Mysterious tiny hut ‘floats’ under a railroad bridge in Bohemia

February 14, 2017 by  
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It’s not often that a piece of architecture truly creeps us out, but the Black Flying House has a distinct spookiness to it. Created by H3T Architekti , the tiny black hut hangs from an arch under an old railroad bridge in the Czech Republic, giving the impression that it’s floating in midair. The floating cabin , which is suspended by steel cables connected to the bridge, is accessible by ladder. However, the ladder is hidden from view purposely to confuse anyone who may happen to come across the installation while wandering in the surrounding forest. Anyone brave enough to find and use the ladder will find a tiny loft area and stove on the interior, which is lit with a single window. Related: Spend Halloween night with 6 million Parisian skeletons in world’s creepiest Airbnb According to the architects, the tiny cabin, located just outside the Czech city of Pardubice, was purposely designed to create a mysterious atmosphere of a military complex. Indeed, the black hut with its pitched roof hanging in midair must be quite the site to behold in person. + H3T Architekti Via Archdaily Photography by Martina Kubešová

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Mysterious tiny hut ‘floats’ under a railroad bridge in Bohemia

Powerful new Penn State battery turns waste CO2 into electricity

February 14, 2017 by  
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With so much excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, researchers from every corner of the globe are working on innovative ways to soak it up. Penn State University scientists have gone a step further with a powerful new battery that not only soaks up CO2, but also repurposes it to make more energy . Their pH-gradient flow cell battery is not the first of its kind, but it is the most powerful – take a closer look after the jump. In an article published by Environmental Science and Technology Letters , the Penn State researchers note the discrepancy between CO2 concentrations in regular air and exhaust gases created by fossil fuel combustion results in an “untapped energy source for producing electricity.” “One method of capturing this energy is dissolving CO2 gas into water and then converting the produced chemical potential energy into electrical power using an electrochemical system,” they write. While previous attempts to convert CO2 into electricity have been successful, the researchers say power densities were limited, and ion-exchange technology expensive. They said their ph-gradient flow cell battery is considerably more powerful. Related: Plants are keeping atmospheric CO2 levels stable, but it won’t last forever “In this approach, two identical supercapacitive manganese oxide electrodes were separated by a nonselective membrane and exposed to an aqueous buffer solution sparged with either CO2 gas or air,” they write. “This pH-gradient flow cell produced an average power density of 0.82 W/m2, which was nearly 200 times higher than values reported using previous approaches.” Engadget breaks this down for lay readers: “As ions are exchanged between the denser CO2 solution and normal air solution, the voltage changes at the manganese oxide electrodes in either tank. This stimulates the flow of electrons between the two connected electrodes and voilà: electricity.” They also report that the process can essentially be reversed to recharge the battery, and that Penn State was able to repeat this process 50 times without losing performance. For now, the researchers aren’t ready to scale their technology, but when they do, they envision it embedded in power plants, diverting atmospheric CO2, and slowly chipping away at one of the most epic challenges humans have ever faced: climate change . Via Engadget Images via Environmental Science and Technology Letters, Pexels

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Powerful new Penn State battery turns waste CO2 into electricity

Prefabricated garden retreat snaps together in less than a week

February 10, 2017 by  
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If your dream garden look like something from a fantasy world, you’ll love this Dragonfly Pavilion built for a backyard in Hoboken, New Jersey. Built from sustainably harvested and FSC-certified Sapele mahogany and recycled aluminum, this beautifully intricate garden shed takes inspiration from the complex pattern of butterfly and dragonfly wings. New York-based CDR Studio Architects designed this prefabricated backyard retreat, which took less than one week to install. Prefabricated by SITU Fabrication , Dragonfly Pavilion is made with a recycled aluminum frame clad in Sapele lumber and large sections of glazing. A single timber bench is built into the interior while a laminated-tempered glass sits on the roof. The glazing is broken up by a gradient of complex geometric shapes, or cells, that give the structure its delicate, dragonfly wing-like appearance. “These cells are more than just aesthetically appealing,” write the architects. “Their shape and size respond directly to the forces acting on it.” Related: Glowing bamboo pavilion promotes ecological design in Hong Kong The wing-like pattern was derived from a computer-generated algorithm. Mosquito netting is also installed on the interior of the mahogany cells, giving the structure a second, inner skin. The Dragonfly Pavilion’s simple rectangular form allows for a variety of programs, from use as a yoga studio to a small dining area. The pavilion was prefabricated offsite and then reassembled onsite in less than one week. + CDR Studio Architects Photography by John Muggenborg

