A quiet cabin and outdoor adventures in Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley

September 14, 2020 by  
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As Andy Aldeen strides across his Montana land, a can of bear spray stuffed in his back shorts pocket, you’d never guess the Midwestern-born hay farmer had spent 25 years working in finance in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Now, his three-generation family is rooted here in the Swan Valley, haying and running three VRBO units for visitors craving clean mountain air far from cities. A homesteader cabin That’s what brings my husband, dog and me here. With COVID-19 numbers rising, we hesitated to plan ahead. Then, we got lucky and snagged a last-minute reservation for a socially distant getaway at what was described as a pioneer homesteader cabin . So here we were, briskly touring Aldeen’s land with his black lab, Sis, acting as hostess and leading our dog Rudy through bushes and brambles. Related: 5 cozy getaway cabins that are perfect for fall The cabin has been thoroughly redone since a Norwegian fur trapper built it in the early 1900s. He surely didn’t have a hot water shower, a full kitchen and such a comfortable bed. Aldeen decorates in what he calls “Victorian explorer” style, which means a fun mix of cheery and unpredictable items, including a red-and-white-checked table cloth on the kitchen table downstairs, a cow-spotted plant stand and a sequined rainbow pillow on a daybed in the cabin’s attic library. Aldeen has scoured used bookstores all through the valley, furnishing his VRBO units with thousands of books of all genres. Best of all was the big front porch strung with Christmas lights. You can sit on an easy chair with a view of hay bales sitting in front of the Mission Mountains. In the morning, you may hear migrating sandhill cranes purring as they hunt for critters or see deer bounding by. Down the road, the ranch’s horses congregate under their favorite shade tree. With two bedrooms and a small, cozy living room, the homesteader cabin is the mid-range option among Aldeen’s VRBO units. The Lazy Bean is a 2,000-square-foot cabin that sleeps up to eight and has the most extensive library . Then, there’s a more primitive, 300-square-foot cabin with twin bunk beds. The Seeley-Swan Valley The cabins sit in the Seeley-Swan Valley in northwestern Montana, on the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and just off of Highway 83. This is known as one of Montana’s most scenic roads and is a popular route to Glacier National Park . But it’s also a destination in itself for people seeking outdoor adventures. Seeley and Swan are actually two back-to-back valleys. We were in Swan, the northern of the two, near the tiny town of Condon. The Mission Range of the Rocky Mountains towers to the west, the Swan Range to the east. This is an unusually wet part of Montana, with significantly higher rainfall than most of the state, which accounts for the greenness and abundance of water. Rivers, lakes, ponds and bogs left by long-ago receding glaciers cover about 16% of the Swan Basin — compare that to only 1% wetland habitat for the rest of the state. This is the part of the state to visit if you want to get in the water or if you like scenic hikes with dazzling lake views. With average July and August highs in the mid-80s, the lakes and rivers get lots of summertime use. “Be Bear Aware” One of the things I hadn’t realized until I got to Montana was how many bears call it home. “Greatest concentration in the Lower 48,” Aldeen told me proudly while I shook in my hiking boots. As we set out one morning for the Glacier Lake Trailhead , our route took us on a long stretch of gravel road. When we finally arrived at the parking lot, I was relieved to see other cars. Wilderness is great, but sometimes I gravitate toward safety in numbers. Still, there’s no guarantee that the presence of humans equals the absence of bears. Bears are big, and they go where they want. Signs at just about every trailhead exhort visitors to “ Be Bear Aware .” As we followed the Glacier Lake Trail, I took the information to heart. Bear spray on front backpack strap, check. Talking or singing before turning blind corners, yep. The mountains were gorgeous, and the trail was lined with huckleberries ripe for the picking. I relaxed and enjoyed it, as long as I didn’t think too much about who else loves huckleberries. Paddler’s paradise Bears swim, too. But at least it’s easier to see them coming over open water. This part of Montana is an absolute dream if you like to kayak , paddleboard or swim. Highway 83 has signs for lakes every couple of miles. If you favor motors on your watercraft, a big lake like Seeley will give you lots of space to explore. But if you prefer human-powered vessels, you can also find a quiet lake without motor traffic. The most touristy lake we visited was Holland Lake. This 400-acre glacial lake is popular for good reason, with its well-used campground, Swan Mountain views and easy access to the Holland Falls trailhead . You can rent a canoe, kayak or SUP from the Holland Lake Lodge . My favorite thing about Holland Lake was the cordoned off swimming area. Some of the lakes we visited were nice for paddling but mucky for swimming. Not Holland. You don’t have to worry about putting your feet on the bottom and having them disappear under questionable slime. Van Lake is too small to be of much interest for those with fast boats. A leisurely paddle around the perimeter took less than hour, including stops for wildlife viewing. From my SUP, I saw a bald eagle dive down and nab a fish off the line of somebody fishing from a rowboat. Watching bald eagles swoop, fish and fly above your SUP, and loons swimming alongside you, is a dream come true for any wildlife-enthusiast. The most remote lake we visited was Clearwater. It’s about a 0.7 mile walk from the road. The trail is mostly flat and would be easy an easy trip, if not for dragging an inflatable SUP. But it was worth it, as it was the only time I’ve ever been the only watercraft on a lake, accompanied only by electric blue damselflies. September average high temperatures for Seeley-Swan are in the 70s. There’s still time to get your Montana lake fix before the temperatures dip down and the snow begins falling, although that is another trip full of nature’s beauty. So if you get the chance to escape to a remote Montana cabin, grab your bear spray and go. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: We recommend taking the utmost care to keep those around you safe if you choose to travel. You can find more advice on travel precautions from the CDC and WHO .

