Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan

May 14, 2019 by  
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OMA and Milan-based Laboratorio Permanente have won a competition to transform two abandoned railway yards in Milan into eco parks that will act as “ecological filters” for the car-centric city. Titled Agenti Climatici (Climatic Agents), the master plan would use the natural, air-purifying power of plants and the filtering capabilities of water to clean and cool the environment while adding new recreational spaces for the public. The project is part of a larger effort to redevelop disused post-industrial areas around the periphery of the city. The Agenti Climatici master plan addresses two railway yards: the 468,301-square-meter Scalo Farini on the north side of Milan and the 140,199-square-meter Scalo San Cristoforo on the south side of the city. The designers have designated Scalo Farini as the “green zone” that will consist of a large park capable of cooling the hot winds from the southwest and reducing air pollution . Scalo San Cristoforo has been dubbed the “blue zone” after the designers’ plan to turn the railway yard into a linear waterway that will naturally purify runoff and create cooling microclimates. “In a moment of dramatic environmental transformation and permanent economic uncertainty, our priorities have changed,” said OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli. “The most valuable currency is no longer ‘brick’ — the built — but rather the climatic conditions that cities will be able to provide and ensure for their citizens. The city of the 20th century, with its high energy consumption , must be overcome by reconsidering the principles that have marked urban development since the classical era.” Related: CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks For adaptability, only the public elements of the Farini park will be fixed — including the waterways, greenery and bridges — while the location of the buildings and their programming will be contingent on the city’s future economic development. The master plan also calls for Milan’s longest expressway bicycle lane alongside a new tram line and metro stations. + OMA + Laboratorio Permanente Images via OMA and Laboratorio Permanente

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Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan

NYCs new eco-park and urban beach is designed to help clean the waterfront

May 3, 2019 by  
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New York City has just welcomed yet another gem to its growing number of waterfront parks — Pier 35, the long-awaited East River Waterfront project designed by Manhattan-based firm SHoP Architects in partnership with Ken Smith Workshop. Built to anchor the north side of the East River esplanade, Pier 35 consists of a new eco-park that not only offers a passive recreational space for the local community but also an innovative habitat restoration section, called Mussel Beach, that will encourage the growth of water-filtering mussels. The park also features a massive folded wall of mesh metal that will be covered in climbing vines to create a “green” billboard visible from afar. Opened this month, the 28,000-square-foot park stretches two miles along the waterfront between the Battery Maritime Building and Montgomery Street in the Lower East Side. Created in collaboration with the local community, Pier 35 revitalizes an often-overlooked section of the East River esplanade with a landscaped lawn and dunes; a raised porch with custom swings overlooking the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges; and an inclined, folded green screen that rises to 35 feet in height and over 300 feet in length and will be overlaid with vines. Built of metal and weathered steel wall panels as a nod to the East River’s industrial history, the screen wall was installed to hide views of the adjacent Sanitation Department shed at Pier 36. Thanks to a grant from the New York Department of State’s Division of Coastal Resources, Pier 35 also features Mussel Beach, an ecological prototype that mimics the historic East River shoreline and creates an inclined space that not only offers visitors a close look at the daily rising and falling of the tides but also a specially designed habitat for mussels , which naturally filter and clean the water. Related: The humble mussel is as important and threatened as bees “As we work toward finalizing community-led resiliency plans along the East River, I am thrilled to see active open space come online at Pier 35,” said councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “Along with ecological projects, this section of the waterfront is a much-needed amenity what will someday be part of a continuous and protective esplanade along Manhattan’s East Side. We’ll be improving our coastline in the years ahead and much of it will be inaccessible during renovation, so the community needs as much alternative open space as it can get. I thank my colleagues in government that championed this project.” + SHoP Architects Images via SHoP Architects

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NYCs new eco-park and urban beach is designed to help clean the waterfront

National Parks are offering free entry on April 20 to celebrate National Park Week

