This round treehouse’s undulating roof mimics the flow of water

July 26, 2018 by  
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Nothing screams “serenity now” like an off-grid treehouse retreat that lets you wake up to the sounds of rustling leaves and a burbling brook. Thankfully, the architects at MONOARCHI have created a gorgeous round treehouse  that goes above and beyond the traditional fare, tucked away in a bamboo forest in China. Treewow O is about 26 feet off the ground, and it comes complete with an open-air deck shaded by an undulating round roof. Located in a remote village at the foot of the Siming Mountain range in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, Treewow O was inspired by the incredible surrounding landscape. The house is approximately 26 feet high, a measurement chosen to blend the structure into the surrounding bamboo fields. Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air Built just a few steps away from a creek, the treehouse is divided into two levels and supported by steel beams, a design feature that was chosen to minimize the project’s impact on the landscape . The design consists of three non-concentric circles clad in wooden panels. A beautiful undulating roof covers the main structure and extends in certain places to shade the wraparound terrace. According to the architects, the constant movement of a nearby stream inspried the roof’s unique, wavy shape. To create the treehouse, the architect worked in collaboration with local craftsmen. According to the project description, the undulating form mirrors a local building practice used to protect interior spaces from harsh weather conditions. In addition to its protective qualities, the gradient movement of the design helps provide natural air circulation to the living space. The interior of the round structure houses a bathroom and living space on the first floor, with a spiral staircase leading up to the large bedroom on the second floor. The bold circular design helps to define the private and public spaces in the structure. According to the design team, “When the guest enters the terrace on the first floor, they will start to experience the circular sequence of spaces from the eave along the terrace to the connected interior: from the living room to the huge window, to the terrace of large depth and to the unwrapping roof to enjoy the view to the creek and the landscape of the mountain of bamboos; from the bedroom to the low window, to the falling roof to capture a good view.” + MONOARCHI Via Archdaily Images via MONOARCHI

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This round treehouse’s undulating roof mimics the flow of water

Confluence Park’s new solar-powered pavilions collect rainwater and provide shade from the summer sun

July 12, 2018 by  
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San Antonio’s idyllic Confluence Park just became a little greener and more scenic, thanks to a collaboration between firms Lake Flato and Matsys Design with the support of landscape architect Rialto Studio . The riverfront park now boasts sweeping sculptural pavilions that provide shade from the fierce Texas sun as well as an elegant method for collecting rainwater. Confluence Park is located where the San Pedro Creek merges into the San Antonio River. Covering just over three acres, the public park now features a main pavilion , three smaller pavilions and a classroom. Flowing water and confluence served as strong influences these new structures, which imitate the sculptural atmosphere of the surrounding landscape. The team strategically designed these additions for minimal site impact . The focal point of the park is the main pavilion. This structure is constructed from 22 concrete pieces resembling petals, which were made on site and lifted into place. The pieces form giant archways that are illuminated at night with subtle accent lighting that merges seamlessly into the swooping petal formations. The main pavilion as well as the smaller pavilions are both beautiful and functional. The petal shapes help to funnel rainwater that is collected in the park’s catchment system. This system serves as the park’s main water source. In addition to collecting water, the pavilions provide a cool respite from the fierce summer heat that often plagues southern Texas . The Estella Avery Education Center stands near the main pavilion. This structure generates 100 percent of the energy it uses through solar panels while offering a space for the city’s residents to learn more about the San Antonio River watershed and surrounding environment. The green roof that tops the classroom is planted with native grasses and allows for passive heating and cooling through thermal mass. Thanks to the new classroom and pavilions, Confluence Park now offers more opportunities for park-goers to learn and explore the local environment . “Confluence Park is a living laboratory that allows visitors to gain a greater understanding of the ecotypes of the South Texas region and the function of the San Antonio River watershed,” Lake Flato architects said. “Throughout the park, visitors learn through observation, engagement and active participation.” + Lake Flato + Matsys + Rialto Studio Via Dezeen Images via Casey Dunn

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Confluence Park’s new solar-powered pavilions collect rainwater and provide shade from the summer sun

