Beautiful vacation home in Brazil is crafted from upcycled stone and salvaged bricks

May 15, 2019 by  
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Designed by Curitiba-based firm  Solo Arquitetos , the Lake House sits overlooking the expansive wetlands of the Paranapanema River in southern Brazil. Designed to blend into its natural setting, the family vacation home was mainly constructed out of upcycled materials such as broken stones found on-site and reclaimed bricks salvaged from an old factory. Located in Alvorada do Sul, in southern Brazil, the Lake House sits on a beautiful, natural lot with river vistas. According to the architects, the rustic-but-sophisticated home design was heavily inspired by the family’s desire to create a strong relationship between the built and natural environments. Related: These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials Using the landscape as a guide, the architects created a Belvedere-inspired design that would provide stunning views of the adjacent river and heavily wooded forest. The 2,690-square-foot house is broken up into two rectangular blocks: one for social spaces and the other for private areas. The two structures were purposely misaligned and clad in distinct but complementary materials to create a clear division of space and to give the home a sense of movement. The exterior is clad in a blend of reclaimed materials. Each volume sits on a base of raw concrete. Clay-colored stones sourced on-site were used to create the private areas while brick salvaged from an old factory belonging to the family was used to clad the main living spaces. Standing solitary on the edge of the landscape is an open-air chapel with a base of natural stone topped with a wooden frame — it serves as an additional spot to truly embrace nature. The home’s three bedrooms are located in the stone building, which is marked with a large pitched roof . The master bedroom boasts “a deserved private belvedere” with an all-glass facade that creates a soothing space with a strong, seamless connection to the natural surroundings. The main living areas are also marked by high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Natural light floods the interior at every corner, enhancing the brick walls and wooden ceilings. From the living room, large sliding doors open up to an outdoor pool and sprawling back garden. An elevated wooden deck provides space for dining al fresco or taking in the amazing views of the river to one side and a dense forestscape to the other. + Solo Arquitetos Via Archdaily Photography by Eduardo Macarios via Solo Arquitetos

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Beautiful vacation home in Brazil is crafted from upcycled stone and salvaged bricks

An old Brooklyn sugar refinery becomes creative office spaces

March 28, 2019 by  
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A historic waterfront factory has been given a new lease on life thanks to New York-based architecture firm ODA and Triangle Assets. Located at 10 Jay Street in DUMBO, New York City, the project explores both adaptive reuse and historic preservation in its transformation of the former Arbuckle Brothers sugar refinery into creative office spaces. The sensitive renovation updates the building to modern standards while carefully preserving its history, from the restrained industrial-inspired material palette to a new reflective facade that evokes sugar crystals. Built in 1898, the massive structure first served as the Arbuckle Brothers’ sugar refinery. After the building was converted into a winery , the front structure of the building was torn down, leaving only three of the original facades intact. The building then remained vacant and abandoned for 50 years until real estate agency Triangle Assets purchased the property with aims of renovation. To that end, Triangle Assets tapped ODA to turn the 230,000-square-foot warehouse and its 10 stories into flexible offices that overlook panoramic views of Manhattan and Williamsburg’s waterfront. The interiors are also minimally dressed in exposed brick and steel in a nod to the site’s industrial heritage. Existing historical features, such as the terracotta arches and octagonal columns, were restored and exposed. The building is also embedded in Brooklyn Bridge Park, making it the only privately owned building in the park thanks to the owner’s donation of nearly 15,000 square feet of land to the park. The new crystalline west facade reflects the park and sunsets over the river. Related: Brooklyn’s new Domino Park features relics from the old sugar factory “As the conversation surrounding heritage and preservation grows, 10 Jay Street is a prime example of how cities around the world recover and readapt buildings,” a press release on the project said. “The design dared to challenge the way landmark buildings are seen and, in doing so, created unique threads to link old with new, the industrial age with the digital era, and create a product for the modern age.” + ODA Photography by Pavel Bendov via ODA

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An old Brooklyn sugar refinery becomes creative office spaces

NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change

March 19, 2019 by  
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On Thursday March 14, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City unveiled a $10 billion plan to prepare lower Manhattan for the inevitable invasion of sea level rise predicted with climate change. The plan was announced alongside the release of the Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study , which provides a complete assessment of predicted climate risks, including sea level rise, storm surge, extreme rainfall and heat waves. The plan includes extensive construction of permanent and smartly integrated “pop-up” barriers, as well as a proposal to extend the city’s footprint by 500 feet between the Brooklyn Bridge and the South Ferry Terminal. Lower Manhattan gets expanded According to the study, the buildings between the Brooklyn Bridge and South Ferry Terminal are too close to the coast and too densely concentrated with utility and subway lines for the integrated barriers planned for other neighborhoods. Space for additional infrastructure is highly limited. The proposed concept is to build out the land by approximately two blocks at a higher level, so as to act as a raised barrier (called a berm) that protects the Financial District from high tides. Related: Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean — here’s why De Blasio’s plan to expand the city’s footprint into the East River is not unprecedented. In fact,  Gizmodo  reports that Ellis Island, Rikers Island, the FDR Drive, the World Financial Center and Battery Park City are all built on in-filled land. Before urbanization, Manhattan was a marshy island that served as a natural buffer, bearing the brunt of waves and protecting mainland – so it’s no wonder the city built on this land is vulnerable. New York City’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg had also proposed a similar land addition during his term. Other adaptation measures New York City’s new climate change plan also includes $500 million for resilience projects to protect other lower Manhattan neighborhoods, including some affordable housing projects. These resiliency projects include flip-up walls and barriers that can be deployed if a storm is approaching. The discrete, low-impact designs maximize recreational space – such as parks, coastal walkways and fitness areas — but can be flipped-up to provide a fortified wall during emergencies. Other planned adaptation measures include: -a five-mile sea wall around Staten Island – sand dunes around the Rockaways -$165 million to elevate the esplanade in the Battery (construction to begin in 2021) -a combination of flood barriers and deployable walls in Battery Park City -$3.5 million for water and sand-filled temporary barriers in Two Bridges and Financial Districts (to be installed in preparation for the 2019 hurricane season) Mayor de Blasio argues that some of the funding for this expansive project should come from federal funds. In an op-ed in New York Magazine , de Blasio argued that protective measures to address climate change-related risks, such as the invasion of the sea , should be just as important as any federal military equipment. “It will be one of the most complex environmental and engineering challenges our city has ever undertaken and it will, literally, alter the shape of the island of Manhattan,” de Blasio wrote. “The new land will be higher than the current coast, protecting the neighborhoods from future storms and the higher tides that will threaten its survival in the decades to come.” New York City at risk The Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study was funded in part by city and state funding from post-Hurricane Sandy recovery dollars. The hurricane that pummeled the city in 2012 was a wake-up call for city officials and demonstrated the imminent threat of sea level rise and storm surge. Sandy caused $19 billion dollars of damage and claimed 43 lives. Electrek reported  that 72,000 buildings in New York City, worth a combined $129 billion, are within a predicted flood zone. By other estimates , 37 percent of lower Manhattan is at risk of storm surge by 2050, and by 2100 the level of the ocean is expected to be 18-50 inches higher than its current level. Related: Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests Equitable and environmental concerns Environmentalists are concerned that the build-out will have negative impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems and point out that the Mayor’s plan lacks an in-depth assessment of the environmental repercussions and cost-benefit analysis. Still others argue that the plan focuses on the big banks and big business areas of lower Manhattan but ignores other economically vulnerable areas throughout the five boroughs. Given the magnitude of the build out and the expected permitting processes, the additional land may not be a reality for at least five years, during which time environmental impact assessments could be carried out. Most city officials, however,  argue that with “$60 billion of property, 75 percent of the city’s subway lines, 90,000 residents and 500,000 jobs,” the proposed lower Manhattan area is a clear, though perhaps not equitable, priority for the city and ideally for the nation. + NYC Economic Development Corporation Images via Shutterstock

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Green-roofed timber dwelling in Austria is built with recycled materials

