Robots weave a 100% carbon-fiber love shrine for Chinas countryside

March 26, 2019 by  
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In the countryside of Zhejiang, China, Shanghai-based design studio Wutopia Lab has completed the Shrine of Whatslove, a robotically woven carbon-fiber structure devoted to love and marriage. Created in collaboration with digital construction team RoboticPlus.AI, the Shrine of Whatslove takes the shape of a red, triangular pavilion evocative of a giant bird’s nest. Billed as “China’s first all carbon-fiber structure,” the installation is built from 7,200 meters of continuous carbon-fiber bundles and was completed in 90 hours. Commissioned by the Fengyuzhu firm, Wutopia Lab was asked to design a thought-provoking structure on the grounds of its client’s Fangyukong Guesthouse project. Rather than a restaurant or bookstore, the architects tapped into the themes of love and marriage to “bring out a building that can inspire people to think [about] daily issues” and stimulate related discussion. Moreover, in a bold contrast to the region’s rural vernacular, Wutopia Lab decided on a robotically constructed pavilion built of carbon fiber in a bid to “rejuvenate the countryside.” Located at the main entrance of the Fangyukong Guesthouse next to a stream, the Shrine of Whatslove stands at a little over 13 feet in height and is nearly 12.5 feet in width. Robots wove the structure from a continuous strand of carbon fiber. Elevated on footings, the pavilion appears to float above the landscape and is strong enough to support the weight of four people. At night, the structure is illuminated from below, creating an ethereal glow in the landscape. Related: Robots weave an insect-inspired carbon-fiber forest in London “Love should be a beautiful and pure thing, but in reality it is always wrapped in layers of matter,” Wutopia Lab explained in a project statement. “I first formed the building directly with integrated triangle. The triangle as a motif also represents the original architectural prototype, shape of the shed built by ancestors. We decided to abandon materiality. Giving up concrete, steel, glass or wood to build the knot, inspired by the ‘Zhusiyingshe,’ a Chinese traditional culture wrapping red line around the idol for good luck, we used a red line to weave a shrine. The shrine is more a visual image of a red line than a physical space; it does not need to shelter from the wind.” + Wutopia Lab Images via CreatAR Images

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Robots weave a 100% carbon-fiber love shrine for Chinas countryside

This cabin offers outstanding views of Oaxaca from a massive, cantilevering terrace

March 26, 2019 by  
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Nature-based refuges come in many shapes and forms, but this gorgeous cabin in Oaxaca manages to capture the serenity of its location thanks to a massive, cantilevering terrace in addition to two spacious rooftop terraces. Designed by Mexican firm  LAMZ Arquitectura , the Teitipac Cabin features two interconnecting volumes that were made with reclaimed natural materials , including natural stone found on-site as well as reclaimed steel and wood. Located in the mountainous region of San Sebastián Teitipac in Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico, the beautiful cabin is actually made up of two separate volumes. This was a strategy employed by the architects to build the cabins into the smallest footprint possible without altering the existing natural terrain of oaks and copal trees. Related: Get away from it all in this off-grid concrete cabin just steps away from the Appalachian Trail Spanning a total of just under 2,000 feet, the cube-like volumes were set on a small hilltop to provide stunning views of the surrounding mountain range. According to the architects, the project design centered around providing an abundance of open-air spaces in order to take in these breathtaking views from anywhere on-site. In addition to providing a strong visual connection to the environment, the architects also wanted to create harmony between the man-made and the natural by using as many natural and reclaimed materials as possible. The cabins are tucked partially into the landscape, creating structures with various levels, including a basement embedded into the rocky landscape and two large rooftop terraces. The two structures are connected to a simple staircase that leads from one terrace to another. Several additional walkways wind around the cabin, leading past glass-panel enclosures and various entrances. Both of the volumes are clad in natural stone, which blends the structures into the rocky terrain. The cabin also features expansive glass panels that further drive the connection between the indoors and the outdoors. Additionally, throughout the interior living space, reclaimed wood was used in the flooring and ceilings. The two structures are divided according to their uses: one houses the communal living areas, while the other is home to the bedrooms. Clad in natural stone and wood, the interiors are warm and inviting. While outdoor space is abundant for both volumes, the master bedroom’s  cantilevering terrace is at the heart of the design. + LAMZ Arquitectura Via Archdaily Photography by Lorena Darquea via LAMZ Arquitectura

