ZHA designs sustainable expansion to China’s largest international exhibition center

March 15, 2021 by  
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Beijing’s New China International Exhibition Center — the largest international exhibition center in China — is set to become even larger with  Zaha Hadid Architects’  competition-winning Phase II designs. Inspired by traditional Chinese glazed tubular ceramic tile roofing, the new copper-colored buildings feature curvaceous forms and large rounded windows that give the project a futuristic flair. In addition to integrating solar arrays and a smart building management system into the buildings, the architects also plan to use modular construction and fabrication methods to further minimize the project’s carbon footprint.  The International Exhibition Center is strategically located next to Beijing’s Capital International Airport in Shunyi District, an area that’s home to large communities of foreign expatriates. As part of the government’s vision to elevate  Beijing  as a leading center of knowledge and International exchange, the venue will be expanded with a 438,500-square-meter Phase II project that will not only provide more space for conferences, trade fairs and industry expos but also welcome residents with a comprehensive program of events and attractive public spaces. The expansion will be organized along a central north-south axis that connects the east and west exhibition halls as well as the conference center and hotel at the north of the site. Shared  courtyards  interspersed in between the buildings provide informal meeting areas and space for landscaped gardens, cafes and outdoor public events. Circulation will be optimized with the separation of pedestrian from vehicular traffic as well as the use of secondary bridges that link the upper levels of buildings.  Related: ZHA completes LEED Gold-targeted building with world’s largest atrium in Beijing The copper-colored buildings feature a composite rounded roof system that not only provides insulation and maximum sound absorption but also supports an efficient and lightweight large-span structure for column-free, flexible interior spaces.  Modular  construction will help minimize material waste and construction time. To minimize embodied carbon and emissions, the buildings will be topped with solar panels and integrated rainwater collection and graywater recycling systems. Natural ventilation will be optimized and supported by high-efficiency HVAC equipment when necessary.  + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by Atchain, Slashcube, BrickVisual and ZHA

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ZHA designs sustainable expansion to China’s largest international exhibition center

MAD unveils solar-powered "Train Station in the Forest"

February 26, 2021 by  
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This summer, the Chinese city of Jiaxing will welcome an innovative transportation hub that will be topped with a lush “borderless park” to bring nature back to the urban environment. Designed by international design firm  MAD Architects , the 35.4-hectare project will feature a new Jiaxing Train Station topped with solar panels, a pair of plazas, a commercial zone, a transit hub and a renovation of the adjacent People’s Park. The main transportation and commercial functions will be tucked underground while an expansive green roof surrounded by trees will grow atop to create a “train station in the forest.” Currently under construction with completion expected by July 2021, Jiaxing’s “Train Station in the Forest” will blend MAD Architects’ signature futuristic forms with designs rooted in the city’s historic and cultural contexts. In addition to  green-roofed , disc-shaped transit buildings located at the site’s transportation hub in the south, the project will feature a one-to-one scale rebuilding of the historic Jiaxing Train Station. This station was an early 20th-century building that served as an important junction for the Shanghai-Hangzhou Railway Line, but it was destroyed by war in 1937. The old station will be faithfully recreated at the heart of the site with the help of scholars, consultants and experts in heritage architecture; once complete, the single-story building will serve as the Jiaxing Railway History Museum.  Related: MAD’s ethereal Yiwu Grand Theater will “float” on Zhejiang waters To bring natural light deep into the underground train station, the architects have designed a system of skylights and glass curtain walls to flood the subterranean concourse, platforms and waiting halls with daylight. The station’s “floating” metal roof will be topped with  solar panels  and greenery to blend in with the surrounding trees. The train station is expected to accommodate 5.28 million people per year with a peak-time capacity of 2,300 people per hour. The train station will be connected to the mixed transit hub in the south via an underground commercial zone that will also include above-ground retail spaces.  “MAD believes that a city’s best  urban spaces  should belong to everybody,” the architects said. “Architecture, sunlight, nature, and fresh air should work in harmony to be shared by all; creating an environment where people can both live and travel with convenience, dignity, and comfort.” + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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MAD unveils solar-powered "Train Station in the Forest"