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A quiet cabin and outdoor adventures in Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library to honor conservation and community

September 14, 2020 by  
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After the passing of his wife and mother, Theodore Roosevelt traveled to the Badlands of North Dakota. Journeying through the United States, he took the same route that The Henning Larsen + Nelson Byrd Woltz design team would make more than 135 years later to visit the future site of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library . The team’s vision? To honor the landscape and community that the past president came to love all those years ago. “There is a unique and awe-inspiring beauty to everything about the Badlands that you simply cannot experience anywhere else,” said Michael Sørensen, design lead and partner at Henning Larsen. “The landscape only fully unfolds once you are already within it; once you are, the hills, buttes, fields, and streams stretch as far as you can see.” Related: San Francisco library boasts a green roof and LEED Gold status That persistent landscape is what inspired the team to design a property that will pay homage to the important cultural and ecological history of the Badlands that was so important to Roosevelt in his time of need. “The design fuses the landscape and building into one living system emerging from the site’s geology,” said Thomas Woltz, principal and founder of Nelson Byrd Woltz. “The buildings frame powerful landscape views to the surrounding buttes and the visitor experience is seamlessly connected to the rivers, trails, and grazing lands surrounding the Library.” The design will also serve to educate a national and international audience as well as hopefully create a new generation of those who would work to conserve the Badlands, according to Woltz. The building itself is made up of four sections. A large tower (the Legacy Beacon), will become a formal landmark visible from throughout the area to bring the community together, create a hub and help guide the way for visitors. The lobby follows a spiral path to the main exhibition level meant to mimic the way Roosevelt would have gathered around the hearth. Each phase of the exhibition contains a space that overlooks a specific part of the surrounding landscape. + Henning Larsen + Nelson Byrd Woltz Images via Henning Larsen

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Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library to honor conservation and community

