Fiji’s Cousteau Resort launches a new botanical program for guests

November 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

For travelers who want to learn more about the environment they are visiting, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort , a leading eco-luxe property in Fiji, is helping guests do just that with a recently expanded program for botanical education. Guests to the resort can take new tours, where they learn about medicinal and edible plants as well as rare palms. The initiative is part of a larger goal to protect the island’s natural environment. “At our resort, we’ve felt firsthand the great impact nature can have on the mind and the body, so we’re trying to preserve the traditional knowledge of this area, and, in turn, preserve culture,” said Bartholomew Simpson, general manager of the resort. Related: Jean-Michel Cousteau eco resort showcases traditional building Billy Railala, the resort’s expert on traditional herbal medicine , leads the Fijian Medicine Walk. The resort has offered this walk for several years, but recently expanded it to feature more than 120 species of Fijian medicinal flora and fauna. For example, the bark and stems from Fagraea berteriana flowers, or “bua ni viti,” are pressed into liquid and used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems. Fijians dry and burn a feathery bamboo called “bitu,” then mix the ashes with coconut oil to treat burns. Liquid from the small tropical tree Syzygium gracilipes , or “leba,” is used to increase fertility. Edible plants like papaya, guava, taro and avocado flourish in the resort’s two-acre organic garden. Kids can participate in an organic farming program and dress up in chefs’ uniforms to help prepare their own meals. The resort has also been collecting rare palm trees endemic to Fiji. Most are threatened, critically endangered or even extinct in the wild. Horticulture expert and nursery manager Jim Valentine is working with the resort to propagate these rare palms and repopulate Fiji with them. Simpson said, “This initiative not only serves to pay homage to Fijian culture, which is a key mandate of the resort concept, but also serves to remind the younger generation of Fijians of the important uses of these plants and how the elders used them in centuries past; preserving the fragile Fijian culture , which is eroding quickly in the modern age.” + Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Images via Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

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Fiji’s Cousteau Resort launches a new botanical program for guests

First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

November 8, 2019 by  
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Milan-based architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled innovative designs for a nature-infused smart city in Cancun, Mexico that will serve as a model for resilient and sustainable urban planning. Created for Honduras-based textile conglomerate and property developer Grupo Karim, ‘Smart Forest City – Cancun’ is a proposed alternative to plans for a shopping district in the area. The masterplan would reforest a 557-hectare site — currently used as a sand quarry for hotels — and create mixed-use development that would be completely food and energy self-sufficient. The proposed Smart Forest City – Cancun would house 130,000 residents as well as 7,500,000 plants of 400 different species selected by botanist and landscape architect Lauri Gatti. More than 200,000 trees would be planted to create a ratio of 2.3 trees per inhabitant, while the remainder of the vegetation would be mostly shrubs, bushes, green roofs and vertical gardens. “Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,” the press release stated. Related: Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design With help from the German company Transsolar, the mixed-use development would be surrounded by a ring of solar panels that provide enough renewable energy to meet the residents’ needs. The city would also include an agricultural field belt that wraps around the urban area. The fields would be irrigated by a water channel fed by an underwater maritime pipe and treated with a desalination tower. Parking for traditional vehicles would be located on the city periphery; a MIC (Mobility in Chain) system would provide internal electric and semi-automatic vehicles to transport residents and visitors throughout the development. As a testing hub for sustainable urbanism , the Smart Forest City – Cancun proposal includes a center for advanced research large enough to host international organizations, university departments and companies. The center would include research and development facilities dedicated to sustainability issues and green infrastructure. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti and The Big Picture

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First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

