Beautiful cliffside home ‘split in half’ by landslide rebuilt with wooden pods

March 21, 2017 by  
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Sometimes beautiful design is just fate. When AR Design Studio decided to add an extension to a cliffside home on the UK’s South Coast, the entire house ended up being split in half due to a major landslide . Fortunately, the architects stayed on to design a replacement house, resulting in a beautiful vacation home called the Crow’s Nest. This time, however, the gorgeous structure, which is made out of four wooden “pods,” was built with highly-engineered technology to stabilize the structure against future land movements. The Crow’s Nest home is built looking over a large cliff on the UK’s South Coast. To secure the new home against future natural disasters , the architects worked with engineers to create an integrated system that could resist major land movements. The system entailed installing dwarfs walls into a massive concrete slat that sits underneath the home. This was strategic to creating an adjustable raft-like structural frame where the walls absorb any major land movement. In this case, mechanical jacks installed underneath the frame would be able to re-level the house afterwards. Related: These 6 extraordinary cliffside homes will give you chills Although the original home was severely damaged by the landslide, the architects managed to use its original cabin design as inspiration for the new one. The team created an elongated structure with a series of four “twisted” pods, creating a unique contemporary cabin character . Clad in beautiful blond larch panels, the home seamlessly blends in with the surrounding landscape. The entryway is made up of the smallest pod , which leads into the main living area. The “tower pod” to the left houses the large master bedroom, along with the children’s bedroom and bathrooms. The remaining pod on the right of the living area is a guest space that can be closed when not in use. The interior comprises a light, airy design with a modern cabin feel. Bold wooden furnishings are found throughout, but the use of various industrial materials give the space a contemporary touch. Large windows offer optimal natural light as well as stunning views of the forest and coastal views. + AR Design Studio Via Design Milk Photography by Martin Gardner

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Beautiful cliffside home ‘split in half’ by landslide rebuilt with wooden pods

Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

March 21, 2017 by  
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A company based in Toronto is bringing New York City its first community solar project. UGE International , one of the world’s leading renewable-energy contractors, will be partnering with Gotham Community Solar to develop a new array at a multi-tenant commercial facility between the Park Slope and Boerum Hill neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The project, which is scheduled to be completed in early summer, will have a rated peak capacity of roughly 100 kilowatts, according to UGE. The building abuts another UGE project: the Whole Foods Market at 214 3rd Street, colloquially known as “3rd and 3rd” by locals. “It’s been a privilege to work with ConEd , the Department of Buildings, and the project’s ownership group on developing this landmark project” Tim Woodcock, UGE’s Regional Director, said in a statement. Related: UGE is building a massive rooftop solar array atop this popular Brooklyn church Woodcock anticipates selling any surplus power to nearby residents at rates lower than those offered by their utility companies. The benefits would be twofold: cheaper electricity that also comes from a sustainable source. “The solar power generated by the project will be credited to numerous residential accounts, offering access to the benefits and low cost of solar energy to those previously excluded due to their housing situation,” he added. + UGE International

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Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

Cactus Park in Taiwan draws architectural inspiration from prickly succulents

March 15, 2017 by  
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Cacti may not excite a lot of people, but in Taiwan the plant is so highly respected the island community of Penghu built the Qingwan Cactus Park to celebrate its existence. The beautiful complex was created by converting an old military complex into various greenhouses that store a staggering variety of cacti in all shapes and sizes. To protect the site and the plants for the strong winds associated with monsoon season, the project implemented a number of resilient features around the park. Located in the Qingwan district of Penghu’s Fongguei Peninsula, the site’s old military structures were built during the Japanese Colonial Era. Abandoned for years, the site became covered with cactuses and white popinac. Cacti thrive on the island’s dry, windy climate because they are resistant to drought, strong winds and high salinity in the soil. To protect the beloved cactus population , the locals decided to give the existing buildings a thorough facelift in order to create a protected area for the plants to thrive. Related: Cactus Gum Can Purify Water Cheaply and Effectively At the heart of the complex is the teak and glass dome shaped like a cactus that “glows” at night. This main building, along with the other refurbished structures, was constructed to make as little impact on the surrounding basaltic landscape as possible. A teak wood frame and basaltic masonry walls support the dome’s large prismatic windows that provide ventilation and light on the interior. The complex consists of various greenhouses and an artists village, all surrounded by a “green belt” that connects the buildings and leads out to hiking and biking paths along the coastline. Although the cactus plant is known for its ability to thrive in dry climates, a rainwater conservation basin collects rainwater for irrigation and cleaning purposes. To protect the complex and the plants from the island’s strong winds, which carry salt that interferes with plant growth, numerous landscape architecture features were implemented in the complex.  Various windbreaking earth berms, inspired by the same design used by local farmers, form a protective barrier around the site. Although the park is geared to attract more ecotourism to the area, cacti are deeply respected by the locals, who express hope that visitors will enjoy a stroll around the greenhouses as well as spend time viewing the local wildlife. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to try their cactus-centric cuisine, especially the local favorite, cactus ice cream. + Qingwan Cactus Park + CCL Architects & Planners Via Archdaily Photography via Lin Fu Ming