Workplace EV charging: Lessons from sustainability trailblazers

July 14, 2020 by  
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Workplace EV charging: Lessons from sustainability trailblazers Marsha Willard Tue, 07/14/2020 – 01:30 Businesses are reaping the environmental and social benefits of providing electric vehicle charging for employees. That’s according to research published last week by Presidio Graduate School (PGS) and ChargePoint, providers of the world’s largest EV charging network. Last fall, a research team from PGS conducted a study on workplace electric vehicle charging practices. In addition to a review of the current literature, the team interviewed sustainability leaders in 24 organizations across the United States. The findings reveal that while still most common in Europe and in U.S. coastal states, the speed of EV adoption makes creating the charging infrastructure an imperative for both the public and private sector. Leading organizations have made a solid business case for providing workplace charging and other EV related employee incentives or benefits. Below are some key findings of the study: Employers recognize that demand for charging will only grow; in many cities such as Portland and San Francisco EV charging in workplace parking lots is already both an expectation of employees and a city mandate. Business plays an important role in facilitating EV adoption; providing EV charging to employees is increasingly easy to justify to corporate executives.  Providing charging at the workplace increases employee satisfaction and makes it easier to attract and retain workers. Supporting EV commuting and investing in EV fleets help organizations meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets.  Employers are worried less about upfront costs and are thinking long-term about strategies to optimize their investment.  Key strategies to maximize benefit To get the most out of the investment in workplace charging stations, the corporation and other organizations participating in this research study focused on these four key implementation strategies: 1. Assure availability What the study participants learned is that while you may not see a lot of EVs in your parking lots now, they are coming and they catch on faster once workplace chargers become available. Bank of America, for example, saw a 50 percent increase in the number of EV commuters in just one year after installing chargers, reinforcing the theory that EV adoption is mostly hindered by a concern about being able to charge away from home. In trying to determine how many chargers to provide, the participating organizations often underestimated the demand and recommended thinking ahead when planning. Once available, chargers become an important amenity to employees. Study participants reported not only increased satisfaction with the workplace, but ncreasingly, an expectation that chargers be available making them part of nearly all our participating organizations’ recruiting and retention packages. In trying to determine how many chargers to provide, the participating organizations often underestimated the demand and recommended thinking ahead when planning. Some progressive cities such as Salt Lake City and Duluth, Minnesota  are beginning to mandate chargers in all new construction. The required number varies from 1 to 5 percent of spaces depending on the jurisdiction. Forward-thinking businesses, such as those in our study, believe these requirements are conservative and plan to expand the number of available chargers. LinkedIn, for example, which covers about 10 percent of parking spaces with EV chargers, is building toward a target of 20 percent. 2. Allow dynamic pricing Most study participants saw value in providing free charging for employees. What they have learned is that it not only builds employee satisfaction, but also encourages EV adoption. While there is a strong commitment to providing free charging, an increasing number of organizations are opting to charge fees for lingering at the stations. In an effort to optimize the use of the charging stations, it is common to assess a fee after a car has been parked at a charger for more than four hours. This is made possible by using “smart” chargers — chargers connected to a network that allows managers to not only tailor fee structures but to send alerts to users as well as monitor usage and capture greenhouse gas-related data.  3. Optimize energy management Study participants understood that the expected increase in demand for workplace charging will require more attention to power management. In addition to meeting the extra demand without over-tapping their capacity, they also want to assure the most efficient use of the charging infrastructure. Power management features available on some chargers enable site managers to maximize the number of charging ports before having to upgrade existing wiring or panels. These systems also enable management to assure that charging EVs never exceed the maximum aggregate electrical load, thus avoiding potential peak load charges. These systems also enable managers to control when and how much energy is being tapped to maximize consumption during those times of the day when renewable power is most plentiful. Organizations serious about using an EV program to lower their carbon footprints may find an increasing need to invest in renewable power. 4. Source from renewable power Most study participants power their chargers with lines from their existing building panels, so the electricity comes from the same generation source as their buildings. This is the most cost-effective method for powering the chargers, but it links the carbon impact to the generation source provided by the region’s utility. If the local utility is powered mostly by coal generation plants, the carbon savings may be negligible.  Organizations serious about using an EV program to lower their carbon footprints may find an increasing need to invest in renewable power. Amazon, for example, plans to increase its renewable energy usage from 40 percent to 100 percent by 2030 . Bank of America already sources 91percent of its energy from renewable sources and will be rolling out on-site solar generation at more than 60 of its locations in the next two years. A number of the research participants already have invested in their own on-site generation, and 55 percent report that they are looking to add or expand this capability in the future. When self-generation is not feasible, organizations have increasing opportunities to source renewable energy through their utilities.  Electrification of vehicle fleets will markedly reduce greenhouse gasses. Employers have much to gain and much to offer in this transition. Offering on-site, electric vehicle charging not only will contribute to the infrastructure needed to speed this transition, but also benefit companies that offer this amenity.  To hear a fuller story from one of our study participants, visit the recording with Erik Hansen of Workday. Pull Quote Organizations serious about using an EV program to lower their carbon footprints may find an increasing need to invest in renewable power. In trying to determine how many chargers to provide, the participating organizations often underestimated the demand and recommended thinking ahead when planning. Topics Transportation & Mobility Infrastructure Electric Vehicles ChargePoint Collective Insight Thinking in Systems Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Herr Loeffler Close Authorship