November 8, 2019 by  
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While most home gardens tend to conceal the roots within decorated pots, Ilex Studio ‘s new collection of glass vases displays one of the most underrated parts of a plant — the roots. The studio’s transparent glass vases, which can be used to grow avocado and oak trees, feature minimalist silhouettes with spherical bases that showcase the plant’s incredible root systems. Recently unveiled at the London Design Festival , Ilex Studio’s collection was designed to let people skip the prickly process of using toothpicks to grow avocado trees. Additionally, the vases can be used to turn a humble acorn into a magnificent oak tree. Related: AvoSeedo makes growing avocado trees easier than ever Unlike most home gardens , where the plants’ roots are buried deep in the soil, these glass vases let you watch the magical powers of sprouting seeds. The hourglass shape has a small neck, where the avocado seed or acorn sits. The strategic shape lets the seed or avocado stay nice and dry up top while the roots begin to sprout below. Did we mention that there’s no need to stick anything with toothpicks? Over time, the roots begin to spread out into the water. Letting the roots hang freely allows them to become stronger until they are eventually ready to be planted in soil . The bulbous shapes of the vases actually magnify what is going on inside, giving you an up-close view of the roots as they grow. The Avocado Vase is slightly larger than the Acorn Vase, but according to the studio, the growing pattern is similar for the acorn and the avocado tree. The oakling can be left in the vase for up to one year, but growing an avocado tree is a bit more complicated. They both come with instruction booklets to guide you through the process of growing your own trees, straight from the seeds. These playful growing vases cost between £22 and £35 (about $28 to $45), with the larger avocado vase costing a bit more and the vases sans acorns costing less. Each order comes with a 20-page handbook of helpful instructions. + Ilex Studio Via Design Milk Images via Ilex Studio

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These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

Sead Pod offers grassroots solution to air pollution and global warming

November 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Gardening should be good for the environment, adding oxygen to the air, nutrients to the soil and filtering water for consumption. But plastic and toxins have become ubiquitous, leaving the home gardener to make intentional choices about which products to use. That’s where Sead Pod comes in, a vertical garden made using sustainable practices and recycled materials . Sead (Sustainable Ecology, Adaptive Design) Pod offers a simple plastic planter for bringing gardens into the smallest spaces while reusing plastic, which is problematic for the environment. The pod simply clips on to any chain link fencing, providing water efficiency from the vertical garden design while diverting plastic from the landfill. Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive “The Sead Pod represents a new way of thinking about green design in an urban context,” said Bryan Meador, Plant Seads’ Founder and Chief Design Officer. “By reimagining existing architectural elements like chain link fencing as a tool in the fight against climate change, we’re able to leap into the green movement immediately, fighting climate change at the grassroots level and making our cities cleaner, healthier, and more livable—right now.”  Based in Kingston, New York, Meador is familiar with the limitations of urban gardens so he designed the Sead Pod to jump start the urgency of climate change. What he described as “the sluggish response of government and multinational companies” lead him to take action, experimenting with 3d printing and rapid prototype development to finalize the design . Proving his self-labeled impatience, Meador had the Sead Pod designed, manufactured and released in less than nine months. “Our generation is the first to be born into Climate Change. This crisis is not hypothetical to us, and we’re tired of waiting around for others to address this issue in a meaningful way,” Meador said in a press release.  With lofty goals of tackling CO2 emissions at a grassroots level, the Sead Pod gives everyone the ability to contribute to the solution. Imagine every chain link fence in your community covered in greenery and you begin to see the potential. The pods also connect to chain link material the size of a picture frame and Sead Pod offers five sizes of sead frames to suit the needs of every home and office. They are designed to be durable for long-term use even when exposed to harsh elements, not to mention, they are recyclable at the end of their life cycle. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thursday, October 31, 2019 8:59 PM PDT. + Plant Seads Images via Plant Seads

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Sead Pod offers grassroots solution to air pollution and global warming