Stranded at sea: 2000 cattle face culling by Spanish government

February 26, 2021 by  
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Several sailors are stranded outside the shores of Spain , fearing for the lives of hundreds of cattle aboard their ships. The managers of two vessels have accused the Spanish government of ignoring their calls for help. Further, they say that they are unable to dock since the Spanish government threatens to kill the cattle on board. One of the vessels that has been affected is the Karim Allah. The ship left Spain in December with bulls headed for several countries. However, due to a suspected outbreak of bluetongue, the vessels were denied entry into several countries, including Libya and Turkey. Karim Allah is owned by Khalifeh Livestock Trading, based in Lebanon . The ship is also managed by a Lebanese company, Talia Shipping Line. A third party owns the over 800 cattle onboard. Majed Eid, Talia Shipping Line director, says that they have remained docked outside Cartagena port since being barred from entering Spain. “We remain at anchor outside Cartagena port because first the Spanish authorities told us we could not enter. That was on Sunday or Monday,” Eid said. Eid added that they may lose all the animals if they enter Spain. “Then the Spanish authorities said we could enter [the port] but that all the cattle – they are all bulls about seven to eight months old – must be slaughtered,” he said. Furthermore, Eid claims no one has even mentioned vets possibly coming to inspect the ship and test for bluetongue. Eid laments that there is no proof of the animals suffering from any condition. As a result, the company wants to be allowed to enter the country and have the animals tested before any action is taken. “We do not want to slaughter the healthy animals. That is the proof of the good care we have taken, only 15 dead after more than 60 days at sea . We expected people to thank us, not criticise us,” Eid said. “We are crying out for help but the Spanish government is not helping us. No one is helping us,” he added. The other affected ship is the Elbeik, which left Spain with over 1,700 cattle. Currently docked off the coast of Cyprus , the ship lacks a clear destination. The sailors are now calling on the Spanish government to allow the animals to be tested before further action is taken. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Stranded at sea: 2000 cattle face culling by Spanish government

Amazon unveils spiraling, tree-covered skyscraper for Arlington HQ2

February 16, 2021 by  
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Amazon has unveiled images of The Helix, a LEED Platinum-targeted, spiraling tower that will serve as the centerpiece building for the Amazon HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia. Like The Spheres, Amazon’s first headquarters in Seattle, the new building takes inspiration from biophilia with a form that mimics the shape and beauty of a double helix. Designed by international architecture firm NBBJ , the 350-foot-tall building — dubbed The Helix — will run entirely on renewable energy sourced from a solar farm in southern Virginia that will be used to power an all-electric central heating and cooling system. Located in Arlington’s Crystal City, the Amazon HQ2 is a planned corporate headquarters and expansion of the company’s existing Seattle headquarters and is expected to consolidate 2.8 million square feet of offices, public gathering areas and street-front retail distributed across three 22-story buildings. The recently unveiled Helix building is part of Amazon’s recently submitted development proposal for HQ2’s second phase of new construction. All new buildings are designed to meet LEED Platinum standards. Related: Amazon’s incredible plant-filled biospheres open in Seattle Described by the tech giant as “an alternative workplace integrating work with nature,” The Helix prioritizes healthy work environments with its indoor-outdoor design that includes a pair of spiraling, fresh-air “hill climbs.” The unique building will be open to the public on select weekends every month. In addition to the LEED Platinum-targeted office buildings, Amazon HQ2’s second phase also calls for 2.5 acres of public space with a dog run as well as an outdoor amphitheater that seats over 200 people; three retail pavilions that comprise 100,000 square feet of new space for restaurants, shops and plentiful outdoor seating; and a dedicated 20,000-square-foot community space that can support educational initiatives and an artist-in-residence program. All vehicular access will be tucked underground wherever possible to prioritize pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly paths. + NBBJ Images via NBBJ

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Amazon unveils spiraling, tree-covered skyscraper for Arlington HQ2

