Nearly 5,000 prefab concrete panels wrap BIG-designed outdoor urban room in France

July 12, 2019 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group and FREAKS freearchitects have completed a new cultural center for Bordeaux , France that frames the UNESCO-listed city’s love for contemporary art, film, performances and the waterfront. Dubbed MÉCA (Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine), the art-filled public space takes the shape of an angular loop that houses three regional arts agencies: FRAC for contemporary art; ALCA for cinema, literature and audiovisuals; and OARA for performing arts. By leaving a void in the center of the building, the architects successfully preserved views of and public passage to the waterfront, while creating a shaded “urban living room” accessible to all. Spanning an area of 18,000 square meters, MÉCA is centrally located between the River Garonne and Saint-Jean train station. The design knits together the cultural institutions it houses with public space with the creation of a porous building accessed via a series of steps and ramps that extends from the pavement of the existing river promenade to the 1,100-square-meter outdoor urban room at the heart of MÉCA and beyond to Quai de Paludate street. MÉCA’s outdoor spaces can also be transformed into a stage for concerts and performances or an extended gallery for sculptures and other art installations. The contemporary building is clad in a facade of 4,800 prefabricated concrete panels punctuated with windows of various sizes. The concrete panels are sandblasted and textured with locally sourced sandstone. Above the outdoor room hangs a 7-meter-tall MÉCA sign that the architects liken to a “modern chandelier” fitted with white LEDs. A permanent bronze sculpture depicting a half-head of Hermes by French artist Benoît Maire marks the riverside entrance. Related: Free off-grid shelter pops up for urban explorers in Bordeaux Inside MÉCA, visitors can dine at the restaurant Le CREM, which is dressed with wine-inspired red and cork furnishings designed by BIG, and enjoy performances in OARA’s 250-seat theater. ALCA’s red-accented 80-seat cinema, production offices and project incubation area are located directly upstairs while the upper floors are occupied by FRAC’s exhibition space, production studios, storage facilities, 90-seat auditorium and cafe. An 850-square-meter public terrace tops the roof. + BIG Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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Nearly 5,000 prefab concrete panels wrap BIG-designed outdoor urban room in France

Finnish startup makes alternative protein from carbon dioxide

July 12, 2019 by  
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An innovative startup company from Finland has piloted a new alternative protein product made out of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This meat alternative has the potential to address the environmental evils of both the agriculture industry and climate change. The startup is confident it will be able to get the product on grocery store shelves by 2021. The product, named Solein, will likely be sold first as a liquid protein source via shakes or yogurt. This is different than alternative meat competitors, now including conventional meat giants like Tyson , that primarily sell alternative proteins as nuggets or burgers. Related: Vegan and lab-grown meats predicted to take over meat market in 20 years According to Solar Foods, Solein is “100 times more climate friendly” than all other animal- and plant-based proteins. In fact, the company also claims it is 10 times more efficient than soy production in terms of carbon footprint . How does it work? The company says it mixes water molecules with nutrients like potassium and sodium and then feeds the solution plus carbon to microbes. The microbes consume the nutrients and produce an edible substance that looks like flour and is 50 percent protein . Lab-grown meats are an expanding industry, but Solar Foods captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to feed to microbes instead of using sugar like most other companies. “Producing Solein is entirely free from agriculture — it doesn’t require arable land or irrigation and isn’t limited by climate conditions,” a Solar Foods representative told Dezeen . “It can be produced anywhere around the world, even in areas where conventional protein production has never been possible.” The company has big ambitions and believes that if the alternative meat industry is indeed going to overtake the conventional meat industry as predicted, leading corporations like Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat are going to need to experiment with and use innovative sources of protein beyond pea-based products. + Solar Foods Via Futurism Image via Solar Foods

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Brasserie 2050 restaurant pops up as a prototype for sustainable food service

