Modernist, off-grid home in Los Angeles features a huge green roof

May 20, 2020 by  
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New York-based Marc Thorpe Design has brought its savvy architectural talents to the City of Angels in the form of a beautiful, off-grid home set in the Hollywood Hills. Topped with a massive green roof, the Case Study 2020 residence is completely self-sustaining thanks to solar power, a rainwater collection system and a composting system. Set into a quiet lot covered in native plants, the house features a modernist design. Inspired by the Case Study Houses of the 1950s and 1960s, which challenged several prominent architects to design affordable and efficient homes, the Case Study 2020 home is an off-grid marvel that blends sustainability, affordability and thoughtful architecture. Related: Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape A one-level structure that combines concrete, steel, wood and glass, the Case Study 2020 home is square in shape, with an overhanging flat roof that is covered in lush vegetation. At various corners of the green rooftop , open cutouts make way for large trees to grow through. Besides its eye-catching appearance and ability to blend the home into its surroundings, this impressive green roof also conceals a rainwater harvesting system that is used to irrigate the greenery. The exterior of the home is wrapped in massive, floor-to-ceiling glass panels and surrounded by a covered walkway. At the back end of the property, a narrow swimming pool sits just feet away, surrounded by a simple, concrete-clad patio space. This thick, exposed concrete follows through into the interior, where concrete walls, ceilings and flooring bring home the modernist style. The spacious interior of the solar-powered home is comprised of three principle living spaces: the living room, a gallery and the bedrooms — all of which are connected by a series of wide corridors that also lead to the outdoor patio spaces via several accesses. Throughout Case Study 2020, the glass walls and sliding glass doors usher in natural light and ventilation, not to mention stunning views of the twinkling lights of Los Angeles. + Marc Thorpe Design Images via Marc Thorpe Design

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Modernist, off-grid home in Los Angeles features a huge green roof

Rare blue bee spotted in Florida

May 20, 2020 by  
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While most Americans have been inside watching Netflix and cultivating sourdough starter, Chase Kimmel has scoured the Central Florida sand dunes for the blue calamintha bee . The rare bee hadn’t been spotted since 2016, but Kimmel’s diligence paid off. The postdoctoral researcher has caught and released a blue bee 17 times during its March-to-May flying season. Scientists think the bee lives only in the Lake Wales Ridge region, which is due east of Tampa in the “highlands” — about 300 feet above sea level. This biodiversity hotspot traces its geological history back to a time when most of Florida was underwater. The high sand dunes were like islands, each developing its own habitat. Unfortunately, this ecosystem is quickly disappearing. Related: UK bees and wildflowers thrive during lockdown “This is a highly specialized and localized bee,” Jaret Daniels, a curator and director at the Florida Museum of Natural History and Kimmel’s advisor, told the Tampa Bay Times . The bee pollinates Ashe’s calamint, a threatened perennial deciduous shrub with pale purple flowers. Scientists first described the blue calamintha bee in 2011, and some feared it had already gone extinct . It’s only been recorded in four locations within 16 square miles of Lake Wales Ridge. “I was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all so that first moment when we spotted it in the field was really exciting,” Kimmel said. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is funding Kimmel’s two-year study. Before the Ashe’s calamint began blooming this spring — and before the pandemic upended some of his research strategies — Kimmel and a volunteer positioned nesting boxes in promising areas of the ridge. After the flowers bloomed, he has continued to return and look for bees. When he sees what he thinks is a blue bee, he tries to catch it in a net and puts the bee in a plastic bag. Then, he cuts a hole in the corner of the bag and entices the bee to stick its head out so he can look at it with a hand lens. After photographing the bees, he releases them. Kimmel says their stings aren’t too bad. + Florida Museum Photography by Chase Kimmel via Florida Museum

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Old Polish barn transforms into a cool contemporary home