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Cactus Park in Taiwan draws architectural inspiration from prickly succulents

Circular garden walkway cuts straight through Japanese timber home

January 31, 2017 by  
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Serious gardeners love to have their green space as close to their home as possible, but one Japanese couple’s love for gardening has literally come “full circle”. Designed by Fujiwaramuro Architects , the House in Mukainada has a continuous concrete garden promenade that cuts straight through the couple’s tiny timber clad home . Located in Hiroshima, the home was designed to integrate the garden into the design, making it easier for the elderly couple to enjoy their greenery. The home’s compact volume stems from wanting to protect the existing Japanese dogwood trees found on the lot. As part of the design, the architects built an earthquake-resistant wall around the perimeter that pulls double duty as a privacy fence. Related: Beautiful Greenhouse from Bangkok is a miniature garden you can bring inside Once the cedar-clad structure was designed, the architects began to build a circular earthen floor that lined up with the home’s two entrances. This round pathway was then was covered in concrete, leaving space for various planting holes. The garden design is meant to grow with the homeowners, so that eventually, they will be able to stroll through a verdant walkway without having to get their feet dirty. On the interior, the walls and flooring are also covered in oak, with a wide path of paler wood leading from the outdoor walkway through the home and back out again. The compact 800-square-foot space has one bedroom, an office space and a kitchen and bathroom. For now the home serves as a place for the family to socialize, but it was designed to be adaptable for various future uses, such as a community center or gallery space. + Fujiwaramuro Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Toshiyuki Yano

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Circular garden walkway cuts straight through Japanese timber home

Architects use local materials to build beautiful Costa Rica community center

January 30, 2017 by  
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Round building offer many advantages in terms of sustainability and resilience , so it’s no surprise to see disaster-prone communities turning to the curved architecture. Fournier Rojas Arquitectos recently created a beautifully round community center for the small Costa Rican town of El Rodeo de Mora. The center, which was primarily built with locally-sourced and donated materials, will provide the economically disadvantaged area with an adaptable space for hold community events and a shelter during natural disasters. El Rodeo de Mora is rural community located in hot and humid central Costa Rica, which sees extended periods of heavy rainfall. These conditions, along with poor construction, caused the community’s existing center to deteriorate over the years. When Fournier Rojas Arquitectos stepped in to work pro bono on the project, they focused primarily on constructing a building that would be sustainable and durable granted the tropical climate. Related: Villa Nyberg: A Passive Swedish Prefab with a Cool Circular Floorplan They based the design layout on the needs of the community – it offers a kitchen, toilets, a storage facility and amenities for the local soccer team – but they were also working within the challenges of the location itself. Costa Rica has strict regulations in place to reduce damage from earthquakes, and the architects built the center (which can hold up to 100 people) on high ground to protect it from flooding . Using local materials , many of which were donated, the architects managed to keep the cost down to less than $250 USD per square meter. At the heart of the center is an adaptable circular room, whose exterior is made of clay ventilation bricks – a common material of choice for tropical environments. Not only did the round design help cut down the cost in terms of materials needed, but the circular layout provides natural air circulation. The entire building sits on reinforced concrete columns. Eight pitched roofs made from lightweight fiber-cement sheets make up the building’s canopy, which extends out past the circular volume, further providing shade and protection from the elements. The “layering” style of the roof was strategic to further optimize the building’s natural ventilation . The design has won an award from the WAC (World Architecture Community, May 2015) and a Special Mention in S.ARCH AWARDS (May 2016). + Fournier Rojas Arquitectos Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Alda