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Workplace EV charging: Lessons from sustainability trailblazers

This dynamic parking garage doubles as a public sculpture

January 13, 2020 by  
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In Denmark’s fourth-largest city of Aalborg, Copenhagen-based architecture firm Sangberg has designed a deceptively simple parking garage that offers much more than parking spaces. Dubbed the Parking House G2, the monolithic building features a dynamic and lightweight facade of extruded aluminum slats that “animates itself” in different ways depending on how and from where it’s viewed. The aluminum slats of the playful graphic facade were also engineered with reusability in mind and to encourage the growth of habitat for birds and insects.  Located in a part of Aalborg that’s currently being transformed from an industrial harbor to a new multi-use neighborhood, the Parking House G2 references the industrial heritage of its surroundings with its monolithic aluminum construction, while injecting new life with its sculptural appearance. “Whether you’re driving by in a car or you’re passing by as a pedestrian, your experience will differ as the facade animates itself in accordance to the speed travelled,” the architects said on the Sangberg blog . “The expression also changes whether it is viewed nearby or far away, from straight on or from the side – and with the light conditions and seasons.” The building’s facade gets its dynamic characteristics from the subtle variations in the profiles of the light gray aluminum slats that surround the concrete frame like a piece of cloth. In addition to creating a textural expression, the angled slats are spaced apart to let natural light and ventilation into the building. The facade also provides opportunities for greenery to take hold, a feature that was inspired by the master plan for the area that includes a green buffer zone along Nyhavnsgade, a major thoroughfare near the harbor. Related: Denmark’s first timber parking garage will be enveloped in greenery Completed over two years, the 15,200-square-meter building includes 590 parking spaces. The aluminum facade can be easily disassembled and recycled for use in other building projects. Its compact build, sustainable design, and its playful facade earned the project an Aalborg Municipality building award.  + Sangberg Images by Ramus Hjortshøj – COAST Studio

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This dynamic parking garage doubles as a public sculpture