May 21, 2019 by  
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As the push toward sustainable lifestyles continues to spread from individual purchasing decisions to the overarching responsibility of big business, one restaurant is making a big statement by providing meals from a circular environment of zero food and material waste . The Brasserie 2050 restaurant in the Netherlands temporarily opened its doors last fall as a restaurant and food storage pavilion designed by temporary-structure specialists Overtreders W for an event called the Lowlands Festival. The goal was to highlight the need for sustainable food production, and they achieved this goal by setting up a food barn made from recycled and borrowed materials that could be disassembled and moved at the end of the festival with no damage to the materials and no waste. Related: An urban farm and restaurant fluorishes in Utrecht’s “circular” pavilion With forecasts estimating the world will have 10 billion people to feed by 2050, Brasserie 2050 is a testament to how we can achieve that goal. Not only is the design of the structure a sustainable model, but the catering company The Food Line Up created a zero-waste menu to feed the masses in attendance of the festival. Creative use of kitchen scraps culminated into baked bread from potato peelings, steak tartare with half the meat and pesto sourced from kitchen leftovers. The food pavilion made use of the entire barn-shaped space by using standard pallet racks as the primary structural component. A corrugated plastic roof completed the gabled look. Even the tables were constructed from recycled plastic with the reuse and zero-waste cycle in mind. The space was efficiently filled from top to bottom, with suspended herb boxes and wheat, corn, garlic and onions dangling from the ceiling above diner’s heads. Of course, this also provided natural decor for the restaurant . To keep the structure from blowing away, bags of grain weighed down the sides. The structure and the menu served as a model of efficient and sustainable practices designed to lead us toward more eco-friendly food services for the future. + Overtreders W Via ArchDaily Photography by Jorn van Eck via Overtreders W

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Panda Express introduces vegan options

March 14, 2019 by  
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Good news for suburban vegans and those who find themselves trapped in airports or mini-malls: The Chinese fast food chain Panda Express has added its first vegan entrees. Vegan diners at all 2,000 locations can soon safely chow down on Panda Express’ chow mein and eggplant tofu. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ( PETA ) has long been chipping away at Panda Express’ resistance to offering any dishes sans chicken broth or animal-derived seasoning. Supporters of the animal rights group contacted Panda Express 234,000 times about adding vegan menu entrees. But ultimately it was Vegan Outreach’s 5,000-signature petition that coaxed Panda Express into taking the chicken broth out of the chow mein. In February, the Chinese chain adopted reformulated recipes for its eggplant tofu and chow mein. Other vegan options now include spring rolls, a super green side of kale, cabbage and broccoli and vegan brown and white rice. However, as the restaurants use up old inventory, they might still be serving non-vegan versions through March. Vegans also shouldn’t expect separate cooking surfaces anytime soon. “While seemingly small, this change by Panda Express will make a big impact,” Taylor Radig, campaigns and social media manager of Vegan Outreach , told VegNews . “Not only will the chain expand its customer base to include vegans, but it will also contribute less to animal suffering by using more plant-based ingredients.” Panda Express now joins a growing list of fast-food chains that have added vegan options, including Taco Bell, Panera Bread and Carl’s Jr. Vegan Outreach, founded in 1993, introduced the petition as part of its work to end violence toward animals . According to the nonprofit’s website, “We focus on reaching the people who are motivated enough to make changes now — of which there are always many in our target audience who just need some additional encouragement.” Some of these folks might not be ready to venture into a vegan raw food restaurant, but they may be willing to try Panda Express’ eggplant tofu and chow mein. + Panda Express Via VegNews Images via Rick Obst and Willis Lam

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Vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives lets guests harvest their own food