March 19, 2019 by  
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In the historic Austrian village of Purkersdorf, Vienna-based architectural practice Juri Troy Architects has completed the L House, a timber home named after its L-shaped form integrated with sustainable design elements. Built with numerous recycled materials, the house forms a strong connection with nature from its green roof to its large windows that sweep views of the bucolic outdoors in. Nestled into a southern slope above the village of Purkersdorf, the 3,450-square-foot L House boasts striking views of the Vienna woods. Despite its corner lot location, the home’s elevated position affords it privacy; the lower level of the two-story home is obscured from view. As a result, most of the bedrooms are located on the ground floor, where they open up to a south-facing outdoor terrace . The cantilevered upper volume primarily consists of the living spaces, including an open-plan dining area, kitchen and living room that open up to a covered outdoor terrace. The parking pad and main entrance are also on this level as is a bedroom suite. To take advantage of views, floor-to-ceiling glazing opens the open-plan living areas up to the outdoors on two sides. To the south is the public-facing terrace, while the more private outdoor spaces—a courtyard and terrace with a natural pool—are tucked into the hillside. In addition to the use of white fir for cladding the upper volume, the architects also lined the interior walls and ceilings with white fir and built the doors and furnishings out of the same material. Related: A massive gabled roof protects this minimalist timber home from the snow As part of L House’s sustainability-focused design, the architects also used numerous recycled materials and topped part of the building with a green roof that buffers rainfall and improves roof insulation. Deep roof overhangs mitigate unwanted solar heat gain while large operable glazing lets in an abundance of natural light and natural ventilation. + Juri Troy Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Juri Troy

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Green-roofed timber dwelling in Austria is built with recycled materials

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

Nature-inspired art gallery is built from bamboo and reused bricks

December 21, 2018 by  
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Belgium- and Brazil-based design practice CRU! architects channeled its passion for bamboo architecture and natural building materials into an art gallery in Catuçaba, a rural community about three hours east of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Spanning an area of 1,184 square feet, the project was commissioned by the owner of Fazenda Catuçaba , an idyllic farmhouse-style hotel that includes an operational organic farm. Building on Fazenda Catuçaba’s environmentally friendly practices, the art gallery was constructed mainly of bamboo and reused fired bricks. More than just an exercise in sustainable architecture, the art gallery for Fazenda Catuçaba was also created as a social building project to benefit the local community. With help from the architects, a community eco-building cooperative constructed the project and provided training and job development opportunities for the local residents. The cooperative constructed the entire bamboo structure, while local workers from Fazenda Catuçaba’s on-site farm carried out the excavation work, foundation work and brick laying. The design of the art gallery draws inspiration from the differing architectural styles of its two neighboring structures: the Fazenda Catuçaba’s colonial Portuguese-styled farmhouse and the Occa, an indigenous communal space built by an Amazonian Indian tribe. As a result, the exterior of the gallery features colonial Portuguese-inspired white walls and blue doors while the interior is marked by narrow passageways and courtyard evocative of Amazonian Indian architecture. A fountain installed in the patio connects to the river and strengthens the building’s connection with nature. Related: This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson “The gallery is entirely based on the golden proportion — the width and height of the different parts correspond to the rules set by the Greek and Roman architects such as Vitruvius,” explained lead architect Sven Mouton. “It is meant to be a humble construction that fits the colonial style of the surrounding, but that also refers to the occa nearby. A Portuguese face with an Indian heart. Since art can be considered sacred, the spiritual language of a monastery arch-way was used to house the exhibitions. In the original sense a gallery was a covered walk or passageway, narrow and partly open along a wall.” + CRU! architects Photography by Nelson Kon via CRU! architects

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Is a flexitarian diet right for you?

