Massive greenhouse wins award for sustainable design

September 23, 2021 by  
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The Global Flora Conservatory at Wellesley College already holds several design awards, including the 2021 Architizer A+ Awards Jury Winner for Architecture + New Technology. After several years of planning and construction, it is nearly complete. Designed by Boston-based Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd., Global Flora Conservatory is a massive greenhouse and science center. It replaces the long-standing greenhouse erected 100 years ago under the guidance of Dr. Margaret Ferguson, a famed American botanist. Related: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens LEEDs the way in green design “Global Flora builds on the rich history of botanical education and research at Wellesley College established in the 1920s by Dr. Margaret Ferguson, who advocated for interdisciplinary botanical education as a Center for the College’s intellectual life,” said Kristina Jones, professor of botany and director of the Botanic Gardens at Wellesley College. “The new space will be an amazing platform for student engagement with nature and with the systems thinking that underpins progress in sustainability.” The conservatory houses the college’s expansive and notable plant collection, including an iconic Durant Camellia tree, which is over 140 years old and memorialized in its own pavilion. In its final form, the building contours to accommodate the varied heights of the plants inside. The curved design is placed along the east to west sun path to take advantage of natural heating, cooling, ventilation and light. A transparent ETFE building skin, a lightweight alternative to glass, allows students, scientists and the public to view the plants, while an Interactive Sensor Platform provides real-time data in regards to air, water, soil and energy. This system allows visitors to share information to scientific and personal communities around the world. Inside the greenhouse , the ecosystem combines wet and dry biomes to support each other and helps maintain consistent temperatures and moisture levels for the plants.  Global Flora Conservatory integrated passive and active systems meet the criteria for the Net Zero Water category of the Living Building Challenge. The conservatory will also achieve net-zero energy consumption once the campus converts to solar and geothermal systems. The project was designed in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team at Wellesley College led by Jones and Cathy Summa, a professor of geoscience and the director of the Wellesley College Science Center. + Kennedy & Violich Architecture Images via KVA

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Massive greenhouse wins award for sustainable design

What causes zombie plants?

September 21, 2021 by  
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Parasitic bacteria can teach us a lot, according to scientists who have just discovered a manipulation mechanism used by the bacteria to slow down plant aging. Their insights might lead to new ways to protect food crops from  disease . Some  plants  fall so far under the sway of parasites that they’re termed “zombies.” Instead of reproducing and living normal plant lives, they are reduced to being a host and habitat for parasitic pathogens. Researchers published their findings in Cell ,  detailing a manipulation molecule that phytoplasma bacteria produces. This protein molecule can hijack plant development, breaking down key growth regulators and triggering bizarre deviations in growth. For example, if you’ve ever seen the tight configuration of excess branches in trees called “witches’ brooms,” that’s an example of phytoplasma bacteria reprogramming its host plant. Related: The best plants for pollinators “Phytoplasmas are a spectacular example of how the reach of genes can extend beyond the organisms to impact surrounding environments,” said Saskia Hogenhout, one of the study’s authors, as reported by Newswise. “Our findings cast new light on a molecular mechanism behind this extended phenotype in a way that could help solve a major problem for  food  production. We highlight a promising strategy for engineering plants to achieve a level of durable resistance of crops to phytoplasmas.” The study found that SAP05, a bacterial  protein , disrupts a plant’s natural mechanism of breaking down proteins inside plant cells. With these proteins out of the picture, SAP05 can zombify the plant, forcing it to favor the bacteria over its healthy self. It triggers the growth of vegetative tissues and shoots and pauses the plant’s aging process. The researchers identified two amino acids in the plant which interact with SAP05. If they switch these amino acids with two found in insect protein instead, they can halt the abnormal growth. The study’s finding suggests that if  scientists  fiddle with these two amino acids in food crops, perhaps by using gene-editing techniques, they could overcome the zombifying effects of some parasitic bacteria. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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WOHA’s final design for Singapore Pavilion nears completion

