BIG unveils a sustainable floating city in response to rising sea levels

April 9, 2019 by  
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BIG and a coalition of partners have unveiled Oceanix City, a visionary proposal for the world’s first resilient and sustainable floating community for 10,000 people. Presented at the first UN high-level roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities, the conceptual design was created as a potential solution to the perceived threat of climate change and rising sea levels. Conceived as a “modular maritime metropolis,” Oceanix City is engineered for self-sufficiency with features from net-zero energy and zero-waste systems to a sharing culture. According to UN-Habitat, 90 percent of the world’s largest cities will be exposed to rising seas by 2050. As part of UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda, BIG teamed up with MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, Mobility in Chain, Sherwood Design Engineers, Center for Zero Waste Design and other partners to propose Oceanix City. This is a 75-hectare floating city  that is meant to grow and adapt organically over time — from neighborhoods to cities — with the possibility of scaling indefinitely. To that end, Oceanix City uses a modular design with two-hectare modules serving mixed-use communities of up to 300 residents centered on communal farming. Larger 12-hectare villages comprise six neighborhood modules clustered around a protected central harbor accommodating social, recreational and commercial functions for up to 1,650 residents. For a city of 10,000 residents, six villages are connected around a larger protected harbor. Construction materials will be locally sourced whenever possible, and components would be prefabricated on shore and then towed to their final site to keep construction costs low and thus permit affordable housing. Related: How the world’s first floating city could restore the environment “The sea is our fate — it may also be our future,” Bjarke Ingels said. “The first sustainable and self-sustained floating community, Oceanix City, is designed as a human made ecosystem channeling circular flows of energy, water, food and waste. Oceanix City is a blueprint for a modular maritime metropolis anchored in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The additive architecture can grow, transform and adapt organically over time, evolving from a neighborhood of 300 residents to a city of 10,000 — with the possibility of scaling indefinitely to provide thriving nautical communities for people who care about each other and our planet.” + BIG Images via BIG

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Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

March 22, 2019 by  
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Ghostly white bands of light are illuminating the coastline in the Outer Hebrides to show the potential rise in sea levels that could become reality as a result of unchecked climate change . The collaborative and site-specific art piece, named Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W), is the work of Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho . The environmental art installation is embedded with sensors that measure the rising tidal changes and activate three synchronized light lines during times of high tide. Hoping to draw attention to and spark a dialogue about climate change, artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho wanted to render visible the predicted impacts of rising sea levels in an area they believe will be among the hardest hit. Consequently, the artists chose the Uist, a low-lying island archipelago belonging to the Outer Hebrides island chain located off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The artwork has been installed at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre in Lochmaddy, the main port of entry to North Uist, which the artists said “cannot develop on its existing site due to predicted storm surge sea levels.” Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W) consists of bright white LED lights, float switches/sensors and timers. Two light lines wrap around the sides of a pair of gabled buildings while the third light line appears to hover above an empty field. The three lines light up in sync with the rising tide. Related: Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23 “The installation explores the catastrophic impact of our relationship with nature and its long term effects,” the artists said in their project statement. “The work provokes a dialogue on how the rising sea levels will affect coastal areas, its inhabitants and land usage in the future. The work helps us to imagine the future sea level rise in undefined period of time, depending on our actions toward the climate warming.” Installed May 8, 2018, Lines will run until May 1, 2019. + Pekka Niittyvirta + Timo Aho Images via Pekka Niittyvirta

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Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

