A minimalist home in Portugal emphasizes stunning valley views

August 8, 2018 by  
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Architects and their clients are often surprised when their visions don’t quite align after the initial ideas are transformed into renderings, specs and floor plans. But when MJARC Arquitectos met with a couple who wanted a house in Douro Valley in Marco de Canaveses,  Portugal , it was a euphoric meeting of minds. All parties shared the same vision — a pristine and absolute articulation of minimalist architecture. With a setting as picturesque as this one, highlighted by sweeping views of the rolling curves of vineyard -covered valleys and the mesmerizing Douro River, the goal was to leave the undulating landscape unscathed. The house was constructed as close to the terrain as possible, with the upper levels providing more encompassing vistas. The “crouching building” concept drove the choices for the size, design and exterior accouterments of the home. Related: Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal The interior is warm and inviting, with an open floor plan that gracefully flows from room to room, clad in a combination of deep wood shades, rustic stones, concrete and stark, black accents. The pool is designed to give the illusion of it flowing directly into the river. The views from every level focus on the surrounding forest and foliage and achieves the symbiosis with nature desired by all parties. To accommodate the tastes of the homeowners’ visitors throughout the year, MJARC Arquitectos incorporated sustainable construction and energy sources as well as clever spaces that could easily be adapted for multiple uses. The roof is even topped with lush greenery, a welcome addition to the home. The combined efforts on this project not only thrilled the architects and clients — the house was recently nominated for an award in the Home category by the World Architecture Festival , where it is one of 18 finalists. The winner will be announced at ceremonies scheduled for November 28-30 in Amsterdam. + MJARC Arquitectos Images via João Ferrand

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A minimalist home in Portugal emphasizes stunning valley views

Eco-friendly Community Rowing Boathouse boasts a stunning kinetic facade

June 27, 2018 by  
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Cambridge-based Anmahian Winton Architects has designed a new eco-friendly home for the largest public rowing organization in the United States—the Community Rowing Boathouse in Boston, Massachusetts. Created to offer rowing opportunities at all skill levels, the modern community landmark comprises two buildings that cater to underserved populations, such as Boston public middle school students, the physically disabled and veterans. To lower energy demands and reduce the rowing boathouse’s environmental footprint, Anmahian Winton Architects optimized the buildings for natural lighting and ventilation and also installed stormwater reuse systems and geothermal wells. Located on the south side of the Charles River in the Boston neighborhood of Brighton, the Community Rowing Boathouse’s site had long been used as a staging area for heavy construction equipment. Instead of simply plopping a building on site, Anmahian Winton Architects considered the surrounding environment in their design and sought to remediate the land and restore habitat in the process. Thus, the design process included improving soil permeability and the implementation of stormwater and rainwater harvesting and reuse. The larger building’s appearance was also created in response to the environment and features a kinetic facade that changes shape with the movement of the sun and users’ movements around the structure while mimicking the rhythmic patterns of rowing and the river. Related: Boston outlines its plans to adapt to rising sea levels “CRI’s design expands the traditional vocabulary of rowing facilities on the river, reflecting the proportions and cladding of regional precedents, such as New England’s iconic tobacco barns and covered bridges, and anchoring this new building to its surroundings,” explains Anmahian Winton Architects. “The main building’s pre-fabricated kinetic cladding system of large-scale, hand-operated panels facilitated fabrication and expedited installation on a compressed construction schedule. These operable vents eliminate the need for mechanical cooling and ventilation of the 300-foot long boat storage bays, providing functionality and energy efficiency. Glass shingles sheath the sculling pavilion to protect, ventilate and display smaller boats to the adjacent parkway.” + Anmahian Winton Architects Images by Jane Messinger

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Eco-friendly Community Rowing Boathouse boasts a stunning kinetic facade