The Philippines envisions a green smart city to combat pollution in Manila

June 11, 2018 by  
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Traffic is an unpleasant facet of life in cities , but in Manila, the most densely populated city in the world , it’s a severe drain on the economy and the quality of life of residents. This metropolis in the Philippines is infamous for traffic congestion, which contributes to its substantial smog problem. With it also comes many other forms of pollution and environmental hazards. The country has an ambitious plan to combat these issues — build a new smart city that is green and resilient. The Plan The new city, dubbed New Clark City , is considered Manila’s twin city. It’s located in Central Luzon, about  75 miles from Manila at a former U.S. military base. It’s expected to be larger than the size of Manhattan and home to up to two million people . The Bases Conversion and Development Authority ( BCDA ), a government entity vested with corporate powers that converts former military properties, is the leading developer of the project. Both government and private investments will fund the new city. The government plans to move many of its offices and thousands of its workers to the smart city .  By the end of 2023, the government aims to have eight mid-rise government buildings and 8,000 housing units in New Clark City. The Department of Transportation has already moved to Clark , and BCDA will do so this year. One of the most notable parts of the project is the expansion of Clark Airport, which would double the volume of flights the facility can handle. This development is scheduled for completion in 2020. Related: Panasonic is building an incredible smart city outside of Denver Smart, Green and Resilient New Clark City aims to avoid many of the problems that plague Manila by emphasizing green design and smart technologies.  Two-thirds of the city’s land will be used for green space and agriculture . Developers plan to use green building techniques — such an energy monitoring systems and renewable energy — to increase energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The project is slated to include a  rail system connecting the new city to Manila . The inclusion of reliable public transport should alleviate some of the hassle for commuters, visitors and in-city residents alike. The Philippines anticipates autonomous cars will further reduce current and future congestion. While reducing traffic, these technologies are also expected to help keep air quality at the World Health Organization’s recommended safe levels — air pollution levels in Manila are currently  70 percent higher than WHO’s endorsed rates. New Clark City is designed with resilience to disasters in mind. The city’s elevation at its lowest point is 184 feet above sea level  to minimize the risk of flooding, and green space along rivers will also allow room for water to rise without damaging nearby property. In case of power disruption or an emergency, the city will also host backup government offices, so agencies can continue operations. The government said it is working to develop the city quickly while still keeping the design green. Challenges Against New Clark City The New Clark City project has received praise for its vision, and the plans suggest it could have substantial environmental and economic benefits for Manila and the Philippines. But such an ambitious project isn’t without its challenges. One of the primary roadblocks is getting residents to actually move to the city. To address this challenge, the Philippines is prioritizing connecting New Clark City to Manila via train to make the smart city easily accessible. The BCDA also hopes to attract people by building a sports facility that will host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Another critical strategy for jump-starting the economy and moving people to the urban center is to gradually relocate government agencies to New Clark City. Sustainable design is another critical challenge to this project. Because of the tight time frame, project managers had to carefully weigh the long-term needs of the natural world with the short-term profitability of the developers. To that end, they have spent time making sure the space, when finished, will prioritize natural landscapes and farmland. The Philippines expects to complete the full development plan within 30 years . In total, New Clark City is an approximately $14 billion project — a high price to pay, especially  if the city fails . A City for the Future The government hopes the benefits of New Clark City will outweigh the costs. As evidenced by the state of Manila’s traffic congestion and environmental problems, there is a demand for change. If New Clark City succeeds, its victory may enable Manila to revitalize and integrate more smart, green features, which could reduce the country’s environmental impact substantially. Building a new city from scratch — and keeping it green — is, of course, no small feat, but this modern city could mean a new, brighter future for the Philippines . + New Clark City Via  World Population Review ,  Rent PMI ,  Business Insider ,  Bloomberg ,  Reuters  and  CNN Images via New Clark City  and BCDA

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World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway

April 5, 2018 by  
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Two Norwegian shipping giants, Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg, have joined together to create what they’ve described as the world’s first autonomous shipping company. “As a world-leading maritime nation, Norway has taken a position at the forefront in developing autonomous ships,” Wilhelmsen CEO Thomas Wilhelmsen told the Maritime Journal . “Through the creation of the new company named Massterly, we take the next step on this journey by establishing infrastructure and services to design and operate vessels, as well as advanced logistics solutions associated with maritime autonomous operations.” The corporate collaboration, which brings a combined 360 years of experience to the shipping game, promises affordable prices through automated efficiency. “Massterly will reduce costs at all levels and be applicable to all companies that have a transport need,” said Wilhelmsen. Kongsberg is set to provide its technological expertise while Wilhelmsen will offer its logistics and ship management operations experience.  The autonomous ships will be monitored and modified at control centers, which will be established on land. Related: Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service Norway has led the way in autonomous ship technology, particularly since the launch of the Yara Birkeland. The electric ship  began its first journey in May 2017 and will become fully autonomous by 2020. In the meantime, it will host an on-board crew, then be remotely operated. The ship cost about $25 million to build, and its first shipping mission cost almost three times as much as a traditional ship; however, it is projected to save up to 90% in annual operating costs of labor and fuel. The Yara Birkeland was created through a collaboration between agricultural firm Yara International and Kongsberg. The companies plan to roll out larger, more robust autonomous ships once regulations are in place. Globally, the job impacts of autonomous ships are expected to be far less extensive than those of autonomous trucks . Via Maritime Journal  and Fortune Images via Kongsberg