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Architects use local materials to build beautiful Costa Rica community center

8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

January 30, 2017 by  
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Hemp isn’t just for hackin’ the sack at Phish shows or making rope. This amazing plant, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis grown specifically for industrial purposes, has a vast number of applications for a greener planet. Cultivated hemp grows quickly in a wide variety of climates and does not degrade the soil in which it is grown. Tune in, turn on, and read this feature to learn the latest developments in the magical (yet still illegal in most countries) world of hemp. Housing Hemp can processed into a durable material that was once used by Henry Ford to construct a car that was lighter, less expensive and consumed less power than traditional metal cars. These principles have also been applied to housing throughout the world. In the United Kingdom, farmer Nick Voase turned his own grown hemp into an amazing eco-house, held together by lime, that is cool in summer, warm in winter, and even features a walk-in fridge made out of hemp. In South Africa, hemp advocate Tony Budden is working hard to demonstrate the value of the wonder plant; he and his partner built the country’s first hemp home. Northern Ireland’s Bevan Architects  used hemp to construct a simple low-impact cottage on a riverside apple orchard for an environmentally friendly retreat from urban living. Lastly, in Australia, Mihaus Studio built a prefabricated hemp-based modular space that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes. Plastic Traditional plastic is derived from non-renewable resources and is non-biodegradable, which means that disposed plastic usually ends up in ever expanding landfills. Enter our hero, hemp, a renewable resource which can be used to produce biodegradable plastic. A shift to the greener hemp would not require a sacrifice of quality . Hemp plastic may be up to 5 times stiffer and 2.5 stronger than traditional plastic made from polypropylene and unlike glass fibers, hemp plastic would not pose safety and health risks. Designers, such as  Studio Aisslinger , have incorporated this fine bioplastic into its products, such as the chair shown above. Pet Toys Hemp isn’t only for humans. Dogs, cats, and other furry, feathered, or scaly friends can also benefit from the plant. Honest Pet Products has created a line of pet toys made from sustainable hemp and organic wool. The method by which these toys are produced is also beneficial for the environment and community. The toys are manufactured by adults with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin and women living in the Gobi Desert and Nepal, who simultaneously support their family with their work and vow to protect the local snow leopards as a condition for their employment. Energy Storage Graphene  has received a great deal of attention for its superstrength and its astounding ability as a superconductor of electricity. Lost in this storm is the fact that hemp may be able to replicate graphene’s function as a supercapacitor, a revolutionary energy storage device, at a radically lower cost . David Mitlin of Clarkson University , New York discovered hemp’s superconductive properties by “cooking” plant material in a process. “Once you dissolve the lignin and the semicellulose, it leaves these carbon nanosheets – a pseudo-graphene structure,” said Mitlin. These nanosheets are then fabricated into electrodes, infused with an ionic liquid as an electrolyte, and function as supercapacitors that work in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Mitlin founded a small company, Alta Supercaps , with the goal of producing hemp-based supercapacitors on a small scale. Insulation Not only is hemp a durable material for housing structure, it also is an excellent insulator. In Belgium,  Martens Van Caimere Architecten  renovated a local home with a sustainable hemp-based insulation material known as hempcrete . Hempcrete is a mixture of lime, hemp, and water that is superior to concrete in its sustainability and cost while also offering better insulation. “In our projects we try finding solutions to lower the building costs,” said architect Nikolaas Martens. “In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Belgians were building houses that were badly or not insulated. So renovating these houses in a sustainable way tends to be expensive. Hempcrete combines the insulation and finishing in one layer, reducing building costs. Plus it is durable and sustainable, because it is made from a waste product.” Airplanes Fly high in the sky with hemp! In 2014, Canada-based Hempearth  contracted with a Florida-based plane manufacturer to build an airplane almost entirely out of hemp material . The plane will seat four people and have a wingspan of 36 feet. Approximately 75 percent of the plane will be constructed of industrial hemp. Originally scheduled for its first flight (appropriately out of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina) in 2015, the plane has yet to fly. Hempearth is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their project. Biofuel Not satisfied with simply being made from hemp, the designers at Hempearth also plan for their plane to be powered entirely by hemp-based biofuel . While hemp biodiesel has great potential, there are currently legal and economic barriers to widespread adoption . “That particularly, is very much an issue of economies of scale,” said Arthur Hanks, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. “We are still very much a specialty crop.”  The limited production of hemp is primarily geared towards the health food market, in which hemp provides the greatest return to farmers. “Every pound that’s being produced goes into the food chain,” Paul Bobbee, a Canadian hemp grower. While hemp production is legal in Canada, the continued haziness surrounding hemp policy in the United States suppresses the market.  If hemp production were legalized nationwide, “it would help regularize hemp in America, and help to increase markets,” said Hanks. Food Bring on the munchies. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, sprouted, or ground up while the iconic hemp leaf can be thrown into a salad. Hemp seeds are high in protein and have a similar amino acid profile to meat, milk, and eggs. Often cold-pressed into oil form, hemp seeds are a rich source of Vitamin B, iron, dietary fiber, magnesium and zinc. Although illegal to produce in most American states, hemp can be imported as a food product. As of 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products. Images via  The Event Chronicle , vhcmor/Flickr , Christina Griffin ,  Cedric Verhelst , Hempearth , FluffyMuppet/Flickr , Wikimedia Commons   (2) , Don Goofy/Flickr , Studio Aisslinger   and Bob Doran/Flickr