For 16 years, this stork has flown 8,700 miles to return to his one true love

April 16, 2018 by  
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Just when you thought the world was one raging garbage fire , along comes this amazing stork to brighten the day. For the past 16 years, without fail, one male stork has flown 8,700 miles to be with his mate who can no longer fly after being shot by poachers. Klepetan the stork travels from his winter nest in South Africa to his mate’s Malena’s home in Croatia every single March where they reunite and raise a new brood. Malena was injured by a gunshot in 1993, but a local hero took her home after finding her by a lake and nursed her back to health. “If I had left her in the pond foxes would have eaten her. But I changed her fate, so now I’m responsible for her life,” said Stjepan Vokic, the man who cares for Malena. Now, although she can’t migrate any longer, she has a pretty sweet life. Vokic has built an “improvised Africa” where she can stay warm, and he cares for her by bathing her, catching her fish in the river and making sure her feet are moisturized. He even watches stork documentaries with her so she won’t get lonely, and takes her fishing. Related: This friendly fish has visited a Japanese diver for 25 years Klepetan arrives every March as spring begins in Croatia after traveling for a month from his winter home. Every spring, Vokic builds a new nest on his roof so that when Klepetan arrives, the couple can mate, and so far, they’ve had 62 chicks together. In the fall, Klepetan migrates back to South Africa with his new little family, and Malena stays behind with her human friend. Vokic says that the couple struggles to say goodbye every year, and Malena hides and stops eating when she knows Klepetan is about to go. Via Oddity Central Images via HRT

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For 16 years, this stork has flown 8,700 miles to return to his one true love

UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

April 16, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a new  water -based zinc battery that is safer than a traditional lithium-ion battery, but which doesn’t sacrifice power or usability. The team utilized elements of older zinc battery technology with novel water-in- salt electrolytes to create a battery that is not prone to catching fire. “Water-based batteries could be crucial to preventing fires in electronics, but their energy storage and capacity have been limited – until now,” said study first author Fei Wang in a statement . “For the first time, we have a battery that could compete with the lithium-ion batteries in energy density, but without the risk of explosion or fire.” Their work was recently published in the journal Nature Materials . One of the new battery ‘s improvements over traditional batteries is its ability to overcome irreversibility, the phenomenon in which the charge delivered by the battery at its intended voltage decreases with usage, through a technique that changes the structure of the positively charged zinc ions within the battery. In addition to the battery’s application in consumer goods, it also could prove invaluable in extreme conditions such as the deep  ocean or outer space. Related: California’s desert battery could be three times the size of Tesla’s The saline aqueous nature of the zinc battery eliminates the need to replace evaporated water within the battery, a key challenge of traditional zinc batteries. “Existing zinc batteries are safe and relatively inexpensive to produce, but they aren’t perfect due to poor cycle life and low energy density,” said study co-author Chunsheng Wang in a statement . “We overcome these challenges by using a water-in-salt electrolyte.” The researchers believe that their invention and related discoveries could be applicable to a wide variety of energy technologies. “The significant discovery made in this work has touched the core problem of aqueous zinc batteries,” said study co-author Kang Xu in a statement , “and could impact other aqueous or non-aqueous multivalence cation chemistries that face similar challenges, such as magnesium and aluminum batteries.” + Nature Materials Via  TechXplore Images via John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

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UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

Steven Holl Architects unveils designs for geothermal-powered Angers Collectors Museum

March 19, 2018 by  
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Steven Holl Architects and Compagine de Phalsbourg have won an international design competition for the new Angers Collectors Museum (Le Musée des Collectionneurs) and hotel in the heart of Angers , France. Envisioned as a new cultural gateway, the sculptural museum is undeniably modern yet pays homage to its historic settings and derives inspiration from the nearby historic Chateau d’Angers located across the river. Geothermal heating and cooling will be used in the museum to reduce the building’s energy footprint. Built of exposed titanium white concrete, the 4,742-square-meter museum has a striking sculptural appearance that will be set within a series of reflecting pools—filled with recycled water—in a nod to the site’s riverine history. The museum will be connected to a linear hotel clad in clear and translucent glass for a mosaic-like effect inspired by the 14th century Apocalypse Tapestry on display in Chateau d’Angers. Related: Gigantic Slugs Made From 40,000 Recycled Plastic Bags Crawl Through the Streets of Angers, France In addition to the museum and hotel’s prime riverside location on the east bank of the Maine River, their proximity to Le Quai, the city’s largest theater , further cements the buildings’ future as the cultural heart in Angers. The museum will share a rooftop restaurant with the hotel as well as a public sculptural garden at the ground level. + Steven Holl Architects Images via Steven Holl Architects