April 19, 2019 by  
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Take advantage of the warmer weather by visiting any number of the hundreds of national parks across the country on April 20 for absolutely free. The National Parks Service is celebrating National Park Week by offering free entry into all of the 418 parks spread throughout the United States. If you have never been to a national park or if it has been a while since your last visit, you may be surprised to learn about all the fun and excitement that awaits you. Here is a quick guide on some of the most popular national parks in the country and how you can spend your time in the great outdoors. Yellowstone Yellowstone National Park is the oldest and one of the most famous parks in the U.S. The park is known for its abundant wildlife , hot springs and exploding geysers. Given its enormous size, there are plenty of things to do at Yellowstone for children and adults alike. Related: An adventurer just journeyed into America’s largest national park — here’s what he found Located mostly in Wyoming, the park boasts 12 campgrounds with tent and RV access, plus 300 isolated campsites. There are nearly 1,000 miles of hiking trails that offer plenty of photo opportunities. You can also bike at the park and enjoy some kayaking on one if its many lakes. If you plan on bringing your family along for the ride, the park offers specialized programs for children as well as horseback riding. Yosemite Established in 1890, Yosemite National Park  attracts many visitors for its beautiful waterfalls. But the 1,200-square-mile park also features vast meadows, large sequoias and a grand wilderness section. While sightseeing is the main attraction, there are plenty of things to keep your entire family busy. Common activities at California’s Yosemite National Park include biking, wildlife watching, camping , fishing, horseback riding and water activities. Before booking your trip to Yosemite, check with the park for any closures due to inclement weather. Glacier Point Road, for example, is often closed until May because of excess snowfall. Great Smoky Mountains The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited park in the country. According to DK , the Smoky Mountains record more than double the number of tourists every year than any other location. While this is a popular destination, there are ways to avoid the large crowds. Skip out on the popular scenic highway and opt for one of the many side trails. The ancient mountain range features one of Earth’s most widespread deciduous forests and boasts a wide diversity of life. This includes a large selection of wildflowers and black bears . When it comes to activities, visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, wildlife watching, fishing and scenic driving. Acadia If you are looking for a good coastal drive, then Acadia National Park is right up your alley. Acadia National Park is the only one of its kind in Maine and features some dramatic views of the Atlantic coastline. You can also hike some trails on Cadillac Mountain, kayak in the ocean or partake in some amazing whale watching from just outside of Bar Harbor. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials A good strategy to see most of Acadia is to navigate the Park Loop Road, either by bike or motor vehicle. The 27-mile road has an array of different viewing points. One of the more popular stops is Otter Cliff, which overlooks a 110-foot drop. The park, of course, also features plenty of other things to do, such as camping, climbing, geocaching, fishing , swimming and bird watching. Tips for visiting a national park Once you decide to visit a park , it is always a good idea to call or stop by the visitor center and check in. Park rangers are valuable sources of information and can tell you what type of activities are available during the time of your visit. They can also tell you if there are any construction projects going on or special events that might make navigating through the park difficult. Speaking of the visitor center, it contains everything you need to know about the park, including typical rates and interesting places to visit. You can also find guided tours, which are a great way to get introduced to the history of the park and learn why it is significant to the region. Free admittance on April 20 In honor of National Park Week, the National Parks Service is offering free admittance to all parks in the United States on April 20. That day coincides with National Junior Ranger Day, which is geared toward children, making the free offer perfect for families. According to Matador Network , there are other themes throughout the rest of week, including Military and Veterans Recognition Day,  Earth Day , Transportation Tuesday, Wild Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Friendship Friday, Bark Ranger Day and Park Rx Day. You can learn more about National Park Week, plus find important information about a national park near you, by visiting Find Your Park and the  National Parks website . Images via Ian D. Keating , Mobilus in Mobili , Jeff Gunn , Thomas , Eric Vaughn , Badlands National Park and Grand Canyon National Park

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National Parks are offering free entry on April 20 to celebrate National Park Week

