100-year-old Buda Mill & Grain Co. has new life as a community gathering spot

October 16, 2020 by  
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Often, culture and community are so intertwined that one defines the other, as is the case with a rural town in Texas, where the residents embraced a dilapidated historic site, called the Buda Mill & Grain Co., and brought it back to life. The Buda Mill & Grain Co. was a landmark in Buda, Texas dating back to 1890, when members from the Farmers Alliance founded a cotton gin to counter the rising costs of freight and lack of control of the market system that left farmers feeling out of control. Later, following a change of hands, the site was home to the first brick gin, built in 1914, which supported the Buda Gin Company. With the fall of cotton prices in the 1930s, the company was sold again and converted into a milling company for grinding dairy feed. Grain elevators and silos were added as the business grew. Related: Heatherwick Studio updates 90-year-old grain silo in South Africa with pillowed glass windows In more recent decades, the buildings housed grain for the U.S. government and were leased out to private hobbyists. Nearly every Buda citizen from any generation has memories of working the mill or picking up grain at the complex, catching up with neighbors in the process. With this common interest, the community enlisted the help of architecture and engineering firm Cushing Terrell in nearby Austin, Texas with the goal of repurposing the existing structures while converting the site into a modern community space. The result is a compound that offers more than 27,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and community-oriented spaces for the citizens to gather like they have for the past century. The three new buildings meld with the conversion of the old in a complex made up of five structures. The largest of the buildings, nicknamed the Big’un, is a 6,000-square-foot steel-framed equipment barn that measures roughly 120 feet long by 60 feet wide. The simple aspects of the structure allowed designers to remove walls in the first bay, creating a massive covered porch that faces the main street. This area is partitioned from the rest of the building with a glass wall and future plans to incorporate retail space, a restaurant and a brewery. The historic, 3,000-square-foot brick cotton gin building was left largely intact with a focus on improving structural support and creating a small addition to the back of the building. Steel, concrete and brick were used throughout the preservation and construction to honor the original architecture. Throughout the process, some items were removed, but most were blended back into the design in another location. For example, when a load bearing wall in the cotton gin building required repair, each brick removed was labeled and reused in repairs on other sections of the building. “A number of artifacts of the buildings past were kept and repurposed like the auger system, which was converted into the mill’s entry signage,” said Alex Bingham, architect and lead designer at Cushing Terrell. Bingham stated that the biggest challenge was updating the property while maintaining the priority of maintaining the historical relevance, a goal the architects accomplished when they, “kept the rusty metal bits and framed them with black steel and glass.” The result is a center that preserves the past while paving a path forward for the community. + Cushing Terrell Photography by Peter Molick via Cushing Terrell

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100-year-old Buda Mill & Grain Co. has new life as a community gathering spot

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

September 15, 2020 by  
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People think of the ozone layer as a past-tense environmental … The post International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer appeared first on Earth 911.

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FaulknerBrowns Architects proposes to reinvigorate a Victorian villa

August 25, 2020 by  
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International architectural practice FaulknerBrowns Architects has submitted a proposal to England’s Newcastle City Council for sensitively preserving the Ashfield Towers — a magnificent, Victorian villa — by transforming the grounds into a contemporary residential development. Located in the affluent Gosforth district in Newcastle upon Tyne, FaulknerBrowns’ Ashfield Towers proposal calls for a mix of residential typologies housed within the restored Victorian villa along with a renovated late 19th century coach house and new, contemporary buildings. Originally built as a private residence, Ashfield Towers has been previously adapted into a workplace and most recently as the school building for the Westfield School for Girls. In 2018, Union Property purchased the 1.4 acre site to allow the school to consolidate its estate to its senior site. The Westfield School for Girls bid farewell to Ashfield Towers in the summer of 2019. Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Working closely with the local planning authority as well as conservation , landscape and urban design officers, FaulknerBrowns created a site-sensitive proposal that includes seven apartments within the Victorian villa, a single dwelling inside the renovated, late 19th century coach house and three new homes and three new apartments in the contemporary new buildings. The new construction would feature pre-cast concrete elements and hand-molded bricks to complement the mix of existing honed and chiseled stone, while the new color palette of light blue and peach tones take cues from the conservation area and complement the existing yellow sandstone of the original buildings. “Ashfield Towers has given us a fantastic opportunity to revive a beautiful piece of Gosforth’s heritage, returning the site to its original, residential use,” explained Jane Redmond, associate at FaulknerBrowns. “The rich context of the conservation area continues through to the proposed shared gardens while the new architectural elements are inspired by the language of their Victorian neighbour, but with a restrained form and simple material palette that brings forward a varied mix of elegant new homes.” + FaulknerBrowns Architects Images via FaulknerBrowns Architects

