Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

March 16, 2017 by  
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These stunning nature-inspired sculptures are so beautiful you might not notice at first glance what they’re carved from—old farm equipment. Self-taught artist Dan Rawlings recycles these discarded tools into canvases and sculptures . By giving these forgotten tools new life, he hopes to remind others to appreciate the value of our existing possessions and the environment rather than succumb to the never-ending excesses of commercialism. Based in Gloucestershire, UK, Rawlings is drawn to the fun challenge of working with old found objects that still have sentimental value even if they’re damaged beyond use. Using a variety of tools including a handheld plasma torch, welders , and scalpels, the artist reshapes and carves intricate nature-inspired scenes. He writes: “I try to create images that remind people of the moments when everything seems possible and free; times when climbing a tree, or sitting admiring the way its branches twist and curl means nothing, but means everything.” Related: Artist Nikki Ella Whitlock recycles wine bottle fragments into ethereal mosaics Although Rawlings works with many different materials, he’s most well known for metal carvings . His manipulation of metals can be seen in his reworking of old saws to the walls of vans. + Dan Rawlings

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Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

March 16, 2017 by  
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What exactly is biomimicry ? I think of it as a way of unlocking a whole world of super-powers for humanity. It is literally the next stage of human evolution. Leonardo DaVinci himself said, “Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” Maybe we’ve been studying the wrong master, trying to make a living on this planet in ways that will ultimately deplete us all. That’s certainly the case with humans and honeybees . Yes, humans love honey, and the busy hum of bees in the garden is a sound that gives us peace on a warm day. But we have much more to learn from them. Find out the lessons they have to teach in today’s entry of The Biomimicry Manual ! Great designers know that people feel good when they are surrounded by plants and other living things. Gardens are good for the soul. That’s ‘biophilia.’ Nature makes us happy. We love using ‘organic’ raw materials, like honey and beeswax, because they are useful and renewable, pleasing and non-toxic. They won’t sit in a landfill for the next thousand years like yesterday’s plastic. The Earth will recycle them. That’s ‘bio-utilization,’ using nature because it’s just good stuff. Our herds of goats and sheep, the crop varieties we’ve grown and selected for millennia because they taste the way we want, and even the family dog are ‘bio-assistants.’ They help us make and do the things we need. Honeybees, for instance, are not ‘wild animals,’ but domestic helpers. We have shaped their evolution to suit ourselves. Biomimicry is a little different. It only “uses” life’s ideas. It’s when you have a problem, and you ask, “how other living creatures solving it?” Instead of harvesting that creature or its by-products, you copy the idea itself and make it anew, make it human. Every plant and animal , fungus, and bacteria has a whole genome worth of time-tested, sustainable ideas to inspire us. That’s a lot of superpowers. Myself, I like bioinspiration of all kinds. John Todd ‘s ‘ Living Machines ‘, for instance, do a little of everything: biophilia, bio-utilization, bio-assistance, and biomimicry. He uses a pleasing array of living plants and bacteria (both domestic and wild) to imitate the way a natural wetland ecosystems works, filtering and treating sewage in the process. Believe it or not, a bee has to eat eight pounds of honey to make a single pound of wax to safely store her honey and larvae in. It’s an expensive proposition, and it has to be done efficiently. The ancient Greeks understood that modular hexagonal honeycomb makes the most storage possible with the least amount of material. Architects and designers are tapping this for all sorts of applications. Panelite , in New York, offers hexagonal ClearShade insulating glass. It passively regulates heat, while still letting in lots of light. The Sinosteel skyscraper in Tianjin, China uses honeycomb windows the same way. Our honeybee has other brilliant design ideas as well. For instance, her 300 degree field of vision literally gives her eyes in the back of her head. Nissan Motors is working on a laser range finder inspired by these curved, compound eyes, which will detect and avert potential collisions. German researchers are designing a honeybee-inspired wide-angle lens for aerial drones, while other researchers are using their navigation tricks to optimize GPS and tracking systems. We know that it’s physically impossible for bumblebees to fly. And yet they do, with incredible efficiency and maneuverability. So what are we missing? We aren’t completely sure, but one thing they have is the ability to zip and unzip their two-part wings for flight and landing. What if our airplanes could do that? Wouldn’t that save space on aircraft carriers and in busy airports? And when we say something is “the bees’ knees,” it’s even better than we thought. Insect joints contain ‘resilin,’ a springy protein. Turns out to be the most efficient elastic known, dramatically better than natural or synthetic rubber. With it, bees can flap their wings a thousand times a minute, and fleas can jump one hundred times their body length. An Australian government research group has mimicked this “near-perfect” rubber, creating 98% bounce back. That’s practically a perpetual-motion machine! These examples are taken from Jay Harman’s new book, The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and how Nature is Inspiring Innovation . There are so many good ideas in nature, it boggles the mind, And that’s just the bees! There is literally an infinite world of time-tested, sustainable ideas to learn from. And if we get “buzz-y” studying them, we can unlock a whole new set of super-powers to take us into the future. + The Biomimicry Manual  An evolutionary biologist, writer, sustainability expert, and passionate biomimicry professional in the  Biomimicry 3.8 BPro certification program , Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker blogs at  BioInspired Ink  and serves as Content Developer for the  California Association of Museums ‘ Green Museums Initiative. She is working on a book about organizational transformation inspired by nature.

