BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC

November 5, 2018 by  
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Creative co-working giant WeWork and acclaimed architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group have teamed up to reimagine education starting with the launch of WeGrow, a new school in the heart of New York City that encourages education through play. Designed for children between three and nine years of age, the light-filled learning landscape is a tactile environment filled with custom-made curved architecture and movable furnishings. The theme of nature runs throughout and can be seen everywhere from the woodsy palette of timber surfaces and shades of green to the Laufen-tiled vertical garden filled with leafy plants. Located in WeWork’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the first WeGrow school spans 10,000 square feet and boasts a variety of communal spaces, which make up more than half of the school’s footprint. Designed to foster “natural education” by promoting activities centered on discovery and collaboration, WeGrow hopes to “undo the compartmentalization found in traditional schools … by interweaving learning with playing spaces,” Bjarke Ingels Group said. “The school environment becomes a third teacher that unleashes the superpower of each child.” In addition to diverse playscapes, the school consists of four classrooms , flexible workshops, community space, a multipurpose studio, an art studio and a music room. Hard corners are eschewed in favor of round, organic forms, like the curved storage units built with three different shelving levels for each age group. Sound-absorbing “clouds” made from felt and decorated with nature-inspired patterns hang from the ceiling and are illuminated with Ketra bulbs that change in color and intensity depending on the time of day. Felt is also used in the lobby and in the lounge. Related: WeWork opens gorgeous WeLive co-living apartments on Wall Street “From the lobby to the classrooms, WeGrow is lit by Gople Lamp and Alphabet of Light — flexible lighting systems designed by BIG Ideas and manufactured by Artemide to create ambiance effects that form comfortable, natural lighting throughout the school day,” Bjarke Ingels Group said in a project statement. “Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow nurtures the child’s education through introspection, exploration and discovery.” + BIG Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu and Dave Burk via BIG

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BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC

Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 24, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Bring Environmental Smarts to the School Year

September 24, 2018 by  
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Evelyn Lopez and the Earth911 team gather around the microphone … The post Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 24, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Bring Environmental Smarts to the School Year appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 24, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Bring Environmental Smarts to the School Year

A green-roofed underground extension breaks the mold for school architecture

September 13, 2018 by  
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When Singaporean architecture firm Park + Associates was tapped to design an extension for Nanyang Girls’ High School in Singapore, the team knew that it would have to think creatively. The brief called for two large four-story blocks that would house a variety of programs, including classrooms, a large performing arts center and a multipurpose indoor sports hall. To meet these requirements without overshadowing the school’s existing architecture, the firm built the spaces below ground — an unconventional move and considered the first of its kind for an academic extension in Singapore  — and topped the new buildings with artificial turf that can be used for sports and outdoor recreation. Founded in 1917, the Nanyang Girls’ High School is one of the top public schools in Singapore. The school changed campuses several times and has been established at its present location along Dunearn and Bukit Timah Roads in the heart of Singapore since 1999. The school’s original colonial-inspired architecture comprises a clock tower flanked by two brick wings and has become an iconic landmark for the area. As a result, Park + Associates wanted to preserve the appearance of the building without necessarily emulating the existing school complex in the new design. Therefore, the firm decided to set the two new extension blocks partly below ground and top the volumes with curved green roofs that slope to touch the ground. By lining the roofs with artificial turf, the architects could also replace the school field. Careful consideration was taken to create bright and airy interior spaces within the partially underground extension, which enjoys access to plenty of natural light, views and natural ventilation. Related: New images show greenery engulfing Singapore’s tropical skyscraper The architects explained, “This Nanyang Girls’ High School extension, as the first secondary education institution in Singapore that has spaces below ground, is symbolic, as it allows students to see that rethinking assumption and rules, followed up with constructive discussions, can result in an outcome more successful and creative than otherwise imaginable.” + Park + Associates Images by Edward Hendricks and Frank Pinckers

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A green-roofed underground extension breaks the mold for school architecture