Fun, eco-friendly things to do in Portland

January 13, 2020 by  
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Portland has boomed in the past 20 years, attracting musicians, writers, graphic designers and other creative people. Many entrepreneurial folks have started unusual businesses and events, which often surprise and delight visitors. If you’ve always wanted to visit a vegan strip club or watch an adult soapbox derby race, Portland is for you. The city of about 650,000 residents has a well-deserved reputation for rain . If you like a dry vacation, summer is your best bet. Spring is the most beautiful season, when tulips, irises and daffodils push up through the soggy ground and rhododendrons seem to bloom in every yard. Autumn enthusiasts will enjoy Portland’s fall colors. But don’t curse the rain if you get wet — it’s what makes Portland so beautiful and green. Portland outdoor adventures Outdoor adventure awaits, both within city limits and a short drive or bus ride away. The Willamette River separates Portland’s east and west sides. Running, walking and hiking are popular pastimes. On the east side, Mount Tabor, a dormant  volcano , offers hiking trails without leaving the city. Forest Park, on the west side, is even bigger, with about 70 miles of recreational trails. For a short but gorgeous Forest Park hike, take the Lower Macleay Trail along Balch Creek up to the Audubon Society, where you can check out the Wildlife Care Center which treats orphaned and injured native animals. If you happen to be in Portland on Thanksgiving, consider walking or running the annual  Tofurky Trot  5K, which benefits animal sanctuaries. Portland is well known as a bike-friendly city. You can rent a bike and explore, or join a guided tour.  Pedal Bike Tours  offers an intro to Portland tour, plus excursions focused on donuts or  beer . Their Columbia River Gorge Tour takes you out to the must-see gorge by van, where you bike and hike to waterfalls. Since Portland has access to both the Willamette and Columbia rivers, the water possibilities are vast. Join  Portland Kayak  for a guided full moon paddle on the Willamette. During summer,  eNRG Kayaking  offers SUP yoga classes. For a special Portland experience, learn about the Northwest’s favorite biped on a narrated  Bigfoot Cruise . You’ll even get the chance to smell a simulated Bigfoot pheromone (only people with strong stomachs should take a whiff). Those who like a little culture with their outdoors time will find plenty of art festivals, especially in summer. The upscale Pearl neighborhood has art openings every first Thursday of the month. From April to October, the  Urban Art Network Street Gallery  sets up an extremely accessible First Thursday show, with a chance to meet painters, jewelers, woodworkers and other skilled  artists , and find art for all budgets. Portland wellness It might seem like every other person you meet in Portland is a yoga teacher, and many neighborhoods have multiple yoga studios.  Yoga Refuge  occupies an attractive upstairs space in an older building, with plenty of light and plants to cheer up the grayest Portland days.  Studio PDX  even lets you bring your small dog to some of its classes. Portland is a city where it’s easy to find gong healing.  Portland Sound Sanctuary offers various sound healings, some including a cacao ceremony.  Awakenings Wellness Center  hosts intriguing events almost every day, such as ancestral lineage intensives, shamanic sound healing and a White Stag meditation. Common Ground Wellness Center  has a communal soaking pool and a dry cedar sauna. This clothing-optional hangout has times set aside for men, women, queer/trans and BIPOC people only, and a nightly silent hour from 10 to 11 pm. If you’re happier when everyone wears a swimsuit,  Knot Springs  is a newer facility with a delightful water circuit, sauna, eucalyptus-scented steam room and full foot rub menu. You can book massages at both Common Ground and Knot Springs.  Zama Massage Therapeutic Spa  is Portland’s only place for halo therapy in a  salt cave. The Grotto, a Catholic shrine to the Virgin Mary, is a peaceful place to visit, whether you’re religious or not. It features gardens, shrines, a labyrinth and a  meditation chapel with floor-to-ceiling windows. On a clear day, you can meditate on a view of snow-capped Mount Hood. Dining out in Portland Portland has become a city known for food, especially vegan food. At the high end, Chef Aaron Adams of  Farm Spirit  creates exquisite tasting menus from the Cascadian bioregion, with all ingredients sourced within 105 miles of the restaurant. There’s also a chef’s table experience, where you can chat with the chefs and watch as they prepare your food . The  Sudra interprets Indian food with a dash of New Mexico. Inventive plates include ingredients like turmeric-roasted Brussels sprouts, kale -infused dosas and coconut yogurt. All of this is served with a side of New Mexico green chilis, if desired. Vegetarian Thai Restaurant  KaTi Portland  makes the standard dishes, plus Thai street food and specialty entrees, with nary a drop of fish sauce. The all-vegan and gluten-free  Back to Eden  Dessert Shop on NE Alberta makes cookies, pies,  chia puddings and has an impressive sundae menu. Sweet Pea Bakery  is a real cake specialist. You can even get a tiered wedding cake or a six-layered rainbow cake. For vegan ice cream,  Eb & Bean  makes both dairy and non-dairy frozen yogurt in flavors like black sesame and salty pistachio.  Salt & Straw , Portland’s most famous ice cream shop, always features at least a few vegan flavors. Don’t miss their lemon cheesecake crumble. In nearby Milwaukie, Oregon, world-famous  Bob’s Red Mill  churns out oats, millet, sorghum, farro, and other grains. Visitors can take a tour, attend a cooking class, shop from a mind-blowing bulk section and eat lunch or breakfast. There’s also a separate veg menu. Visit during October to catch the annual two-day Portland VegFest . The newer  VegOut! Portland  Vegan Beer & Food Festival happens in  summer . Public transit It’s easy to get around Portland without driving yourself, through a combination of walking, biking, bus,  light rail and rideshare.  TriMet is the local public transit company. The MAX light rail serves the airport every day until almost midnight and is the cheapest way to get to downtown hotels. Amtrak, Bolt, Flixbus and Greyhound also serve Portland. If you see folks cruising around on heavy orange bikes built like tanks, that’s the  Biketown  bike share program. They even have a limited number of  adaptive bikes  to get people with  disabilities  on the road. Don’t want to pedal? You can also rent an electric scooter. Be advised that it’s illegal to ride scooters on the sidewalk, so stick to  bike lanes  and city streets. Also, be aware that these things pick up speed very fast when going downhill. Where to stay The  Kimpton Riverplace  puts a yoga mat in every room, has two charging stations for  electric cars  and is located right on the Willamette River waterfront path. Built in 1927, the  Heathman is both historic and eco-conscious, with low-flow shower-heads, LED lighting, walls made from recycled materials and even a ghost or two. For more eclectic lodging, check out one of Portland’s three  tiny house  hotels. Yes, three.  Caravan: The Tiny House Hotel  has five cramped but cute choices.  Tiny Digs  has eight themed units, including train car, “gypsy wagon,” barn and Victorian cottage.  Slabtown Village  bills itself as NW Portland’s luxury tiny home hotel. At Slabtown, you can also choose from three small Victorian houses if a tiny home proves too teeny. Images by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Fun, eco-friendly things to do in Portland