February 25, 2019 by  
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Way out in the Indian Ocean, guests at a luxury Soneva resort are participating in the ultimate farm-to-table experience — and they even get to harvest the ingredients for their own dinners. The Soneva Fushi just opened Shades of Green, its new vegetarian restaurant at the exclusive Maldives resort. The seed for the vegetarian restaurant was planted when Copenhagen-based chef Carsten Kyster visited Soneva Fushi as a guest in March 2018. Kyster has worked at the River Café and The Sugar Club in London as well as traveling and working in Southeast Asia over the last 15 years. After eating a lunch made with ingredients from Soneva Fushi’s organic garden, inspiration struck. A year later, the 20-seat Shades of Green welcomes guests for intimate, plant-based dinners. Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants Before dining at the new vegetarian restaurant, guests take a guided tour of the garden , learning about the herbs, fruits and vegetables while picking dinner ingredients. They gather around a fire pit for an appetizer, then move to tables set beneath fruit trees to enjoy the remaining six courses. Dinner can last late into the night. Shades of Green’s menu will change with the seasons and is based around the colors red, green and yellow. Chef Kyster blends Maldivian and other Southeast Asian cuisines with Nordic culinary techniques, such as salting, smoking, pickling and fermenting. The meal is designed to fulfill six categories: cleanse, raw, crispy, grain, fire and sweet. For example, mangosteen kombucha paired with plums, beetroot vinegar powder and shiso leaves is a cleansing dish. A fire dish contains hotter ingredients, such as leeks and pepper sauce. Soneva Fushi is located within the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve coral reef . Guests in the 61 private villas enjoy amenities like an open-air cinema, a high-tech observatory, a glassblowing studio, private butlers and 500 different wines — and now, a vegetarian restaurant, too. + Shades of Green Photography by Julia Neeson via Shades of Green

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Vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives lets guests harvest their own food

Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

January 22, 2019 by  
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Sustainability is woven throughout Brae , a renowned restaurant and retreat nestled on a hillside of a 30-acre organic farm in rural Australia. Designed by Fitzroy-based studio Six Degrees Architects , Brae is best known for its seasonally inspired menu and talented chefs — the restaurant was named among the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2017 — and the idyllic establishment also boasts six eco-friendly guest suites designed to target net-zero energy consumption. Durable and recycled materials are used throughout the handcrafted buildings, which are powered with solar energy and use recycled rainwater. After Six Degree Architects completed Brae in 2013, the firm revisited the site to add a new accommodation building that would emphasize the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and seasonality. Completed in 2016, the six guest suites are housed in a structure referencing the archetypal utilitarian rural shed and built with simple and robust materials including recycled timber and brickwork, raw steel and brass. Local builders and tradesmen built the project, and the guest suites are carefully fitted out with bespoke, engaging objects to make each room feel homey and welcoming. “The restaurant is renowned for seasonally sourcing raw produce from either the property or local region,” the architects explained. “There was a desire to bring this careful, considered approach into the crafting of the rooms and restaurant. Simple robust materials, contrasting hard and soft, and a level of intricate detailing remind you that hands have made and shaped the buildings. The project purposefully plays off the materiality and self-build nature of old rural buildings, reinterpreting them into contemporary and luxurious interiors, framing views of the working landscape beyond.” Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants The guest suites are oriented for south-facing views of the landscape, while a landscaped berm to the north protects the building from view of the carpark. To achieve net-zero energy use during operation, the project is equipped with 48 solar panels that generate a daily average of nearly 44 kWh. Rainwater is harvested in two 40,000-liter tanks and reused for drinking and washing. Waste is broken down in a large worm farm. Thanks to these systems and passive thermal design, the 500-square-meter Brae guest suites have achieved a NatHERS energy rating of 7 stars. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Trevor Mein via Six Degrees Architects

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Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