Concrete fins protect this visitor center from rising tides

February 12, 2019 by  
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When the Hampshire County Council’s Property Services decided to build a new visitor center on the coastal area of Lepe Country Park on the England’s south coast, it knew that it had to create a design with several resilient features . The building needed to withstand the area’s brutal natural elements and rising sea levels. Guests to the historic area can now enjoy a bite to eat in the Lookout, an elongated wooden and glass center surrounded by a row of concrete fins that will help protect the building against future rising tides. The design of the visitor center was strategically planned to provide a place where visitors and tourists could stop in to enjoy a bite to eat while taking in the incredible views of the sea. According to the architects, the building also had to be constructed to withstand the current and future climate conditions. “From the outset, it was important that the building had composure in an environment that can be both beautiful and brutal,” said the council’s design manager Martin Hallum. Related: Sleek fiberglass visitor center is a beacon for wind energy in Denmark The building’s elongated volume is comprised of two connected horizontal boxes with the front box containing the main dining area. The box at the rear houses the service areas including the restaurant’s kitchen, the administration offices, meeting spaces and a visitor information point. The center is clad in wooden panels, with the front area punctuated with a series of windows that let in ample natural light . The building’s large sloping roof hangs over the exterior walls, providing shade during the summer months and protection from inclement weather. A wooden open-air deck wraps around the sides of the structure, leading out to the east- and west-facing terraces. Picnic tables surround the building for those wanting to enjoy dining al fresco. + Hampshire County Council’s Property Services Via Dezeen Photography by Jim Stephenson via Hampshire County Council’s Property Services

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Concrete fins protect this visitor center from rising tides

Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain

February 5, 2018 by  
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Venice has historically had a problem with too much water inundating its canals, but thanks to a combination of low tides and a lack of rain over the last few weeks, the sinking city’s waterways have turned into channels of mud. Indeed, unusual weather patterns have caused Venice’s water levels to plummet by more than two feet (60cm), rendering a number of channels completely unusable. And with no way to move through the city, many locals have left their boats and gondolas to languish in the muck. The Independent reports that dip in water is the direct result of low tides caused by the super blue blood moon paired with unseasonably dry weather. This, however, is not the first time the Italian city has seen its canals go dry; in 2016, water levels fell by 2.16 feet (66cm), and in 2008 and 1989 levels dropped by 2.95 feet (90cm). The canals are expected to return to normal when the rain returns. Related: Italy is giving away hundreds of historic castles and villas for free  While the phenomenon is surely alarming, flooding remains the biggest threat to the city.  Quarternary International published a report last year forecasting that Venice could disappear by the end of the century as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change . The Mediterranean Sea is in fact predicted to rise by 4.59 feet (140cm) before 2100. The city itself is also sinking at a rate of about 1-2mm a year. Via Independent UK Images via Wiki Commons and Flickr

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Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain

Dubai’s new self-sufficient floating villas can withstand rising seas

January 12, 2018 by  
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Millions of people will be displaced by rising sea levels – but these floating homes are designed to weather the storm. Waterstudio is building a community of 33 villas to float on top of the water so that they won’t be inundated by sea rise. Construction of the community – dubbed Amillarah – starts this month with developer Dutch Docklands off the coast of Dubai. Sea levels could rise 3 feet by 2100, which could flood a good portion of the United Arab Emirates. These buoyed homes are designed to float on top of the water, and they wouldn’t lack the luxuries of your typical villa. Each one will feature a swimming pool complete with patio, trees, and landscaping. Each artificial island will vary from 150,000 square feet to 450,000 square feet. Related: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Koen Olthuis of WaterStudio.nl talks about design for a Water World Leave your car on land, because the only way to reach these homes is via seaplane or boat. If you want to take advantage of ocean-front property without the flooding risk, you’d better start saving your pennies, because they start at 23 million dollars each. Waterstudio says the concrete base of each villa is built to last 100 years and the bases can help create an underwater habitat for sea life. Buyers can design their own island, and each one is self-sufficient. Waterstudio is well-known for their floating architecture , which includes a floating neighborhood in Amsterdam and

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Dubai’s new self-sufficient floating villas can withstand rising seas

Meteorologist warns collapse of two Antarctic glaciers could flood every coastal city on Earth