Solar-powered Ring House heals a scarred hilltop landscape in Greece

May 20, 2019 by  
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On the southern coast of Crete, Greek architectural firm decaARCHITECTURE has turned a commission for a modern residence into an opportunity for land preservation. Named the Ring House for its rounded shape, the house was created to follow the existing topography and looks like an extension of its hilltop location. The site had been scarred by environmentally insensitive infrastructural development but has now recovered its original morphology and has been replanted with native flora . Located in the seaside village of Agia Galini, the Ring House is surrounded with beautiful sea views, yet suffers hot summers. To create a cooling microclimate , the architects built part of the structure into the earth and added several protected shaded areas, as well as an inner garden planted with a variety of citrus trees and edible plants. The resulting effect is one that the architects liken to an “oasis within an intensely beautiful but physically demanding environment.” “At a broader scale, the house is a landscape preservation effort,” explain the architects. “In the past, the topography had been severely scarred by the random and informal carving of roads. The excavation material extracted during the house’s construction, was used to recover the original morphology of the land. Furthermore, a thorough survey of the native flora was done in order to understand the predominant biotopes in the different slopes in the plot. During the spring, prior to construction, seeds were collected on site and cultivated in a green house to grow more seeds. These were then sowed over the road scars for the regeneration of the flora.” Related: Concrete home perched on Greek island cliffside designed with large cut outs to frame the amazing sea views Concrete beams that follow the existing topography of the hill and frame the inner garden define the Ring House. The entrance sequence begins from the parking pad to a long, curved walkway that wraps around the inner garden and provides access to the bedrooms on one side of the home and the open-plan living areas on the other side. The house is powered with rooftop solar panels. + decaARCHITECTURE Images by decaARCHITECTURE and George Messaritakis

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Solar-powered Ring House heals a scarred hilltop landscape in Greece