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Prefabricated garden retreat snaps together in less than a week

Artist transforms recycled materials into beautifully intricate, life-sized sculptures

February 10, 2017 by  
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At first glance, its easy to mistake artist Kate Kato’s works for the real thing. The Bristol-born artist of Kasasagi Design masterfully transforms recycled materials into life-like sculptures that capture the intricacies and beauty of plants, insects, and other found objects in nature. Each of her works, no matter how small, is an amazing undertaking of mixed media and art techniques, from wirework to carving. Inspired by a love of nature, Kato attributes her beginnings in art and the name of her design studio, Kasasagi, a Japanese word that figuratively refers to a person who obsessively collects things, to the time she spent as a child collecting random bits and pieces during her walks through the countryside. The artist works mainly with paper that she cuts out and carves from the books and magazines she collects, and she combines the medium with wire , thread, and fabric. From a distance, Kato’s artworks look startlingly lifelike, especially when presented in specimen boxes, but the truth unravels when a closer look reveals printed lettering or loose threads. Related: Japanese paper artist replicates amazing wild animals using intricately bound newspaper “I like to use materials in a way that provokes this curiosity in the viewer too by leaving sections of the original object visible in the new sculpture ,” writes Kato. “I want the sculptures to look real and not real at the same time inviting the viewer to consider details they may normally over look and stimulate curiosity for the made item and the real thing.” Kato hopes to encourage curiosity about nature and a greater awareness of the environment and our role in the ecosystem. + Kasasagi Design

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Artist transforms recycled materials into beautifully intricate, life-sized sculptures

World’s first library of ice in Siberia is filled with crowd-sourced content

February 10, 2017 by  
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Although most people look for a cozy warm corner to curl up with a good book, a Russian town has opened the world’s first outdoor ice library , filled with crowd-sourced content. Located on the edge of the frozen Lake Baikal in Baikalsk, (southern Siberia), the magical “ice library of wonders” is made up of 200 tons of ice blocks molded into a labyrinth with short phrases etched into the walls. https://youtu.be/_EWAkuc3QwQ The project was a creative idea by the local tourism bureau, “Last year we announced we would create the Ice Library of Wonders, and asked people to send us their dreams and wishes.” local tourism head and ice librarian Maxim Khvostishkov told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. Soon, the project began receiving quotes from people from all over the world. To date, over 1,000 phrases have been carved into the ice structure ‘s 420 “books” in various languages, English, Chinese, Korean, etc. Related: Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round Although the ice structure is a beautiful statement of community-sourced literature, unfortunately, the engraved words will soon be a thing of the past. The ice library is expected to last until April when Lake Baikal normally begins to thaw. If you’d like to be a part of the library’s short-lived history, you can send in your wish to be engraved by using this link (in Russian) up until Feb. 28. Via NBC Bay Area Images via MACTC  

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World’s first library of ice in Siberia is filled with crowd-sourced content

Artist ingeniously turns old plastic bottles into joining material for furniture

January 31, 2017 by  
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Old plastic bottles get a second shot at life in the creative hands of Royal College of Art graduate Micaella Pedros . The London-based designer collected discarded bottles and melted them down into a wood bonding material for furniture. Her experimental project, called Joining Bottles, explores upcycling of scavenged materials found across the city, including bits of wood and different colored plastic bottle waste. https://vimeo.com/172330337 Pedros makes Joining Bottles furniture using a variety of timber types, from wood offcuts to tree branches. To improve the strength of the plastic joints, the artist creates notches and groves in the wood nearest to where the parts will be joined. After cutting off the top and bottom of a plastic bottle, she slips the plastic sleeve over the wood pieces and uses a heat gun to melt the PET plastic until the bottle shrinks and wraps tightly around the wood pieces to create a strong bond. Related: The New Raw turns plastic waste into valuable raw material “Both materials, wood and plastic bottles, are widely abundant in cities and other places,” writes Pedros. “There are lying there as waste, waiting to be reclaimed by people. Joining Bottles seeks to contribute to new beliefs based on what we, as individuals and communities, can do with what is available to us. In some countries, this project can make a real difference, promoting the collect of plastic bottles and wood waste , and helping people to empower themselves.” The plastic bonds are strong enough to create sturdy furnishing capable of supporting an average person’s weight. + Micaella Pedros Images via Micaella Pedros

