Hothouse installation grows tropical plants in the middle of London

October 26, 2020 by  
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London-based architecture practice Studio Weave has filled a greenhouse with tropical plants in London to highlight the reality of climate change. Known as Hothouse, the large-scale installation project is located at International Quarter London, a business development built in a subdivision of Stratford and close to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The design is inspired by a Victorian glasshouse, and at 7 meters tall, the installation is held up using a galvanized steel frame and cables. The structure provides a controlled environment specifically for cultivating warm-weather plants that are unsuitable to the U.K.’s climate. It is reminiscent of the 20-mile stretch of land across the Lee Valley corridor, which once housed more than 1,300 acres of greenhouse in the 1930s. These greenhouses of the past famously facilitated the production of ornamental flowers and tropical crops like grapes and cucumbers that wouldn’t normally grow in the region. Related: Student designs inflatable bamboo greenhouses for sustainable farming Poised to be on display for at least a year, the new Hothouse will be expertly regulated to help these same types of plants thrive once again. Working with garden designer Tom Massey, the architects at Studio Weave developed a cultivation plan to include plants from all over the world: guava, orange, squash, chia, avocado, pomegranate, quinoa, mango, sweet potato, lemon, sugarcane, chickpea, loquat and pineapple. It’s not just about growing tropical crops; the Hothouse is also designed to highlight the rapidly changing climate . The project serves as a warning to the idea that, should global warming continue to accelerate as some scientists predict, the U.K.’s climate could potentially become warm enough to grow these tropical plants outside by 2050. “Amid the strangeness of the COVID era of the last few months, reduced human activity has produced what feels like a profound shift in the environment, progressing a much-needed dialogue that will hopefully translate into sustained action and change,” said Je Ahn, founder of Studio Weave. “We hope this little hot house acts as a continual reminder of our fragile relationship with nature, while allowing us to rediscover the simple and enriching pleasure of looking after beautiful plants.” + Studio Weave Via Dezeen Images via Studio Weave

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Hothouse installation grows tropical plants in the middle of London

New York Citys street trees have unique stories to tell

October 12, 2020 by  
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It’s been called a concrete jungle, but New York City is covered in trees. There are almost 700,000 street trees surrounded by the ultra-urban environment of NYC, and each one has its own story. One photographer decided to capture the spontaneous stewardship that occurs with these trees on the streets of New York every day. In a new photographic series, Matthew Jensen hopes to show everyone a little “Tree Love.” Jensen started noticing how the residents of New York care for their street trees as he walked around all five boroughs that make up the city. He began to observe how each tree was a little bit different and how many hands have helped care for each of these trees. Related: Check out Glasir, the tree-shaped urban farming solution Homemade tree guards, hand-lettered signs, decorations, ornaments, bird feeders and trinkets of all kinds can be spotted on the trees as you walk the streets of New York. Every little token is evidence that the residents of New York have taken it upon themselves to give personal care and attention to the hardy trees that share the streets with them. Jensen spent three years photographing the trees and the examples of human care that surround them. He ended up taking thousands of photos, fascinated with the subject and with the way each tree ends up becoming unique and individual thanks to those who live and work around it. “Old growth, self-planted, stunted, scarred, broken, coppiced, blighted, blight-resistant, rare, over-pruned, each tree exhibits time and circumstance in its own way,” Jensen said. “And tree beds are as equally idiosyncratic with homemade tree guards, hand drawn signs, unique plant and flower combinations, decorations and ornaments, benches, birdfeeders, and more often than not, too much garbage .” The final collection, titled Tree Love: Street Trees and Stewardship in NYC, is 75 images of street trees. Each one tells its own amazing story and is a powerful reminder than human beings and nature need each other. Street trees and city dwellers coexist in New York; in a way, they depend on each other. With a little more tree love around the world, everyone can do their part to help heal the planet. + Matthew Jensen Images via Matthew Jensen

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Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