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The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

Zero-carbon home generates income by making more energy than it needs

March 6, 2017 by  
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The home of the future could slash your utility bills and generate enough money to help pay the mortgage. UK firm Koru Architects designed and built one such house, named the Lloyd House, that’s effectively zero-carbon and runs entirely on renewable energy. Tucked away on a quiet street in England’s East Sussex, this contemporary home generates more energy than it consumes and even brings in a net income of £2650 per year from solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and a wood-chip biomass boiler. Completed in 2011 as a case study, the Lloyd House is a large and contemporary three-bedroom home that only consumes around half the energy of a typical UK household thanks to its use of passive solar design, energy efficient appliances, effective insulation, and high airtightness. The home was built with mostly natural materials including sustainably sourced timber for the cladding and flooring, zinc roofing, hemp and wood-fiber insulation, recycled glass in the kitchen countertops, and lime-based natural plants. Sedum plants carpet the roof to add an additional layer of insulation and provide habitat to local insects and birds. A 4,700-liter Freewater UK Elite rainwater harvesting system collects rainwater for reuse in irrigation, the washing machine, and the dual-flush toilets. The Lloyd House produces all the hot water it needs for domestic use and for the underfloor heating with a 6-kilowatt solar thermal system and a 10.5-kilowatt wood-pellet boiler. A twelve 340-kilowatt peak solar array provides around 3800 kilowatt-hour of electricity annually, which is more than it uses thanks to its energy-efficient measures. Excess energy is exported to the grid and, with the help of renewable heat incentive and feed-in-tariff schemes, the home brings in a net annual income of £2650 ($3,300 USD) after bills are subtracted. The house emits 93% less carbon dioxide equivalent than the average UK household. Related: Colorful wind-powered community in Scotland is everything an eco-village should be Constructed with passive solar principles, the airtight home is oriented towards the south with large areas of glazing to take advantage of the sun’s heat and natural lighting to reduce energy demand. High-level skylights also flood the interior with natural light. In addition to the three bedrooms, the home comprises a home office, two bathrooms, living room, utility room, open plan kitchen and dining area, garage, and garden. The spacious and comfortable interior is organized into split-levels to make the most of the sloped site. “The house is expected to last around 80 years, and through its generation of clean energy it is expected to offset 41 tonnes of carbon over its life,” write the architects. “Including the replacement of the renewable energy technologies, it would take 48 years to become entirely carbon-neutral.” The project was awarded the RIBA Download Prize 2011 in the category for sustainability and serves as a source of green inspiration for the community. + Koru Architects

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Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks

