Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal

August 6, 2018 by  
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Giant twisting tree-like sculptures have sprouted in downtown Montreal—and passersby are welcome to climb to the top of its gnarled canopy. The striking art installation is the latest work of local artist Michel de Broin , who was invited by the City of Montreal to help activate the recently developed International Civil Aviation Organization Plaza (ICAO). Dubbed Dendrites after the branched projections of a neuron, the large-scale artworks are clad in weathering steel and are equipped with metal stairs with platforms for an interactive element. Spanning both sides of Notre-Dame Street in downtown Montreal , Dendrites comprises two sculptural stairways that mimic the form of trees and neuron structures. The reddish hue of its weathering steel cladding is a reference to ochre tree trunks as well as the urban site’s industrial past and iron infrastructure. “Dendrites encourages climbing through a network of alternate possible routes,” explains the project press release. “When a passer-by ascends the stairs they consistently face a bifurcation, and a decision must ensue. An apt metaphor is found in the way thoughts are formed in the human brain through the transmission of electrical impulses within a larger network of neuronal dendrites; much like the climber in the sculpture discovering the structures of his surrounding environment. From one end of the work to the other — like a neural impulse traveling across the brain — the walker climbs the stairs and ventures into the sculpture, emerging on the other side with a new perspective.” Related: Whimsically windswept cabin-like kiosks are designed to soothe urban stress The emphasis of walking ties into the redevelopment of site, which was formerly a car-centric area that was displaced as a new pedestrian-friendly and cyclist-friendly space. Dendrites’ twisting branches culminate in a series of independent viewing platforms of varying heights, allowing multiple visitors to climb and enjoy the sculpture simultaneously. + Michel de Broin Images by Michel de Broin and Jules Beauchamp Desbiens

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Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal

This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

LEED Gold hub for artists and activists takes over an abandoned NYC firehouse

August 2, 2018 by  
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An abandoned firehouse has been reborn as the newly certified LEED Gold home for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in Harlem. Developed by CSA Group NY Architects & Engineers in conjunction with real estate agency Denham Wolf , the cultural center celebrates New York City’s Afro-Caribbean and African-American populations with exhibition and performance spaces, meeting and community rooms, a media center, classrooms and offices. The adaptive reuse project respects the architectural integrity of the historic building and features a variety of sustainable elements, including a green roof and 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified timbers. Located in the heart of East Harlem’s cultural district at 120 East 125th Street, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute serves as a neighborhood anchor and catalyst for cultural and economic development. The CCCADI took over the former municipal firehouse , Engine Company Number 36, as part of the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Department of Housing Preservation’s initiative to turn decommissioned firehouses into cultural institutions. All parts of the 8,400-square-foot landmark building were preserved wherever possible, save for adjustments needed to meet the city’s current building codes, such as the addition of egress stairs. “Originally built to serve the local community , before being abandoned and becoming a symbol of blight, the firehouse has fittingly been restored for a public purpose,” said Ronzard Innocent, Director of Project Management at Denham Wolf. “As a connector to arts, culture and social justice, CCCADI brings the story of this building full circle.” Related: East Harlem celebrates opening of vibrant LEED Gold-seeking Center for Living and Learning To reach LEED Gold status, CCCADI focuses on saving energy and water while minimizing waste. Thanks to highly efficient bathroom fixtures, the project saves an estimated 37.2 percent in water use compared to standard baselines. The building also boasts an estimated 36.1 percent  energy savings from high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. Approximately 92 percent of the project’s construction waste was recycled . The team installed a high-albedo membrane on the roof along with a green roof. Low-emitting paints, coatings, flooring and agrifiber products were used throughout, and more than 20 percent of the materials used were sourced regionally. + CSA Group NY Architects & Engineers + Denham Wolf Images by Sakeenah Saleem

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LEED Gold hub for artists and activists takes over an abandoned NYC firehouse