Reclaimed materials star in this surf villa with ocean views in Bali

November 5, 2019 by  
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The blissful charms of the Uluwatu Surf Villas have been elevated with a recent expansion that includes new villas designed by German architect Alexis Dornier in collaboration with Tim Russo. One of the additions is Puri Bukit, an ocean-facing, four-bedroom villa with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean in Bali. Built with reclaimed timber and locally sourced materials, the building blends traditional Balinese architecture with contemporary design. Located atop cliffs overlooking the ocean in southwest Bali , the Uluwatu Surf Villas were created as a luxury surfer’s paradise with premium villas, bungalows and loft accommodations. The 50-room retreat includes a mix of private and for-rent accommodations, the latter of which are categorized as Cliff Front villas, Ocean Front villas and Jungle View villas that range from one to four bedrooms in size. Related: This contemporary light-filled home feels like an extension of Bali’s tropics Dornier’s recently completed Ocean View 3 (Puri Bukit) villa measures 295 square meters and includes four master bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, making it one of the larger spaces on the property. Punctuated with a skylight, the tropical, modern villa is flooded with natural light and emphasizes indoor-outdoor living with large sliding glass doors that open up to views of the Indian Ocean. Guests can also enjoy access to a private, 40-square-meter saltwater pool. The open-plan living area includes a dining table that seats eight as well as custom-built sofas and a custom art piece by surf artist Andy Davis. As with the other properties, the villa was built with 100-year-old reclaimed teak from Java, reclaimed ironwood from Kalimantan, andesite, terrazzo and local limestone. “The center of the roof is crowned with a generous skylight that illuminates the expansive, centrally located living room,” reads the project statement. “While the main living area flows toward the outdoor pool side terrace and garden, the central core of the house corresponds to the prevailing linear axis running from the ascending entrance stairway, through the main living hall and all the way toward the sea.” + Alexis Dornier Photography by kiearch via Alexis Dornier

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Reclaimed materials star in this surf villa with ocean views in Bali

Clean your plants and reap the reward of clean air

November 4, 2019 by  
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Although cleaning house plants probably ranks somewhere between wiping down the blades on the ceiling fan and cleaning out the gutters on your to-do list, it’s a chore that’s critical to the plant and, one could argue, to humanity. Let’s go back to science class for a minute in order to understand why a clean plant is a productive plant. Remember that little thing called photosynthesis? Leaves are a central organ in the process. Technically, the stomata, which are small openings all over the surface of the leaves, absorbs carbon dioxide. At the same time, the chlorophyll in the leaves absorb sunlight. The process of photosynthesis then converts the water and CO2 into sugar plants need to grow and oxygen we need to breathe. That’s a long way of saying that dusty, dirty, grimy leaves on your house plants can result in dusty, dirty, grimy air in your home. So bump that chore up your list a bit. Here are a few ideas of how to accomplish the task with spending endless hours wiping down every individual leaf.  Take a shower Your morning shower is likely a rejuvenating ritual and your plants share your affinity. After all, it’s natural for plants to storm the rain, absorb the water and experience a cleansing. Take that concept inside by moving your plants to the shower. You can join them or place plants into the bathtub and use a detachable shower head to do the job. Give each plant a thorough soaking with cool to lukewarm water, allowing the water to both wash the leaves and provide moisture to the soil. Do not use hot or cold water that can be too shocking for the plant. Once saturated, give each plant a gentle shake to remove standing water on the leaves. Allow plants to drain into the empty tub and wipe off any excess water from the pot before placing it back on furniture. If you do not have drain holes in your planter, strain off excess water from the soil to avoid root rot. Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive Grab a feather duster Like every other surface in your home, the leaves on your plants will collect dust. It’s best to provide regular dustings rather than trying to deal with a thick layer of dust down the road. When feather dusting, lightly move over the surfaces of the plant , weaving between branches to touch the top and bottom of leaves. Use caution so you don’t disrupt blooms or knock healthy leaves off the plant.  Take them outside Another mess-free way to clean your plants is to take the task outside. Put your plants in a shady spot in the lawn, on your deck or patio. Use a shower setting on your garden hose to wash the plants, give them a gentle shake, and allow them to dry before bringing them back indoors. Often the water pressure from any of these showering techniques causes some of the soil to slop out. By completing the chore outdoors, clean up is a breeze. Just bring your plants indoors and hose the area down.  Use the sink The kitchen sink may or may not be an easier option than the shower, but the concept is the same. Use your faucet nozzle set to spray for a shower effect on each plant. You will likely have to wash plants in a rotation if you have more than two or three. Allow plants to drain and dry off pots before removing them from the sink and then start on a new batch until they are all cleaned.  Use a mister Not all plants can easily be moved to the bathroom or outdoors due to size and other factors. The deep soak isn’t necessary on a regular basis either, so in between showers, give your plants a spit bath with a mister. Any spray bottle set to a mist can provide the moisture, humidity and cleaning your plants need. Keep a spray bottle filled for this purpose. Some plants won’t respond well to showers, like those with spiky or furry leaves. For these plants, use a mixture of dish soap and water on a regular basis to keep the leaves dust free. Cleaning is more than removing dust Once you’ve set aside the time to give your plants the TLC they deserve, make sure to check in on their general health and not just their personal hygiene. Remove any dead leaves from the plant and the soil below it. Dead leaves can contain bacteria and contaminate otherwise healthy soil. Also check the leaves of your houseplants for bugs and insects. Similarly, watch for bugs being flushed away while you wash your plants. If you see insects on your houseplants it might be time to treat them. Sometimes you can only see evidence of very small pests or disease so look for symptoms like black spots, webbing and sticky or curling leaves. Healthy plants provide healthy air, so make the commitment to care for your plants with regular dusting and a cleansing shower every now and then. Breathe in the victory of your efforts.  Via Apartment Therapy Images via Adobe Stock