A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

April 9, 2019 by  
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La Pointe is located within Canada’s Poisson Blanc Regional Park, and it’s a nature-loving minimalist’s dream come true. The micro home gets its name from the distinctive triangular geometry that comes to a cathedral-style point in the roof. The designers at Atelier L’abri wanted to honor the A-frame style that was made popular in North America in the 1950s while still providing the essential functions needed in a forest cabin. La Pointe offers off-the-grid living that isn’t completely isolated from civilization. The micro home is located off of a nature trail about 10 minutes by foot from the park’s reception pavilion. Despite the minimal square footage, there is room for up to four occupants inside thanks to the first-floor table’s ability to convert into an extra bed. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The structure was built on-site and features a kitchenette, an outdoor porch area and a lofted bedroom accessible by ladder. The bed is suspended mezzanine-style using steel rods, and it calmly overlooks the rest of the home. The entire space, including the sleeping area, takes full advantage of the natural light that streams in during the day. The connecting covered terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy the space when the weather is hot, and the wood-burning stove keeps the house warm in the cold Canadian winters. The whole structure is raised off the ground to prevent weather-related damage from both the snow and the nearby reservoir. The exterior, made from natural cedar boards, creates a woodsy look that blends in beautifully to the surrounding forest landscape. The roof is made from steel, a recycle-friendly option for a building material. The interior uses the same cedar, which — combined with the dark, steel-colored appliances inside — creates an organic and raw look. Occupants can enjoy the forest views from the large bay window that centers the home from the first floor. + Atelier L’abri Photography by Jack Jérôme via Atelier L’abri

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A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

An old office is transformed into the Netherlands’ most sustainable renovated building

March 22, 2019 by  
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In Amsterdam South, a newly renovated office building with a shimmering silver roof has achieved BREEAM Outstanding , a green building rating that arguably makes the property the most sustainable adaptive reuse project in the Netherlands. Formerly a neglected office complex, the empty building was transformed in the hands of Dutch architectural firm Benthem Crouwel Architects and now serves as the energy-positive offices for Goede Doelen Loterijen (Dutch Charity Lotteries). A major goal of the new Goede Doelen Loterijen office was to gather the company’s approximately 600 employees — who had been distributed at different branches for years — into a single location. Because sustainability is a core value of Goede Doelen Loterijen , the new office also needed to be highly sustainable and render the company’s social ambitions visible. Therefore, the building design emphasizes accessibility and transparency, communicating the message that it serves both the employees and the neighborhood. In addition to offices, the building includes a public restaurant, an auditorium and a TV studio. “The Charity Lotteries employees were involved in the design from the very beginning,” the architects explained. “Everyone was invited to share their thoughts, and through this unique process of co-creation, a building emerged that fits the unique atmosphere and work practice of this organization like a glove. It was the employees’ wish to bring the green from the park at their old locations to the new office. To fulfill this wish, a roof was created that is green in every possible way.” Related: MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone Nearly 7,000 leaves made of polished aluminum cover the roof, supported with slender, tree-shaped columns. The new forest-inspired roof shimmers and changes appearance depending on the time of day and is easily recognizable and visible from afar. In addition to the glittering silver leaves, the roof is also integrated with 949 solar panels and a rainwater collection system for green roof irrigation. Materials from the former office complex were reused, while all new materials have been selected for their sustainable and recyclable qualities. + Benthem Crouwel Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Jannes Linders via Benthem Crouwel Architects

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An old office is transformed into the Netherlands’ most sustainable renovated building