School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

July 27, 2018 by  
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Americans often take education for granted. Whether their children attend public or private schools, the opportunity to learn is always there, from kindergarten through high school and often beyond. Meanwhile, many children around the world can only dream of this priceless endowment. Sydney architect Stephen Collier noticed this problem and wanted to take action – so, along with various international non-profit groups, he developed School-in-a-Box, which has helped make the dream of education a reality for many children in Papua New Guinea . In the Beginning Four years ago, Collier read Drusilla Modjeska’s novel The Mountain , which tells the story of how established cultures based on clans struggle to embrace contemporary mores in post-independence PNG. Since Collier was born in PNG, he had a personal interest in the material, and he contacted Modjeska, a stranger at the time. She asked him to join her on an excursion to Tufi , where she revealed she had an indefinable project in dire need of an architect. Collier was soon en route; he and Modjeska flew into the tropical coastal fjords of the province of Morobe in a tiny Dash8 plane. Multiple Challenges Modjeska is the co-founder of Sustain Educate Art Melanesia (SEAM), an organization that works to improve literacy in the six villages of Morobe. In the more remote areas of PNG, adult literacy is often as low as 15 percent; even though parents want their kids to be educated, they don’t want to sacrifice their customary connection to the farmland that sustains everyone in the villages. In addition, the villages are each very difficult to reach, with many sitting along single-file ridges above the coast, creating a long and treacherous journey for children. Even though the PNG government funds remote schools, each of which typically supports between 100-150 students of various ages with two teachers, these schools have a minimal number of books (no reference or literary texts, only workbooks) and hardly ever have electricity. Paper is hard to come by, fresh water is rare, and there are no pencils, crayons, pens or other writing materials. Students can’t read to each other, and the schools have nothing written by locals. The Box is Born Collier and Modjeska started brainstorming as soon as their plane touched down and a solid concept for School-in-a-Box began to grow. Early on, it was clear the box had to include water and solar electricity resources and storage systems. The box had to be light enough to easily transport from village to village, large enough to be functional, and tough enough to last and protect its cargo. Related: Hand-Built Library on Wheels Helps Retired Teacher Spread the Love of Reading The boxes, made from polycarbonate , are the same as those used by the US Army to transport armaments. The tents, poles, solar panels, and other materials conform to the box’s dimensions. The stretchable roof covers around 485 square feet and its translucent fabric is easily wound into a miniscule size for storage. The Treasure Inside Modjeska’s and Collier’s goals for the School-in-a-Box were multifaceted. They wanted the contents of the box to focus not just on childhood education, but also on creative writing and drawing for adult literacy classes, sharing and recording local stories to encourage imaginative investigation instead of pattern/repetitive learning, and making education more accessible to girls. After intensive idea sharing, they decided that each lockable, waterproof School-in-a-Box would include: two marine-grade plywood cabinets a 20 x 26-foot stretch tent with cables, poles, cables, stakes and ties two flexible solar panels batteries and an electrical board two laptop computers an A3 printer, guillotine and laminator books, paper, pencils, crayons, paints and brushes a 1,320-gallon water storage tank a simple water filter that can function without electricity or chemicals How It Works When the assembly is complete, cooling breezes flow freely underneath the structure. The roof is flexible enough to adjust to weather conditions and the sides are adjustable to stave off high winds. Collier created a hefty fabric gutter along one side to accumulate rainwater for storage in a pillow tank. To protect the gutter from direct sunlight, he made it concealable under a raised platform. The local community contributes some of the materials and helps in the platform construction. When closed, the cabinets form a box, although they open up and extend out in five directions. A teacher can conduct a class on one side, private study can take place on another, and the other sides serve as storage compartments. Looking Forward Mundango Abroad, The Readings Foundation, Planet Wheeler Foundation, Victorian Womens’ Trust, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and numerous other charitable organizations support the project, which has been going strong since its inception in 2014. Stephen Collier Architects, which won The Australian Institute of Architects Small Project Architecture prize in 2018 for this project, is investigating how to deliver more boxes to PNG in the future. A new fund to make that happen and take donations has been set up. If you would like to donate or assist in other ways, please email  info@collierarchitects.com  with SCHOOL-IN-A-BOX in the subject line. + Stephen Collier Architects Images courtesy of Stephen Collier Architects

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School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrechts circular pavilion