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Clean your plants and reap the reward of clean air

BREEAM Excellent office building keeps London’s carbon reduction targets in sight

November 4, 2019 by  
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The site of a former petrol station has been given a new lease on life as 1 Valentine Place, an award-winning sustainable office building certified BREEAM Excellent . Completed in March 2013, the seven-story office building was designed by West London architectural practice Stiff + Trevillion , who clad the contemporary structure in anodized aluminum and high-performance, solar-control glazing for a sleek and minimalist appearance. The energy-efficient building was a 2013 NLAwards winner and was shortlisted in the 2014 RIBA London Awards. Located on the corner of Blackfriars Road and Valentine Place, 1 Valentine Place provides grade-A office accommodation across 3,000 square meters within close proximity to the Southwark station. Though undeniably contemporary in design, the building is sensitively scaled and oriented to relate to its more traditional neighbors. For instance, the seven-story office building steps down in mass to match the rooflines of the smaller buildings next door, thus creating space for a large outdoor terrace that overlooks views of the City of London . Related: Railway heat to be repurposed to warm London homes this winter The architects constructed the building with an in situ reinforced concrete frame structure that’s internally exposed to take advantage of passive thermal mass . The exterior is clad in anodized aluminum and energy-efficient glazing as well as solar fins to mitigate unwanted solar heat gain. The glazed, double-height ground floor is protected by an overhang and is designed to engage the pedestrian realm. The reception is lined with wood paneling inspired by the area’s heritage. “Sustainability features such as exposed thermal mass, air-source heat-pump technology and a photovoltaic array far exceed Southwark’s stringent carbon reduction targets,” the architects noted in a project statement. The use of renewable energy and energy-efficient strategies are estimated to provide energy savings of approximately 40 percent. + Stiff + Trevillion Photography by Kilian O’Sullivan via Stiff + Trevillion

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BREEAM Excellent office building keeps London’s carbon reduction targets in sight

Artist creates a living quilt to commemorate Santa Rosa fires

September 4, 2019 by  
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Memorials and national landmarks are common across the country as a way to respectfully remember events of historical relevance. This often takes the form of a statue or plaque, but following the Santa Rosa fires in October 2017, one artist took her own approach to honor the community following the devastation in the form of a living quilt . With a grant initiated and awarded by the city of Santa Rosa Public Art Program, artist Jane Ingram Allen completed the public art project, which took form in colorful plants grown in the design of a handmade quilt. The outline for the quilt consisted not of your typical fabric squares, but handmade paper. The pattern was then enhanced with seeds embedded into the pulp to match the quilt design. Related: New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants The “Living Quilt for Santa Rosa” incorporates the traditional “Wild Geese” pattern. A variety of colors are integrated into the living quilt, and each color uses a different source material and subsequently matches to a wildflower of the same color. Blue is comprised of a pulp made from recycled denim; matching flowers include the California Bluebell and other mixed blue wildflowers. Abaca, a type of fiber from banana leaves, is colored with a non-toxic fiber reactive dye and used for the yellow and orange shades. White also stems from the uncolored abaca and marries well with Baby’s Breath and white poppies. All of the materials, from wildflowers to the dyes, are eco-friendly and biodegradable while offering the hope of continued life for many seasons to come. Although Allen is credited for the work, the project was completed with the help of community members who laid out the paper, planted the seeds and built the “headboard” and “footboard” from locally harvested branches. During the time of construction, air pollution and burnt trees still plagued the area. The original work was dedicated at Rincon Ridge Park in Santa Rosa, California in the fall of 2018, but what began as a temporary art installation just might bloom into a long-term testament to the resolution of both the land and the citizens. The idea to commemorate the destruction from the fires with life in flowers represents the regrowth, perseverance and tenacity of the Santa Rosa community as they recover. + Jane Ingram Allen Photography by Timothy S. Allen via Jane Ingram Allen