September 10, 2021 by  
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The net-zero energy Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai advocates green architecture and showcases the possibilities of integrating nature within urban environments. Displaying lush greenery, digital solutions and art, the Pavilion exemplifies Singapore’s vision of sustainable development to become a “City in Nature.” The Pavilion features extensive, multi-layered greenery, achieved by the careful planting of more than 170 plant varieties and large mature trees. Constructed by  WOHA , the building is titled “Nature. Nurture. Future.” It’s set to debut on October 1. Related: WOHA to transform polluted swamp into green university WOHA has designed a striking pavilion with hanging gardens . The building is orientated around three central cones on three levels. At the top is a solar canopy. Vertical walls of plants envelop visitors in an inviting three-dimensional green space that provides a cool respite from the buzz and excitement of the Expo grounds. Landscape design and digital and art elements are helmed by Singapore landscape architecture firm  Salad Dressing , in close partnership with WOHA. The planting strategy for the Pavilion includes plants from diverse, unique habitats from the natural heritage of Singapore, including varieties found in the tropical rainforest , freshwater forest streams and mangrove habitats.  Dubai’s desert environment poses a significant challenge to installing such a biodiverse human-designed habitat. The Pavilion’s perimeter is protected by trees and palms that thrive well in the Dubai climate, mimicking natural forest layers to shade and shield the interior. Sun-loving plants such as Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim, frame the Pavilion’s entrance, where they receive the most direct sunlight. As part of water conservation efforts, potable water produced through the on-site solar desalination process is deployed through drip irrigation to minimize water wastage. Leaf litter is also used to replace water-consuming ground cover and retain water in the soil . Together with misting, the greenery helps to increase humidity and thermal comfort within the Pavilion.  Measuring about 70 centimeters in diameter, three climbing robots weighing 40 kilograms each will be deployed to traverse the vertical green walls of the Pavilion’s thematic cones. These prototypes from  Oceania Robotics  work in service of plant health. In addition to inspecting the health of the plants, they will also capture data for the calibration of irrigation and grow-light settings to help the plants thrive. The robots can recognize plants in poor health that need to be replaced. The customized planting palette and innovative technological applications used in water and energy management are design strategies that enable the Singapore Pavilion to achieve its net-zero energy target. Visitors are invited to participate in a generative artwork at the Galleria that allows them to visualize the performance of the Pavilion’s integrated ecosystem and how it impacts the environment. This generative artwork is a result of interactive mobile gameplay using the Pavilion’s data collected through the climbing robots and sensors. Players “collect sunlight” using solar panels to power the desalination process that will produce potable water for the virtual saplings, which then grow into trees to remove pollutants in the air. The gameboard is unique for each player and determined by real-time data from the Pavilion. Through this game, visitors can learn more about the Pavilion’s sustainable strategies. This playful interaction is also a reminder for visitors of how their actions impact collective environmental outcomes.  + Singapore 2020 Expo Images © Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai and Arthur Ng/National Parks Board

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WOHA’s final design for Singapore Pavilion nears completion

This giant green wall is a show-stopper a Warsaw skyscraper

September 2, 2021 by  
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Generation Park Y tower by Stockholm -based project development and construction group Skanska features roughly 49 feet of a gorgeous green wall. Stretching to about 72 feet long, this green wall has more than 6,000 plants of several dozen species stretching up along a huge wall of green. You can find the Generation Park Y office building in Warsaw , where its glass facade lets in light for the flourishing greenery. According to Skanska, this tower is its largest office building yet in Poland. The Generation Park Y tower is an enormous office building. It’s also the greenest skyscraper in the city, currently in the process of LEED Platinum and Building without Barriers certifications. The green wall is a reminder of the tower’s commitment to sustainability. Standing 140 meters (about 450 feet) tall, Generation Park makes it home at Warsaw’s Daszy?ski Roundabout. Related: French offices receive a green update with Benetti MOSS walls The wall is mainly comprised of ferns, philodendrons, monsteras, peace lilies, laceleafs and aglaonemas. These plants purify the air and produce enough oxygen to provide breathable air for 150 people for 24 hours.The arrangement is crafted with a great deal of care. Every plant has its own place in the overall design. The plants are arranged in sections, and the entire design is completely automated so they receive the right amount of nutrients, light and water. Three rows of about 150 “feeding” lights provide for the thousands of plants. Together, the plants create a microclimate that Skanska labels the “ forest effect.” As Skanska said in a project statement, “These types of green solutions create a calming and relaxing effect, draw attention to nature , but also have a positive effect on acoustics, reducing noise levels.” Rafa? Stoparczyk, Skanska’s CEE commercial development business unit’s project manager, added, “At Skanska, we like to focus on unique and original solutions. The idea of ??such a huge wall filled with vegetation sounded like a challenge we wanted to take on. The final effect exceeded our wildest expectations. The wall makes an extraordinary impression both when we are inside the building and when looking from the outside.” + Skanska Images courtesy of Radoslaw NAWROCKI /dla SKANSKA POLSKA