January 6, 2020 by  
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In a bid to clamp down on the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) opposition to wind farms, international design collective Prototype 2030 has created a two-part proposal that would turn wind turbines into interactive public art. The first part of the design, dubbed Windwords, proposes reshaping wind turbines into giant letters to create landmarks representative of the community. To further empower communities with wind farms, the designers suggest allowing local residents to share in the profits and control the wind turbines through a smartphone app. Inspired by community-oriented design processes for public infrastructure, Prototype 2030 believes that the way to wider acceptance of wind farms and wind turbines begins with neighborhood-centered design. The Windwords proposal takes cues from the Hollywood sign and the IAMSTERDAM letters, which are not only iconic landmarks in their respective cities but also attract attention from tourists. Related: LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic “Our point is not, of course, that every wind turbine has to be turned into a giant letter,” the collective explained. “Every site and community is different and will present different needs and opportunities. Big pink words will not be the solution every time. The real lesson is that wind farms need to be designed to mean something to humans — because they do, to neighbors and passersby. Right now, what they say is usually not what we want to hear. They need to be designed to speak human.” To further humanize the relationship between wind farms and communities, the designers have also proposed Windswitch, a smartphone app that would allow local residents to share in the profits from wind energy . The app would also give users the opportunity to “influence the turbines in their backyard” by trading previous earnings in as credits to temporarily pause a wind turbine. + Prototype 2030 Images by Prototype 2030

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Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

Energy-efficient affordable housing project opens in South LA

January 6, 2020 by  
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As part of its ongoing effort to house Los Angeles’ homeless, local design practice Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) has transformed a vacant lot in South Los Angeles into an inspiring example of 100% affordable housing. Certified LEED Gold , the energy-efficient MLK1101 Supportive Housing project not only emphasizes natural lighting and ventilation to reduce reliance on mechanical systems, but also encourages community and public health with the addition of communal spaces and an outdoor garden with raised-bed edible gardens.  According to the architects, over 58,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County. Working with Clifford Beers Housing, LOHA created MLK1101 Supportive Housing to provide permanent housing for a range of residents, from formerly homeless veterans to chronically homeless individuals and low-income households. The development includes 26 affordable housing units that range in size from one to three bedrooms, all of which include their own bathroom as well as kitchens and living spaces. To encourage neighborly relations, the architects included a community room with shared amenities, an elevated community garden set atop street-level parking, a street-facing stoop and a series of exterior walkways of varying widths that serve as informal gathering spaces. In addition to housing, amenities and 4,000 square feet of parking for cars and bicycles, MLK1101 Supportive Housing also includes two retail units at street level that will generate income to help subsidize housing while providing workforce training to residents. Related: LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot “Further advancing previous experience working with Clifford Beers Housing and other supportive housing organizations like the Skid Row Housing Trust, LOHA’s design acknowledges the successful track record these housing complexes have had with integrating various populations, bringing supportive services in-house, and creating uplifting living environments for people to thrive,” note the architects in a project statement. Other sustainable features of the project include high-efficiency heating and cooling, energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, solar water heating and electric vehicle charging.  + Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects Images by Paul Vu Photography

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Energy-efficient affordable housing project opens in South LA

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 submerges 24 portraits underwater to raise attention about our plastic waste

August 29, 2019 by  
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It’s common knowledge that our oceans are suffocating because of our addiction to plastics . But there are some eco-warriors, like Austrian artist Andreas Franke , who are determined to bring more visual attention to the burgeoning issue, all in the name of saving our planet. Franke has recently installed Plastic Ocean, a project that saw 24 portraits of various people being drowned in a sea of plastic, submerged into the depths of the actual sea off the coast of Key West. Although the world seems to be on board with reducing our plastic waste , the action to actually doing it is moving at a snail’s pace. To instigate change, Franke decided to create a series of portraits that depict various people being drowned by plastic objects. Related: Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C. Not only are the images provocative for their message about how our oceans are being converted into massive trash dumps, but the collection also features a series of generations. By using images of tiny babies, toddlers and adults, the message is clear: there is an urgency here that cannot be overlooked if we want to provide a safer world for the next generation. The underwater art exhibition was installed on the wreckage site of the USS Vandenberg off the coast of Key West, where divers from around the world were invited to check out the installation. The exhibition ran until late August. Now, the artworks are being prepared for a land-based exhibit (location to be announced). After four months at sea, the artwork is covered with a unique patina, which was left as-is to give visitors to the upcoming exhibition a small glimpse into the beauty of the ocean. Franke hopes this small detail, along with the installation’s overall message, will inspire people to do their part in helping the cause. + Andreas Franke + Plastic Ocean Gallery Via Matador Network Images via Plastic Ocean Gallery

