe that the United States is well positioned to compete within the framework of the Paris Agreement, with abundant low-carbon resources such as natural gas , and innovative private industries, including the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.” Trelenberg said natural gas is the “cleanest-burning and least carbon-intensive fossil fuel” that has helped American attain 20-year lows in carbon dioxide emissions . He did point out ExxonMobil has invested $7 billion in lower emission fuels – such as biofuels made from algae – for around 15 years, and ended his letter with a final call to stay in the Paris agreement. The irony of the ExxonMobil letter prompted Senator Bernie Sanders to tweet : “It is pathetic that the largest oil company in the world understands more about climate change than the president of the United States.” Via The Independent Images via Roy Luck on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Trumps EPA chief lifts ban on pesticide that poisons children

March 31, 2017 by  
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As part of the Trump administration’s current war to overthrow Obama-era environmental regulations, this week, newly appointed EPA Chief Scott Pruitt signed an order reversing a recommendation to ban a pesticide linked to nervous system damage in children. Chlorpyrifos is sprayed on tree nuts, soybeans, corn, wheat, apples, citrus, and a number of other common crops. In recent years, researchers have found that chlorpyrifos exposure on foods, in drinking water, and in the air can impair cognitive development in children. (Given that the active chemical is related to nerve agent weapons, perhaps this should not be surprising.) Multiple studies have found that children exposed to the pesticide at high levels have lower IQ scores than their peers. In light of the evidence, much of it gathered by the EPA’s own researchers, the agency adopted a “zero tolerance” policy for any residues of the chemical left on food items in 2015. Since it’s impossible to completely remove the chemical, this would have effectively ended its use in the US. This followed a decade of restrictions that have gradually reduced the number of approved crops and circumstances for its use. Despite the risk, it’s still used widely in other countries. Related: EPA chief says carbon dioxide is not a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming Now, Scott Pruitt is ignoring his own agency’s research in order to allow farmers to continue using this toxic pesticide. Of course, that’s not the way he’s spinning it – if you ask him, it’s a win for the scientific process. In a statement about the order, he said, “By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results.” The Natural Resources Defense Council has already pledged to fight the new action in court. Via LA Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Tesla debuts sleek glass solar rooftop tiles

November 2, 2016 by  
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The Solar City takeover makes more sense now. The announcement was paired with the new Powerwall 2.0, which has twice the energy storage capacity of the original.

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Tesla debuts sleek glass solar rooftop tiles

Earthquake-resistant kindergarten made using recycled marine shipping containers

September 10, 2016 by  
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When engineered discovered that the aging structure that housed the “OA Kindergarten” in Japan ’s Saitama Prefecture wasn’t likely to withstand a major earthquake, they decided to give it an eco-friendly update. The new, resilient structure can stand up to shaking and was made out of a collection of stacked shipping containers , along with parts of the original structure. Japan-based  Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro were tapped to create the safe, innovative new space.

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Earthquake-resistant kindergarten made using recycled marine shipping containers

The changing fabric of the American Flag

July 9, 2016 by  
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The flag you know today and the flag from when this nation was born are as different from each other as the country itself. Made out of polyester and nylon today, the original flag was made out of wool, cotton or linen, with silk reserved for the most special occasions. Sadly, most flags are made outside of the US these days, and out of foreign-made materials. Read on to learn more about the American flag and how we can bring it back home again. image via Conal Gallagher

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The changing fabric of the American Flag

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