November 24, 2017 by  
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Two of Antarctica’s glaciers are holding our civilization hostage, meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote in a piece for Grist . Pine Island and Thwaites are among the continent’s biggest and fastest-melting glaciers , together holding back ice that could unleash 11 feet of sea level rise . If they collapse, every coastal city on our planet could flood. Thwaites and Pine Island sprawl across a plain over 150-miles-long, and inland widen to a reserve of ice two-miles-thick that’s about the size of Texas, according to Holthaus, who says there’s no doubt the ice will melt. The question is not if, but how soon. Should the two glaciers collapse, every shoreline and coastal city could be inundated with water, leaving hundreds of millions of climate refugees homeless. And those events could happen in 20 to 50 years – too fast for humans to adapt. Related: Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf Two climatologists, in a study published in Nature last year, said an increase of six feet in ocean levels by 2100 was more likely than three feet – but if carbon emissions continue increasing in a worst case scenario, all 11 feet of ice held back in Antarctica could be freed. But if these glaciers are miles thick, wouldn’t it take an incredibly long time for them to collapse? That may not be the case in our warming world. Holthaus pointed to new evidence saying once we reach a certain temperature threshold, glacier ice shelves extending into the sea – like those of Thwaites and Pine Island – could melt from below and above, quickening their demise. Holthaus noted not every scientist thinks there’s cause for panic. National Snow and Ice Data Center lead scientist Ted Scambos said the two glaciers may not collapse all at once – and rapid collapse would still produce several icebergs that could slow the rate of retreat and act as a temporary ice shelf. But the scientific community is starting to think we need more research into the risk of rapid sea level rise, according to Holthaus. University of Michigan leading ice sheet scientist Jeremy Bassis said, “Every revision to our understanding has said that ice sheets can change faster than we thought. We didn’t predict that Pine Island was going to retreat, we didn’t predict that Larsen B was going to disintegrate. We tend to look at these things after they’ve happened.” Via Grist Images via Wikimedia Commons and NASA

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Switching to outdoor LEDs has made light pollution worse without saving energy

November 24, 2017 by  
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LED lighting was supposed to help save the environment with its lower energy requirements and more specific light direction. But new research published in Scientific Advances reveals we are now being smothered in worse light pollution than ever before — without the energy savings we expected. As a result, we are not only failing to reduce our carbon footprint, but our health could be suffering as well. Scientists examined satellite imaging to determine if the planet’s surface appears to be brighter than it used to be. If LED lights were working as we’d expected, the skies in wealthy countries would be remaining the same or getting darker at night. But the opposite seems to be taking place. “[W]e observed wealthy countries staying constant, or in many cases increasing,” said Christopher Kyba, lead author of the study in an interview with Gizmodo . Related: This village in Arizona has a simple solution to light pollution Part of the reason for the increase is because many cities have added more lighting because of the energy savings from LED bulbs, a phenomenon known as the “rebound” effect. Not only has this increased light pollution, but it has negated the energy savings that would be seen by simply switching an incandescent bulb for an LED one. Light pollution is considered to be a serious health threat , akin to air pollution, not only for humans but for wildlife as well, because it disrupts biological circadian rhythms. Half of Europe and a fourth of North America have compromised night skies that can impact health. + Artificially lit surface of Earth at night increasing in radiance and extent Via Gizmodo Lead image via Arturo Castaneyra

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Switching to outdoor LEDs has made light pollution worse without saving energy