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8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

Elon Musk stands up for refugees, wants to rewrite Trump’s immigration ban

January 30, 2017 by  
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In the wake of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, which targets Syrian refugees and people from six other countries, numerous Silicon Valley leaders came out in support of immigrants. One notable objector was Tesla CEO Elon Musk , who tweeted the ban is “not the best way to address the country’s challenges.” And Musk won’t just be tweeting, but said he will gather recommended modifications to the executive order that he plans to present to Trump . https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/825502618680045568 People from the predominantly Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya will temporarily be barred from entering America, according to Trump’s executive order, which reads “I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.” Trump claimed the order was not about religion, but about terrorism. Related: Artist covers two houses in bright pink crochet as a symbol of hope for refugees Silicon Valley leaders were quick to stand against Trump’s executive order. Google co-founder Sergey Brin joined a protest at the San Francisco International Airport, telling one reporter he was a refugee, Airbnb promised to provide housing for stranded refugees, and Elon Musk tweeted , “Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They’ve done right, not wrong & don’t deserve to be rejected.” https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/825809205244223488 Musk provided a link to the text of the executive order on the Wall Street Journal so people can read it for themselves. He said he will “seek advisory council consensus & present to President.” Born in South Africa , Musk came to the United States in 1992 to attend the University of Pennsylvania. He sits on an economic advisory board for Trump and more recently agreed to be part of a Manufacturing Jobs Initiative started by the president. Let’s hope Trump is willing to listen to his recommendations. Via The Verge ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via OnInnovation on Flickr and Lorie Shaull on Flickr

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Elon Musk stands up for refugees, wants to rewrite Trump’s immigration ban

Rammed earth and bamboo cultural center keeps naturally cool in Senegal

January 30, 2017 by  
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In the remote Senegalese village of Sinthian rises a culture center that twists and turns like a sinuous sculpture. New York-based Toshiko Mori Architect designed this eye-catching building, called Thread, as an artists’ residency and cultural center commissioned by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation . Constructed from local materials, the building’s rammed earth and large thatched openings help promote natural cooling. Winner of a 2017 AIA Honor Award , the Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Center comprises two artists’ dwellings and studio spaces for local and visiting international artists, but also serves as a greater community hub for Sinthian and the surrounding villages. Shared between twelve local tribes, the socio-cultural center provides agricultural training as well as an exhibition space, kindergarten , children’s play area, library, performance space, and a center for charging mobile homes. “It is a hub for Sinthian and surrounding villages, providing agricultural training on the area’s fertile land and a meeting place for social organisation which is, in rural Senegal, the crucial mechanism for sustainable development,” says a statement from the Aga Khan Award for Architecture about the project. “The success of its atypical plurality proves why art and architecture should be the right of all people.” Related: Off-grid earthen abode in Senegal gets all its energy from wind and solar Constructed with a team of 35 local workers over the course of a year, Thread is topped by an undulating thatched roof designed to facilitate rainwater collection, provide shade, and promote natural ventilation. The building structure was built from a bamboo framework fitted with rammed earth bricks that help absorb heat during the day and dissipates warmth at night. Site-specific solar conditions were taken into consideration when orienting the building spaces to minimize glare and unwanted solar heat gain. + Toshiko Mori Architect Via Dezeen Photographs © Iwan Baan

