Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

February 23, 2017 by  
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Last year, during the 2016 Summer Games , it would have been hard to imagine the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro sitting empty in the hot Brazilian sun. Sadly, this is what has become of the space today. Despite having been officially reopened in January as a public recreation area, the park is treated to only a few visitors and a longstanding bad reputation. The $800 million Olympic Park was constructed in the months prior to last year’s Summer Games in a process that displaced residents and enraged others. Clare Richardson of Vice visited residents of the old Vila Autódromo favela, a community that was forced to move, later granted new public housing in the area. The city’s promises have fallen short of the agreed upon vision of building playgrounds, a court for sports, and a community center, leaving people with plain housing in an asphalt jungle. Residents have even resorted to creating their own speed bumps out of stones and trash cans to keep nearby roads safe. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Visitors to the area feel shortchanged, as well. Vital services that were available during the park’s grand opening event, such as running water and electricity, are no longer available. The typical two-hour journey from the center of the city greets commuters with a sad skatepark , playground, and the ghostly spectacles of towering arenas. Bigger events, like the Rock in Rio music festival, are planned, but the park has become an inconvenient eyesore for the rest of the year. “I’ve seen about 12 people here since I arrived five hours ago,” Vinicius Martini, a beer vendor at the park, told Vice. “And I haven’t sold any beer.” Via Vice Images via Clare Robinson

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Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

February 23, 2017 by  
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Planning to attend SXSW but still searching for a place to stay? You may be in luck— HomeAway is opening up its human-sized Birdhouse in downtown Austin to two lucky groups of SXSW attendees for free. The vacation rental website teamed up with West Elm to transform the quirky space in their headquarters into comfortable and stylish bedrooms that sleeps six. Keep reading to take a tour inside of the world’s biggest human birdhouse. Perched in the middle of downtown Austin at 5th and Lamar, HomeAway’s giant two-story Birdhouse is an iconic landmark for Austinites and an ideal place to stay for SXSW. In hopes of providing a last-minute alternative to groups still looking for housing—there are less than 10,000 hotel rooms in downtown Austin—HomeAway has opened up the Birdhouse as part of a competition open to anyone over the age of 21. Entrants must answer the question “Why do you want to stay in the Birdhouse during SXSW?” and explain how the experience will impact them and the creative enterprise that they are part of. Entrants can choose from two two-night timeframes from and the winners will also receive a free two-night stay at a different HomeAway vacation rental for the nights that they do not stay in the Birdhouse. Related: SXSW Eco Announces Winners of the 2014 Place by Design Competition The Birdhouse is located on HomeAway’s third floor and has been converted into a rental with sleeping areas on two floors. HomeAway also rented the Birdhouse to guests last year with an auction with proceeds donated to Habitat to Humanity . You can enter the contest by sending HomeAway a message on their Birdhouse listing. + Birdhouse

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Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

Couple builds dream solar-powered home on an awkward lot in Rotterdam

February 23, 2017 by  
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When it came time for Dutch architects Gwendolyn Huisman and Marijn Boterman to build their dream home, they chose an extremely narrow plot of land in the city of Rotterdam. The plot presented a few challenges, which the pair overcame with a minimalist 12-foot-wide design that comes with its own rooftop garden and indoor hammock. If you need some inspiration, take a closer look at their SkinnySCAR house after the jump. The plot of land had been vacant for decades due to its small size. However, the couple was determined to efficiently convert the skinny space into a fully livable home. They clad the three-story strucure in a sophisticated black brick with two extra large windows, adding a strong character to the previously empty lot. Related: Super skinny 4-meter-wide home is squeezed between buildings in Tokyo https://vimeo.com/203146648 Of course, working with such a narrow space created a number of challenges on the interior. To create a sense of openness, the architects took advantage of the tall, skinny space by building three stories, all with incredibly high ceilings. Multiple large windows offer optimal natural light , and exposed concrete and white walls enhance the minimalist interior design. The entranceway to the 1,506-square-foot space opens up into the kitchen and dining area in the back of the home, which leads out into a shared garden space. The second floor houses a small library and reading lounge that includes a reading hammock that looks out over the interior garden space. Two small bedrooms and a unique bathroom with an open shower and aquatic green accents are housed on the third floor. For private outdoor space, the architects put a quaint little herb garden on their rooftop, which shares space with the home’s solar array . + SkinnySCAR House + JagerJanssen Via New Atlas Images via SkinnySCAR House

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Couple builds dream solar-powered home on an awkward lot in Rotterdam

New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties

February 23, 2017 by  
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Email already hobbled one politician; could it prove to be the downfall of another? The writing might be on the wall for Scott Pruitt , longtime foe of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , as well as its newest administrator. While serving as attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt regularly colluded with oil and gas producers and electric utilities with ties to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch to oppose federal environmental regulations, according to 7,500-plus pages of email that were made public on Wednesday. “The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry, with frequent meetings, calls, dinners and other events,” said Nick Surgey, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy , which sued to obtain the documents. Indeed, the correspondence portrays a rapport that isn’t just amicable, but downright cozy. Devon Energy , an oil and gas exploration firm based in Oklahoma City, for instance, drafted—and redrafted—letters for Pruitt to sign and send to federal officials in opposition of regulations designed to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and ozone pollution. “Attached is a potential first-cut draft of a letter a (bipartisan if possible?) group of AGs might send to the acting EPA administrator and some others in the Administration in response to the NE states’ notice of intent to sue for more E&P emission regulation,” William Whitsitt, executive vice president for public affairs at Devon, wrote in 2013. Related: Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of Months later, Clayton Eubanks, a deputy solicitor general, asked Whitsitt for advice on a draft the letter was preparing to send to the EPA regarding proposed regulations of methane emissions. “I would like to get the letter out in the morning,” Eubanks wrote. “Any suggestions?” Whitsitt was quick to respond. “Here you go. Please note that you could use just the red changes, or both red and blue (the latter being some further improvements from one of our experts) or none,” he wrote back. Hope this helps.” “I sent the letter today,” Eubanks emailed the next day. “Thanks for all your help on this.” Communications reveal a similar fraternity between his office and Koch Brothers-funded conservative political groups such as Americans for Prosperity , which emailed the offices of Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman thanking them for helping “push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states.” The emails’ release comes just days after Pruitt was promoted from EPA critic to EPA overseer. The road to his appointment was a rocky one, to say the least. Senate Democrats, environmental groups, and former and current members of the EPA staff launched a vociferous campaign against Pruitt, even calling for a delay on his confirmation vote until after the emails were made public. It was mostly for naught, however. Susan Collins from Maine was the sole Republican who voted against him, and Pruitt was confirmed by a 52-to-46 vote on Friday. Making his first speech at EPA headquarters in Washington on Tuesday, Pruitt told employees that he was here to “listen, learn, and lead.” Related: Scott Pruitt attacks critics and EPA employees in first speech Pruitt said the EPA needed to respect states’ roles in enforcing standards, and that “regulations ought to make things regular.” He also insisted that there shouldn’t be a disconnect between environmental protection and energy production. Nor should regulations hamper job creation. “We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment,” Pruitt said. “That we don’t have to choose between the two. I think our nation has done better than any nation in the world at making sure we do the job of protecting our natural resources and protecting our environment while also respecting the economic growth and jobs our nation seeks to have.” Pruitt’s words did little to smooth staffers’ hackles, however. “Pruitt’s talk [was] as bad as expected,” one anonymous employee told Mother Jones . “Not one word about public health. And talking about the rule of law as if we didn’t do everything with the realization that it will end up in court. It was condescending and hypocritical.” + Center for Media and Democracy Photos by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties

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