December 21, 2018 by  
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Going vegan or vegetarian might be a good choice for your health  — as well as the environment — but not everyone wants to take the extreme measure of cutting meat and other animal products completely out of their diet. So, over the past five years, many who want to live a healthy life and/or do their part in the fight against climate change have opted for the flexitarian diet. What is flexitarianism? Flexitarianism doesn’t go as far as veganism or vegetarianism, but it does include some of the same principals. Basically, a flexitarian is someone who has a flexible plant -based diet, which means that meat and other animal products are not a part of their regular diet, but they do eat them occasionally. Usually, people who identify as flexitarians adopt the lifestyle for health reasons or to lessen their environmental impact —or both. Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner created the Flexitarian Diet to help people get the benefits of eating like vegetarians while still being able to enjoy meat and other animal products in moderation. There are no specific rules in the flexitarian lifestyle—no calorie counting or tracking of macronutrients— and the focus is on what you can eat instead of what you can’t, which makes it all the more appealing to many people. However, there are a few basic principles that Blatner based the diet on: eat mostly plant-based foods (fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains), get your protein from plants instead of animals, eat natural foods instead of processed foods, limit refined sugar and sweets, and occasionally incorporate meat and animal products. Overall, the goal is less meat, more plants. Related: Look out meat industry— flexitarianism is on the rise What are the health benefits? There are many health benefits when you eat flexitarian. Because most plant-based foods have fewer calories and higher fiber content, this diet can help you lose weight. Eating mostly fruits, veggies, nuts and whole grains can also lead to an increased life expectancy compared to people who regularly eat meat. Studies have shown that a vegetarian diet can lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and the reap the same benefits. On the flip side, there have also been studies that indicate eating red meat can lead to an increase of cancer . A flexible eating pattern also tends to lead to a lower body mass index (BMI), a lower risk of breast cancer, and lower blood glucose levels compared to people who eat meat regularly. What are the risks and drawbacks? Because vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, you can run the risk of a deficiency when you switch to flexitarianism. So, you might need a B12 supplement. When you reduce or cut out meat from your diet, you might also have lower stores of minerals that are best absorbed from animal foods, like zinc and iron. However, you can remedy this by eating plenty of nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes. If you aren’t eating fatty fish, you might not be getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, which means you need to up your intake of things like walnuts and flaxseeds. There is also a myth about vegetarianism or flexitarianism that you won’t get enough protein without eating meat. This simply isn’t true. In fact, most people who eat a standard diet eat way more protein than they need to. Plus, you can get the protein you need by eating soy products, rice and beans, and even a peanut butter sandwich. In order to avoid nutritional deficiencies, it is a good idea to carefully plan your meals to make sure you include enough whole foods— and the right amount of meat and animal products— so you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals. Related: A third of people in the UK are now eating less or no meat How to get started Starting the flexitarian lifestyle isn’t as simple as eating less meat and magically becoming healthier. Theoretically, you could eat a pop tart for breakfast, chili cheese fries for lunch, and a veggie burger with chips and a soda for dinner, and that would follow the vegetarian or flexitarian “rules”. But, there would be zero health benefits. It’s not just about eating less meat, but also making smart food choices overall. So, in addition to reducing meat consumption, you are also adding nutrient-rich foods to your daily diet, while keeping the processed foods to a minimum. Instead of trying to drastically change overnight, it is better to take steps towards the flexitarian lifestyle. Start by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store ( avoid the aisles ) during your next shopping trip, and load up on fresh produce and nuts. Then, try cut your meat-eating down to two to three days a week. No matter how small the change, it will be a step in the right direction. And, the best part is, you don’t have to say no to your mom’s famous meatloaf at your next family dinner. Via EcoWatch , Healthline Images via Shutterstock

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A stone barn is transformed into a modern, energy-conscious home in Verona

December 19, 2018 by  
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Milan-based architecture practice Studio Wok has revamped a historic stone barn into a contemporary country home using environmentally friendly materials and design choices. Located in the small parish of Chievo in the west of Verona, Italy, the adaptive reuse project carefully respects the architectural heritage of the site while tastefully bringing the residence up to modern living standards. The result is a charming dwelling filled with natural light, warm timber surfaces and framed views of the Italian countryside. Completed in 2018, the country home in Chievo included the renovation of not only the architecture, but also the surrounding garden in the agricultural court. A massive magnolia tree — preserved upon the clients’ request — forms the focal point of the garden and is edged in by a square black flowerbed next to the new pool bordered by stone flooring. To emphasize the site’s history and allude to traditional building techniques, the architects peeled back the plaster on the barn’s facade to reveal the river pebbles that make up the load-bearing walls. This honest approach to materials is echoed throughout the house from the exposed timber beams to the minimalist palette with natural finishes. The materials used also reference the local rural vernacular found throughout Verona from the river pebbles grafted onto modern frames in Biancone to the local stone sourced from Lessinia. Related: Old barn and granary gains a new life as an inspiring community hub A large masonry arch marks the entrance and leads guests into a series of spacious, light-filled living spaces with Vicenza stone paving as well as a library with a brick fireplace. The upper floors house the bedrooms. Warm birch plywood cladding is inserted to bring warmth and delineate the spaces within the home. “The project’s leitmotif is a spatial and material dialogue between history and modernity, and it is also characterized by the great care taken in terms of environmental sustainability,” the firm explained. “In addition to the use of technical devices and systems for efficient energy, special attention has been given to the surrounding territory and landscape in the use of materials and design choices.” + Studio Wok Photography by Simone Bossi via Studio Wok