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Steven Holl Architects unveils designs for geothermal-powered Angers Collectors Museum

Urban Rivers designs a multiplayer Trashbot Game to clean the Chicago River

March 15, 2018 by  
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The non-profit organization Urban Rivers is currently fundraising to deploy a remote-controlled, trash-cleaning robot on the Chicago River. Urban Rivers already has a prototype out in the water and hopes to expand this into a full-fledged, multiplayer internet game. The organization’s “Trashbot Game” would allow players to control the robot from afar using simple keyboard directions to gather trash throughout the river. “We really hope that one day, this game is just so boring, because there’s no more trash left to clean,” said Urban Rivers co-founder Nick Wesley in the project’s Kickstarter video . Prior to its Trashbot initiative, Urban Rivers established a floating garden in Chicago, which was maintained by staff on kayaks . The workers began to notice that trash continuously drifted into the garden and eventually became too burdensome for manual clean-up. “Trash appeared at random times in large quantities. Sometimes we would remove all the trash and two hours there was more,” writes Urban Rivers . The garbage also affected local wildlife that depend upon the river and its floating garden. To solve this problem, Urban Rivers created Trashbot. Once fully developed, users will be able to log on from anywhere in the world to control the robot as it collects trash, which will later be removed by staff. Related: Baltimore’s floating trash-eaters have intercepted 1 million pounds of debris In the envisioned Trashbot game, users will be able to see through the “eyes” of Trashbot and gain points for collecting more trash . If Urban Rivers reaches its $5,000 goal, a second version of Trashbot will be developed while a high-powered WiFi hotspot and a home base trash station will be installed on-site. GPS tracking and a theft-prevention tether on Trashbot will also be funded. Via The Verge Images via Urban Rivers

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Urban Rivers designs a multiplayer Trashbot Game to clean the Chicago River

Unusual Dutch bridge embraces flooding in a thought-provoking way

February 19, 2018 by  
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Modern bridges are typically built at least a foot higher than the expected 50-year flood, but that’s not so for this unusual bridge built on the floodplains in the flood-prone Dutch city of Nijmegen. NEXT Architects and H+N+S Landscape Architects designed the Zalige Bridge, a footbridge that becomes partly submerged when the water levels rise, forcing people to use the exposed concrete blocks as stepping-stones to traverse the water. The playful, thought-provoking design exemplifies a Dutch relationship with water as one that embraces seasonal flooding rather than seeks to control it. Completed in March 2016, Zalige Bridge recently caused a stir earlier this year on January 10 when water levels in the Waal River rose to its highest in 15 years. Locals eagerly went down to the submerged river to experience the dynamic river firsthand; the benches lining the then-submerged path become temporary stepping-stones. The flooding also eventually rose above the bench height and rendered the bridge temporarily inaccessible. Such flooding typically happens a few days a year. Related: This pop-up rainwater pavilion in Edinburgh is designed to raise awareness about water “As a crest above the river, the bridge emphasizes the dynamic character of water by letting people see and experience the changing river landscape,” wrote NEXT Architects. “Within the river park, the spatial quality of the water is made visible in a poetic way.” Zalige Bridge was commissioned as part of Room for the River , a nationwide, government-sponsored project that sought proposals for flood prevention. The project aims to provoke discussion of how communities can learn to live with water. + NEXT Architects + H+N+S Landscape Architects Via ArchDaily Images via NEXT Architects , © Rutger Hollander

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Unusual Dutch bridge embraces flooding in a thought-provoking way