This couple converted an old school bus into a stunning tiny home

August 24, 2018 by  
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When couple Kai and Julie went to grab a cup of coffee in Berlin, their home city, they had no idea how that beverage break would change their lives. The couple saw an old school bus offered for sale and decided it would be ideal to transform it into a tiny home on wheels. They’d been mulling tiny home options for a while, but the aspect of being able to change locations at will was paramount. Kai and Julie also agreed that cooking and comfortable sleeping were high priorities. Free-flowing air and maximum light were also important. The 118-square-foot bus met all these needs with rows of windows, a skylight, and a large door that provided easy access to the magnificent outdoors, not to mention stunning views. Related: Family of five moves from a 2,100-square-foot-house to a beautifully renovated school bus Instead of trying to convert the bus’s interior piece by piece, the couple chose to strip it down to the metal chassis and start from scratch. Every day was an adventure in practical creativity because they had no master plan. As an homage to their roots, Kia and Julie built their cupboards and table from old Berlin loft flooring wood. They dismantled discarded wooden produce crates to cover the interior walls and build shelves. They carry about 26 gallons of fresh water onboard to filter for drinking, and the tiny home on wheels has a portable composting toilet. The couple agrees that the most beloved part of their new tiny home is the wood burning stove. According to them, it “makes you feel super cozy and gives the whole bus a true cabin feeling. It just makes you feel at home. Nothing beats having a candlelight dinner with the stove on. Besides the entertainment, there is a practical part, too. We heat the bus with it and we also use it to cook, which works great.” The pair admitted the project was extremely challenging at times, especially figuring out electric system installation, plumbing, insulation, and woodworking. But with the help of friends savvy about van conversion techniques and countless YouTube videos, the school bus transformation was a resounding success. + Apartment Therapy Images via Kai Branss

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This couple converted an old school bus into a stunning tiny home

Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers

July 24, 2018 by  
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Just in time for the 30th Anniversary of Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week, a new map shows the interaction of 45 sharks  with commercial fishing vessels. The interactive map, featuring over 150,000 miles of chartered shark territory and movement in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, seeks to shed light on the perilous environment in which the sharks maneuver on a daily basis and the approximate 100 million sharks killed each year. Austin Gallagher, CEO and chief scientist of Beneath the Waves and a project leader on the maps, said , “Many species of large sharks remain highly vulnerable throughout our oceans , and the integration provided here highlights the magnitude of the threats they face.” Shark expert at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and project collaborator Neil Hammerschlag explained that sharks are “highly mobile,” as demonstrated in the charted data published on the Global Fishing Watch , a non-profit organization launched by Oceana in collaboration with Google and Skytruth. Related: Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong The sharks must navigate around fishing vessels,  creating a wide variety of potentially dangerous interactions. Hammerschlag said, “Many fishing gear types can put these sharks at risk , as both target and bycatch — especially in the international waters of the high seas where no catch limits exist for many shark species.” Many sharks are caught by accident, but they are also subject to targeted hunting for their fins. While the map currently displays recorded data of sharks tagged between 2012 and 2018, Oceana hopes to create a real-time interactive map that includes various shark species including blue sharks, great hammerheads and tiger sharks. Lacey Malarky, an Oceana analyst focused on illegal fishing and seafood fraud, said, “We’re hoping to expand and collaborate with more researchers to not only get more shark data but then other marine wildlife data as well, so that we can really create this interactive map platform that shows all types of marine wildlife and how they’re interacting with fishing vessels.” + Oceana + Beneath the Waves Via EcoWatch

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Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers