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A new mural in Italy addresses affordable, clean energy

August 7, 2019 by  
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Italian coffee company Lavazza has commissioned artists to paint murals based on sustainability. The latest, by Barcelona-based artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, now graces a building in Turin, Italy. The eye-catching mural addresses the goal of affordable and clean energy. The United Nations ’ goal of transforming Earth by 2030 inspired Lavazza’s initiative, “TOward 2030 – What are You Doing?” As Lavazza’s website explains, “17 photographic portraits, 17 ambassadors, 17 Sustainable Development goals: the Lavazza calendar becomes an artistic megaphone for the U.N. 2030 planet safeguarding challenge.” Each artist will depict a different U.N. goal . Related: Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C. “I created this mural to bring awareness to the need of ensuring access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all,” he said in a press release. “The girl in the mural touches the icon button for the Toward 2030 goal No. 7 and lets loose a flow of clean energy . The piece alludes to the importance of acting now to assure a positive outcome. We must think toward our world’s future and the environmental conditions that our children will inherit.” The artist notes that three billion people — 41 percent of the global population — still cook with high-polluting fuel . One billion people lack electricity. “Electricity in the first world is still mainly obtained from polluting fuels,” Gerada said. “Our future energy sources must be clean and renewable.” Gerada has been an important artist for the last 20 years. As essayist and curator Ivan de la Nuez put it, “Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada has his own singular space in contemporary art .” De la Nuez has watched Gerada’s work evolve. “His work hasn’t left behind the classical arguments of the urban art practice, but he has moved away from some of its most common mistakes: the egotistical excess of graffiti, the loudness and the invasive aesthetics, to move into a calmer and more reflective space.” Over the last decade, Gerada has completed commissions around the world, from Morocco to Argentina to Texas and now Turin. Other international artists involved in the Lavazza project include Vesod, Zed1, Gomez, The Hula and Louis Masai. + Gerada Art Photography by Alessandro Genitori via Gerada Art

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The Lightyear One electric car uses solar panels for a boost of energy

August 7, 2019 by  
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The new generation of electric cars is on its way with the Lightyear One, a vehicle capable of using solar energy to charge while on the road. Currently in the prototype phase, the solar panel-covered vehicle is due to hit the streets in 2021. The Lightyear One was developed by a group of designers deeply entrenched in the field of solar vehicles. The prior University of Eindhoven students won the World Solar Challenge race three times with their “Stella” solar cars before focusing on a retail, road-worthy version. Related: Toyota is testing a new Prius model that runs on solar power The sleek Italian design is sure to draw attention, especially with the 5 square meters of solar panels mounted to the roof and hood, an addition that draws enough power for 12kmh per hour, or about 7.5 miles per hour of additional charge. It doesn’t sound like much, and in travel terms, it’s not, but it’s a step toward a completely solar car. In reality, the solar panel boost isn’t going to be the main source of power, so it can be charged like a regular electric car, except a lot faster. The Lightyear One can handle 60kW of fast charging, providing it 507 km or 315 miles of charge per hour. Perhaps the area where the Lightyear One is really making headlines is the total range of around 450 miles without recharging. That well exceeds Tesla’s current record of around 370 miles with the Model S. Like the Tesla, the Lightyear One hopes to appeal to the sports car enthusiast with a lightweight and sleek design. Then, there’s the fact that it jumps from 0 to 60 in around 10 seconds. The high-performance and efficient qualities mean that any charging station can provide a faster charge in less time compared to the competition. Unlike Tesla and other electric car manufacturers, the price for the Lightyear One is out of reach for many consumers. The initial models are available for pre-sale now at a cost of around $135,000. If you’re not ready to commit, you can expect a $170,000 price tag when it hits the mainstream retail market. + Lightyear One Via The Verge Images via Lightyear One