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This cabin offers outstanding views of Oaxaca from a massive, cantilevering terrace

Mount Everest’s melting glaciers expose the bodies of long-lost climbers

March 25, 2019 by  
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Close to 300 climbers and explorers have died trying to summit Mount Everest, and the bodies of those that remain on the mountain are starting to become exposed because of  melting glaciers . Around two-thirds of the people who have passed on the mountain are believed to be encased in the ice and snow. Authorities are starting to remove the exposed bodies on the Chinese side of the mountain range, and efforts are picking up as spring arrives. To date, more than 4,800 mountaineers have summited Mount Everest , and more are expected to attempt the feat this year. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “Because of global warming, the ice sheet and glaciers are fast melting, and the dead bodies that remained buried all these years are now becoming exposed,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, who used to be the president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, explained. It is unclear how many deceased individuals have been removed from the mountain so far, but government officials said that the number of exposed bodies has steadily increased over the years. According to the BBC , one of the challenges with removing these bodies is that government officials are required to be involved in the process. This has made it difficult to remove some bodies from higher elevations. Recent studies have shown that Mount Everest’s glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, leading to flooding in local lakes and rivers. Scientists attribute the melting glaciers to global warming , and the issue is affecting the entire mountain range. Seeing a few bodies emerge every now and then is completely normal on the mountain, and most climbers are prepared for the situation. A few bodies are even used as landmarks. Still, it costs anywhere between 40 and 80 thousand dollars to remove a body, especially at higher elevations. Officials also have to consider personal issues when they uncover a body as well as how to get in contact with family members of the deceased. While melting glaciers are the main cause of the exposed bodies, movement in the glaciers is also a factor in the number of bodies that become uncovered each climbing season. Via BBC Image via Guillaume Baviere

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Mount Everest’s melting glaciers expose the bodies of long-lost climbers

Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

March 14, 2019 by  
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It is rare when a social media trend actually results in a physical change to the environment, especially when it comes to picking up plastic waste . But a new viral challenge has thousands of people from around the world coming together to clean up places that have become overrun with plastic. The new challenge, #trashtag, encourages people to clean up litter and share photos from before and after the clean-up job is over. So far, tens of thousands of individuals have participated in the social media challenge. These participants have cleaned up roads, parks, beaches and wilderness areas. The challenge has also increased awareness of important environmental issues, like how much plastic waste ends up in the trash. Related: China closes Mount Everest base camp after overwhelming trash problem reports While the challenge only recently went viral, it actually started a few years ago. A company called UCO Gear came up with the idea in 2015 to help with its wilderness protection program. The challenge did not catch on until this year, after a post on Facebook tagged “tired teens” in the photo. Since then, there have been well over 25,000 posts with #trashtag tagged, although it has a few other variations, such as #trashchallenge and #trashtagchallenge. Although it is great to see people cleaning up the environment in their free time, conservationists hope it will eventually lead to bigger changes. According to BBC , the director of Canada’s Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Mark Butler, hopes the hashtag gets people to understand why we need to eliminate single-use plastics altogether. “Getting plastic out of the environment is important,” Butler shared. “We need to do more than go behind the people that are littering and clean it up. We need to turn off the plastic tap.” Butler argued that if we do not start curbing our plastic use, then the clean-up job will never end. Given all of the photos we’ve seen from the trash challenge, Butler has a point. Hopefully, viral challenges like #trashtag will help initiate more lasting changes as we continue to deal with the problem of plastic pollution. Via BBC Image via Pacific Southwest Region 5

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Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

EQ: A critical tool for the purpose-driven company

February 5, 2019 by  
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In a world of changing expectations of companies, and the people who work there, raising EQ can be a simple yet profound practice.

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EQ: A critical tool for the purpose-driven company

With the launch of self-driving ride-share service ‘Waymo One,’ what’s next for cities?

February 5, 2019 by  
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Google’s autonomous vehicle offshoot and other AVs claim to help relieve urban area issues — but there are four questions they must answer first.

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With the launch of self-driving ride-share service ‘Waymo One,’ what’s next for cities?

Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic

December 24, 2018 by  
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In recent years, it has become more and more clear that single-use plastics are having a devastating impact on the environment  — especially on the oceans. And, if we don’t start making some changes now, it won’t be long before there is more plastic in the ocean than fish. The solution to this growing problem is relatively simple — reduce the use of single-use plastics. But, the execution of this simple idea can be a bit more challenging. If you want to make 2019 the year that you quit using single-use plastics, here is how to go about it. Food and beverages The easiest and most obvious place to start is food. Stop and think for a minute how many single-use plastics are in your refrigerator and pantry right now. Chances are you have a tub of butter, a bottle of salad dressing or a package of sliced cheese. Or maybe you have a bag of apples that you picked from the produce section at the grocery store. The truth is, the vast majority of grocery items come wrapped in single-use plastic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. There are local grocers and farmer’s markets that allow you to fill reusable containers with dry goods, and you can bring reusable bags to just about any store and load them up with fruits and veggies instead of using the plastic bags they provide. Related: European parliament supports the ban of single-use plastics Also, look for items that are packaged in paper, glass or cardboard instead of plastic. You won’t be able to do this with every food item — we haven’t seen any milk in glass bottles lately. But, often, you can find the things that you normally buy in sustainable packaging . Now, let’s talk about beverages. This is a big one. How many to-go beverages do you buy in one week? From bottled water to iced coffees, millions of single-use plastic containers are tossed in the trash every single day because of what we drink. Many coffee shops will allow you to bring in your own reusable tumbler. And, instead of buying that next bottle of water, opt for a reusable bottle that you can fill up with filtered water at home. Household items When it comes to things around your house like soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cosmetics, razors and toothbrushes, they all come in single-use plastic containers. Consider making your own soap, shampoo and laundry detergent, and replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo , compostable option. Some cosmetics brands have a refill program, and razor refill companies are everywhere at the moment. The benefits of change When you start making a deliberate attempt to cut down single-use plastics, you will notice some big changes in your life. The biggest change will be that you will eat fewer amounts of processed food. More than half of the average American’s daily diet comes from processed foods, and a lot of that is in single-use plastic packaging. Not only will making this change reduce your use of plastic , but it will also result in a healthier diet. You will also find yourself saving some money. When you make your own soap and detergent and cut down on buying bottled water, you will end up saving cash in the long run.  Many coffee shops will give you a discount when you use a reusable mug, and making food from fresh ingredients instead of ordering takeout will be much easier on your pocketbook. Related: Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world  You will also become more organized because avoiding single-use plastic requires a plan. Adopting this lifestyle is not convenient, but when you make your own lunch for work instead of hitting a drive-thru or take a reusable bottle with you when you travel, you have to think ahead. Another bonus to cutting out single-use plastic is shopping locally. Hitting up local businesses, farmer’s markets and vintage shops will lead you to get to know the people that make the products you use, instead of buying packaged items that come from all over the world. You might consider growing your own produce in a veggie garden and experiment with fruits and veggies that are in season. Because you are focused on fresh food that isn’t wrapped in plastic, this new approach will make you more aware of the seasons and help you embrace the slow-food movement. Reducing your use of single-use plastic items takes a plan, and it takes time. It is not a convenient lifestyle, but a rewarding one. Not only will you have a new understanding of the work and resources that go into growing and harvesting your food and making the products you use everyday, but you will also reduce your waste . Via Matador Network Images via Shutterstock