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A stone barn is transformed into a modern, energy-conscious home in Verona

8,000 barrels of oil spill in the Peruvian Amazon

December 14, 2018 by  
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Approximately 8,000 barrels of crude oil have spilled into the Amazon, and the Peru State oil company Petroperu says its because local indigenous people severed the pipeline. According to a company statement , members of the Mayuriaga community in the Loreto region first damaged the pipeline and then interfered with the technicians trying to repair it. “The townspeople prevented us from securing the pipe to stop petroleum from spilling from the pipe,” said Beatriz Alva Hart, a Petroperu spokeswoman. The spill is one of the worst the region has seen in years, and it comes after the Mayuriaga community threatened to attack the pipeline in protest of recent district election results. Related: Crude oil spill off Newfoundland coast deemed impossible to clean up The pipeline transports the crude from the Peruvian Amazon oil fields to Petroperu’s refinery on the Pacific coast. And, during the past two years, local vandals have attacked it fifteen different times over issues that have nothing to do with the company. Data from OEFA, an environmental regulator, shows that the repeated attacks have caused over 20,000 barrels to spill from the critical pipeline , and over 5,000 barrels have sprung leaks thanks to corrosion or operative failures. The leader of Peru’s Wampis Nation — whose members make up the Mayuriaga community — has denied Petroperu’s accusations. Just days before the spill, the company received a handwritten letter from three individuals threatening to damage the Norperuano pipeline if the company didn’t declare recent election results invalid. They also claimed fraud and corruption in the local mayoral election. The letter’s authors identify as indigenous peoples of Morona, the district that contains the Wampis community of Mayuriaga, which sits about 500 yards from the spill site. Petroperu is not in charge of the local elections, but 20 of their employees were held hostage before the threatening letter arrived, a practice that the Mayuriaga community has been accused of in the past. Company officials have still not been able to assess the damage from the spill or do any cleanup work because the community will not allow them to enter the area safely. Via Reuters , Earther Image via Shutterstock

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8,000 barrels of oil spill in the Peruvian Amazon

MAD Architects curvaceous Himalayas Center nears completion in Nanjing

December 14, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based architecture firm,  MAD Architects, is nearing completion on yet another of their massive mountain-inspired projects— the Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center. Inspired by the Chinese traditional painting style of ‘ shan shui ’ (‘mountain water’), the mixed-use development was designed as the “spiritual and poetic retreat in the middle of the city” and features curvaceous forms that mimic Nanjing’s surrounding mountains and waterways. In addition to its impressive mountain-like appearance, the highly complex city-scale urban project also integrates energy-saving strategies from ample glazing and vertical sun shades that mitigate solar gain while letting in natural light to the landscape irrigation systems that use recycled rainwater. Famously unveiled at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, the Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center is one of MAD Architects largest projects and covers approximately 560,000 square meters. The development will consist of a mix of office spaces, retail and restaurants, hotel and residences. “The scheme seeks to restore the spiritual harmony between humanity and nature through the integration of contemplative spaces that, while immersing inhabitants in nature, still meets the conveniences of modern day living,” explains the firm of the nature-inspired architecture. Envisioned as a “village-like community,” the project is centered on publicly accessible gardens and a mix of low-rise commercial buildings connected with footbridges and elevated pathways. The most eye-catching low-rise structure is enveloped entirely in greenery and features a rounded form suggestive of a hill. Surrounding this “village” are the mountain-like towers along the boundary of the site with white, curved glass louvers that “‘flow’ like waterfalls.” A series of water features—from ponds and waterfalls to brooks and pools—connect the buildings alongside lush landscaping. Related: MAD’s mountain-like towers reach completion and LEED Gold in Beijing The Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center is currently in its third and final phase of construction and is slated for completion in 2020. + MAD Architects Images via CreatAR Images, MAD Architects

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