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Artist ingeniously turns old plastic bottles into joining material for furniture

Hundreds of repurposed orange crates make up striking facade in Italy

January 20, 2017 by  
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Orange crates never looked so good. Studio NOWA (Navarra Office Walking Architecture) repurposed hundreds of the plastic crates to for the facade of two former artisan sheds in Italy. Converted into a striking rehabilitation and treatment center for people with disabilities, the building’s facade has a unique pixelated texture that dominates the surrounding area. The project, called Protiro, was designed and built for Concetta D’Alessandro Foundation, a non-profit organization that deals with the treatment and rehabilitation of people with disabilities . The architects transformed two former artisan sheds into a multi-functional space, using basic materials to make its exterior distinctive and recognizable. Related: Gorgeous Glass Clad Groot Klimmendaal Rehabilitation Centre Sits Tucked Amongst the Trees A guesthouse occupies the ground floor of the building, while the first floor, sheltered under a vaulted roof, functions as a large space for group activities. Service areas occupy the two low volumes which form an entrance vestibule to the main hall. A new lift and staircase were added to this space. The patterned skin envelops the entire structure, strengthening its visual identity. + StudioNOWA Via Archdaily Photos by Peppe Maisto

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Hundreds of repurposed orange crates make up striking facade in Italy

Artist transforms discarded books into spectacular crystallized artifacts

January 6, 2017 by  
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San Francisco-based artist Alexis Arnold turns discarded books into sculpture in an attempt to immortalize some of our favorite literary classics. Created as part of her Crystalized Books series, the petrified objects speak to the rise of e-books and disappearance of independent bookstores. The books are carefully bent into dynamic and irregular shapes and covered with crystals to obscure their words, giving them the appearance of geologic specimens or forgotten historic artifacts. We’ve featured Arnold’s works before , but she’s recently produced many more of her eye-catching pieces. The artist makes her sculptures by adding borax to boiling water. She dips a book into the hot solution before bending back the book’s pages to the desired form. The borax-covered book is taken out and preserves its distorted shape as it cools, while the solution dries into chunky crystal growth. Related: Guy Laramee’s Carvings Prove that Books Can Transport Us to Incredible New Worlds The crystal growth obscures the text and turns the book into a nonfunctional art piece. Arnold sources discarded and found books , but she prefers to work with the literary classics or educational books such as ‘The Science of Wine’ and ‘Mastering the Art of Beekeeping.’ + Alexis Arnold Via Colossal Images via Alexis Arnold

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Upcycling studio in Tel Aviv gives former prostitutes a second chance at life