This solar-powered school produces enough surplus energy to power 50 homes

June 27, 2018 by  
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This timber elementary school and kindergarten in Switzerland boasts more than just good looks — the School in Port, designed by Zürich-based architecture firm Skop , also gives back to the community through excess energy production. Located in a residential neighborhood, the energy-plus building and communal power station draws from a rooftop array with more than 1,100 solar panels that completely covers the school’s energy needs and powers 50 additional households. Moreover, the school is visually tied to its neighbors with a contemporary zigzagging roof that references the pitched roofs of the local vernacular. Skop won an international competition in 2013 to design School in Port, which is largely informed by sustainable principles. The building was prefabricated using timber sourced from sustainably-managed forests. Wood, which was chosen for its ability to sequester carbon , was also used throughout the interior and in the furnishings. All other construction materials were chosen for their non-toxic, recyclable and low-impact properties. The school covers an area of more than 180,000 square feet to cater to 280 children from kindergarten to elementary school. The light-filled interior is organized around a “central circulation zone,” a zigzagging east-west spine and open learning space that branches off to staggered classrooms and other enclosed spaces to the north and south. Flexibility is a major theme of the interior design — in addition to the multifunctional circulation zone, adjacent classrooms and group working spaces can be connected through large doors — that encourages a variety of teaching and learning methodologies. Related: This minimalist prefab hotel offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps “Placed on a gentle slope, the building takes advantage of the topography and links various outdoor spaces according to the different access routes of the school children,” Skop explained. “On the main level, all rooms benefit from the spatial qualities of the folded roof. Each classroom appears to be an independent little house, creating a cozy and homelike atmosphere for the children.” The School in Port has achieved a MINERGIE-A rating and is also connected to the district heating. + Skop Images via © Simon von Gunten and © Julien Lanoo; illustration via © Skop

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This solar-powered school produces enough surplus energy to power 50 homes

Sea stars overcome melting disease through rapid evolution

June 27, 2018 by  
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Five years ago, millions of sea stars off the west coast of North America were killed by a mysterious virus that caused the animals to lose limbs and liquefy, with several species under serious threat of extinction. Following the peak of the epidemic, described as “one of the largest marine mass mortality events on record,” scientists noticed that young ochre stars, among the species most impacted by the virus, were surviving at much higher rates. Today, the starfish have seemed to miraculously recover, and researchers may have the explanation for their salvation. A new study suggests that the animals possibly developed a genetic resistance to the still-puzzling densovirus, a threat that had been lurking in the region for decades but could have been fully activated by climate change . About 80 percent of ochre sea stars died as a result of the mysterious virus , which was disturbing for its ecological consequences and the manner with which it killed. “The sick ones tend to just fall apart in front of your eyes,” biologist Jeff Marliave told KUOW in 2013 . “An arm will actually break off and crawl away.” Scientists now believe that the massive die-off accelerated the process of natural selection. “When you’ve removed a whole bunch of them, you’ve shifted the whole genetic diversity of that population,” researcher Chris Mah told the Guardian . “In other words, to put it in human terms, if you wiped out a huge chunk of the human species, you would change the genetic makeup of humans.” Related: Underwater robots seek and kill invasive starfish Those that survived the wasting syndrome had the resistant gene, which they then passed onto their offspring. While the sea stars may have avoided a terminal fate this time, such epidemics are expected to occur with greater frequency in the future. “The concern is that marine disease, extreme environmental events and the frequency of those are on the rise,” study lead author Lauren Schiebelhut told the Guardian . “If we have too many extreme events in a row, maybe that becomes more challenging for species to respond to.” Via The Guardian Images via Jerry Kirkhart , Oregon State University and David O.

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Sea stars overcome melting disease through rapid evolution