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Off-grid home threads through a South African riverine forest

July 23, 2020 by  
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When a nature-loving elderly couple tapped South African architecture firm  Frankie Pappas  to design their new home, they requested a residence with minimal site impact. The architects responded with a site-specific house that operates completely off-grid and weaves between trees to preserve the natural scenery. Built largely of natural materials , the home — named the House of the Big Arch — seems to disappear into the landscape.  Located within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve between a riverine forest and a sandstone cliff, the House of the Big Arch comprises two main skinny linear volumes joined together at an angle with small additions to the sides. The unusual shape directly responds to the sloped site and the location and size of the surrounding trees. To ensure the preservation of all existing trees, the architects laser-scanned the entire site to create a digital  3D model  that informed critical design decisions.  To “bridge the landscape between the riverine forest and sandstone cliff,” the architects constructed the building with rough stock brick matching the color of the site’s weathered sandstone. The “bridge” portions of the home use sustainably grown timber, and the non-structural walls use glass and aluminum. In addition to blending in with the surroundings, the home operates entirely off-grid and follows passive principles for a reduced energy footprint. Water collected from the roof gets filtered and stored for reuse.  Greywater , stored separately, also gets processed for reuse. A 16-square-meter solar array provides for all the home’s energy needs.  Related: South Africa’s first interior 6 star Green Star awarded to Formfunc The House of the Big Arch spreads across three floors, with an underground cellar for storing food supplies, curing meats and aging wines. The ground floor opens up to  courtyards  and houses a study, library and a small swing beneath the arch at the front of the site. On the first floor, open-plan communal areas connect to a tree-shaded deck and a pool.  + Frankie Pappas Images via Frankie Pappas

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Off-grid home threads through a South African riverine forest

Summer gardening tips for a great harvest

June 19, 2020 by  
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When the much-anticipated summer season finally arrives, make the most of your garden time with a checklist of ongoing tasks that will keep your plants healthy year-round. Clean up Much of your clean up might have taken place in the spring. However, if winter rolls straight into summer in your part of the country, or you haven’t had the time or motivation to tackle the task, get busy pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and cleaning the patio furniture. Avoid harsh chemicals and instead borrow a pressure washer to blast the deck, fencing, porch and paver stones. Also, tidy up any concrete blocks along your raised beds. Related: Where to order vegetable seeds online Continue to plant Again, your garden is probably well underway from your spring plantings. But in addition to monitoring the growth of your current plants, continue planting for late summer and fall crops. Plan to keep your garden producing by planting fall crops such as pumpkins and squash. Create a calendar for planting based on where you live and how long crops need until harvest. Use mulch Summer heat zaps moisture out of the soil, and many plants suffer without mulch to help them retain much-needed water. Check your trees, shrubs and flowering bulbs a few times each month and supplement the mulch as needed.  Plant bulbs Although spring and summer steal the show for flowering bulbs, the fall months can dazzle too if you think ahead. Use the warm days of late summer to plant bulbs such as autumn crocus, winter daffodil and Guernsey lily that will burst to life in the fall. Be sure to mark where you placed them, so you don’t plant over them. Install a timer Using water efficiently not only benefits your pocketbook and the planet’s resources, but it also results in better plant production. The best way to water where you need when you need is to use timers that automatically turn the system on and off. Timers can be used for complex underground sprinkler systems with several zones and also for simple drip systems for hanging baskets or berry patches.  Water  in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cool and evaporation is less likely. Make sure to turn the timers off when rain is in the forecast. Prune and deadhead As plants continue to thrive throughout the season, they’ll benefit from a trim here and there. Identify plants that bloom early winter to late spring and prune them back during the summer. Deadhead current blooming plants as blossoms die off; this diverts the energy away from spent blooms and towards active ones.  Support your plants Early in the season, get cages around your brambling plants, such as raspberries and tomatoes . Other plants also need support as they grow, including bush beans, snap peas and flowers like delphinium. Check on your plants at least every other day to keep them in line.  Train them to climb Summer is also a productive season for your climbers, and without training, they may grow to undesirable places within or even outside your yard. Keep up with your hops, grapes, clematis and wisteria, guiding them up trellises or along wires as they reach new heights. Close the buffet for animals Your garden full of flowers or fruits is a tempting invitation for the neighborhood  animals . Summer is the time to protect your plants against critters large and small. Put up fencing around your food garden and make sure it is tall enough that deer can’t jump over it. Inside your garden, further protect plants from smaller animals that may squeeze in, such as rabbits and chipmunks. To protect against the smallest of hungry animals, keep ladybugs around to feed on aphids, move old plants to another area of the yard, use natural insecticides and place short, open cans or cups of beer nearby to draw in slugs. You can also use netting over the top of your crops to keep birds from having a free meal at the plant buffet. Feed your plants Even after your plants are well established, most need a little boost now and then to keep up energy for production. Around midseason, provide your plants with some fertilizer to help them out.  Turn your harvest into a meal plan Growing a garden can take a lot of work and money, so you don’t want your resulting harvest to go to waste. The best way to use up fresh vegetables is to plan for their arrival. You can add the tops of radishes, beets and carrots to pesto, which can be eaten fresh or frozen/canned for later. Plan to use your lettuce promptly after harvest with myriad salad options that can incorporate your carrots, beets, snow peas, broccoli, strawberries and more. The point is, as your garden produces various foods , create an upcoming meal plan to match.  Protect wood products Summer is also the time to restain fencing and decking. Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to furniture and the garden bench. Invite pollinators to the party Pollinators such as  bees, butterflies, birds  and bats can really benefit your yard, so as summer progresses, cater to their needs. Build and install bat, butterfly, bird and bee houses. Keep the bird feeders and baths clean and supplied. Finally, plan your seasonal garden flowers around those that attract your feathered and winged friends to the party.  Start a compost pile Anytime is a great time to start a compost pile. Still, the heat of summer can help the stratified material break down faster than it would during other seasons.  Set up rain barrels Even if you have rare summer rains, getting rain barrels set up now will give you ample water when the rains return. You can then use this to water plants, the lawn or even the animals. Check your state’s rainwater harvesting laws before getting started, though. Preserve your harvest Finally, preserving food is a quintessential part of summer. Rows of canning jars, a freezer full of fresh crops and the dehydrator working overtime all represent the fruits of your labor. Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Seed preservation is vital for a sustainable food system