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This giant green wall is a show-stopper a Warsaw skyscraper

This giant green wall is a show-stopper at Warsaw skyscraper

September 2, 2021 by  
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Generation Park Y tower by Stockholm -based project development and construction group Skanska features roughly 49 feet of a gorgeous green wall. Stretching to about 72 feet long, this green wall has more than 6,000 plants of several dozen species stretching up along a huge wall of green. You can find the Generation Park Y office building in Warsaw , where its glass facade lets in light for the flourishing greenery. According to Skanska, this tower is its largest office building yet in Poland. The Generation Park Y tower is an enormous office building. It’s also the greenest skyscraper in the city, currently in the process of LEED Platinum and Building without Barriers certifications. The green wall is a reminder of the tower’s commitment to sustainability. Standing 140 meters (about 450 feet) tall, Generation Park makes it home at Warsaw’s Daszy?ski Roundabout. Related: French offices receive a green update with Benetti MOSS walls The wall is mainly comprised of ferns, philodendrons, monsteras, peace lilies, laceleafs and aglaonemas. These plants purify the air and produce enough oxygen to provide breathable air for 150 people for 24 hours.The arrangement is crafted with a great deal of care. Every plant has its own place in the overall design. The plants are arranged in sections, and the entire design is completely automated so they receive the right amount of nutrients, light and water. Three rows of about 150 “feeding” lights provide for the thousands of plants. Together, the plants create a microclimate that Skanska labels the “ forest effect.” As Skanska said in a project statement, “These types of green solutions create a calming and relaxing effect, draw attention to nature , but also have a positive effect on acoustics, reducing noise levels.” Rafa? Stoparczyk, Skanska’s CEE commercial development business unit’s project manager, added, “At Skanska, we like to focus on unique and original solutions. The idea of ??such a huge wall filled with vegetation sounded like a challenge we wanted to take on. The final effect exceeded our wildest expectations. The wall makes an extraordinary impression both when we are inside the building and when looking from the outside.” + Skanska Images courtesy of Radoslaw NAWROCKI /dla SKANSKA POLSKA

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This giant green wall is a show-stopper at Warsaw skyscraper

Ariake Gymnastics Centre resembles a floating ship

September 2, 2021 by  
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The Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo Japan was designed for dual uses to provide for both a significant short-term competition and ongoing events. The architectural design, presented by Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation, relies heavily on  natural materials  for both a sustainable finish and a reflection of the area’s history.  Dubbed, “A Wooden Vessel Floating in the Bay Area,” the Ariake Gymnastics Centre was equipped with a layout meant to house a temporary international sports competition in response to a request by the client, The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. After the event, the spectator stands were made removable for easy conversion into a permanent exhibition hall. Related: ZHA designs sustainable expansion to China’s largest international exhibition center Nearly every surface is constructed from  wood  — a nod to the district that previously housed a log pond. Timber is used extensively throughout the building, including the roof frame structure, facade, spectator seats and exterior walls. Lightweight, durable and fireproof steel was used for the framing. The finished building looks like a floating wooden vessel from across the waterway.  The wood also caters to the acoustic and thermal needs of the arena and serves to achieve a light overall site impact in an area that may have poor soil conditions. Glued laminate timber has a high capacity for heat, making it fire resistant. The overall simple design honors the essence of traditional Japanese architecture.  The Ariake Gymnastics Centre is located along a canal, allowing for an expansive public space. Although surrounded by nearby residential condominiums , the arena puts a focus on a low design rather than competing with the height of other buildings in the vicinity.  Developers also emphasized taking advantage of outdoor space, with expansive boardwalks along the  water’s  edge. The entryway is kept outside the building instead of being included in the interior space. This allows for a smaller footprint from building materials as well as physical space.  + Nikken Sekkei Ltd. Via ArchDaily Images via Nikken Sekkei Ltd. 