May 14, 2020 by  
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Pozna?-based design studio  mode:lina  recently transformed a decrepit old barn into the ?lonsko Cha?pa (Silesian House), a light-filled home that beautifully combines elements of the agricultural vernacular with contemporary design. While the barn’s gabled form and concrete structure were mostly preserved, the architects improved the livability of the building by shortening its length and raising the roof to create a second floor for the bedrooms. The barn’s existing brick, steel and concrete details have been deliberately left exposed and celebrated in the redesign.  Inspired by the austere appearances of the old State Collective Farm buildings, the architects took a minimalist design approach to the Silesian House. In addition to truncating the length of the original building, the existing roof and exterior walls were simplified to create a pure  gabled  shape with no overhangs. New timber cladding was installed to the exterior envelope that was then punctuated with large irregular openings to let in as much daylight to the interior as possible.  Key to the renovation was the addition of a new double-height extension that houses the living room and dining area. “The original structure and shape of the barn is clearly visible from the living room, where we have an exact cross-section of the building in the form of a  mezzanine ,” the architects of the exposed concrete structure explained. A spacious kitchen with black granite countertops and timber cabinetry is located beneath the mezzanine. Related: Mode:lina upcycles construction materials into an industrial-chic eatery The interior is dressed in exposed  natural materials  throughout, including on the upper floor where brick walls are complemented by timber floors and ceilings and exposed beams and columns. The exposed materials and white walls provide a perfect neutral backdrop for the clients’ extensive art collection. The architects also converted the small building next to the 300-square-meter Silesian House into a guesthouse.  + mode:lina Images by Patryk Lewi?ski

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Green-roofed brick home ‘disappears’ into the landscape

February 18, 2020 by  
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Antwerp-based studio Studio Okami Architects has unveiled a design that masterfully blends a home into its surrounding landscape. Built into a sloped hill, the brick-clad and aptly named Sloped Villa uses an expansive green roof to help the house “disappear” into its serene natural setting. Located in an idyllic area of Mont-de-l’Enclus in Belgium , the Sloped Villa came to be after the homeowners, who purchased an expansive, sloping plot of land, met with the architects and explained their vision of building an “invisible house” into the rolling terrain. “We love the view too much to be constricted by predefined window sizes,” the clients said. “We love the way nature shifts through the seasons on this plot. We love the tranquility … It would be mostly for the two of us enjoying the sunrise over the valley, but make sure our four adult kids can stay over anytime.” Related: Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape To bring the clients’ dream to fruition, the architects came up with the idea to partially embed a simple, one-story volume into the sloped landscape so that it would slightly jut out on one side. With a rooftop covered in greenery , the home “vanishes” from sight from one angle while providing unobstructed views over the valley from the other. The resulting 3,000-square-foot house features a wrap-around porch made out of locally sourced bricks . The walls boast floor-to-ceiling glass panels that create a seamless connection with the outdoors and let in plenty of natural light and the landscape vistas that the clients adore so much. Inside, an open-floor plan makes the most of the main living space, which features a minimalist design . Throughout the home, neutral tones and sparse furnishings keep the focus on the views. The bedrooms are “cave-like” yet still benefit from views and light, and a soaking tub next to a glass wall offers an additional space to relax and unwind. + Studio Okami Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Filip Dujardin via Studio Okami Architects

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Green-roofed brick home ‘disappears’ into the landscape

Green-roofed sports center adds sculptural appeal to the Augustow riverfront

December 20, 2019 by  
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Polish architecture firms PSBA and INOONI have recently completed a strikingly angular water sports center in the heart of Augustow, Poland that shows how architecture can double as a public sculpture. Topped with a green roof, the facility complements the surrounding park with a facade clad in untreated Siberian larch. The building serves as a canoeing training base and is the first phase completed in a multiphase masterplan. The architects were awarded the bid to design and build the Augustow canoeing training base after winning a 2016 architecture competition for the development of recreational spaces along the Netta River. The project will include a multifunctional sports field, pump track, playground and scenic rest areas. Located on the West Bank of the Netta River, the newly built sports center was placed at a highly visible and picturesque bend of the river that is visited by locals and tourists alike. Related: FAAB reimagines Warsaw’s largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park The single-story facility features a triangular plan with a flat, landscaped green roof with a slight slope. The building is organized in two parts: a water-facing hangar for canoe and motorboat storage with a platform and a “workshop” area for the local canoe club. The “workshop” area includes gathering space for training and meetings, locker rooms, a gym with panoramic water views, a club room, a sports equipment warehouse and public bathrooms. The interiors feature a minimalist aesthetic that matches the exterior appearance. “Its characteristic form has associations with movement and dynamics,” the architects explained. “The sloping walls create distinctive arcades, highlighting the entrances and framing the views. The visual sight of the building is changing depending on where we look from. The dynamic form of the object allows an access from a mini stand into the roof of the hangar, where the observation deck is located.” + PSBA + INOONI Photography by Bartosz Dworski via INOONI