July 27, 2018 by  
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A new restaurant celebrating sustainability has opened in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Designed by Dutch architecture firm cezeped , The Green House is a “circular” pavilion that houses a restaurant, urban farm and meeting center. Created as part of an initiative by Strukton Ballast Nedam and Albron, the experimental and temporary venue follows eco-friendly principles and features modular components so that it can be dismantled and moved to a new location in the future. The Green House was born from a larger project that saw cepezed transform the former Knoopkazerne barracks on Croeselaan into a modern government office. Next to the office building was a vacant space that wouldn’t see development for the next 15 years; the developers asked the architects to create a temporary design that could reactivate that leftover lot. With the project’s relatively short lifespan in mind, the architects crafted a design based on the “principles of circularity ” to ensure that the building could be rebuilt elsewhere in 15 years. Related: Sustainable ‘circular economy’ principles inform Amsterdam’s flexible Circl pavilion Modularity and reusability are at the heart of The Green House, a two-story pavilion with a removable steel frame. “The dimensions are derived from those of the smoke glass facade panels of the former Knoopkazerne; these have been re-used for the second skin and the greenhouse of the pavilion,” the architects explained. “The circularity of the building also lies in the choice of the right floor in the right place. Street clinkers from an old quay in Tiel replace the classic ground floor that has been poured. They are located on a compacted sand bed with underfloor heating.” Related: Vertical Gardening 101 The first floor was constructed from prefabricated and recyclable timber elements, while the roof is sheathed in a lightweight and perforated steel sheet filled with insulation and topped with solar panels. The glass curtain wall lets in plenty of natural light so that artificial lighting is minimized. The restaurant occupies the ground floor, while the meeting rooms and the 80-square-meter vertical farming greenhouse are located upstairs. Restaurant patrons can see glimpses of the greenhouse from below and also enjoy views of an indoor green wall. + cezeped Images by Lucas van der Wee/cepezed

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An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrechts circular pavilion

University of Queensland wants to drop "bommies" on the Great Barrier Reef

July 25, 2018 by  
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Experts at the University of Queensland are experimenting with a new way of saving Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – one of the most endangered natural environments on the planet – and their strategy might surprise you. Researchers in the university’s Civil Engineering and Biological Sciences department have been salvaging portions of dead coral and recycling them into new structures. They hope that the project will not only protect still-active parts of the reef, but restore it with new life as well. University scientists are collaborating with engineering, science and technology consulting firm BMT to create netted structures that contain unstable rubble made up of dead coral, with the goal of transforming them into bombora. Bombora, or “bommies” as Australians have dubbed them, are large pillars of coral that serve as a habitat for myriad fish species and – when strategically positioned – may help repair the reef in a natural, non-invasive manner. Related: Australia is investing over $377 million to save the Great Barrier Reef The team has received funding from the Australian and Queensland governments that will allow it to commence pilot testing on the project. If the reef is not aided by external forces, it may not be able to survive the coral bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. While other projects have been suggested, including using giant fans in an attempt to cool down reef waters or developing films to shield the coral from increased sunlight exposure, the bommies would represent a more sustainable and natural endeavor. Professor Tom Baldock, who is working on the project, explains, “on a healthy reef, the wave energy is reduced by the coral structure, enabling broken coral to naturally bind to form a stable layer, initially through the growth of crustose coralline algae, or CCA. CCA helps bind coral rubble together to create the framework for reefs and releases chemicals which attract free-swimming coral larvae.” The research team is working hard in their race against the clock to establish this organic foundation and protect one of the Earth’s most beautiful yet endangered habitats. +University of Queensland Via NewAtlas

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University of Queensland wants to drop "bommies" on the Great Barrier Reef

Studio Gang to sustainably grow Toronto with this energy-efficient tower

July 20, 2018 by  
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American architecture practice Studio Gang has unveiled designs for One Delisle, a new residential tower that marks the firm’s first foray in Canada. Located in downtown Toronto on the corner of Yonge and Delisle, the project is envisioned as a standout architectural icon that combines a striking hive-like design with energy-efficient performance. The proposed building intends to achieve Tier 2 of the Toronto Green Standard. Inspired by plant growth, the sculptural, 16-sided One Delisle features eight-story modules stacked together in a spiraling formation to reach a height that surpasses 500 feet. The 550,000-square-foot building will comprise 263 residential units as well as a two-story base with retail space and restaurants. The area around the tower will also be redesigned to include wider landscaped sidewalks, an expanded park and other improvements for a more pedestrian-friendly experience. The main street character will be preserved to respect the existing neighborhood architecture. “Responsive to the surrounding streetscape, the tower is rectilinear at its base to fit within the city grid and address its corner condition at Yonge Street and Delisle Avenue, transforming into a multifaceted cylindrical shape as it rises to expand views, capture more sunlight and minimize shadows on the street,” the firm said. “The full-block revitalization will utilize a district energy system that allows the new construction to share mechanical loads with existing commercial buildings, offsetting energy use .” Related: Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C. One Delisle, along with the newly developed Delisle Park, will provide greater density to one of the city’s most important nodes at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. In addition to greener outdoor spaces for the public, residents will enjoy access to balconies and spacious terraces carefully angled for protection against wind and sun. Different floor plate sizes and configurations allows for a variety of residential options. The project is slated for completion in 2023. + Studio Gang Images via Norm Li/Studio Gang