These are the world’s top vegan cities

January 22, 2019 by  
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If traveling is a top priority for you in 2019 and you follow a vegan diet , there are some cities that are more vegan-friendly than others. Vegan website Happy Cow has compiled a list of the 10 most vegan-friendly cities in the world based on the number of fully-vegan restaurants, the number of vegan-option restaurants and their impression of overall vegan-friendliness. London At the top of the list is London, because the number of vegan restaurants in the city has exploded over the past year. It was the first city on the list to hit 100 completely vegan restaurants. A recent survey showed that more than a half million people are following the vegan diet in Great Britain. Related: Veganism on the rise, record number of sign-ups for Veganuary Berlin Because its vegan scene continues to grow, Berlin comes in at No. 2. There are now 65 vegan restaurants in the German city and 320 additional vegan options at restaurants within a 5-mile radius. New York City Many people consider the Big Apple to be the international food capital of the world, and its vegan scene is flourishing. There are now 64 vegan restaurants in NYC that range from fast food to upscale dining. Portland Veganism is a way of life in Portland , and that means the city has a wide variety of plant-based food options. You can easily find a vegan burger and a variety of vegan artisanal cheeses. There are also a number of vegan food carts and even a vegan bed and breakfast. Tel Aviv With an estimated 5 to 8 percent of the Israeli population being vegan, the country has the highest percentage of vegans in the world. The 31 vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv serve a variety of cuisines from Israel, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Some also have a Western influence. Rounding out the top 10 are Los Angeles, Warsaw, Toronto, Prague and Paris . + Happy Cow Image via 12019

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An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant

November 7, 2018 by  
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New Delhi-based, multidisciplinary design practice Studio Lotus has transformed a portion of Jaipur’s lavish City Palace Museum into Baradari, a contemporary fine dining restaurant that pays homage to its rich architectural roots. Formerly used as a fairly nondescript palace cafe, the 14,000-square-foot property has been given a sumptuous revamp using traditional craftsmanship and artisanal techniques. The adaptive reuse project is not only a hybrid of centuries-old elements and modern aesthetics, but is also a historic preservation project that included careful restoration efforts. The royal family of Jaipur commissioned Studio Lotus to redevelop the neglected property into a fine dining destination with a private dining area, bar, lounge space, a quick service counter and back of house facilities to accommodate approximately 200 patrons. The design team began with a lengthy research and restoration phase, during which the walls were stripped of recently added plaster to reveal the original stone masonry. These walls were then restored and repainted using traditional techniques and materials, including cured slaked lime with crushed sandstone and brick . The restaurant is organized around a pavilion -like bar, created in the likeness of a ‘baradari’ (meaning a pavilion with twelve columns), that divides the courtyard into two zones and is built from handcrafted marble and glass. Traditional Jaipur craftsmanship is mixed with modern design throughout the restaurant, from the structural additions to flooring and furniture. The black and white marble floors, for instance, are a contemporary take on the traditional Rajasthani leheriya pattern, while the designs for the decorative art made from thikri (mirror) techniques were computer generated. Related: The Farm art hotel delights guests with recycled art and farm-fresh food Energy usage is also minimized thanks to a combination of low tech and high tech means. In addition to energy-efficient air conditioning and remote-controlled LEDs , the restaurant is equipped with rainwater harvesting systems and strategically placed water features that help create a cooling microclimate. + Studio Lotus Images via Studio Lotus

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6 tips to reduce your foodprint while dining out