March 3, 2017 by  
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Archi-Union Architects have completed an unusual art exhibition space in Shanghai with the help of robots. Created for the Chi She artist group, the building in the city’s Xuhui district was built with recycled gray-green bricks salvaged from a former building. Designed with both traditional and contemporary elements, the Chi She exhibition space features an unusual protrusion made possible with advanced digital fabrication technology. The 200-square-meter Chi She exhibition space was built to replace a former historic building, the materials of which were salvaged and reused in the new construction. While the zigzagging roof has been raised and reconstructed from timber, the most eye-catching difference between the old and new buildings is the part of the wall above the entrance door that bulges out. The architects used a robotic masonry fabrication technique developed by Fab-Union to create the curved wall, which would have been difficult to precisely achieve with traditional means. Related: WeWork’s new coworking space in Shanghai features salvaged materials from the city’s past “The precise positioning of the integrated equipment of robotic masonry fabrication technique and the construction elaborately to the mortar and bricks by the craftsmen makes this ancient material, brick, be able to meet the requirements in the new era, and realizes the presentation of the design model consummately,” wrote the architects. “The dilapidation of these old bricks coordinated with the stretch display of the curving walls are narrating a connection between people and bricks, machines and construction, design and culture, which will be spread permanently in the shadow of external walls under the setting sun.” + Archi-Union Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Su Shengliang

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Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks

Dazzling art-filled passageway immerses visitors in everything that makes Amsterdam special

March 2, 2017 by  
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The city of Amsterdam just added another attraction to its long list of must-sees. Artists Arno Coenen, Iris Roskam and Hans van Bentem converted an arched passageway into Amsterdam Oersoep, an immersive art project decorated with seemingly innumerable references to the city of Amsterdam, its history, and its future. Glass mosaic, traditional Italian terrazzo, gilded mirrors, and recycled bicycle chandeliers are just a few of the beautiful elements that make up the intricate and enchanting artwork. Commissioned by Bouwinvest , Amsterdam Oersoep was created as part of a redevelopment project called Nowadays that encompasses the passageway and the buildings attached to it on Nieuwendijk and Damrak. Amsterdam Oersoepâ??Oersoep is Dutch for â??primordial soupâ??â??was created in Beurspassage , a passageway between Damrak avenue and the street of Nieuwendijk popularly used among Amsterdam residents and tourists. The renewed Beurspassage was created as a major tourist attraction, beautification project, and to include the worldâ??s longest coffee bar in the world: Liquid Mokum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf89uLLvO5A Related: Nature-filled office takes over a former factory building in Amsterdam-Noord The Amsterdam Oersoep pays homage to the cityâ??s canals with its color scheme and wavy images that give the effect of walking through an underwater tunnel. The ceiling is covered in 450 square meters of glass mosaic embedded with iconic symbols of Amsterdam, from fish and air bubbles that allude to the canals to bicycle gears and a floating Vincent van Gogh ear. The sides of the passageway are lined with bluish-green tiles as well as large gilded and engraved Art Deco-styled mirrors. Handmade stained glass lamps, crafted in thirteen different shapes, hang from the sides. The traditional Italian terrazzo flooring is decorated with icons symbolic of the cityâ??s rich heritage of art and trade. Seven golden chandeliers hung from above are made from recycled bicycle parts like gears, headlamps, and handlebars. Every detail in the Amsterdam Oersoep hints to the stories of Amsterdam, creating a richly layered and beautiful artwork that fully immerses whomever walks through the passage. + Beurspassage Images by Kees Hummel

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Repurposed shipping containers make a bold statement at the National Theater Company of Korea

March 1, 2017 by  
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Seoul’s trendy mall made of shipping containers isn’t the only place you’ll see cargotecture in the city. Urbantainer , the same local firm behind the world’s largest cargotecture mall Common Ground , recently completed an extension for the National Theater Company of Korea , one of the nation’s flagship theater companies based in the capital. The new visitor area comprises a series of red shipping containers skillfully transformed into a contemporary and functional space that still preserves an industrial character. The National Theater Company of Korea (NTCK) commissioned Urbantainer to create a visitor area that would serve as a social space within the grounds. To integrate the new space with the existing buildings, the designers aligned the containers with the building axis and painted them the same shade of red as the NTCK logo. “While highlighting the modular form of containers, the design is deliberately held light and maintains a balance with existing features and objects such as a former oil station and the grass square,” writes Urbantainer. Related: World’s largest shipping container shopping mall pops up in Seoul Although the cargotecture building looks like it’s made up of separate containers stacked together, many of the container walls were removed to create an interior with a 12-meter-long column-less space to accommodate large gatherings. High ceilings, access to natural light, and the light color palette give the interior a spacious and open feel. The flexible open-plan area can be manipulated with partitions and moving walls to allow for a variety of functions. + Urbantainer Images © Kyungsub Shin

