Tartu turns a major street into a car-free haven for a month

October 1, 2020 by  
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For the entire month of July, the Estonian city of Tartu transformed one of its main streets in the heart of the city into the Autovabaduse (Car-Free) Avenue, a popular pedestrian-friendly paradise. The project not only observed COVID-19 social distancing guidelines but also gave local businesses a much-needed economic boost. Commissioned by the local government, the Car-Free Avenue 2020 project was designed by Tõnis Arjus, Ragnar Kekkonen, Maris Peebo and Anna-Liisa Unt. The area used for the urban intervention spanned approximately 8,000 square meters and accommodated a wide range of programming, from dance courses and morning yoga to national radio broadcast pop-ups, concerts and more. Tartu is the second-largest city in Estonia and is slated to become the European Capital of Culture in 2024 with the slogan “Arts of Survival.” The recent Car-Free Avenue project fits in perfectly with the city’s agenda for development, which prioritizes sustainability. The main street that was closed — known as Vabaduse (Freedom) Avenue — was selected for its location between the classical old town and the river Emajogi that flows through the city. The Car-Free Avenue helped to better connect the old town and river and provided a jumping-off point for revitalizing the riverside. Related: London creates massive car-free zones as the city reopens “It [also] created a public discussion all over Estonia on climate change, excessive car ownership and different methods in tackling the issues of building a sustainable future,” the designers explained in a project statement. The month-long urban intervention attracted people from all over Estonia and abroad, counting around 18,000 visitors in the first three days. The road was completely redesigned to create a versatile, car-free public space that abided by social distancing rules. All of the design elements follow a 2-by-2-meter module, including the grass portions, which were cut into 2-meter stripes. + Tartu Autovabaduse Images by Mana Kaasik, Maanus Kullamaa, To?nis Arjus, Eva-Maria Tartu

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Tartu turns a major street into a car-free haven for a month

This luxurious home is a pollutant-free paradise and it’s for sale

October 1, 2020 by  
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Located in Norwalk, Connecticut, this recently listed pollutant-free home at 88 Old Saugatuck Road has been void of chemicals, insecticides and pesticides for more than 26 years. The house has been rebuilt to 100% green standards by the seller, an award-winning LEED AP interior designer specializing in sustainable luxury, green consulting and holistic homes. The house at 88 Old Saugatuck Road isn’t just an energy-efficient, green home built with non-toxic materials and finishes — it is also a stunning example of a residence with clean air . The indoor air is refreshed every 20 minutes with a specialized heat recovery ventilation system that exchanges indoor air with fresh outdoor air. The system filters out allergens like dust, pollen, mold, mites, dander and VOCs all while recovering up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. There is even a whole house central vacuum system designed to prevent dust from going back into the air while vacuuming. Related: IKEA’s new air purifying curtain will decrease indoor pollutants Thoughtfully constructed with fewer natural resources to minimize its environmental impact , the house also has custom, FSC-certified solid rock maple cabinetry throughout. The cabinetry is free from interior particleboard and formaldehyde-based finishes. Additionally, the walls and trim are painted with no-VOC, water-based latex paint. During the remodel, when a wall was taken out between the original kitchen and living room, the design team reused the appliances in a lower-level catering kitchen rather than purchasing them new. The garage has a charging station for electric vehicles as well as an automatic air filtration system that activates for 20 minutes each time the car pulls in to filter harmful fumes. To reduce electromagnetic fields, there is metal-clad cable electric wiring used instead of non-metallic sheathing. For landscaping, the property’s 1.15 acres are planted with trees and pines to help filter out any car fumes from the street and organic, perennial gardens to promote less maintenance. A driveway storm drain filters pollutants before runoff can enter local waterways, and a five-ring meditation walkway can be found in the back garden . The 4,094-square-foot, single-family home has three bedrooms, three full baths and a two-car garage. + Coldwell Banker Images via Coldwell Banker

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This luxurious home is a pollutant-free paradise and it’s for sale

Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge winners want to bring a forest to NYC