An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

March 12, 2019 by  
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An open plaza in Bogota’s northeastern business district has been radically transformed from a place of pure pavement to a vibrant urban wetland . Colombian architecture firm Obraestudio completed the project in 2016 in the Santa Barbara business center to revitalize the outdoor common space shared by the Torres Unidas Building, Scotia Bank, Samsung, AR and W Hotel towers. Covering an area of over two acres, the architects injected a lush aquatic landscape into the public-facing plaza, creating a striking contrast between wild nature and the sharp geometry of the surrounding high-rises. Winner of an open national design competition sponsored by The Colombian Architects Society, the Usaquén Urban Wetland has become an iconic, privately-owned public space in northeast Bogota . The design draws inspiration from the wetlands of the Bogota Savannah, a rich, biodiverse area located in the southwestern part of the larger Andean plateau, the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. To recreate the wetland appearance, a large recycled rainwater-fed pool was carved out from the heart of the plaza and planted with native aquatic vegetation. “A natural ecosystem — half aquatic, half terrestrial — is recreated by the geometry, colors and textures of the overall design,” Obraestudio explained in a project statement. “Existing buildings and the exterior common areas are a provocative, clear contrast to the wild, free-growing landscape elements. A recycled rainwater garden over the main square creates a native urban wetland that blends harmoniously with the surrounding Andean hills backdrop and preserves the native vegetation in its natural habitat.” Related: Triangular windows bring light and drama to a stunning Bogota bakery Moreover, the parking area was replaced with a linear park that has also been lushly planted and designed to “inspire slow and meditative walks.” Pre-existing green roofs were preserved while the old elevator and stairs structures have been re-engineered so as not to visually detract from the new landscape design. + Obraestudio Via ArchDaily Photography by Daniel Segura and Andres Valbuena via Obraestudio

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An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

These 5 animals are being consumed into extinction

March 12, 2019 by  
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Humans have a long history of wiping out animal populations, and we continue to do so even to this day. According to a new study published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, people around the world are eating hundreds of animal species into extinction. If we don’t make some changes, the authors of the study warn that the food security of hundreds of millions of people could be threatened. Currently, we are in the middle of mass extinction that rivals the wiping out of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But this time, it isn’t a giant meteorite doing all the damage — it’s humans. Over the past century, we have accelerated extinction rates 100 hundred times greater than what would naturally occur without human impact. As we continue to destroy habitats with construction and invade wild areas for hunting, 301 species of land mammals are now critically endangered and have made their way to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. The list includes 168 primates, 73 hoofed animals, 27 bats, 26 marsupials, 21 rodent species and 12 carnivores. There are also 1,414 species of fish on the Red List. “There are plenty of bad things affecting wildlife around the world, and habitat loss and degradation are clearly at the forefront, but among the other things is the seemingly colossal impact of bushmeat hunting,” said David MacDonald, professor at the University of Oxford and part of the international research team. Bushmeat is a traditional food source for rural people in societies across the globe. That is starting to change because of large-scale commercial hunting and road construction in remote areas. MacDonald said that the number of hunters continues to increase, and the roads are being built in the most remote places, so there is no place left for wildlife to go. Not only does this mass extinction threaten food security, but it also upsets ecosystems. To reverse this problem, the researchers in this new study have a few ideas. They recommend greater legal protection for the endangered species, empowering local communities to prioritize wildlife conservation , providing alternative foods and family planning to reduce the rate of population growth. The list of endangered animals is long, but here are a few highlights. Bluefin tuna One of the fastest fish on Earth, bluefin tuna can hit speeds around 40 miles per hour when they are hunting, can grow up to 15 feet long and weigh as much as 1500 pounds. However, with the growing demand for sushi, overfishing is becoming a huge problem, and the bluefin tuna numbers are dropping. Related: Endangered bluefin tuna sold for $3.1 billion to sushi tycoon Whale shark The largest fish in the sea, the whale shark has been on the critically endangered list for three years, because the population has dropped more than 50 percent in the last 75 years thanks to both legal and illegal fishing. According to National Geographic, fishing for whale sharks is extremely lucrative, because they can be “harvested for their meat, fins and other parts used in traditional medicinal products.” Of course, they are also in great demand for shark fin soup. Pangolin These nocturnal mammals have keratin scales, emit a harmful chemical like skunks and eat ants and termites. In Africa, they are a major source of food and medicine, but in China and Vietnam, they are a delicacy. This has led to the pangolin becoming the most trafficked animal in the world. Related: Zimbabwe hopes to bring attention to trafficking endangered species with the Pangolin Project There is an international trade ban on all pangolin species, but this has only resulted in rising prices as the population declines. Chinese giant salamander As the largest amphibian on Earth, the Chinese giant salamander has been around for more than 170 million years, and it can grow to be 6 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. The species is currently on the critically endangered list, because it is a Chinese delicacy. It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine. In just three generations, the population has plummeted by 80 percent. Sturgeon With fossil records dating back 200 million years, we know that sturgeon have survived two — maybe three — mass extinctions . This time, the species might not be so lucky. The beluga sturgeon is being overfished, because the eggs are needed for caviar. They take 20 years to reach maturity, but we are killing them to harvest the eggs at massive rates. You can learn more about the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species on the organization’s website. Images via Danilo Cedrone / UN Food and Agriculture Organization , Aruro de Frias Marques , A.J.T. Johnsingh / WWF-India , Petr Hamerník , USFWS and National Marine  Sanctuary

