Muppet set designer’s Tower House is a psychedelic escape made from repurposed materials

June 2, 2017 by  
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This one-of-a-kind house near Woodstock has a history that is as unique as it is. John Kahn, the home’s creator, was friends with the late Muppet mogul Jim Henson and designed sets for the show. The secretary for the Grateful Dead also lived in the home for several years. Kahn built the Tower House over 15 years using re-purposed and locally available materials . If you want to experience the psychedelic home for yourself, you can nab the 3,518 square-foot building  for a cool $1.2 million. The Tower House sits on a wooded 5.5-acre estate located near Woodstock. In 2007, Kahn sold the house to its current owner, former secretary to the Greatful Dead, who was married to Owsley Stanley, a known 1960s music producer and sound engineer. John Kahn used repurposed materials including slate, copper, aircraft-grade aluminium and redwood, as well as local wood and bluestone to build this cylindrical structure that includes a guest house, a sauna, a large studio building and three storage buildings. Related: Small town restaurateurs transform former church into a stunning cafe The three-bedroom home looks different from practically every angle and resembles a set from a TV show. Each room in the house has a different visual theme, with artwork scattered all over the place. The eclectic use of materials was inspired by the Catskills wilderness, dotted with the artist’s sculptures . Via 6sqft Photos via Keller Williams Realty

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Muppet set designer’s Tower House is a psychedelic escape made from repurposed materials

This incredible urban oasis cafe is filled with living trees and vintage cars

May 12, 2017 by  
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Vintage cars may be popular collector’s items, but rarely do you see them used as restaurant decor. That, didn’t stop New York and Guatemala-based architecture firm Taller Ken from parking a couple of repurposed vehicles inside the incredible Madero Cafe. The ambitious team also filled the 4,844-square-foot space with an array of vibrant colors and soaring 15-foot-high trees to create a playful culinary greenhouse. Related: Upcycled urban cafe in India modeled after communal “chawls” Located on one of the busiest streets in Guatemala City, the Madero Cafe holds court from the exterior as an odd monolithic red block with four cars protruding out of its exterior walls. We’ll never know if the design is a sarcastic nod to the speedy drivers that whiz by or the city’s chaotic urban design , but we do know that the interior design is just as irreverent. The quirky interior is a light-filled oasis of color with a forest of soaring palm trees that create a playful greenhouse ambiance. The massive amount of greenery is irrigated thanks to an integrated rainwater collection system installed on the roof. The plants are also kept healthy thanks to the natural light that floods the interior through multiple sawtooth skylights. The rest of the interior is a hodgepodge of colors and textures, supported by a dizzying multi-colored floor. Although at first glance, the vibrant concrete mosaics on the floor may seem random, they actually follow a pattern that leads to the kitchen and bathrooms, and a few other unique areas in the restaurant. Taller KEN refers to the project’s eclectic appearance as locally-inspired: “this project mines local patterns, materials and textures and collects them to make a fresh tropical atmosphere”. + Taller Ken Photography by Leonardo Izaguirre via Taller Ken

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This incredible urban oasis cafe is filled with living trees and vintage cars

New MIT water purification method eliminates even trace chemical waste and pesticides

May 12, 2017 by  
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Ridding water of tiny concentrations of pollutants isn’t easy. Typically, a lot of energy or chemicals are required to remove these dangerous contaminants – but that could change. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany have come up with an electrochemical process able to pull out toxins like chemical wastes, pharmaceuticals , or pesticides . Their process could help people in developing countries obtain water without those unhealthy compounds. The scientists pioneered an electrochemical process able to selectively get rid of organic pollutants, which can be harmful even in minimal amounts. Here’s how it works: small surfaces are coated with Faradaic materials which can become positively or negatively charged after reactions. An electrical source is added to the surfaces, and then as water flows around the materials, the surface materials are tuned to bind with noxious pollutants. Unlike other systems that require either high pressures or high voltages to work, the new way can function at what chemical engineering professor T. Alan Hatton described as relatively benign low voltages and pressures. Related: Researchers develop solar-powered device to harvest water in the desert The system could help people in the developing world obtain water free of toxic pollutants. Chemical engineer Xiao Su of MIT , lead author on a paper published recently in Energy and Environmental Science , said in a statement, “Such systems might ultimately be useful for water purification systems in remote areas in the developing world, where pollution from pesticides, dyes, and other chemicals are often an issue in the water supply.” Su said the system, which is highly efficient, could operate even in rural locations with a little help from solar panels . The new method isn’t quite ready to go yet, but mechanical engineer Matthew Suss of Technion Institute of Technology in Israel seems hopeful. He said the system still needs to be tested under real-word conditions and for lengthy periods of time to see if it’s durable, but the prototype “achieved over 500 cycles, which is a highly promising result.” Via MIT News Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and Felice Frankel