January 27, 2020 by  
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“Our seeds are more than just food for us. Yes, they are nutrition. But they’re also… spirituality,” says Electa Hare-RedCorn, a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and a Yankton descendant. “Each seed has a story and each seed has a prayer.”With a background in social work, Hare-RedCorn was brought on to the Pawnee Seed Preservation Project in 2012 as a seed-keeper, to carry the conversation forward with youth and families. The project, she says, has become a movement.

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Restricting trade in endangered species can backfire, triggering market booms

January 27, 2020 by  
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Consumer purchases no longer trigger market booms. Speculative investments do.

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Restricting trade in endangered species can backfire, triggering market booms

Brazil meets a major emissions goal two years ahead of schedule

August 13, 2018 by  
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Brazil has just announced that it has cut 2017 greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation to levels far below its 2020 goal. The country originally aimed to reduce emissions from this source by 564 million tons in the Amazon and by 170 million tons in the Cerrado savanna by 2020, in keeping with the 2009 Copenhagen Accord . However, this past Thursday, Brazil’s Environment Ministry reported that CO2 emissions from deforestation in these areas have already been reduced by 780 million tons, in a major win for Brazil and, of course, the Earth. Related: 73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever Brazil has even higher goals for emissions reduction under the 2015 Paris Agreement . According to Thiago Mendes, the Environment Ministry’s secretary of climate change, “The policy message is that we can and should remain in the Paris Agreement (because) it is possible to effectively implement the commitments that have been made.” The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest on the planet, and Brazil’s Cerrado is the biggest savanna in South America. As such, both absorb high amounts of CO2, making their preservation  paramount in the battle against climate change. Thankfully, Brazil is already exceeding expectations in this battle, and one can only hope it continues to do so as it strives to meet its Paris Agreement goals. Via Reuters

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1800-Year-Old Chedworth Roman Villa Wins 2013 RIBA Architecture Award

June 20, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of 1800-Year-Old Chedworth Roman Villa Wins 2013 RIBA Architecture Award Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Chedworth , Chedworth Roman Villa , England , English Hertage and Cotswold District Council , National Trust , preservation , RIBA , roman , ruins        

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19th Century London Water Tower Transformed into a Unique, High-Flying Home

February 7, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of 19th Century London Water Tower Transformed into a Unique, High-Flying Home Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: adaptive reuse , building reuse , converted water tower , Graham Voce , green renovation , Leigh Osborne , London , London Water Tower , Penarth , Penarth water tower , preservation , water tower , water tower home , water tower house

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