Take your sustainable lifestyle to the next level in 2021

January 1, 2021 by  
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Are you already recycling? Carrying around a refillable water bottle rather than contributing to the ocean-bound plastic problem? Composting your food scraps? That’s all commendable, but there’s more to be done to achieve a net-zero lifestyle. If you’re ready to up your environmental commitment this year (and hold larger entities accountable along the way), here are a few ideas — some more dramatic than others — for sustainable resolutions in 2021. Get rid of your car If you have a car , sell or donate it. Once you’ve unloaded the gas guzzler, do your errands on foot or by bike. If you don’t have your own bike, join your city’s bike-share program. With proper COVID-19 precautions, take public transportation for longer distances. Related: The pros and cons of electromobility Ditch the plastic liners Do you know how long those kitchen trash bags take to decompose? Anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years. Instead, go au naturel and regularly clean your trash, recycling and compost containers. Change your laundering style Did you know that most of the energy it takes to run a washing machine comes from heating the water? Only 10% of energy is for working the machine, so switch to cold-water washing . Once your clothes are clean, hang them to dry. If you live somewhere sunny and have space for a clothesline, this won’t be too hard. If you live somewhere cold and rainy, see if you can hang an inside clothesline or set up a drying rack. But if this is impractical and you must run the dryer, make sure it’s fairly full so you make the most of the energy. Dryers are the third-biggest energy hogs in the average house, after the refrigerator and washer. Forget the lawn Lawns are a huge waste of space and resources. In the U.S., people spray about 3 trillion gallons of water on them every year, use 800 million gallons of gas in their lawnmowers and treat them with nearly 80 million pounds of pesticides . But who are we trying to impress with this golf course-looking terrain around our homes? Instead, go with xeriscaping or planting vegetables. Let clover take over, or fill your yard with pollinator-friendly plants. Control your climate Invest in ways to weatherize your home and lifestyle year-round. If you have the money and own a home, a heat pump can cut your energy use in half. Try low-tech solutions like wearing thicker socks and a fleece bathrobe over your clothes so that you don’t need to turn the heater up as much in winter. Add an extra blanket to the bed, and turn your thermostat down at least seven degrees at night. You use about 1% less energy per eight hours for every degree you turn it down. In summer, air conditioning is a massive energy hog. Three-quarters of U.S. homes have air conditioners, which use 6% of the total electricity produced in the nation, according to Energy Saver . Annual cost? About $29 billion dollars and 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released. If you must use AC, don’t set it so low. Add insulation to your house. Wear a bikini. Eat more ice pops. Sweat a little, it won’t hurt you. Go vegan Yes, Meatless Mondays are a terrific start. But this year, try adding Tuesday. And Wednesday. Et cetera. A University of Oxford study concluded that cutting out meat and dairy could reduce your carbon footprint by 73%. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said lead author Joseph Poore, as reported by The Independent . Boycott new One way to stop supporting the constant addition to more junk in the waste stream is to boycott buying anything new (excluding food, prescriptions or emergency items). Perhaps you already enjoy thrifting and flea markets. If so, committing to buying nothing new might be a fun challenge. Make 2021 your year of browsing the free libraries, finding your new look at a garage sale and swapping useful items with other folks in your neighborhood. Set up regular donations to environmental organizations Just about every organization needs your help right now. Whether you prefer whales or bats, oceans or rivers, an environmental charity exists that would greatly appreciate your recurring donation, even if it’s just five bucks a month. Control your food waste The U.S. is one of the top countries for food waste in the world, tossing almost 40 million tons annually. Most of this food goes to landfills. In fact, food waste is the second-largest component of the average American landfill behind paper. This year, commit to only buy what you’ll eat and to eat what you buy. If you don’t already compost, get yourself a compost bin and throw in all your banana peels, coffee grounds, etc. Get political On the most basic level, vote. Beyond that, support causes you believe in by writing letters to your politicians or boycotting companies that are contributing to the global climate crisis. Attend town hall meetings with your local or state representatives. If you have the time, energy, resources and moxie, run for office. Images via Adobe Stock