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Ariake Gymnastics Centre resembles a floating ship

New Potted Carbon planter captures CO2 with style

July 20, 2021 by  
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As worldwide anxiety about the  climate crisis  soars, conscious consumers are embracing the idea of carbon tech, or ways to turn excess CO2 into marketable products. Which is probably why the new Potted Carbon planters attained full Kickstarter funding in less than 36 hours. The new planters look like off-white stone speckled with black. But they’re really porcelain mixed with organic waste diverted from landfills. Since landfills accounted for about  15%  of the U.S.’s annual  methane  emissions in 2019, diverting waste into pottery — or just about anything else — could help make a dent in emissions. Related: Carbon to Value Initiative launches business accelerator for carbontech startups This organic waste basis for the planters is called OurCarbon™. Bioforcetech has developed a technology to sanitize carbon and lock it into place for thousands of years. The company developed the material as a soil amendment, material additive, filter and colorant, and is devising other uses. Since it’s already used in DEN Sustainable soil , an OurCarbon™ planter seems the perfect complement. A six-inch nursery pot fits snugly into the handmade Potted Carbon planter. Or, if you need to upsize the container for your four-inch nursery  plant , the Potted Carbon planter gives it space to grow. Each planter comes with DEN sustainable soil. How does the pot trap  carbon ? When fired together in a kiln, porcelain and OurCarbon™ become inseparable. The secret ingredient is grit, waste silica that’s seen as a nuisance in the waste industry. During firing, grit melts into a glass-like material, which solidifies as it cools, and works as the binder that sticks porcelain and OurCarbon™ together. The pot features a flat vertical face with indentations on opposite sides as a subtle homage to the handles on ancient vessels. In addition to aesthetics, the indentations let you suspend a  nursery  pot on the rim without fully potting it, leaving room for drainage underneath. OurCarbon™ partnered with  Sum Studio  and Oakland-based design studio  Break  to design the Potted Carbon planter. Bioforcetech, the company behind OurCarbon™, is looking at other ways to use this promising material, including as a black pigment for coloring plastic , rubber, paint and other materials, and as a black dye for textiles. + OurCarbon Photography by John Ross Thomas

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New Potted Carbon planter captures CO2 with style

Here’s how the billionaire space race hurts the environment

July 20, 2021 by  
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Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, successfully flew to space and landed back on Earth this month, a move that has reignited the conversation about rocket pollution . Over the years, pollution caused by rocket launches has often been brushed away due to the few launches taking place. However, due to the recent billionaire space race, conservationists are raising concerns over the pollution these launches create. Branson was part of a six-member crew that flew to space earlier this month in the inaugural Virgin Galactic flight. This flight opens doors for more people to visit space and joins other space shuttle companies such as Space X. With advancing rocket technology, the cost of touring space is decreasing and consequently attracting more tourists. Conservationists worry that the trend poses a threat to the environment, given the enormous amount of pollution rockets emit. Related: Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding According to Eloise Marais, an associate professor of physical geography at University College London, one long-haul flight produces a maximum of 3 tons of carbon dioxide per passenger, while one rocket produces up to 300 tons for a trip of about four people. A report from  Futurism  also points out that the kerosene and methane rockets burn “can end up harming the ozone layer.” For now, the number of rocket launches is still minimal. Last year,  only 114   rockets attempted to reach orbit, a huge contrast to about 100,000 planes that take off every day. Still, there has been a significant increase in the number of rockets launched into space, and this number seems likely to rise in coming years. The worry is that these rockets emit everything from carbon dioxide to chlorine and other chemicals directly into the upper atmosphere, where they could stay for two to three years. Marais says that the lack of regulation in the rocket industry is a problem that should be tackled to address the industry’s pollution. “We have no regulations currently around rocket emissions ,” Marais said. “The time to act is now – while the billionaires are still buying their tickets.” Via Futurism and The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Here’s how the billionaire space race hurts the environment