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Green-roofed sports center adds sculptural appeal to the Augustow riverfront

Gift loved ones with classes that teach and build nature skills

December 20, 2019 by  
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Rather than gifting a material object this holiday season, opt to give an “experience” gift. Not only will it help minimize waste and clutter, but an experience gift can also be wonderfully green and intrinsically fulfilling. How so? Experience gifts, for instance, lead to quality bonding time, new skills and shared memories, all of which are priceless. Here are our top suggestions for nature courses and classes for the whole family, and be sure to check locally for nature courses near you. Wilderness survival There are various experience gifts out there, and Inhabitat celebrates those that teach about nature and cultivate an appreciation for the outdoors. Sometimes being in nature calls for wilderness survival skills for better preparedness, adaptability, endurance, resourcefulness and resilience in improvising during unexpected situations. Survival might require knowing how to tie knots and cordage, as well as knowing how to fashion and utilize stone tools. Wilderness survival classes will teach all of that and more. Related: 5 common weeds you can make into healthy (and free) teas Ice climbing and mountaineering The outdoors are best enjoyed year-round; even the winter can be an excellent time to commune with nature. What better way to do so than by partaking in ice climbing or mountaineering? Find a course near you to learn the skills needed to succeed in these athletic activities. Fly-fishing Fly-fishing appeals to many outdoor enthusiasts. This skill isn’t the same as catching fish with a simple fishing pole or net. To learn the angler intricacies of this pastime, check out Blue Quill Angler , Cabela’s Fly Fishing University , Fly Fishing Coach International , Lillard Fly Fishing and Orvis’ Fly Fishing Learning Center . Falconry lessons Falconry has been known as the “sport of emperors,” for it has long been a passion of many monarchs and historical figures. Modern falconry mainly cultivates a bond between falconer and falcon, birder and raptor. In other words, modern falconry is about avian stewardship , especially because one has to be licensed with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife or a similar local organization, such as a state wildlife department or agency, depending on your location. But the experience is a rewarding one because of the meticulous care that must be given to falcons and raptors. To learn more, contact the North American Falconers Association (NAFA) , which has been protecting and serving North American falconry since 1961. Celestial navigation Seafarers have been known to orient themselves in the open ocean by the night sky. The night sky and its stars are all part of the natural world; hence, learning to identify the constellations and other astronomical wonders will instill a deeper appreciation for nature. You can learn how to orient yourself by stargazing, thanks to resources offered by the American Sailing Association , The Great Courses and U.S. Sailing , just to name a few. Foraging Foraging is all about searching for food and particular plants. One can forage for savory spices, edible mushrooms, herbs and even medicinal plants. Foraging courses abound including at establishments like Backyard Forager , Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine , forageSF , Grow Forage Cook Ferment , Herbal Academy and Wild Plant Guide . A directory of foraging organizations is also available here . Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food Identifying trees and shrubs Woody plants , like trees and shrubs, come in all shapes and sizes. You can expand your knowledge of them by taking courses on identifying their characteristics and learning about the landscapes in which they can be found. Identifying animals and their tracks Besides identifying plants for foraging purposes, there are also courses that assist with identifying mammals, birds and other animals , not just by their appearance but also by their calls and spoor. Some of the best places to learn more about obtaining these skills include Adventure Out (which also offers programs for corporate retreats and team-building events), Earth Skills , Earthwork Programs , Natural Awareness Tracking School , Nature Tracking , Naturalist Ventures , Tracker School and Tracker Certification from CyberTracker North America . Homesteading Homesteading is essentially a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, with reliance on subsistence agriculture and permaculture, preservation of food via canning and drying, a return to simple textiles and an affinity for the traditions of earlier eras. Modern homesteaders also tend to rely on renewable energy, be it solar or wind power. Courses on homesteading include aquaponics, beekeeping, bread and cheese making, organic gardening, permaculture, homemaking and farm management. Images via Shutterstock