September 9, 2020 by  
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The Van Alen Institute and the New York City Council have announced the winners of Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge . The international design competition intended to spark public dialogue about the Brooklyn Bridge, which has become one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks since its opening in 1883. However, the bridge’s iconic status has also led to major pedestrian and cyclist traffic jams on the promenade as commuters and tourists jostle for space. Participants in the competition were asked to rethink the walkway by redesigning for greater accessibility, sustainability and safety for both New Yorkers and visitors alike. The Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge competition had two finalists categories: a Professionals category for participants 22 years of age and older and a Young Adults category for those 21 years of age and younger. An interdisciplinary jury with a wide-ranging set of perspectives evaluated proposals based on team composition, accessibility, safety, environmental benefit, security, respect for the bridge’s landmark status, feasibility and potential for sparking delight and wonder for users. The competition garnered over 200 submissions from 37 countries; each winner was chosen by a combination of public vote and scores from the competition’s jury. Related: Architects want to transform an old Dutch bridge into zero-energy apartments Pilot Projects Design Collective along with Cities4Forests, Wildlife Conservation Society and Grimshaw Silman were crowned the winners of the Professional category with their ‘ Brooklyn Bridge Forest ’ proposal, a design that reimagines the bridge as “an icon of climate action and social equity.” To make the bridge safer and to accommodate higher flows of traffic, the multidisciplinary team proposes expanding the historic walkway with planks sustainably sourced from a forest community partner in Guatemala. A separated and dedicated bike lane would be installed as well to avoid cyclist-pedestrian conflicts on the bridge. “Microforests” would bookend the bridge to provide additional green space while boosting biodiversity.  The winning proposal in the Young Adult category was created by Shannon Hui, Hwans Kim and Yujim Kim. Titled ‘Do Look Down,’ the design envisions a glass surface floor above the bridge’s girders to create a new pedestrian space activated by seasonal programming and art installations. Kinetic paving would power an LED and projection system that depicts the city’s cultures, histories and identities. + Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge Images via Van Alen Institute

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CX Landscape proposes futuristic coastal park in response to climate change

May 19, 2020 by  
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Australia-based CX Landscape has unveiled designs for Sea Line Park, a conceptual project to link the eastern and western inner suburbs of Melbourne with a linear coastal park. Designed to serve as a new line of defense against rising waters, the Sea Line Park would comprise three islands, two pontoon bridges and undersea roads to provide a new direct connection between Williams Town to the west and Elwood in the east. The fantastical proposal would also draw power from renewable sources, including tidal and solar power. Bookended by two movable pontoon bridges, the Sea Line Park consists of three curvaceous green islands : two “Sports Islands” flanking a central “Art Island”. The Sports Islands would function as public outdoor recreation space for both active and passive programs. The Art Island serves primarily as an events space and would be home to a large north-facing meadow that can host open cinemas, performances, markets and other events. A naturalistic landscape with pedestrian and cyclist paths would be integrated onto all islands. Related: Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy The linear parks would also house a live seed bank within a series of pods, the design of which is inspired by the diamond-patterned totem polls of the Wurundjeri tribe. Solar panels would cover the exterior of each pod and — along with the tidal power generation units integrated in the two pontoon bridges — provide energy for the entire park. The islands are also punctuated by bubble-like structures that house seawater purification and freshwater storage systems. To address ocean waste, the designers have proposed using submarine robots to collect plastic ocean debris and repurposing the waste as raw material for 3D printing construction materials. “This park will grow, adapt and innovate with the help of cutting-edge technologies, to be resilient and resistant to natural disasters and climate change ,” the designers said. “A self-sustained living hub is suitable for any coastal cities around the world, which can carry the critical resources and civilizations to create a mobile global village.” + CX Landscape Images via CX Landscape

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CX Landscape proposes futuristic coastal park in response to climate change

Superblock of Sant Antoni reclaims Barcelona streets for pedestrians

May 7, 2020 by  
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As part of Barcelona’s efforts to reclaim its car-congested streets for pedestrians, the city has tapped architects to create “superblocks” — groups of streets transformed into car-free public plazas. One such project was completed in 2019 by Leku Studio in the trendy neighborhood of Sant Antoni. Redesigned with attractive way-finding elements and street furniture, the Superblock of Sant Antoni is the second of six superblocks completed to date. The Superblocks Program was conceived as a way to curb air pollution while addressing a lack of green and social spaces in the city. Each superblock comprises nine city blocks and is closed off to thru-traffic, with parking tucked underground. New street furniture, colorful graphics and removable planters are added to encourage walking, cycling and social gathering. Related: How Barcelona “superblocks” return city streets to the people “Where previously there was an urban highway, now there is a healthy street full of life and green, where there was a traffic intersection now there is a livable plaza ,” explained the architects, who implemented the first phase of the Superblock of Sant Antoni in 2018. “Car noise has been replaced by children playing, cheerful conversations between neighbors or elderly people chess games. The transformation continues together with this flexible landscape capable of integrating new changes derived from urban testing and social innovation.” Reversibility was a guiding principle behind the design of the Superblock of Sant Antoni. As a result, the architects created an “adaptive urban furniture toolkit” so that the street furniture and planters — built with eco-friendly materials — could be combined in a variety of ways. The graphic tiles and signage also provide a reference for the arrangement of the new urban elements. The City of Barcelona plans to create 503 superblocks that will eventually connect to one another to create a series of “green corridors” that total 400 acres of new green space by 2030. + Leku Studio Photography by DEL RIO BANI via Leku Studio