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Artist creates a living quilt to commemorate Santa Rosa fires

This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive

August 27, 2019 by  
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Every gardener and plant enthusiast knows that plants grow best with access to sunlight, either direct or indirect. But one German company has expanded the options for people and places that don’t have access to plenty of light with the Mygdal Plantlight. Nui Studio designed the vessel to provide all the moisture and light a plant needs — it can successfully grow plants in a sunless urban basement or even in the long dark days of northern winter. With temperature control and easy setting adjustments, the Mygdal Plantlight is an option for every home or office. The combination of design and technology means plants receive optimal water and light for the perfect growing conditions. The glass-enclosed hanging pendant is hermetically sealed, creating a circular ecosystem so plants do not require watering. The cycle of condensation and evaporation provides enough moisture for the plants to thrive. Related: Rotating indoor garden grows up to 100 herbs and vegetables every month LED lights provide both light and adequate warmth to feed the environment and the plants. Schedule when and how long you want your plant to receive light. Plus, the Mygdal Plantlight serves as an attractive, additional source of light for any room. Adjustments for length of sunlight, intensity and even the color is controlled by a smartphone or tablet without the need to open the vessel. If you do need to access the plants, the pendant’s aluminum disc bottom is easy to remove. The Mygdal Plantlight offers versatility with a variety of plants ranging from lush to jungle to zen styles. The unit comes in two sizes for visual and spacial variety, and plants can easily be replaced when you’re ready for a change. The studio said, “The combination of plants and light inside Mygdal’s mouth-blown, hand-finished glass shade creates a soothing atmosphere. Its name is a tribute to glassmaker Peter Kuchinke from Mygdal in northern Denmark and means, loosely translated, ‘fertile soil.’” Nui Studio maintains a philosophy that a marriage between traditional craft and modern technology combined with regional manufacturing produces timeless and multifunctional furniture for everyone to enjoy. + Nui Studio Via Yanko Design Images via Nui Studio

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This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive

Casa I combines traditional courtyard typology with modern construction in Chile

August 27, 2019 by  
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Santiago-based architects Alfredo Thiermann and Sebastián Cruz of architecture office Thiermann Cruz Arquitectos have completed a home that celebrates Chile’s once-popular courtyard housing typology — a residential style that has faded away in popularity since the second half of the 19th century. Rooted in a tradition of embracing outdoor space, the residence — simply dubbed Casa I — is also decidedly modern in design and construction and makes use of prefabricated elements such as cross-laminated timber and precast concrete panels. Spanning an area of 300 square meters, Casa I is located in a former suburb of Santiago on a lot that has been subdivided into three smaller pieces due to the pressures of urban densification. To make the most of its 20-by-40-meter site, the residence was conceived as a long and rectangular volume that, unlike its more conventionally designed neighbors, is flanked by usable outdoor space on all sides.  Related: A 1970 home gets a modern, light-filled revamp in Santiago Sliding and pivoting glazed doors blur the line between the indoors and outdoors and create a seamless connection to the courtyards to make the home feel much larger than its footprint suggests. The open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen also features sliding doors for a flexible layout. In contrast to its exposed concrete base and prefabricated black concrete paneling, the interior of the light-filled home feels warm and inviting thanks to the use of timber throughout. “Each interior space is connected, at least, with two exteriors, which are treated simultaneously as interiors though their large built furniture and materiality,” the architects explained. “Negotiating the irregular shape of the plot with the regular geometry of the house, its limit is set back a few meters behind the property line, and a walled courtyard elbows out from the continuous line defining the sidewalk. Overcoming the regulations promoting a garden city, the facade becomes a walled courtyard, bringing life to the edge of the otherwise lifeless suburban street.” + Thiermann Cruz Arquitectos Photography by Erieta Attali and William Rojas via Thiermann Cruz Arquitectos

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Casa I combines traditional courtyard typology with modern construction in Chile

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