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Studio Gang to sustainably grow Toronto with this energy-efficient tower

How to prevent your sustainability collaboration from failing

July 18, 2018 by  
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6 ways to grow your project, stage by stage.

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How to prevent your sustainability collaboration from failing

Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal

July 16, 2018 by  
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When design firms Aurora Arquitectos and Furo were asked to transform an old building in the Portuguese coastal resort town of Cascais into a hip hostel, they had their work cut out for them. Though the building was still standing, the interiors were completely rundown. Using a laminated steel frame to reinforce the structure, the architects steadily transformed the building from ruin to welcoming lodgings that play up the Portugal vacation theme with tropical prints and bright, sunny colors. Located near the coast just west of Lisbon , the Hostel in Parede is housed in a stately renovated building painted a beautiful sky blue. The interior was divided into nine modules, with the central module housing a skylit spiral staircase painted a vibrant shade of yellow to evoke the sun and the nearby sandy beaches. The sculptural staircase, which connects the three floors, features rounded corners that hide the utilities. “We were asked to consider the project as having a high level of flexibility in terms of future use,” Aurora Arquitectos and Furo said. “A hostel at first, capable of becoming a single-family house with little changes. This is how the autonomous volumes containing the bathrooms came to be, easily removable should one want larger bedrooms. The overall building’s structure also derived from the logic of easy future transformation.” Related: Y-shaped German hostel looks at sustainability from all angles Bedrooms are distributed across all three floors of the hostel. The semi-basement houses two of the dorm rooms, bathrooms and laundry room, and it opens up to the garage and courtyard . The ground floor comprises the main communal areas including the reception, kitchen, dining room, living room and a bedroom space with shared bathroom facilities. Four more dormitory rooms are located on the first floor, with the bathrooms housed in a freestanding unit placed in the center of each room. + Aurora Arquitectos + Furo Via Dezeen Images © do mal o menos

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Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal

The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan

June 27, 2018 by  
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Once arid hillsides have now become wide swaths of lush green woodland in northwestern Pakistan , where hundreds of millions of trees from 42 different species have been planted as part of the provincial government’s “Billion Tree Tsunami” program. “Before, it was completely burnt land. Now, they have green gold in their hands,” forest manager Pervaiz Manan told AFP . The reforestation effort aims to control erosion, combat climate change , reduce flooding, increase the chances of precipitation and provide economic opportunities for locals. “Now our hills are useful, our fields became useful,” local driver Ajbir Shah said . “It is a huge benefit for us.” Much of the land being replanted was decimated between 2006 and 2009, when the Pakistani Taliban controlled much of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the project is now underway. In addition to the more than 300 million trees planted in the region under the provincial government, 150 million trees were given to private landowners to plant, while 730 million already-planted trees have been protected to allow for regrowth. The mind-blowing number of trees , over a billion, has been confirmed by independent observers. “We are 100 percent confident that the figure about the billion trees is correct,” World Wildlife Fund Pakistan manager Kamran Hussain said. “Everything is online. Everyone has access to this information.” Related: Pakistan just broke the world record for the hottest April day ever The Billion Tree Tsunami comes at a time when Pakistan’s forest stock has shrunk to a perilous low; only 5.2 percent of the country is covered in forests, well below the 12 percent recommended by the United Nations . Started in 2014, the Billion Tree Tsunami program still needs to implement some safeguard systems, such as fire protection, before its expected completion in 2020. In 2017, the federal government of Pakistan began its own project to plant 100 million trees by 2022. While some are skeptical of the project’s long-term success, with infrastructure historically taking precedent over environmental concerns, the Billion Tree Tsunami offers hope. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ruling party leader Imran Khan said, “Every child in Pakistan should be aware of the environmental issue which, until now, has been a non-issue.” Via Phys.org and AFP Image via Haroon (HBK)

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