A mini rainforest thrives in the Nanbo Bay Reception Center

July 19, 2021 by  
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In Yinchuan Shi, China , Nanbo Bay Reception Center by Sunson Design is an example of striking architecture that intertwines nature with comfort and eye-catching appeal. The center sits adjacent to China Yinchuan Cultural Park, which is backed by wetlands that appear to have inspired much of the feng shui flow inside the building. The experience begins at the entrance, dubbed the “hall of time.” Here, visitors their first impression of the natural yet mysterious space, which is bathed in  plants . In fact, the Reception Hall is a mini ecological rainforest with bamboo, banyan trees, plantains and other fresh green plants and low shrubs. This environment invites guests to slow down and look around, enjoying the natural elements while gradually progressing through the space. Related: Sino-Italian Cultural Exchange City Reception Center is a hidden art hall in China Copious natural light streams in from innovative sky windows overhead, ranging from a spectacularly engaging grilled design to extraordinary skylight effects. The marriage between the outdoors and indoors leaves visitors questioning if they are actually in a building at all.  Moving into the adjacent sand table display area, visitors meet more  natural materials  in the form of floor-to-ceiling stone walls and copious wood accents. Also off the reception hall is an expansive library and sitting area with tables spaced throughout a tiered stairway. On the opposite side of a built-in bookshelf wall sits a bar. The bookshelf itself is filled with discussion-worthy pieces paying homage to ancient Yinchuan. Throughout the dining area,  wood  tables and chairs, wallpaper printed in food designs, and bamboo screens continue the ecological theme.  Nanbo Bay Reception Center also features a landscaped courtyard, awe-inspiring sculptures, and a glass-walled swimming pool area that creates the visual illusion of “zero gravity” for a floating effect. These spaces work together to join the elements of  water , stone, light, music and plants. + Sunson Design Photography by Kanghui Zeng

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A mini rainforest thrives in the Nanbo Bay Reception Center

A botanic garden to save an endangered Colombian ecosystem

July 6, 2021 by  
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South America is often depicted as a lush landscape full of diverse ecosystems. And once, Colombia was like that. But today, mining, deforestation, extensive cattle ranching and draining of the wetlands in favor of urban development have threatened the country’s ecosystems and devastated the natural landscape. A project named El Tropicario seeks to raise awareness of these environmental problems and create a space where native plant lif e can be studied and preserved. The project seeks to conserve wax palms, Colombia’s national tree, among achieving other goals. The wax palms that are native to Colombia live for more than 100 years, and they are in danger of extinction. Related: This Colombian modular home is surrounded by Monkeypod trees El Tropicario is part of a huge botanical garden that serves as a center of education for environmental threats and as a space to preserve native plant life. The design includes floating wetland spaces, an environment that has all but disappeared on the Bogotá Savanna. There are six collections in the botanical garden: humid forest, dry forest, useful plants, special collections, biodiversity and superpáramos. The botanical garden is designed with passive temperature control systems that don’t need mechanical ventilation. The glass used in the design is made up of different thicknesses and filters. Automated systems are integrated to help control the temperature. Each structure is designed to capture rainwater and collect it in a large reservoir. This creates a closed cycle that provides irrigation for the plants. The gardens’ support system uses concrete pillars driven deep into the ground. These pillars surround the perimeter and support the metal structure of the gardens. This creates a self-supporting, “structural basket” design where no columns or supports are needed inside. Without columns inside, the interior spaces can include more soil for deep seeding. The design prioritizes plant life and creates a space for plants to thrive. + DARP Via ArchDaily Photography © Mauricio Carvajal

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