A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park

February 21, 2019 by  
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Flexible, transportable and cost-efficient, the modular classrooms created by local design studio Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ offer a sustainable new way to activate Barcelona’s public parks. Inspired by timber cabins, the prefabricated pop-up classroom is a multipurpose space sheathed in wood and crafted with a focus on environmental education for school groups and families. The architects recently installed a classroom prototype, AULA K, in the Parc de Can Zam with a built area of nearly 1,200 square feet. Constructed primarily of timber, the prefabricated classroom is designed to blend into the park surroundings with the future aim of providing habitat to certain species of animals, including insects, birds and bats. “It is a pavilion destined to give more life to the parks, complementing the offer of leisure, recreational and sports with the educational dimension,” the architects said in a statement. “It must be a space open to the outside; it is necessary that one could see the trees from the classroom, to perceive the light and feel the climate.” To create flexibility in the design, the classrooms can comprise any combination and configuration of three modules — a service module, classroom module and pergola module — so as to best meet the needs of each site. The modular architecture is prefabricated in a factory and can be installed on site in just a few weeks. The prototype at Parc de Can Zam consists of the service and classroom modules and is topped with sloped roofs optimized for solar panel installation and rainwater collection. Related: Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round The use of prefabrication helps reduce the time and cost of producing the classrooms, which share a uniform wooden envelope and a large opening on the facade to let in natural light and views of nature. The classrooms can be modified to generate energy, return rainwater to underground aquifers, reuse stormwater runoff as garden irrigation or provide habitat for local fauna. + Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ Photography by  Marcela Grassi via Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ

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A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park

Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair

February 1, 2019 by  
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The recent month-long government shutdown may have caused “irreparable” damage to Joshua Tree National Park, according to former superintendent Curt Sauer. During those 34 days, visitors ruined trails, cut down trees and vandalized the park, and when workers returned, they found absolute chaos. “What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years,” Sauer — who ran the park for seven years — told the Desert Sun . The shutdown reduced ranger supervision, which led to increased vandalism. Officials decided to temporarily close the park on January 8. But the next day, they managed to avoid the closure and stay open with the help of revenue from recreation fees. Related: National Parks are being trashed during the government shutdown During the shutdown, many national parks were forced to operate without rangers, and volunteers helped out by hauling trash and cleaning bathrooms. Joshua Tree national park is 1,235 square miles, and the volunteer help wasn’t enough to keep people from ignoring the extra care warnings and damaging the park. Park spokesman George Land said that some visitors had created new roads with their vehicles and destroyed some of the Joshua trees. David Smith, the current superintendent, explained that there were a dozen different instances of vehicles going off-road and into the wilderness, creating two new roads inside the park. People also cut chains and locks to access campgrounds. “We’ve never seen this level of out-of-bounds camping ,” Smith said. “Everyday use area was occupied every evening. Joshua trees were actually cut down in order to make new roads.” Many locals were not happy with the park staying open during the shutdown . John Lauretig, executive director of the non-profit group Friends of Joshua Tree, said that the parks shouldn’t be held hostage. He added that having a park open and partially staffed isn’t good for the park, the public or the local community. He also believes that if the government shuts down again, the park should close completely to prevent more damage. Via Desert Sun  and  The Guardian Image via Christopher Michel

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Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair

The geometric Black House captures light and views from multiple angles

February 1, 2019 by  
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When architect Benjamin Heller of Radolfzell-based architectural practice Freier Architekt designed the Black House, he took design inspiration from the project’s location near the boundary of Germany and Switzerland . Created to mimic a boundary stone cut by hand, the Black House is an angular, multifaceted building that appears to conspicuously mark the edge of the small village in which it resides on the German border. More than just an exercise to emulate a distinctive stone, the home’s geometric form is optimized to take in panoramic views of the landscape and natural light as part of the project’s embrace of nature. Located in the charming health resort Öhningen located close to Lake Constance, Germany, the Black House expresses the client’s love of nature in not only its location and framed landscape views, but also with its solid timber construction and energy-efficient technical equipment. For example, the house is sustainably heated with a system that uses a ground collector and heat pump . Spanning an area of 325 square meters, the Black House features two floors with a mix of public, semi-public and private spaces throughout as requested by the client. The home is entered from the east side, where a door opens up to a long hallway that branches off to a variety of rooms that includes sitting rooms, bathrooms and the ground-floor bedroom. Upstairs, an open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area dominate the majority of the floor plan and connect to a south-facing outdoor patio . On the east side is the master bedroom. Related: Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva “The ‘Black House’ is explicitly oriented toward the landscape and the water,” the architect explained of the massing and the large expanses of glass. “The spacious areas and rooms inside the building are extended in southern direction. The clear and restrained interior design directs one’s eye instinctively to the outstanding panoramic view with the beautiful landscape. The light, polished screed and the parquet flooring of dark oak result in a harmonic but also contrasting interaction.” + Benjamin Heller Via ArchDaily Images via Benjamin Heller