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New MIT water purification method eliminates even trace chemical waste and pesticides

Wyoming architects convert former hayloft into light-filled guest home

January 17, 2017 by  
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Nothing tugs at our country-loving hearts quite like a good barn conversion . With this minimalist renovation in Wyoming, Carney Logan Burke Architects transformed a weathered farm building into a refined, light-filled guest house. Using reclaimed materials to help offset the project’s environmental impact, the firm deftly retains the original structure’s unique character. The Barn in Wilson is set into a lush green meadow. Extra large windows on one side of the loft flood the interior with natural light , offering unobstructed views of the surrounding greenery and majestic Teton Range in the distance. Related:Beautiful converted barn hides a secret library in Oxfordshire The natural setting and historic nature of the structure guided the renovation process. Reclaimed barnwood and cedar shake shingles give the exterior the appearance of a long-weathered barn without the maintenance headaches. The project’s most compelling feature can be found inside on the second floor. Originally a hayloft, the open space was outfitted as a sophisticated guest room, kitchenette, and gym. The living space is flooded with natural light, which enhances the reclaimed oak floors and plank ceiling with exposed trusses. The bottom level is used as a garage and workspace, resulting in an elegant, multipurpose guesthouse we’d be more than happy to live in. + Carney Logan Burke Architects Via Uncrate Photography by Audrey Hall / Carney Logan Burke Architects

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Wyoming architects convert former hayloft into light-filled guest home

Wyoming lawmakers launch bill that would ban selling renewable energy

January 17, 2017 by  
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In a move that puts the “R” in regressive, a group of Republican lawmakers in Wyoming just launched a bill that would effectively ban selling wind and solar power in the state. The measure proposes to fine utilities for purchasing energy produced by large-scale renewable power projects. According to Inside Climate News , the bill is chiefly sponsored by representatives from the state’s main coal-producing counties. If enacted, it would force utilities to use power from only approved energy sources like natural gas, nuclear power, hydroelectric, oil – and of course coal. Your average homeowner could still install a rooftop solar, backyard wind or other renewable energy setup, but the state’s utilities would get slapped with big fines for buying power from renewable projects. According to Inside Climate News, the move is confusing some locals who know the lay of the land. “I haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Shannon Anderson, director of local organizing group, Powder River Basin Resource Council . “This is essentially a reverse renewable energy standard.” But Inside Climate News adds that Republican Senator David Miller, the bill’s sponsor, says the goal of the legislation is to make sure Wyoming residents have access to inexpensive power. Related: Judge orders Exxon-Mobil to disclose 40 years of climate change documents “Wyoming is a great wind state and we produce a lot of wind energy,” Miller said. “We also produce a lot of conventional energy, many times our needs. The electricity generated by coal is amongst the least expensive in the country. We want Wyoming residences to benefit from this inexpensive electrical generation. “He added that he doesn’t want to see Wyoming “averaged into” other states that require utilities to supply “more expensive” renewable energy. The proposed bill would allow renewable energy producers in the state to sell power to customers outside Wyoming without a penalty. The cost of selling power in their own state would be $10 per megawatt hour of energy sold. Republicans significantly outnumber Democrats in both the state’s House and Senate, but Miller still puts his chances of passing the bill at “50 percent or less.” Via Inside Climate News Images via Flickr Creative Commons, Jeremy Buckingham and CGP Grey , Wikimedia Commons

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Wyoming lawmakers launch bill that would ban selling renewable energy

Aquarium Zebra shark learns how to reproduce without her male partner

January 17, 2017 by  
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A female zebra shark ( Stegostoma fasciatum ) in Australia has learned to live, and reproduce, without a male counterpart. The shark, which lives in an aquarium , is one of only three animals documented that once reproduced sexually – she had a male partner for around 13 years – and then switched to reproducing asexually. Now scientists are now wondering if this phenomenon is more common than we thought. Leonie the zebra shark had a male partner from 1999 to 2012 at a Townsville, Australia aquarium, and they had over two dozen babies. When her partner was moved to a different tank, Leonie spent around four years by herself, until she gave birth to three surprise baby sharks in 2016. She’d lacked contact with any males for those four years. Scientists initially thought perhaps she’d saved sperm from the former male partner, but genetic testing revealed the three babies only had DNA from their mother. Related: Researchers record fish “singing” choruses at the break of dawn in Australia Sharks can reproduce asexually when an adjacent cell called a polar body fertilizes an egg, and it could be that is what happened with Leonie. The mechanism isn’t optimal, as it can lead to inbreeding, but could be employed by sharks when there aren’t any males around. Lead author on a study published by Scientific Reports , Christine Dudgeon of The University of Queensland , told New Scientist, “It’s not a strategy for surviving many generations because it reduces genetic diversity and adaptability. It might be a holding-on mechanism. Mum’s genes get passed down from female to female until there are males available to mate with.” Some species such as other sharks, snakes, rays, turkeys, and Komodo dragons are capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually, but asexual reproduction usually happens in females that have never reproduced sexually. The only other female animals recorded switching from sexual to asexual reproduction are a boa constrictor and an eagle ray; both lived in captivity. But it could be this anomaly actually occurs more frequently than we realized. Dudgeon said perhaps we just haven’t been looking. Via New Scientist Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Aquarium Zebra shark learns how to reproduce without her male partner