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Superblock of Sant Antoni reclaims Barcelona streets for pedestrians

ODA designs an urban experiment masterplan for Chengdu

April 28, 2020 by  
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On the invitation of the Chengdu government, New York-based architecture firm ODA has created a visionary new masterplan for the southwestern Chinese city. Spanning 1 million square feet, the proposal would include four 13-story residential towers integrated into a 700,000-square-foot, mixed-use commercial park with modern buildings optimized for passive energy savings. Described by the firm as an “urban experiment in rearranging priorities for the public realm,” the masterplan emphasizes pedestrian-friendly design and indoor-outdoor living throughout. Located along a river, ODA’s masterplan engages multiple levels, from the riverfront at the bottom to the elevated walkways that provide access to rooftop terraces. The design departs from the traditional street experience by prioritizing pedestrian access. It also provides a wide variety of gathering spaces and green spaces, from the accessible green roofs and residential gardens to urban farming plots and reflection pools. Related: ODA to transform Rotterdam’s historic post office into a vibrant destination In addition to apartment buildings, the proposed development is home to a mix of offices and retail that primarily relate to the creative fields. “Anchor” offices would include space for architecture firms, graphic design studios, incubators, startups, fashion studios and interior design firms. Ground-level retail would activate the streetscape and include galleries, community kitchens, markets, artist studios, bakeries, breweries, maker spaces and other stores and restaurants. All offices, residences and retail spaces would have direct outdoor access, while the tiered architecture would ensure ample access to natural light and air throughout the development. “The design combines personal security with common territories that allows neighbors to see and connect with one another,” ODA said. “The idea is that the program is staggered, creating pockets of privacy and connectivity, nooks for relaxation as well as recreation. ODA believes this is what smart design means in the future. Design that meets all our needs, that speaks to the collective whole, and therefore the collective good.” + ODA New York Images via ODA

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Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

April 27, 2020 by  
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Studio Precht has turned the rules of social distancing into a design guideline for Parc de la Distance, an innovative park proposal that ensures all visitors will be separated at least 6 feet from one another at all times. Created in the shape of a fingerprint with spiraling ridges represented by tall hedge rows, the conceptual park takes inspiration from both French baroque gardens and Japanese Zen gardens. The hedge-lined paths slowly spiral toward a center, where fountains are located. With all famous parks across Vienna closed due to the pandemic , Studio Precht wanted to create a safe way for local residents to get access to a brief time of solitude and nature. As a result, it has proposed Parc de la Distance for a vacant lot in Vienna that comprises multiple spaced-out pathways for individual walks. “Although our ‘Park de la Distance’ encourages physical distance, the design is shaped by the human touch: a fingerprint,” the architects explained. “Like a fingerprint, parallel lanes guide visitors through the undulating landscape.” Related: Architects propose produce markets designed for social distancing Each lane is bookended by an entrance gateway and exit gateway to indicate whether the path is occupied or free to stroll . The lanes are spaced 8 feet apart and flanked with nearly 3-foot-wide hedges on either side for visual separation. The height of the hedges vary along the path. Each individual path is 0.37 miles long and takes around 20 minutes to walk from start to finish. Although visitors are often shielded from view from one another, they will be able to hear the sounds of footsteps on the reddish granite gravel that line each path. “For now, the park is designed to create a safe physical distance between its visitors,” Studio Precht founder Chris Precht said. “After the pandemic, the park is used to escape the noise and bustle of the city and be alone for some time. I lived in many cities, but I think I have never been alone in public. I think that’s a rare quality.” + Studio Precht Images via Studio Precht

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Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