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World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway

Scientists harvest the first ever Antarctic vegetables

April 5, 2018 by  
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Fresh, local produce might have seemed like an impossibility in Antarctica — until now. The experimental greenhouse EDEN-ISS at Alfred Wegener Institute ‘s Neumayer-Station III recently harvested their first crops: 18 cucumbers, 70 radishes, and nearly eight pounds of lettuce. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) described this achievement as the “first harvested Antarctic salad.” The EDEN-ISS indoor farm serves two purposes: first, to provide fresh produce for the Neumayer-Station III’s wintering crew. Second, to act as a test run for growing food in harsh climates, not just on Earth, but for missions to the Moon and Mars in the future. Scientists planted the seeds in the middle of February, and the first harvest was a success. Related: Arctic town grows fresh produce in shipping container vertical garden There’s no soil necessary in this indoor garden , where scientists grow plants with a closed water cycle and optimized light. DLR engineer Paul Zabel, one of the few people on Earth who can now add ‘Antarctic gardener’ to their resume, said they had to overcome some unexpected issues like minor system failures and the “strongest storm for more than a year,” but he was able to solve the problems and harvested the first crops. EDEN-ISS is around 1,312 feet away from Neumayer-Station III, and DLR said Zabel spends around three to four hours a day in the greenhouse . He’s also able to communicate with a DLR Institute for Space Systems control center, located in Bremen, which can remotely monitor plant growth — and can monitor it entirely on stormy days when Zabel can’t make it to the farm. DRL said this “bridging is possible for up to three days.” Scientists wintering at the station had used up their vegetables from their last delivery near February’s end, so they welcomed fresh produce from EDEN-ISS. Station manager Bernhard Gropp said in DLR’s statement, “It was special to have the first fresh salad of the Antarctic…it tasted as if we had harvested it fresh in the garden.” + EDEN-ISS + German Aerospace Center Images via DLR and DLR German Aerospace Center on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 )

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Developing nations want to dim the sun using a giant chemical sunshade

April 5, 2018 by  
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Scientists around the world want to create a giant sunshade in the sky to help reverse  climate change . “Solar engineering” involves spraying tiny reflective particles into the atmosphere to cool the Earth by reflecting and filtering incoming sunlight. The idea is controversial because no one knows what consequences we may suffer from altering the atmosphere, but some developing nations are ramping up research efforts and they want developed nations to do the same.  Poorer countries stand to suffer the most from climate change, and they argue that geoengineering may be less dangerous for them than the impacts of global warming. In a high-profile experiment, researchers at Harvard University have been studying what they’ve called the “stratospheric controlled perturbation effect” thanks to the launch of an observation balloon over ten miles into the air in order to study the effect of controlled sprays of water molecules on cloud cover reflectivity. Scientists from Bangladesh, Brazil , China, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, and Thailand have now joined the debate in a new study published in Nature , arguing that if there is to be geoengineering, developing countries must lead the way. “ Solar geoengineering is outlandish and unsettling,” the scientists wrote. “It invokes technologies that are redolent of science fiction – jets lacing the stratosphere with sunlight-blocking particles, and fleets of ships spraying seawater into low-lying clouds to make them whiter and brighter to reflect sunlight. Yet, if such approaches could be realized technically and politically, they could slow, stop or even reverse the rise in global temperatures within one or two years.” Related: Scientists have a plan to cool the Earth with a sprinkle of salt The scientists do not approach geoengineering lightly. “The technique is controversial, and rightly so,” they wrote. “It is too early to know what its effects would be: it could be very helpful or very harmful. Developing countries have most to gain or lose. In our view, they must maintain their climate leadership and play a central part in research and discussions around solar geoengineering .” Lead author Atiq Rahman emphasized that the scientists are not taking a stand that geoengineering will necessarily work, only that it should be researched in collaboration with those most affected by climate change. “Developing countries must be in a position to make up their own minds. Local scientists, in collaboration with others, need to conduct research that is sensitive to regional concerns and conditions,” the authors wrote. “Clearly [geoengineering] could be dangerous, but we need to know whether, for countries like Bangladesh , it would be more or less risky than passing the 1.5C warming goal,” Rahman said. “This matters greatly to people from developing countries and our voices need to be heard.” Via The Guardian Images via NASA/ISS and Depositphotos  ( 2 )