January 5, 2017 by  
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Modern slavery is all around us—even if we don’t always see it. Human trafficking for the sex industry is one of the most insidious crimes, but one group in Tel Aviv is fighting against it to save lives and the environment. A.I.R.—which stands for “Act, Inspire, Restore”—is an international social enterprise that combines social purpose with an eco-friendly upcycling business to spread awareness about the black market activity and to give former prostitutes the skills and supportive community they need for a second chance at life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyT7BS9V5Vs Founded by Swiss couple Tabea and Matthias Oppliger, A.I.R. turns reclaimed materials like pallets into custom wood furniture and other upcycled products. The social impact business is a branch of glowbalact , a Switzerland-based NGO aimed at ending modern-day slavery, particularly sex trafficking, in Switzerland and abroad. Tabea, a trained massage therapist, first got involved by offering free massages in Zurich brothels for three years to learn about the women working there, earn their trust, and give them a therapeutic experience. Her and her husband’s knowledge of the industry and desire to spread awareness eventually brought them to Tel Aviv, where an unexpected encounter with a woman who Tabea previously massaged in Zurich cemented their decision to start a social enterprise in Israel. Despite Israel’s mostly young and well-educated populace, the country is home to 12,000 women, men, and children who identify as sex workers. Over three-quarters of women surveyed by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice shared their desire to leave the sex industry but say they can’t due to lack of employable skills, financial debt, or coercion by pimps or former employees. The Oppligers founded A.I.R. two years ago and successfully launched their first workspace seven months ago in the city’s gritty but up-and-coming Florentine neighborhood. There, the couple is joined with a staff of social workers and business managers, and they currently work together with eight former sex workers who have signed on for a one-year training program to help them reintegrate into society. Related: Thailand’s $7.8 billion seafood industry is built on human trafficking and slave labor Created with the mission to restore people and materials, A.I.R. works primarily with turning discarded shipping pallets into stylish furniture, a process that Tabea says is very therapeutic. The Swiss-Israeli social enterprise creates custom furniture designs to generate a stable economic base and pays the women an hourly rate. Thus far, A.I.R. has installed their upcycled works in a variety of locations across the city including the rooftop patio of Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, and recently won a contract to outfit the interior of a new coffee shop. The foam cushions are covered with recycled billboard canvas, which is sturdy, waterproof, and often colorful. Since the upcycled pallet furniture is heavy and is only sold in Israel, A.I.R. was asked by supporters to produce a second upcycled product that could be easily shipped abroad. Thus, the team has recently started collecting discarded kites donated by kite surfers. The reclaimed materials are repurposed into waterproof bags and bibs under the label Kite Pride. “We’re trying to make art not waste,” said Tabea to Inhabitat. “We love the idea of upcycling and recycling. It has to be unique and this very colorful stuff is very therapeutic for the girls. One of the girls said ‘I’m just happy looking at the colors.’ Our constant battle is between being socially minded and the pressure of trying to get a business up and running. It’s very challenging. We offer social impact holidays to Germans and Americans and other young business people so that they can come for two and three weeks here and help out at A.I.R. Our goal is to be a jumping board for the career these girls have always wanted. We just give them stability and a protected environment and teach them a few things.” A.I.R.’s Kite Pride products will soon be available for purchase on their website and their upcycled pallet furniture is available for purchase and commission in Israel. The sale of these products helps spread awareness and will produce more jobs around the country. To learn more about human trafficking, you can watch a new sex trafficking movie “She Has A Name,” proceeds of which help support glowbalact. + glowbalact + Vibe Israel Tour courtesy of Vibe Israel Images © Lucy Wang , image of Oppligers © Amit Shemesh

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Upcycling studio in Tel Aviv gives former prostitutes a second chance at life

Mexican winery built from recycled wood and rammed earth blends into the valley landscape

December 28, 2016 by  
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Mexico’s booming wine country of Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California recently welcomed the chic BRUMA winery , a large complex constructed with a natural materials palette to blend beautifully into its surroundings. TAC Taller de Arquitectura Contextual designed the BRUMA winery as part of a 75-acre masterplan that includes a bed and breakfast, pool, spa, event space, and restaurant. Rammed earth and recycled wood feature prominently in the rustic winery building. Despite its 22,000-square-meter size, the BRUMA winery visually disappears in the dusty red and green landscape of Valle de Guadalupe. Part of the winery is tucked underground to take advantage of the earth’s thermal mass that protects against volatile temperature changes. A large reflecting pool nearby also serves as a natural heat insulator. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier Recycled wood and steel are the primary materials used to construct the winery. The timber slats are naturally weathered and are of varying shades to give the building an interesting and earthy texture and parts of the wooden walls are punctuated by small glass openings for beautiful effect. Pieces of natural unmilled wood are used as seating or decorative objects. Native plants cover the roof of the winery. Curving rammed earth walls also make up part of the complex, further integrating the building into the landscape. + TAC Taller de Arquitectura Contextual Via ArchDaily Images © Humberto Romero

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Mexican winery built from recycled wood and rammed earth blends into the valley landscape

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