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FAAB reimagines Warsaws largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park

November 22, 2019 by  
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In 2018, after celebrating the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence, Warsaw-based firm FAAB Architektura was inspired to look toward the future for a more permanent commemoration of Poland. To that end, the architects have reimagined Pi?sudski Square — Warsaw’s largest public square that is presently underused — as a sustainable city landmark redefined with Europe’s largest cycle park, photovoltaic panels and a new rainwater harvesting system. The redeveloped square would also “promote the creation of urban ecosystems” and become a celebrated meeting place for Polish arts, culture, innovation and more. Dubbed the Poland 2118 Project, FAAB’s reimagining of the Pi?sudski Square would emphasize the history of the site and surroundings, both existing and destroyed during World War II. One historical landmark of particular importance to the redesign would be the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives for Poland . The architects intend to honor the monument with a museum accessible to locals and foreign visitors. Related: This smog-fighting music academy will have an air purifier as effective as 33,000 trees “This place is to inspire interactions between people with different interests and to provide for varied forms of curiosity,” the architects explained. “The planned investment promotes the creation of urban ecosystems, where buildings integrated with their surroundings and the city contribute to raising the living standards of all inhabitants and actively support the struggle with challenges arising from climate change . The intended plan is a proposal for the permanent commemoration of Poland regaining its independence in 1918.” To help offset the square’s carbon footprint, the architects propose the addition of a rainwater harvesting system that would eliminate the need to connect the development to the municipal stormwater drainage system. Photovoltaic coatings could be overlaid atop pavements and glazed surfaces to generate renewable energy. An addition of 8,100 square meters of green space would also combat the urban heat island effect and purify the air, while new bicycle infrastructure and narrowed roadways would emphasize non-motorized transit and reduce urban noise pollution. + FAAB Architektura Images via FAAB Architektura

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FAAB reimagines Warsaws largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park

Zaha Hadid Architects designs BREEAM-targeted terminal for electrified Rail Baltic

November 15, 2019 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has won a competition to design the new terminal for the Rail Baltic railway, a major continuous rail link in Northeastern Europe that will connect Tallin, Estonia to Warsaw, Poland, where it will then join the European high-speed rail that covers Western Europe. The Zaha Hadid Architects-designed terminal will be the starting point of the Rail Baltic Line to be located in Tallinn’s subdistrict of Ülemiste. Using modular construction and energy-efficient systems, the Ülemiste terminal will be designed to target BREEAM benchmarks and guidelines. Created in collaboration with Estonian architecture firm Esplan , the competition-winning design for the Ülemiste terminal will serve as a multi-modal transport hub for commuters, national and international rail passengers and passengers transferring from the nearby Tallinn airport. As the starting point for the electrified cross-Baltic railway, which spans 870 kilometers north to south down to the Lithuanian-Polish border, the 10-hectare railway terminal will be a visually striking landmark defined by Zaha Hadid Architects’ signature undulating lines and a futuristic appearance. Related: Estonia will soon offer free public transportation In addition to the smooth integration of bus, tram and rail lines that intersect at the terminus, the building will also double as a connecting public bridge used by the local community. The project will be built in phases using a modular structural system, and the structure will rely on natural light as the main source of light during the day. Construction on the Rail Baltic infrastructure begins this year and is slated for completion in 2026. “I have been constantly informed about the developments in the Ülemiste area and in light of the works presented to the public today,” said Taavi Aas, Estonia’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure. “I am more than convinced that the area is becoming one of the most attractive and, in terms of infrastructure, synergistic in Tallinn . A true multi-modal transport hub is emerging, with rail, bus and air traffic coming together there in the future.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects and negativ.com

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Zaha Hadid Architects designs BREEAM-targeted terminal for electrified Rail Baltic