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Take your sustainable lifestyle to the next level in 2021

Bangkoks Mega Park reimagines mega-malls as green community hubs

December 18, 2020 by  
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Thai architecture firm Architectkidd has flipped the script on the typical Southeast Asian shopping mall with its completion of Mega Park, a nature-focused retail connection in Bangkok. Designed to connect the Megabangna shopping mall with a future mixed-use development, Mega Park was created to give the closed-off mega-mall a more “extroverted” character by encouraging visitors to go outdoors to enjoy a richly programmed public park that features a nature walk, a tree top walk and even an amphitheater. Mega Park’s white galvanized steel column structure can also double as a “green scaffold” for supporting vertical vegetation. Completed in 2019, the Mega Park is the newest large-scale addition to the Megabangna, the first low-rise super regional mall in Southeast Asia that was completed over a decade ago. Mega Park connects to the shopping mall with a steel elevated pathway inspired by the local footbridges and pedestrian pathways found across Bangkok . The galvanized steel columns, which measure 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters, are spaced a meter apart to provide sufficient support for the walkways, canopies and programming while allowing for generous views toward the lush, landscaped grounds. Related: Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm can grow 20 tons of food annually Universal design ramps are integrated throughout the park for a seamless transition between the skywalk and ground-level circulation. The ground-level circulation takes the shape of a winding red path that weaves through a variety of garden spaces planted with native tropical species, such as ironwood. Perennial plants provide food and habitat for local pollinators as well. “It has been over 10 years since the original shopping center was built housing the first IKEA in Thailand ,” the architects said. “Since then the retail and urban environment in South East Asia have evolved significantly. Architectkidd’s design brings a vision of change to the shopping center model as well as an opportunity to experiment with new approaches that combine the commercial with community and the public.”  + Architectkidd Photography by WWorkspace, Ketsiree Wongwan and Panoramic Studio via Architectkidd

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Architects propose a massive forest park to be the Green Lungs of Hanoi

October 30, 2020 by  
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Air pollution has become a major problem in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, that was ranked the seventh capital city with the highest average annual PM 2.5 concentration by the 2019 World Air Report. In a bid to improve air quality while encouraging healthier lifestyles, local architecture firm ODDO Architects has embarked on an ambitious project to transform the tail end of the city’s Banana Island into a 26-hectare subtropical alluvial forest with recreational activities. Dubbed the Green Lungs of Hanoi, the proposed design is based on a 15-year plan for developing a lush canopy with mature trees measuring 8 to 15 meters tall. Located close to the city center, Banana Island is a 7-kilometer-long island that is largely undeveloped and unoccupied. According to the architects’ site study, the island suffers from inefficient land use, lack of management and illegal land usage that’s tied to poor living conditions for families who live there without access to clean water or electricity. With “Green Lungs of Hanoi,” the architects want to turn the island into a welcoming green space for the public with forest trails, pedestrian bridges and recreational activities that emphasize connections with nature. Related: Fruit trees grow on the roofs of this rammed earth home in Hanoi To realize their vision that they’ve developed over the past 1.5 years, the architects plan to work closely with the local government and community to recruit a team of volunteers of all ages to plant native trees and oversee long-term maintenance. The project also aims to raise awareness of the region’s endangered bird species, which have dwindled in recent years. In addition to providing an attractive green respite for Hanoi citizens, the architects hope to create a biodiverse habitat to increase local fauna populations. “The alluvial soil on the island also poses an issue regarding flooding and landslides due to its softness,” the architects noted of one of the project challenges. “However with semi-aquatic tree species like the one Green Lungs proposes, the land surrounding the river will be reinforced and become much stronger: preventing landslides from occurring. The location of Banana Island is extremely favorable for a green space. With its large area, and central location, it acts as Hanoi’s Lungs — purifying the air quality but also reviving an ecosystem, attracting new biodiversity and becoming a valuable and rich alluvial forest amidst the city.” + ODDO Architects Images via ODDO Architects

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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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