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

December 11, 2018 by  
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When it comes to family, we want to offer the best of the best. The smartest way to gift high-quality gifts to your loved ones is by shopping sustainably. Eco-friendly products (and experiences) are made with love and care for people and the planet. Here are some of our top picks for everyone in your family. For mom: Eco-friendly yoga mats Mom deserves some ‘me’ time. Whether she is an avid yogi or is just getting started, this plant-based yoga mat is made with cork . It’s also free of harsh chemicals, antibacterial and odor-free. The cork is sustainable and helps provide a stronger grip. Hobby classes Does your mom love to cook? Maybe she could spend hours making pottery , or perhaps she enjoys painting. No matter her preferences, buy a pass or certificate for classes that interest her. This is a thoughtful gift of experience, which will leave her with lovely memories for years to come. Sweaters Who doesn’t love a snuggly sweater? We love the various options from Patagonia — the company is a champion for the environment, plus their products are built to last whether Mom likes to sit on the couch in her sweater or explore the great outdoors. Sustainable jewelry Add a little extra bling to your mom’s envy-inducing jewelry box with eco-friendly, ethical accessories. There are many beautiful, unique options from 31Bits , which works with women artisans in Uganda, Indonesia and the U.S. to provide fair working conditions and wages as well as healthcare, mentorship, counseling and more. For dad: Organic skincare There is no better way to show your love for someone than by giving them the gift of healthy skin. Whether it is something to moisturize the rough patches under a beard, something to soothe cracked knuckles or a myriad of products, gift Dad with organic skincare that will allow him to pamper himself daily. We love this line , which is made from recycled coffee grounds and only uses plant-based packaging. Watches Adorn Dad’s wrist with a new watch that will keep him punctual and stylish. Be sure to choose a brand with the environment in mind, like WeWood . WeWood offers wood watches free of toxic, artificial materials. Plus, WeWood plants a tree for each watch sold, and these wooden watches are sure to stand out among a sea of their metallic counterparts. Related: Inhabitat test drives a gorgeous WeWood watch Wool shirts Wool is incredibly durable with the ability to withstand the coldest of temperatures and wick away moisture with ease. Add a sleek wool shirt to Dad’s closet with options like Ramblers Way , a family-owned business in the U.S. that is dedicated to respecting the sheep, the environment and the people. The company uses 100 percent wool and donates time and money to local causes ranging from environmental conservation to human need to arts and education. Vegan or recycled leather jackets The jokes might be lame, but Dad can at least look cool in an environmentally responsible leather jacket. There are many vegan options on the market, or you can embrace reuse with a jacked from Better World Fashion . These jackets are made from recycled leather and the buttons are made with recycled metal. The certified B corp also relies on responsible production methods, uses zero water or chemicals and creates zero waste. For siblings: Eco-friendly subscription boxes Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving, but it is important to find ones that advocate for the environment. Surprise your siblings month after month with a subscription to companies like the Bloomin’ Bin , Feeling Fab , KloverBox , MightyFix  and more. Everlane clothing With a commitment to ethical, sustainable fashion, Everlane offers eco-friendly unisex clothing, shoes and accessories that are sure to please. Be sure to browse the ReNew collection , which offers puffer coats, pullover sweaters and parkas all made from recycled water bottles. Zero-waste kit Help your siblings lower their carbon footprints (truly the best gift of all) by gifting them a zero-waste kit. Specifically, we recommend the {Zero} Waste Kit , which includes a glass jar with a leak-proof, organic bamboo lid; a sustainable cork sleeve for mugs; a reusable, ethically-sourced bamboo dual utensil; a stainless steel straw with an eco-friendly cleaner; a napkin made from upcycled fabric scraps; a knife with a ceramic blade and a bamboo handle; and organic cotton produce bags. Whew! That’s a lot of bang for your buck, and everything your loved ones could need to really embrace the zero-waste lifestyle. Indoor garden With a snappy indoor garden , your siblings can grow their very own food for weeks, months and years to come. We love Click + Grow , which is energy-efficient, small space-friendly and easy to use. In our own tests, we had sprouts from seed in just two days! It’s a great gift for those who would love to grow their own food, but might not have a lot of time or space to do so. For grandparents: Natural candles Nothing beats visiting your grandparents and taking in the comforting scents that fill their home (especially if they love to bake!). Add to the aroma with natural candles. Standard, store-bought candles can be toxic, so be sure to find sustainable candles made from responsibly sourced soy, coconut or palm wax. Also, ensure the wick is lead-free and made with cotton. Check Etsy for a wide range of handmade, eco-friendly candles. Related: Making soy candles for the holidays Birdhouses We all get a bit of joy from hearing birds chirp and watching as they soar above us. Gift this joy to Grandma and Grandpa by giving them a beautiful, handcrafted birdhouse that will spruce up their yard and bring cheerful birds around each day. Reading subscriptions Another gift that continues long after the holidays are over, a subscription for books, magazines or newspapers are an excellent present for grandparents who love to read. If they are open to going digital, it’ll save paper — otherwise, encourage them to recycle or upcycle the products when they have finished them! Choose their favorite media and topics, or introduce them to some reading that focuses on sustainability. Family photos Most grandparents would love to receive pictures of their family to place around their homes. Have your images printed with eco-friendly ink on sustainable paper , and then frame it in reclaimed wood or recycled materials. If you really want to go all out, organize a photoshoot with the whole family, and then frame those photos for a sweet sentiment. Images via George Dolgikh , Urbivore , Cally Lawson , Rocknwool , Artem Bali , Grums Aarhus , Ramblers Way , Franklin Heijnen , Kloverbox , Everlane , Alex Mortensen / {Zero} Waste Kit , Click + Grow , Joanna Kosinska , Nora Vellinga , Jonas Jacobsson , Shutterstock and Inhabitat