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Repurposed shipping containers make a bold statement at the National Theater Company of Korea

Rusty shovel heads transformed into delicate lace-inspired sculptures

February 27, 2017 by  
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Artist Denise Bizot has a gift for breathing new life into an unexpected medium—rusted shovel heads. The New Orleans-based artist retrieves discarded shovel heads from salvage yards and carves beautifully intricate lace-inspired designs into the rusted surfaces. She typically keeps the oxidized patina intact for the visual contrast between the weathered object and the delicate new designs. Formerly a drafter in the petroleum industry, Bizot returned to Loyola New Orleans to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus on sculpture. Her interest in found objects , particularly metals, sparked her metalworking craft and love of transforming discarded junk and debris found in New Orleans into beautiful sculptures. In addition to her reworked shovel heads and other sculptures, Bizot also creates more functional pieces such as metal room dividers and handmade tables. Related: Artist sculpts lifelike grizzly bear from recycled cardboard “Like many cities undergoing gentrification , New Orleans is replete with discarded metal, miscellaneous street junk and salvage yards teeming with all sorts of debris,” writes Bizot. “For me, the idea of reclaiming, deconstructing and transforming “so-called junk” into works of sculpture is fascinating.” + Denise Bizot

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Artists recycle hundreds of plastic bottles into a dynamic arch in Chiang Mai

February 16, 2017 by  
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Plastic trash is a major problem in Thailand’s beautiful Chiang Mai , but a team of designers has found a way to creatively rethink waste in a positive light. Design collectives VINN PATARARIN and FAHPAV combined handcrafted design with 3D modeling to create Self-Ornamentalize, a temporary installation made from 850 recycled plastic bottles. The experimental pavilion was installed a part of Compeung, an artist-in-residence program hosted at Chiang Mai’s suburban village of DoiSakt. The multidisciplinary team of designers developed Self-Ornamentalize through their discovery that the traditions of local craftsmanship and use of natural materials were fading as the village modernized. Given the proliferation of plastic, the designers saw plastic as the “true local materials of this present day.” Thus, the designers chose plastic bottles as their primary building material. Related: Bottle Seedling House turns bamboo and plastic bottles into shelter for Vietnamese farmers The plastic bottles were broken down by hand to create a textile -like material. The designers used computer modeling to generate the installation’s curved form that measured nine by four meters in size. Self-Ornamentalize was installed on an elevated walkway in the large lake, a major landmark in the village, to maximize visibility. The designers write: “‘Self-Ornamentalize’ is an experiment in totally transformed the unawareness of locals’ identity through technology, materials and craftsmanship towards the wonder of self-discovery in post-modern era.” + VINN PATARARIN

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Artists recycle hundreds of plastic bottles into a dynamic arch in Chiang Mai