April 27, 2020 by  
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Studio Precht has turned the rules of social distancing into a design guideline for Parc de la Distance, an innovative park proposal that ensures all visitors will be separated at least 6 feet from one another at all times. Created in the shape of a fingerprint with spiraling ridges represented by tall hedge rows, the conceptual park takes inspiration from both French baroque gardens and Japanese Zen gardens. The hedge-lined paths slowly spiral toward a center, where fountains are located. With all famous parks across Vienna closed due to the pandemic , Studio Precht wanted to create a safe way for local residents to get access to a brief time of solitude and nature. As a result, it has proposed Parc de la Distance for a vacant lot in Vienna that comprises multiple spaced-out pathways for individual walks. “Although our ‘Park de la Distance’ encourages physical distance, the design is shaped by the human touch: a fingerprint,” the architects explained. “Like a fingerprint, parallel lanes guide visitors through the undulating landscape.” Related: Architects propose produce markets designed for social distancing Each lane is bookended by an entrance gateway and exit gateway to indicate whether the path is occupied or free to stroll . The lanes are spaced 8 feet apart and flanked with nearly 3-foot-wide hedges on either side for visual separation. The height of the hedges vary along the path. Each individual path is 0.37 miles long and takes around 20 minutes to walk from start to finish. Although visitors are often shielded from view from one another, they will be able to hear the sounds of footsteps on the reddish granite gravel that line each path. “For now, the park is designed to create a safe physical distance between its visitors,” Studio Precht founder Chris Precht said. “After the pandemic, the park is used to escape the noise and bustle of the city and be alone for some time. I lived in many cities, but I think I have never been alone in public. I think that’s a rare quality.” + Studio Precht Images via Studio Precht

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Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

Floating islands bring a new type of public park to Copenhagen

April 22, 2020 by  
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Australian architect Marshall Blecher and Danish design studio Fokstrot have unveiled plans for a new type of public space in the heart of Copenhagen — a “parkipelago” of floating islands. Dubbed the Copenhagen Islands, this non-profit initiative follows the success of CPH-Ø1, the first prototype island that launched in 2018 and was anchored in various parts of the city harbor. Copenhagen Islands plans to launch three more human-made islands in 2020, with more planned in the future. Mobile, floating and free for public use, the Copenhagen Islands concept was created as a way to revitalize the forgotten parts of the city’s old harbor while introducing green space for the benefit of local residents, fauna and flora. Like the CPH-Ø1 prototype, which was a 20-square-meter timber platform with a linden tree at the center, all Copenhagen Islands will be constructed by hand using traditional techniques in the boat-building yards in the city’s south harbor. Related: This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste The islands will serve as platforms for different activities ranging from swim zones and floating saunas to gardens and a sail-in cafe. Endemic plants, trees and grasses will grow atop the island to provide habitat for birds and insects, while the space below each island is ideal for seaweed, fish and mollusks. The islands can be moved seasonally between underutilized and newly developed parts of the harbor to help catalyze urban growth. In winter, the islands can be joined together to create a “super continent” for special events or festivals. “The islands reintroduce wilderness and whimsy to the rapidly gentrifying harbor and offer a constantly changing, generous green space in the center of the city,” the architects explained. “The project also hints at a new type of climate resilient urbanism, inherently flexible in its use and only using sustainably sourced and recycled materials .” Copenhagen Islands has received the Taipei International Design Awards for Public Space as well as the award for Social Design. + Marshall Blecher + Fokstrot Images by MIR via Marshall Blecher

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Floating islands bring a new type of public park to Copenhagen

PICO microgarden lets you grow anywhere from home to car

April 22, 2020 by  
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Indoor gardening offers all the same benefits as a garden in the ground outside. Namely, fresh food and a  low environmental impact . But not everyone has the natural space for a garden, which is where indoor planting comes in for the win. While there are many systems and techniques you can implement inside the home, PICO stands out as a versatile option that you can place anywhere and still achieve growing success.  Most plants need to be located near a window for light. Often this means taking up limited tabletop or bookcase space. PICO is different because, while setting it on a tabletop is an option, it will also mount to vertical surfaces. In fact, it comes with a magnetic mount, which could be used on a refrigerator or desk, plus a standard wall mount and Velcro option for mounting to windows, mirrors and other surfaces. There are also three color options to match nearly any decor. The unit comes fully assembled. All you have to do is add a bit of soil and a few of your favorite seeds. There is no membership or seed pod to purchase. Watering is stable and consistent with a water reservoir and easy fill spout. A transparent window in the front allows you to easily see when more water is needed, typically about once each week. From there, the system automatically wicks water from the reservoir through the soil, using an on-demand system that replenishes moisture as the soil dries out.  With location and watering figured out, the last major component for successful indoor growth is proper lighting. PICO is equipped with a multi-spectrum growing light that conveniently extends from the compact planter design. As your plant grows, the light extends up to one foot higher for consistent light.  PICO is the newest addition to the  urban gardening product line from Altifarm Enverde, the company that previously released two larger versions of in-home garden systems. While PICO is not intended to provide high quantities of food, it’s automatic functions and placement versatility make it an option for growing readily available herbs, visually pleasing succulents, or fragrant mini roses. PICO is currently trending on a Kickstarter campaign that will close on May 17th. Shipments are expected immediately following the end of the campaign.  + Altifarm Enverde  Images via Altifarm Enverde

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PICO microgarden lets you grow anywhere from home to car

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