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

LEED Silver museum’s shimmering, iridescent facade evokes flames in Kansas

October 2, 2018 by  
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When Boston-based architecture practice Verner Johnson was tapped to design the $17.3 million Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park, Kansas, it saw an opportunity to push back against the area’s new suburban sprawl with a site-specific project. Drawing from the region’s landscape history and their experience with museum design, the architects crafted a building that brings the prairie fires of the American Great Plains to life with a striking flame-inspired facade made with dichroic glass. The composite glass also doubles as insulation, which aided the energy-efficient museum in achieving LEED Silver status. Opened in May 2014, the Museum at Prairiefire was created through a collaborative effort with the American Museum of Natural History. The stunning building houses exhibitions on topics of natural science and history in three primary locations — The Great Hall, The Discovery Room and the American Museum of Natural History Exhibition Gallery — in a total area of 41,500 square feet. The museum design references the prairie landscape and prairie fires through the selection of materials. Five types of locally sourced Kansas limestone were used as cladding to evoke striated rock formations. The cladding was applied to the building wings that were contoured to mimic the shape of rolling hills. To allude to fire, the architects used Light Interference Color (LIC) stainless steel metal panels and insulated dichroic glass developed exclusively for the project to create a striking curtain wall for the museum lobby. At different angles and times of day, the dichroic glass appears to change color from blue to gold, flickering like flames. Related: Energy-savvy art museum is anchored atop a historic Dutch dike “The project’s LEED Silver Certification attests to its environmentally sound design and construction practices, echoing the architectural concept rooted in sustainability — the preservation of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem,” the architects said. “This design does not accept and conform to the shortcomings of suburban sprawl. It defines the environment’s unique identity, forges emotional connections between the people and the place and allows the suburb to become a proud, independent and sustainable community.” + Verner Johnson Via ArchDaily Exterior images via David Arbogast, interior images via Michael Robinson

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LEED Silver museum’s shimmering, iridescent facade evokes flames in Kansas

Nature-inspired housing mimics the curvature of the landscape in Chongqing

October 1, 2018 by  
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International design practice Safdie Architects recently completed the Eling Residences, a nature-inspired housing development built to look like an extension of the highest plateau of Eling Hill in Chongqing , China. Elevated high above the Yangtze River, the residences are nestled in a densely forested environment yet enjoy close proximity to the city. In addition to optimizing residents’ access to natural light, ventilation and greenery, each unit is also equipped with a private balcony for indoor-outdoor living. Completed this year in the city’s Yuzhong District, the Eling Residences cover an area of 460,000 square feet with 126 apartments. The architects took cues from the existing slope to develop the various building designs, which change from terraced structures at the bottom of the hill to a pair of freestanding dome-shaped villas near the top. The stepped configuration and layout also helps ensure that every apartment enjoys uninterrupted views of the landscape. In addition to the apartment units, the Eling Residences also features a four-story clubhouse, multiple pools and additional recreational areas. According to the architects, these amenities not only help build a sense of community but are also reflective of the firm’s commitment to design spaces with humanizing scale and vibrant social atmospheres. Unlike the concrete jungle that defines much of Chongqing, the Eling Residences feels like a retreat into nature thanks to ample landscaping, organic curved forms and the use of a natural materials palette . Related: A sprawling green roof fuses this community center with Chongqing’s mountainous landscape “Complementing the sloped low-rise buildings is an intricate landscape system, which interweaves terraces , gardens, trellises, overlooks, stairs and promenades throughout the site,” the architects said. “The combination of landscape and architecture works together to evoke the character of lush, hanging gardens, integrating the project site with the green oasis of Eling Park. The terraced levels maximize residents’ access to light, air and greenery, while architectural screens partially shade individual apartments, extending living spaces outward into the garden landscape.” + Safdie Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Safdie Architects, by ArchExist

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Nature-inspired housing mimics the curvature of the landscape in Chongqing

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