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Developing nations want to dim the sun using a giant chemical sunshade

HASSELL and MVRDV tackle climate change in the Bay Area

January 31, 2018 by  
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A HASSELL -led design team that includes MVRDV has unveiled their preliminary proposed design strategy for tackling climate change in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of the yearlong Resilient by Design research challenge. The design team collected research by collaborating with local residents, design firms, experts, and public officials. Their findings identify existing areas of weakness in South San Francisco and potential design solutions for San Mateo County; the team will further develop the proposed strategy that will be presented in May. Modeled after the successful Rebuild by Design challenge, Resilient by Design asked designers around the world to develop community-based solutions that would protect the San Francisco Bay Area from sea level rise , severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes. Ten winning design teams were selected to embark on the yearlong research and design challenge, among them the HASSELL-led team that includes MVRDV, Deltares, Goudappel, Lotus Water, Civic Edge, Idyllist, Hatch, and Page & Turnbull. “ Climate change is real, by the end of the century there will be a sea level rise of 2 meters. Bay Area communities respond to this challenge in a multi-disciplinary approach to upgrade their general resilience,” said Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV co-founder. “We developed a flexible toolbox for San Mateo which helps the local community by revitalising public spaces that collect and connect people and water.” Related: Resilient infrastructure proposal aims to protect San Francisco Bay from rising sea levels Their recently released renderings and diagrams offer proposals for reconnecting San Francisco communities to the waterfront and for protecting the land from climate challenges. The team drew on historic precedent, such as responses to the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and observations of the recent Northern California wildfires. “The team now has the opportunity to apply its ‘collect and connect’ toolkit to proposed sites in South San Francisco,” wrote the design team, referring to the way streets and creeks are rethought of as connectors from a water management standpoint, while adaptive open spaces serve as collectors for everyday gathering, big events, and disaster assembly. “At Colma Creek, HASSELL has imagined a new Shoreline Park. Meanwhile, Grand Avenue will become a vital community hub with a drop-in storefront people can visit during the design phase. The team’s design process will draw heavily on local voices and insights to ensure that design solutions – which will be presented in May – reflect the community’s needs. In addition to the drop-in centre, city residents will be able to access a digital platform to learn about adapting for resilience and get involved in decision making.” + HASSELL + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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HASSELL and MVRDV tackle climate change in the Bay Area

Shanghai’s sponge districts fight flooding with green space

January 2, 2018 by  
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Shanghai ‘s Lingang District has installed major green spaces in an effort to improve the city’s drainage and environment. As China has rapidly urbanized, impervious, ubiquitous concrete has blocked the natural flow of water, causing cities to be increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Known as “sponge cities,” the green space development projects in Lingang have incorporated wetlands, gardens, and rooftop plants to more effectively channel excess rainfall. In addition to these green spaces, the streets in Lingang are paved with a permeable pavement, which enables the soil below to absorb water. Lingang’s experiment in green flood prevention may serve as a model for other urban areas dealing with the impact of extreme weather and rapid development. “In the natural environment, most precipitation infiltrates the ground or is received by surface water, but this is disrupted when there are large-scale hard pavements,” said Wen Mei Dubbelaar, director of water management China at Arcadis, according to the Guardian . “Now, only about 20-30 percent of rainwater infiltrates the ground in urban areas , so it breaks the natural water circulation and causes waterlogging and surface water pollution.” Related: Shanghai flying car tower to clean the air with a 50,000-plant vertical forest Lingang, also known as Nanhui New City, is fortunate in that it still maintains significant open space of land and water with which to implement these innovative ideas. Older areas of Shanghai have proven more challenging to retrofit. Green roofs seem to be the most effective solution for Shanghai’s more fully developed districts, though even older spaces like the former industrial West Bund Riverside have been transformed to capture excess water. By 2030, 80 percent of the surface area of each sponge city district will be required to incorporate some form of green flooding prevention. Due to challenges, including currently inadequate funding from the central government, it seems unlikely that these sponge cities will be able to meet that goal. Nevertheless, Lingang’s solution to a global problem comprises an inspiring step towards a better urban environment. “Sponge city infrastructure is beneficial because it is also changing the living environment, helping with pollution and creating a better quality of life in these areas,” said Dubbelaar. “The initial driver for sponge cities was the extreme flooding of urban areas, but the change in mindset, that development should have a more holistic, sustainable approach, is an extra benefit that is evolving during this project.” Via the Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Turenscape