November 1, 2018 by  
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When you eat at home, it is relatively easy to make choices that will lower your ‘foodprint,’ because you are in charge of the shopping, preparation and disposal of all the food. But when you eat out at a restaurant or grab takeout, it is much more difficult to eat sustainably. To make it a little bit easier, we have put together six tips to help you eat green while dining out or grabbing something to go. Ask questions Ask your server about the restaurant’s sources. What farms do they buy from? Is this dish in season? If the server doesn’t know, they can ask the manager or the chef. If the restaurant has a philosophy of incorporating seasonality into the menu, the workers will be more than happy to share the food’s origins, and the menu items will change with the seasons. Do your research to know what is in season where you live and what local restaurants embrace seasonality. When you are looking over a restaurant menu, also keep in mind your location and what is in season locally. If you are in a landlocked area, ordering ocean fish isn’t smart, because it certainly isn’t local. If you live in Missouri and it’s the middle of winter, tomatoes are not in season. Get a box American restaurants are famous for the extra-large portions of food that they pile up on plates, making it nearly impossible to finish the meal in one sitting. According to Sustainable America , the average restaurant meal is eight times larger than the standard USDA and FDA serving sizes, and 55 percent of leftover restaurant food doesn’t get taken home. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now Big meals mean even bigger waste. Instead of leaving behind food and letting it go straight to the trash, ask for a box. It will help cut down the food waste, and it gives you an instant lunch for the next day. If you don’t want to take leftovers home, consider splitting a large appetizer or entree with your dining partner. Choose farm-to-table Farm-to-table is one of the most popular buzzwords of the moment, and many restaurants have been more than willing to capitalize on the trend. More chefs have started to incorporate local and seasonal items on their menus, and some restaurants have even started growing their own food. Eating at a restaurant that locally sources its ingredients results in a major downsize of your foodprint, because there is no need to ship the ingredients across the country. Just make sure that the restaurant is truly farm-to-table — that’s when asking the right questions becomes important. Just say no If you don’t want that basket of rolls or chips they automatically put on the table, just say no. Tell your server not to bring it, so it isn’t wasted. The same thing goes for items on your entree. If you don’t want onions on your burger, tell your server to leave them off it. If you don’t want that side of coleslaw, ask for a substitution or tell them to skip it completely. Watch buffet portions To reduce your food waste at a buffet, use smaller plates. People who use large plates waste 135 percent more food than those who use smaller plates. Watch your portions when enjoying a buffet, or avoid going to one. Decline takeout bags, utensils and condiments When you order takeout, reduce your carbon footprint by bringing your own coffee or water cups, saying no to straws and plastic bags and declining plastic utensils and napkins. You can bring your own reusable container and see if the restaurant is willing to use it. Say no to extra condiments and seasonings. All of these to-go items might seem convenient, but they often end up in the trash. Instead, just grab the food, and use the cutlery, condiments and seasonings that you have at home. If you really do need some of the extras like sauces or condiments, only take what you need. When you dine out, you can eat sustainably by keeping these tips in mind. Just remember to choose the right restaurants, ask questions and minimize your food packaging and waste , and you will be doing your part to reduce your foodprint. Via Foodprint and  Sustainable America Images via Steffen Kastner , Thabang Mokoena  and Shutterstock

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A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

November 1, 2018 by  
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The sustainable builders at ArtisTree are known for creating some seriously beautiful and green structures. The company has just unveiled a charming treehouse located in a remote eco-retreat in Texas. Perched 25 feet in the air between two cypress trees, the Yoki Treehouse is an exceptional example of the company’s artistry and deep respect for nature. Located in central Texas, the Yoki Treehouse is Austin’s first treehouse resort at Cypress Valley. Designed to be a luxury retreat, the  treehouse sits 25 feet above a creek, which served as the inspiration for the design and name (Yoki is the Hopi Native American word for rain). According to Will Beilharz, founder of ArtisTree, “Water is life — one of our most precious resources, and ArtisTree treehouses are designed to let people experience nature’s resources more intimately.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home — and you can stay overnight Built with sustainable woods such as elm, cypress and spruce, the treehouse holds court high up within the tree canopy.  The retreat is comprised of a 500-square-foot suspended treehouse and a separate bathhouse, which sits on solid ground. The two buildings are connected by a 60-foot-long suspension bridge with various platforms to provide plenty of open spaces for enjoying the surrounding nature. In the main house, this strong emphasis on nature is apparent at every angle. The entrance is located on the roof, which doubles as an observation platform perfect for enjoying the lush green forest views and the babbling brook. There is also an open-air porch where the branches grow through the floor, further connecting the structure into its environment. Inside, the walls of the treehouse are clad in a warm birch wood, creating a cabin-like aesthetic. Again, an abundance of windows, including an all-glass front wall, allows guests to reconnect with nature. The interior design and furnishings were inspired by Japanese minimalism, while touches of Turkish decor add a sense of whimsy. The separate bathhouse was built with solitude in mind. It features a spa-like atmosphere, complete with a large Onsen-style soaking bathtub. Ample floor-to-ceiling windows offer guests a serene spot to enjoy a bit of bird watching or stargazing. + ArtisTree Via Dezeen Photography by Smiling Forest via ArtisTree

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A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

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