3,000 new solar-powered homes in Arizona to be equipped with Sonnen batteries

October 19, 2017 by  
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Prescott, Arizona sees around 277 days of sunshine every year. Arizona-based house builder Mandalay Homes plans to take advantage of all that sunlight in 3,000 new homes to be built in the city, all equipped with rooftop solar panels and batteries from German company Sonnen GmbH . The price of the batteries will be included in the sale price of the homes. Mandalay Homes and Sonnen have partnered to allow homeowners to store extra solar power in Sonnen batteries that cost between $10,000 and $20,000 on their own. Sonnen and Mandalay Homes hope they can work out an arrangement so utilities will pay homeowners to use power stored in their batteries. According to Reuters, the 3,000 batteries, offering eight megawatt-hours of electricity , basically create a virtual power plant that could power around 5,000 homes for a day. Related: Wind and solar-powered Thunder Valley Regenerative Community rises in South Dakota Sonnen senior vice president Blake Richetta said even if utilities don’t purchase the energy, homeowners would save money since they won’t have to purchase as much power – if any – from the grid . There’s no firm agreement as of yet, although Mandalay and Sonnen have reportedly been in talks for a few months with Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project . A Salt River Project spokesperson told Reuters there aren’t any agreements in the works; Arizona Public Service declined to comment but did say batteries “can provide benefit to both our customers and the grid.” The Prescott community will be the first one like it in America, according to Sonnen and Mandalay. Reuters said in Germany, Sonnen has many such communities, but the idea is still fairly new in the United States. Mandalay Homes is a certified United States Department of Energy (DOE) ZERO Energy Ready Home builder, according to their website, and have earned multiple awards from the DOE for energy efficiency . There are around 1,000 Sonnen batteries in America right now, although the company hopes to increase that number to at least 20,000 by 2020, and deals such as the one with Mandalay Homes should help. + Mandalay Homes + Sonnen Via Reuters Images via Mandalay Homes Facebook and Sonnen GmbH

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3,000 new solar-powered homes in Arizona to be equipped with Sonnen batteries

Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

October 13, 2017 by  
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Shanghai’s most famous street, the Bund, is undergoing the “starchitect” treatment. Foster + Partners teamed up with Heatherwick Studio to design the Bund Financial Center as the “end point” to the city’s iconic waterfront. The 420,000-square-meter masterplan recently saw the completion of a pair of 180-meter-tall skyscrapers as well as an arts and culture center with a kinetic curtain-like facade. Shanghai is a city of contrasts. The Bund, renowned for its old colonial-era buildings along the waterfront , sits next to the city’s Old Town and looks out towards Pudong’s futuristic skyline of skyscrapers. The objective of the Bund Financial Center is to connect the old town with the new financial district, while staying sensitive to the scale of waterfront as well as the old and new surrounding architecture. “The opportunity to make something new in this prominent location that had formerly been the river gateway to Shanghai’s Old Town was extraordinary,” said Thomas Heatherwick , Founder of Heatherwick Studio. “With a project that would create 420,000 square metres of space, we felt a great duty to look for fresh ways to connect with China’s amazing built heritage and make a meaningful public place for thousands of people to work and come together.” Related: Drone video reveals progress on Heatherwick’s “tree-covered mountain” in Shanghai The Bund Financial Center is bookended in the south by two recently completed landmark towers. The arts and cultural center, which houses the Fosun Foundation and was completed earlier this summer, is located at the heart. Once complete, the mixed-use development will comprise office spaces, a boutique hotel, cultural center, retail, and restaurants. + Foster + Partners + Heatherwick Studio Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

Thomas Heatherwick’s London Garden Bridge officially scrapped

August 16, 2017 by  
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Plans to build Thomas Heatherwick ‘s controversial Garden Bridge in London have been officially scrapped. The Garden Bridge Trust charity – created to build and run the bridge  – just announced the end of the project due to the lack of support by London mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan’s reasoning, according to his earlier statement, was led by the project’s spiraling construction and maintenance costs. A financial inquiry into the Garden Bridge project found that the initial estimated costs escalated from £60 million ($77 million) to over £200 million ($259 million). This was determined to be too large of a financial risk to London taxpayers. Related: Architects and artists sling harsh criticism at Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge project Khan withdrew his support for the project following the recommendations of the report which also raised concerns about the fairness of the process of choosing the architects– it was said that Heatherwick Studio and Arup were favored by the procurement system. Heatherwick first unveiled the design for the Garden Bridge in 2013 as a verdant structure that would span the River Thames between Temple and South Bank. “The Garden Bridge has not found its right moment, but I hope one day it will and that London continues to be open to ideas that make life here better,” said a statement from Thomas Heatherwick. + Heatherwick Studio Via Dezeen

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Thomas Heatherwick’s London Garden Bridge officially scrapped

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