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Shanghai’s sponge districts fight flooding with green space

Elevated bamboo peace bridge for the Korean Demilitarized Zone unveiled by Shigeru Ban and Jae-Eun Choi

January 2, 2018 by  
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South Korean artist Jae-Eun Choi is teaming up with prolific architect Shigeru Ban to bridge a peaceful relationship between the two enemy nations of the Korean peninsula. The artist and architect propose to install a garden-lined bamboo bridge called “Dreaming of Earth” within the Korean DMZ area, which has grown into a unique wildlife sanctuary over the decades of tension between the two countries. The ambitious project includes an elevated  bamboo walkway with various meditation pavilions that would span roughly eight miles through the two warring countries. On a mission to create common peaceful zone that would sit strategically between the two enemy nations, Jae-Eun Choi and Shigeru Ban unveiled the design behind Dreaming of Earth at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The bridge would comprise a small, peaceful gesture within the 160-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide DMZ zone that separates the two countries. The area has been a no-man’s land of sorts for more than half a century and as such, has naturally converted into a beautiful wildlife sanctuary where native plants and animals live in harmony. Related: 10 groundbreaking designs by Shigeru Ban that changed our ideas about architecture Choi’s project envisions a long curving bridge that would sit off the ground to protect visitors from DMZ landmine. A bamboo tower  with an internal winding staircase would lead up to a viewing platform to allow visitors to take in the spectacular surrounding nature. At every kilometer, a different open-air “Jung Ja” meditation pavilion would invite guests to enjoy the peaceful serenity of the area. Each pavilion would be designed by a different designer, including Danish artist Olafur Eliasson , Sebastian Behmann, Bijoy Jain, Seung H-sang, Minsuk Cho, and artists like Lee Ufan and Lee Bul, Tadashi Kawamata, + Shigeru Ban + Jae-Eun Choi Via LA times Images via Shigeru Ban and WikiCommons

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Elevated bamboo peace bridge for the Korean Demilitarized Zone unveiled by Shigeru Ban and Jae-Eun Choi

Resilient infrastructure proposal aims to protect San Francisco Bay from rising sea levels

December 27, 2017 by  
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Looks like San Francisco’s beautiful Bay Area could be in for a major ecological makeover. SCAPE Landscape Architecture has unveiled Public Sentiment, a living infrastructure proposal that aims to create a visitor-friendly buffer zone around the bay’s most vulnerable ecosystems – made up of marshes, mudflats, and coastal edges – that would protect the low-lying zones from the imminent threat of rising sea levels . Scape’s proposal was developed for the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge , an open design competition that calls for innovative solutions to the many issues facing the Bay Area due to climate change . According to the architects, their inspiration for the proposal is based on using sediment as a core building block to create a nature-based resilient system around the bay. Related: EPA Grant Will Help Protect New York’s Salt Marshes The plan is comprised of three projects: Pilots for a Future Bay, The Bay Cushion, and Unlock Alameda Creek. Pilots for a Future Bay involves various pilot programs that would include the local community in participating in the planning process of making the area more resilient. The plan includes working with local students as environmental stewards that would help design and monitor various scientific experiments geared towards protecting the Bay Area’s ecosystems . The Bay Cushion calls for expanding on the ongoing South Bay Salt Pond initiative. Building on the project, which seeks to reduce tidal extremes around the bay, the proposal calls for creating a massive sediment reserve that links ecosystems, wildlife, and visitors to the area. The reserve would include viewing towers, outdoor mudrooms and various “sensing stations” that would run along the existing Bay Trail. Unlock Alameda Creek, which involves unlocking the sediment flows of Alameda Creek, is also an essential part of the proposal. This would include redesigning the creek’s water flow in order to restore the breeding grounds of the native steelheads. Once again, the area would be outfitted with a trail of viewing platforms to enable visitors to take in the infinite value of the bay’s valuable ecosystems. + Resilient Design Bay Area + SCAPE Landscape Architecture

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Resilient infrastructure proposal aims to protect San Francisco Bay from rising sea levels

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