The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan

June 27, 2018 by  
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Once arid hillsides have now become wide swaths of lush green woodland in northwestern Pakistan , where hundreds of millions of trees from 42 different species have been planted as part of the provincial government’s “Billion Tree Tsunami” program. “Before, it was completely burnt land. Now, they have green gold in their hands,” forest manager Pervaiz Manan told AFP . The reforestation effort aims to control erosion, combat climate change , reduce flooding, increase the chances of precipitation and provide economic opportunities for locals. “Now our hills are useful, our fields became useful,” local driver Ajbir Shah said . “It is a huge benefit for us.” Much of the land being replanted was decimated between 2006 and 2009, when the Pakistani Taliban controlled much of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the project is now underway. In addition to the more than 300 million trees planted in the region under the provincial government, 150 million trees were given to private landowners to plant, while 730 million already-planted trees have been protected to allow for regrowth. The mind-blowing number of trees , over a billion, has been confirmed by independent observers. “We are 100 percent confident that the figure about the billion trees is correct,” World Wildlife Fund Pakistan manager Kamran Hussain said. “Everything is online. Everyone has access to this information.” Related: Pakistan just broke the world record for the hottest April day ever The Billion Tree Tsunami comes at a time when Pakistan’s forest stock has shrunk to a perilous low; only 5.2 percent of the country is covered in forests, well below the 12 percent recommended by the United Nations . Started in 2014, the Billion Tree Tsunami program still needs to implement some safeguard systems, such as fire protection, before its expected completion in 2020. In 2017, the federal government of Pakistan began its own project to plant 100 million trees by 2022. While some are skeptical of the project’s long-term success, with infrastructure historically taking precedent over environmental concerns, the Billion Tree Tsunami offers hope. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ruling party leader Imran Khan said, “Every child in Pakistan should be aware of the environmental issue which, until now, has been a non-issue.” Via Phys.org and AFP Image via Haroon (HBK)

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The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan

This edible, plastic-free packaging is grown from kombucha starter

June 26, 2018 by  
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Polish design student Roza Janusz has created Scoby, an eco-friendly alternative to plastic packaging that is easily grown with the same methods used to make kombucha . Created from fermented bacteria and yeast, the organic membrane can be used to store a variety of lightweight foods like seeds, nuts, or even salads. The zero-waste food packaging is completely biodegradable and can also be eaten after use. Developed as part of her graduate project for industrial design at the School of Form in Poznan, Poland, Roza Janusz’s Scoby was created to help farmers grow their own zero-waste packaging. Using bacteria and yeast as a base for kombucha, Janusz then uses the liquid to grow the biodegradable membrane in a shallow container. After about two weeks of adding sugars and other agricultural waste to ferment the material, a membrane forms on the surface and can be harvested. “Scoby is grown by a future farmer not only for the production of packaging , but also because of the valuable by-product, which is, depending on the concentration, natural fertilizer or probiotic drink,” says Roza Janusz. “So maybe the packaging production will no longer litter the environment, and it will even enrich it.” Related: DIY: How to brew kombucha at home The lightweight and translucent material is easily malleable and can be shaped to fit a variety of foods to prevent spoilage. Thanks to the edible packaging’s low pH, Scoby has a long shelf life that can even be extended if it’s used to store acidic food products like nuts. The material can also absorb the flavors of the food it stores. Roza Janusz plans to explore Scoby’s commercial possibilities in the near future and recently submitted her design for the Golden Pin Concept Design Award 2018 . + Roza Janusz

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This edible, plastic-free packaging is grown from kombucha starter

Parsons School of Design unveils sustainable public seating in New York City

May 21, 2018 by  
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Leave it to the creative minds at the Parsons School of Design to renovate public seating for a more eco-friendly world. The school recently unveiled Street Seats, a sustainably-designed public seating area made from repurposed and biodegradable products for New Yorkers to find respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The public space, which the school unveiled this week, was inspired by the need to create more seating areas for people to relax and take a load off. In a place like New York City , public seating can be quite limited. Students from the school’s architecture, interior design, product design, and food studies departments envisioned and built Street Seats over two parking spaces on the corner of 13th street and 5th Avenue in Greenwich Village. The students crafted the space with a variety of reclaimed materials . They used rot-resistant western red cedar to build tables and stools, which were then covered in repurposed fishing nets . Related: DIY Softwalks Kits Let You Turn Ugly Scaffolding into Fun Pop-Up Parks! The lighting system in the installation is completely off-grid and operates on solar energy . After sunset, a daylight sensor activates LED lights to provide a well-lit atmosphere. The seating area is surrounded by planters to reduce traffic noise and create a pleasant environment. The planters are made with biodegradable coconut fibers and jet webbing  and house herbs and native plants. The Greenbelt Native Plant Center donated seeds for the project. + Parsons New School of Design Images by Rafael Flaksburg via Parsons New School of Design

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