Affordable housing for disabled veterans marries wellness and sustainability in Los Angeles

January 17, 2017 by  
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Great architecture goes beyond building four walls—it’s about empowering individuals and building communities. That philosophy is embodied in the 2017 AIA award-winning project, Six Affordable Veteran Housing. Designed by Brooks + Scarpa , this beautiful LEED Platinum-certified project offers support services, rehab, and affordable housing to disabled veterans in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park, an area with one of the highest population densities in the U.S. Unlike traditional shelter models, Six Affordable Veteran Housing was designed primarily around the concept of community by prioritizing large public areas over private spaces. The 42,500-square-foot complex is the first Skid Row Housing Trust project built outside of downtown Los Angeles and takes inspiration from the military term “I’ve got your six,” a phrase that refers to having someone’s back. “The organization of the space is intended to transform the way people live-away from a reclusive, isolating layout towards a community-oriented, interactive space,” say the architects. The SIX comprises 57 units of high-quality sustainable and affordable housing in a neighborhood that’s highly walkable, particularly to service-industry employers, but is typically out of the price range for disabled veterans. The units are stacked into four levels and each has balconies wrapped with a recycled wood screen overlooking the central courtyard. Every unit features ten-foot-high ceilings and large, strategically placed windows that let in ample natural light and cross ventilation. Related: Seattle teens build mobile tiny homes for local homeless community The project’s energy efficient design also sets the facility apart from most conventionally developed projects. The LEED Platinum -certified SIX was constructed using passive design strategies to optimize building performance, such as orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds and adding windows that maximize day lighting. Concrete floors and walls double as thermal heat sinks, while double-glazed low-E windows minimize heat loss and gain. A large green roof and edible garden top the building and can be seen from below. + Brooks + Scarpa Images by Tara Wujcik

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Affordable housing for disabled veterans marries wellness and sustainability in Los Angeles

How You Can Support Sustainable Product Design

October 7, 2016 by  
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When the crew of the Apollo 17 left the Earth’s orbit on Dec. 17, 1972, they took the first photograph of the Earth in full view. The “Blue Marble” went on to be one of the mostly widely distributed images ever. This photograph…

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How You Can Support Sustainable Product Design

Woman turns an old van base into a tiny off-grid home on wheels

September 7, 2016 by  
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The finished home on wheels is completely off the grid and equipped with everything needed for daily life. Standing at 5 by 2.20 meters (about 16 by 7 feet), the completed home holds a full-sized shower, composting toilet, a rustic kitchen with a gas oven and hob, a double bedroom on a mezzanine level, and a sofa with built-in storage which doubles as a day bed on the ground floor. Related: Stunning Moon Dragon is a fairytale-like tiny house that goes off-grid Outside, she’s built a yoga terrace overlooking the Spanish countryside, spanning the entire length of the house. Attached to the home on hinges, it can easily be folded up for transportation, or removed completely if needed. A small front terrace features steps up to the entrance, while a covered back terrace provides a dining area. + Elizabeth Pearson

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Woman turns an old van base into a tiny off-grid home on wheels

This artist turns used pen refills into miniature sculptures of world landmarks

February 12, 2016 by  
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Sreenivas M.R. had a hobby of collecting used pen refills from friends. As part of ‘Say No to Plastic’ program, which he organizes for awareness on global warming in schools and colleges, he setup used pen refill collection boxes to add to his collection. After a while, he realized that he could turn these  raw materials into incredible miniature structures, like Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Tower of Pisa . His work has set a national record and was featured in the ‘India Book of Records’ in 2012 for making miniature of Taj Mahal from 700 used pen refills, but he isn’t stopping there. Sreenivas’ goal is to have covered the famous landmarks from all over the world. Right now, however, he is focusing on making miniature of houses and interior design works. He also helps in making miniature models for exhibitions and fairs. + Sreenivas M.R. The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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This artist turns used pen refills into miniature sculptures of world landmarks

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