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The geometric Black House captures light and views from multiple angles

National Parks are being trashed during the government shutdown

January 4, 2019 by  
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As the government shutdown continues, many National Parks are suffering from a lack of staff as well as a complete disregard for the rules by visitors. According to multiple reports, some parks — like Yosemite National Park in California — are being overwhelmed by trash, vandalism, human waste and destructive off-roading. “It’s a free-for-all,” said Yosemite worker Dakota Snider, who added that the heartbreaking situation is the worst he has seen in his four years living there. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that people had seen some visitors at Yosemite dumping bags of trash from their cars, and the park closed two campgrounds and a redwood grove because of issues with human waste and a lack of staffing. Related: Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities “With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors,” said National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz. At the beginning of the shutdown, the Trump administration kept most of the National Parks open with skeleton staffs on site to make sure visitors followed the rules, like no littering and no hunting. But because there was no one to collect admission fees, the number of visitors has surged, and the skeleton crews can’t handle the park traffic. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park has locked its restrooms and trash bins because of human waste issues, wildlife concerns and public health, according to a notice on the park website. In addition to the human waste problem, the weather has also been an issue in some locations. Arches and Canyonlands in Utah have closed because there is no money to plow the snow. The state of Utah was paying to staff all five of its National Parks , but as the new year started, it decided to staff only Zion. At Joshua Tree in Southern California , local residents and businesses are volunteering to help keep the restrooms functioning by cleaning them and hauling out trash, and private park tour companies are doing similar work in Yellowstone. In New York , the state is funding both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to make sure they continue to operate during the shutdown. Via Huffington Post and LA Times Images via Joshua Tree National Park ( 1 , 2 )

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National Parks are being trashed during the government shutdown

This contaminated, post-industrial site will become a massive park in Florida

October 16, 2018 by  
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New images have been unveiled of international design firm Sasaki’s proposal for transforming a 180-acre, post-industrial site in Lakeland, Florida into a privately funded park with aims of becoming “one of the greatest urban landscapes in the country,” according to the firm. Billed as a future “Central Park” for Lakeland, Bonnet Springs Park will begin with a comprehensive remediation process to heal the damaged and contaminated landscape. Spearheaded by Lakeland realtor David Bunch and his wife Jean with the backing of philanthropists Barney and Carol Barnett, the sprawling park will be a vibrant new destination for residents. It is slated for completion by 2020. Located near downtown Lakeland, the land for Bonnet Springs Park is currently underutilized and has accumulated tons of trash. More than 80 acres of land are contaminated with arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons. With the help of a 20-person advisory committee that has helped remove 37 tons of trash from the site, the 180-acre landscape is now entering its environmental remediation phase, which includes stockpiling contaminated materials into safely capped hills, constructing  wetlands for filtering pollutants and creating stormwater management strategies. Although the park is privately funded, hundreds of Lakeland community members have been invited to add their feedback and input on the design. Sasaki’s masterplan includes heritage gardens, a canopy walk, a welcome center, nature center, event lawn, walking and biking trails, non-motorized boating activities and a sculpture garden . The new buildings in the park will be designed to harmonize with the landscape, with some of them partially buried into the terrain. A plan will also be put in place to ensure the economic sustainability and continued maintenance of Bonnet Springs Park. Related: Solar-powered POP-UP Park takes over underused Budapest square “Bonnet Springs Park, from a planning and design perspective, presents a rare opportunity to transform a significantly challenged urban plot of land in an effort to improve Central Florida’s quality of life for generations to come,” noted the architecture firm. “Sasaki’s designs will improve the site’s ecological health, foster unique harmonious architectural design and set the park up for self-sustaining , economic success.” + Sasaki

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