7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life

February 15, 2017 by  
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Want to make rent and utility bills a thing of the past? We’ve rounded up seven off-grid homes that could be the answer to making your dreams a reality. Stylish and self-sufficient, these eco-friendly dwellings promise freedom from the grid. Many are even set atop wheels to let you move with your home to almost anywhere you desire. Keep reading to see seven charming homes that offer homeowners the chance to live off the grid and rent-free. WOHNWAGON Powered by solar energy and made from recycled materials, the WOHNWAGON is a beautiful mobile and modern home with a housing footprint so small it fits within the size of a standard parking lot. This larch-clad caravan was designed for homeowners who wish to travel the world and enjoy comfortable off-grid living thanks to energy-efficient features including a green roof , triple-glazed windows, graywater recycling, solar panels, highly efficient insulation and more. Developed for mass production, the WOHNWAGON starts at 40,000 Euros and can be individually customized. EcoCapsule For those who want a little off-grid place of their own with more of a futuristic edge, look no farther than the EcoCapsule . Now available for pre-orders, the tiny egg-shaped home that went viral in 2015 has been displayed around the world wowing visitors with its ability to produce all of its energy onsite with rooftop solar panels and a low-noise wind turbine that feed into a 10kWh battery. Developed by Nice Architects , the mobile home can be moved or dropped in place with a crane or helicopter, giving owners the freedom to live almost anywhere they please. POD-Idladla South Africa-based architect Clara da Cruz Almeida collaborated with local design firm Dokter+Misses to create POD-Idladla , an adorable flat-pack home with off-grid capabilities. Targeted at young adults, the tiny solar-powered was conceived as a customizable eco-friendly home at an affordable price. The modular design can also be expanded upon with additional pods to make multi-unit configurations that house up to 12 people. Moon Dragon If homes inspired by fantasy and fairytale are more your style, you’ll love Moon Dragon. Tiny house builder Abel Zimmerman Zyl of Zyl Vardos designed and built this tiny timber off-grid home that looks like it’d be right at home in Middle-Earth. Outfitted with a solar kit for off-grid living, the beautifully detailed mobile home boasts masterful craftsmanship as well as impressive an impressive suite of features, from a five-burner Range cooker with two ovens to a loft bedroom large enough for a queen-sized bed. KODA Lovers of travel and modern, minimalist house designs will feel right at home in KODA, a tiny prefabricated home created by Estonian design collective Kodasema . Designed with off-grid capabilities, KODA can be assembled on a variety of surfaces without the need for foundations or disassembled and prepped for relocation in as little as four hours. Fronted with large quadruple-glazed windows, the light-filled modular house can also be expanded with multiple units. Ark Shelter Designed as an escape from city life, the Ark Shelter was created to reconnect people with nature. The self-sufficient modular cabin is prefabricated from durable timber and placed on site atop raised, mobile foundations. Wind turbines, solar power, and rainwater collection allow the home to go off-grid . Walden Studio home Dutch design agency Walden Studio teamed up with carpenter Dimka Wentzel to design a tiny home that’s big on luxury and freedom. Equipped with all the systems needed for off-grid living, the contemporary mobile home is filled with natural light and natural materials like the cork floors and birch plywood paneling. The 17-square-meter home also contains plenty of multifunctional furniture to maximize its small footprint.

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7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life

Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

February 14, 2017 by  
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Over a thousand discarded shipping pallets went into the making of this partly planted, undulating pavilion in New Delhi. Local architecture firm M:OFA Studios drew inspiration from India’s ruins and their love of upcycling to create Pensieve, an award-winning experimental pavilion with a name inspired by the “memory basin” in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The temporary installation served as an urban playground and public gathering space that inspired people to contemplate their surroundings. Built as part of India Design ID 2014, the Pensieve is no longer standing though it continues to be recognized in awards, such as its nomination in the Kohler Bold Design Awards 2016. Over 1,200 recycled pallets were stacked together in an asymmetrical shape inspired by the hundreds of stone ruins that dot the capital, where many locals used as playgrounds in their childhood. Compost added inside some of the open pallets was used as a growing medium for grass and other plants. Related: Charming Wine Shop Built with Repurposed Shipping Pallets Pops Up in Poland “The concept initiated from the basic idea of ‘fluid’ thoughts,” write the architects. “Built out of recycled wood , this pavilion was asked on the idea of unobstructed thoughts associated often with the children. The pavilion became a reminder of those simpler times, where the kids looked at the world beyond a 4 inch by 3 inch display screen in their hands.” The large 800-square-foot installation framed a public gathering space that also included solar-powered furniture that lit up when people sat on them and a hundred fiber-optic sculptures that used motion sensors to light up at night. + M:OFA Studios Images via M:OFA Studios

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Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

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