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These 5 animals are being consumed into extinction

Worlds largest bike parking garage opens in the Netherlands

August 11, 2017 by  
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Good news for cyclists in the Netherlands — which, to be honest, is pretty much everyone. The country just unveiled the world’s largest bike parking garage ! By the end of 2018 the 184,000-square-foot facility beneath Utrecht’s central train station will be able to hold 12,500 parked bikes. For years, bicycle enthusiasts have been urging the government to update its parking infrastructure . Martijn van Es, the spokesman for the Dutch cycling organization Fietsersbond, says the country could do much more to accommodate the growing volume of cyclists . He said, “They have been talking about updating the city since 1989. The infrastructure hasn’t changed enough. And there are a lot more cyclists today than there were, [and much of the infrastructure] was built in the 1980s.” Van Es has a point. Bicycles outnumber people in the Netherlands , and the average citizen cycles more than 600 miles a year. Additionally, over one-fourth of the population bikes to work. It’s because of this that parking garages such as the one in development are in high demand. Related: The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees The Guardian reports that the Utrecht train station is an ideal location for the parking garage, as 40 percent of commuters who arrive there do so by riding a bike. And, according to Tatjana Stenfert, the project manager at Utrecht station’s square, even more bike parking will be added to the area in the future. She said, “We will have 12,500 places by the end of 2018. But then we will have to do some research and find more places for the bikes . It never stops. I look around and everyone is trying hard to find spaces – trying hard and fast.” + CU2030 Via The Guardian , Curbed Images via CU2030

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Worlds largest bike parking garage opens in the Netherlands

PHOTOS: The most amazing Park(ing) Day 2015 parks from around the world

September 18, 2015 by  
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Happy Park(ing) Day everyone! This week we asked you to send in photos of the most amazing pop-up parks taking over parking spots near you – and today we’re publishing them for all the world to see. From San Francisco to Baltimore, Australia, Europe and beyond, click through our gallery to see all the fun ways people transformed bare patches of pavement into green urban oases. If you’d like to join in, there’s still time to contribute – send a photo to editor@inhabitat.com with a short description of the park and who created it and we’ll share it with our readers! You can also tag your Park(ing) Day photos with #Inhabitat on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter . Read the rest of PHOTOS: The most amazing Park(ing) Day 2015 parks from around the world

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PHOTOS: The most amazing Park(ing) Day 2015 parks from around the world

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