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The Lightyear One electric car uses solar panels for a boost of energy

The Lightyear One electric car uses solar panels for a boost of energy

August 7, 2019 by  
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The new generation of electric cars is on its way with the Lightyear One, a vehicle capable of using solar energy to charge while on the road. Currently in the prototype phase, the solar panel-covered vehicle is due to hit the streets in 2021. The Lightyear One was developed by a group of designers deeply entrenched in the field of solar vehicles. The prior University of Eindhoven students won the World Solar Challenge race three times with their “Stella” solar cars before focusing on a retail, road-worthy version. Related: Toyota is testing a new Prius model that runs on solar power The sleek Italian design is sure to draw attention, especially with the 5 square meters of solar panels mounted to the roof and hood, an addition that draws enough power for 12kmh per hour, or about 7.5 miles per hour of additional charge. It doesn’t sound like much, and in travel terms, it’s not, but it’s a step toward a completely solar car. In reality, the solar panel boost isn’t going to be the main source of power, so it can be charged like a regular electric car, except a lot faster. The Lightyear One can handle 60kW of fast charging, providing it 507 km or 315 miles of charge per hour. Perhaps the area where the Lightyear One is really making headlines is the total range of around 450 miles without recharging. That well exceeds Tesla’s current record of around 370 miles with the Model S. Like the Tesla, the Lightyear One hopes to appeal to the sports car enthusiast with a lightweight and sleek design. Then, there’s the fact that it jumps from 0 to 60 in around 10 seconds. The high-performance and efficient qualities mean that any charging station can provide a faster charge in less time compared to the competition. Unlike Tesla and other electric car manufacturers, the price for the Lightyear One is out of reach for many consumers. The initial models are available for pre-sale now at a cost of around $135,000. If you’re not ready to commit, you can expect a $170,000 price tag when it hits the mainstream retail market. + Lightyear One Via The Verge Images via Lightyear One

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The Lightyear One electric car uses solar panels for a boost of energy

Giant totems in Poland warn against climate change catastrophe

July 18, 2019 by  
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In the heart of Pozna?, Poland, artist Alicja Bia?a and architect Iwo Borkowicz have installed Totemy , a series of giant sculptures designed to raise awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Located beneath the MVRDV -design Baltyk building, the massive totems derive their bold patterns, vibrant colors and shapes from statistics on pressing environmental topics, from deforestation to air pollution to plastic production. Each sculpture features a QR code that passersby can scan to access a website explaining the meaning behind each sculpture. Measuring nearly 30 feet tall in height, each timber Totemy sculpture was constructed and painted by hand by Bia?a with help from local wood workers and community members. During the design process, Bia?a opened her workshop to the public for weekly open studios where the community could contribute their ideas to the project. Given the amount of community involvement, the sculpture location beneath the Baltyk building was fitting: the building, which was formerly a cinema , had long served as a place where people would gather to discuss political ideas. Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils climate change-inspired sculptures at Paleis Het Loo “The two designers aimed to use public space as a direct confrontation with facts and statistics, able to reach a wider public than would typically be afforded by museums, galleries and conventional art spaces,” the Totemy press release noted. “We wanted to address the public at large and at an everyday level,” Bia?a explained. “Passersby on the street and tram will catch out of the corner of their eye a flash of strong colors and be reminded of the current state of our world.” The popularity of the Totemy project in Poland has garnered interest in other cities and abroad. Bia?a and Borkowicz plan to take the concept to other countries to spur dialogue about climate change and environmental issues. + Totemy Images via Alicja Bia?a

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