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NASA envisions ice dome home for future Mars dwellers

December 30, 2016 by  
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Future Mars dwellers face a tricky architectural challenge: how will structures protect them from radiation in an extreme environment? Experts from NASA’s Langley Research Center , Clouds Architecture Office , and Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch) found a creative answer in ice . They designed Mars Ice Home , an inflatable shelter enveloped in a water ice shell that provides protections and views of the scenery on Mars, and it could be partly repurposed for rocket fuel. The lightweight torus-shaped Mars Ice Home could offer a sustainable, safe home for astronauts on the red planet. With its ubiquitous hydrogen presence, water is especially well-suited to protect humans from galactic cosmic rays – one of the largest risks astronauts face by staying on Mars for an extended time period, according to NASA . The high-energy radiation can damage human DNA and cells, putting astronauts at risk for cancer or acute radiation sickness. Related: Foster + Partners unveils 3D-printed Mars settlement built by robots for NASA competition Water is even easily obtainable on the red planet, giving new meaning to the idea of locally-sourced. Recent NASA research revealed a Mars water ice deposit holds a similar amount of water as Lake Superior . The dwelling could be set up via robotics before astronauts arrive, which is helpful because with the current design, it would take around 400 days to fill the home with water. When it’s time to leave, water from Mars Ice Home could possibly be converted into rocket fuel usable by the Mars Ascent Vehicle. NASA says the home could double as a refillable storage tank as different astronaut groups travel to and off Mars. In the past many researchers pointed to underground dwellings as a solution to architectural challenges on Mars, but the new NASA design eschews that idea in favor of a light-filled residence. Researcher Kevin Kempton said in a statement, “All of the materials we’ve selected are translucent, so some outside daylight can pass through and make it feel like you’re in a home and not a cave…After months of travel in space , when you first arrive at Mars and your new home is ready for you to move in, it will be a great day.” Via NASA Images via NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch and courtesy of Kevin Kempton

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NASA envisions ice dome home for future Mars dwellers

How Bermuda’s iconic white roofs overcome island’s chronic freshwater shortage

December 30, 2016 by  
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Life in Bermuda may seem exotic and glamorous to outsiders, but the Caribbean Community member faces significant challenges – including a chronic lack of fresh water . To counteract the dearth of springs, rivers, and lakes, local residents designed the island’s iconic white stepped roofs, which slow rainfall so that it may be stored. While Bermuda’s stepped roofs were originally built out of necessity, they are now officially a part of Bermuda law, which states that every new home must include eight gallons of rain barrel storage per square foot of roof space. The roofs that sit atop houses, which are akin to those in British villages but with more festive pastel paint jobs, are built out of limestone to withstand hurricane force winds. Their white color reflects UV light from the sun, which helps to purify the rainwater runoff and keep the homes cool. Related: 6 innovative ways to harvest and harness rainwater As Bermuda’s population has expanded and its reputation as a vacation destination has grown, the island of 60,000 has had to expand upon its low-tech roof system to provide fresh water. “When you can’t spread out, you start building up but think of a house where the roof area and the tank area is designed to satisfy a single family – if you build up and put in another family, you double the consumption,” said Stuart Hayward, an environmental expert from Bermuda.  Tourists , many of whom desire to play a few rounds on water-intensive golf courses, do not possess the same water preservation ethos as those who were born and raised on the island, which has raised Bermuda’s water consumption. The island has integrated desalinization plants, of which there are six, throughout the island. In total, these plants generate over 3,500,000 gallons of fresh purified water each day. However, admiration for the white stepped roofs remains. “What’s good about it is individual responsibility plus collective oversight plus a dependence on social and cultural values,” said Henrietta Moore of the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London. “In terms of its advantages, it’s low-cost, has been developed over several hundred years so it’s been crafted and tailored to local circumstances,” said Roger Calow, head of the water policy program at the Overseas Development Institute. “It fits the climate , it works.” While Bermuda’s stepped roof method does not work everywhere, it may serve as a model for similar environments and as an inspiration for communities everywhere as they attempt to build water resilience in an increasingly unpredictable world. Via BBC Images via Andrew Currie  and Flickr   (1)

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