Global ocean circulation may be slowing down due to Arctic ice loss

August 16, 2017 by  
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Humanity is entering a phase of grave uncertainty as rising temperatures wreck havoc on our planet. Researchers from Yale University and the University of Southhampton have found evidence that Arctic ice loss may be having a negative impact on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) , the largest ocean circulation system on the planet. A complex system not easily explained by talking heads scoring political points, AMOC helps regulate ocean and atmospheric temperatures – and its collapse would have repercussions that not even scientists can properly predict. “The ongoing decline of Arctic sea ice exposes the ocean to anomalous surface heat and freshwater fluxes, resulting in positive buoyancy anomalies that can affect ocean circulation,” the researchers wrote in a new study published recently in Nature . “It is found that on decadal timescales, flux anomalies over the subpolar North Atlantic have the largest impact on the AMOC, while on multi-decadal timescales (longer than 20 years), flux anomalies in the Arctic become more important. These positive buoyancy anomalies spread to the North Atlantic, weakening the AMOC and its poleward heat transport. Therefore, the Arctic sea-ice decline may explain the suggested slow-down of the AMOC and the ‘Warming Hole’ persisting in the subpolar North Atlantic.” Related: How climate change could alter the environment in 100 years So what does this mean? Trevor Nace, a geologist, explains for Forbes : “This process whereby water is transported into the Northern Atlantic Ocean acts to distribute ocean water globally. What’s more important, and the basis for concern of many scientists is this mechanism is one of the most efficient ways Earth transports heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The warm water transported from the tropics to the North Atlantic releases heat to the atmosphere, playing a key role in warming of western Europe…” Since this is largely unprecedented, it is uncertain exactly what will happen if the AMOC collapses, or how it will affect global weather patterns. But we do know that even small shifts in climate can result in dramatic changes – evidenced by the growing number of droughts, floods and other natural disasters worldwide. In November, temperatures in the Arctic were 20C degrees higher than normal, according to an Arctic Resilience Report . The best way to slow down this trend is to release fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which requires a shift away from burning fossil fuels and other carbon-producing industries. And that requires leadership. Via Forbes Images via NOAA, NASA

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Luxury Tree Villa communes with breathtaking nature in India

August 16, 2017 by  
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A picture-perfect getaway roosts in the treetops of west India. Architecture BRIO completed the Tree Villa, a two-story luxury getaway on the cliff of a 160-acre “treesort.” Set within the rich river landscape of Tala near the Kuda caves, the treehouse -like glass dwelling offers an immersive experience within a forested tropical setting. Architecture BRIO built the Tree Villa around existing mature trees, which grow up and through the roof, deck, and fencing, and give the structure its treehouse-like appearance. The dwelling blends into its surroundings with its thatched roof , predominately timber palette, and clean modern design. The architects wrapped the elevated Tree Villa in full-height glazing to optimize views of Tala’s stunning scenery. Tie-dyed bordered sheer curtains filter harsh sunlight during the day. The Tree Villa accommodates four adults and two children. The elevated ground floor is surrounded by an expansive timber deck and comprises a large luxurious bedroom, bathroom with mirrored slats, and a spiral staircase to the upper floor. The larger upper level also features a large timber deck in addition to a second bedroom, loft bed for children, living area, kitchen, dining room, west-facing patio, and a semi-outdoor bathroom that’s dramatically pierced by the enormous brand of an old Garuga fruit tree. The modern and minimalist open-plan interior and lack of walls reinforces the immersive experience in nature. Related: Bamboo-Veiled Dormitory by Architecture BRIO The architects write: “The volumetric compositions of partly white, partly reflective and transparent surfaces within a wooden framework animate and lighten up the space. It questions conventional definitions of exterior and interior and reinterprets notions of privacy and exposure within a hospitality environment. The spatial composition in an otherwise traditional tropical roof structure lends a sense of softness, sensuality, intimacy and complexity, making it a perfect setting for a retreat into the wilderness of Tala.” + Architecture BRIO Via ArchDaily Images © Photographix

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Luxury Tree Villa communes with breathtaking nature in India

Scientists discover Antarctica is covered in rivers

April 20, 2017 by  
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For decades, scientists have known that summertime brings liquid meltwater to Antarctica’s ice sheets. But until now, they’ve had no idea just how extensive the continent’s network of rivers, streams, ponds, and waterfalls really is. A new analysis by scientists at  Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has found that warmer months cause far more extensive melting than previously thought. That could be a problem as global temperatures continue to rise. Surface water can damage the ice shelves , weakening them and causing them to collapse into the ocean. Some of the channels identified in this survey allow meltwater to run harmlessly off into the sea, but in other areas, standing water can be a huge problem. In 2002, more than 2,000 lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf drained through the ice into the ocean below, causing the entire area to rapidly disintegrate. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc The presence of water on the frozen continent does not yet appear to be the cause of widespread problems—but there’s also the possibility that warmer temperatures are causing sub-surface ice melt. Unfortunately, that phenomenon has been researched in far less detail, so it’s unclear exactly what effect it will have on the ice and rising sea levels in the future. Via Phys.org Images via NASA and Wikimedia Commons

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