Climate change is adversely affecting childrens health worldwide

November 15, 2019 by  
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Today’s children are facing climate crisis-related health issues, warns The Lancet ’s Countdown on Health and Climate Change, the annual research collaboratively conducted by 35 global institutions. Collated and published each year before the international negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), The Lancet ’s Countdown strongly emphasizes that tackling climate change would be a significant global health opportunity. Unless significant intervention takes place, global warming and climate change will negatively “shape the well-being of an entire generation.” The Lancet ’s Countdown was established to provide a monitoring system to track health indicators across five criteria and thereby assess the complex association between health and climate change. These five areas include (1) adaptation, planning and resilience for health, 2) climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerabilities, 3) finance and economics, 4) mitigation actions and 5) public and political engagement. Work began in 2015 and has since been annually tracked, with anthropogenic climate change threatening all the progress and gains made in public health for the past half-century. Moreover, since 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized that health issues attributed to climate change can be prevented or improved upon simply by mitigating the climate crisis . Related: Climate change is a public health issue amounting to billions in medical costs Climate change can no longer be ignored as a force multiplier threatening global public health. The direct impacts of climate change manifest as rising temperatures, heatwaves and frequent extreme weather events (blizzards, droughts , floods, storms and wildfires), all of which have far-reaching health and social consequences. Human activities have similarly been breaching environmental limits, instigating biodiversity loss, depletion of freshwater, ocean acidification, soil degradation and other irreversible processes. Health-related incidents flagged by The Lancet ’s report include increased risks of low birth weight and infant mortality for newborns. A warmer world affects food productivity, resulting in food and water shortages, population displacement and conflicts that leave children and youth vulnerable to health risks. Children, adolescents and young adults are likely to experience additional maladies that range from cardiovascular issues, asthma attacks, insect-borne diseases, malnutrition and exposure to extreme heat, weather vagaries and climate-driven catastrophes. If the current greenhouse gas emissions trajectory persists with business as usual, then children will face billions of dollars in healthcare costs. The purpose of The Lancet ‘s Countdown is to bring awareness to the interrelationship between public health and climate change, in hopes that a shift can take place to steer society away from business as usual. Ultimately, it is hoped that by engaging with policy makers and the health community, better responses to climate change will happen to improve public health and well-being for everyone, including the most vulnerable demographic — children. + The Lancet Via EurekAlert Image via Shutterstock

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Poland Spring pledges 100% recycled bottles by 2022

June 5, 2019 by  
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This week, Nestlé Waters North America promised that its Poland Spring brand would start using 100 percent recycled bottles by 2022. The announcement is part of Nestlé’s larger pledge to increase recycled bottle use and has the potential to significantly boost the recycled plastic industry. According to the $247 billion corporation, 25 percent of all its water products will use the recycled bottles by 2021, and 50 percent will use recycled bottles by 2050. The Poland Spring brand has a huge market share in the U.S. and will amount to a significant amount of recycled bottles used annually. Related: New report reveals 70 million metric tons of plastic burned worldwide each year “We spent a lot of time designing these bottles to ensure that they move efficiently and effectively through the recycling value web. We want the bottle back,” said chief sustainability officer David Tulauskas. Tulauskas also noted that because of discrepancies in recycling programs and compliance in different cities across the country, the recycled bottle program has been difficult to streamline and roll out. Cities with stricter recycling policies actually make the process more complex, because the recycled plastic buyer must rely on consumers taking the proper measures to clean the plastic and place it in the proper recycling stream. The buying power of Poland Spring will boost the confidence and dependability of recycled plastic producers. Without secured buyers, these facilities do not have the motivation nor reliable cash flow to increase production. Poland Spring’s interest and investment in the industry has the potential to increase the amount of food-grade, high-quality PET plastic produced, which is the type of plastic needed for bottles. “They need confidence that we’re going to buy from them for the long term to make sure that it’s worthwhile for them to make the investment,” Tulauskas explained to CNN . Last year, Americans used 50 billion plastic water bottles and only recycled 23 percent of them. That means that approximately $1 billion in recyclable plastic is wasted every year when it could be re-routed back to companies to quench the thirst for plastic next year. + Nestlé Via The Hill and CNN Image via Mike Mozart

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Poland Spring pledges 100% recycled bottles by 2022

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