Timber-clad Polish kindergarten encourages kids to play on the green roof

January 1, 2019 by  
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A recently completed kindergarten in Poland is giving children a new way to reconnect with the outdoors and stellar views of the neighborhood. Designed by Polish architecture firm Biuro Toprojekt , the kindergarten in ?ory boasts an accessible roof terrace planted with ornamental grasses with plenty of space to play and gather. In addition to encouraging play and appreciation of nature, the inspiring design of the building has also earned it a nomination for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2019. Located in the center of the Kleszczówka district in the Polish suburbs of ?ory, the kindergarten stands in stark contrast to the surrounding single-family homes. “A small parcel of an irregular shape similar to a triangle intended for the construction of a pre-school segment at an existing school, imposed rather two-story solutions, although a little overwhelming, but leaving a little space for the playground,” the architects explained of the kindergarten’s triangular design. “Instead, we decided to have a one-story building with rounded corners, which filled almost all of the possible surface, and for the outdoor play, we designed a large roof terrace.” Built with reinforced concrete walls wrapped in vertical strips of timber, the 1,060-square-meter kindergarten is protected against temperature fluctuations thanks to mineral wool insulation selected for low fire risk. The school is also equipped with a ground heat exchanger as well as heating and ventilation systems. A rectangular atrium at the heart of the kindergarten funnels daylight throughout the interior and offers a “piece of the outside world” where children can observe snow and rainfall. Related: MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a “floating roof” Lined with wood and accessed via staircase from the atrium, the spacious roof terrace is punctuated with two circular islands of green space in the center. Curved metal railings wrap around the terrace , which is surrounded by gardens planted with ornamental grasses. + Biuro Toprojekt Photography by Juliusz Sokolowski via Biuro Toprojekt

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Timber-clad Polish kindergarten encourages kids to play on the green roof

UNStudios green-roofed TBC Forum breaks ground in Tbilisi

January 1, 2019 by  
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Construction has recently broken ground on the TBC Forum, a green-roofed complex in Tbilisi designed by UNStudio to champion openness, sustainability and creativity throughout. Located within the Lisi Lake resort outside Tbilisi’s city center, TBC Forum will consist of the new headquarters for the TBC Bank, an Innovation Lab, and a mixed-use Culture Hub. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding highland landscape and traditional Georgian architecture, the large-scale development features a terraced design covered with green roofs to tie the buildings together with the Lisi green valley. The design for the new TBC Forum was conceived as a contemporary take on the historic highland village of Shatili, a stepped stone and mortar village that embraces the landscape with its clustered towers, large balconies and terraces . As a result, TBC Forum features buildings of varying heights grouped into three main clusters — the Headquarters Cluster, Subsidiaries Cluster and Public Cluster — surrounding a centrally located TBC Plaza and public esplanade. The Subsidiaries Cluster will include the Innovation Lab, a new center for research and development, while the Culture Hub will offer gallery spaces, restaurants, a children’s daycare facility and co-working spaces. Health and social sustainability were key driving features in the design of the interiors that are filled with natural light, plants and natural materials. In contrast to the “closed and introverted working model” traditionally used in the banking industry, UNStudio wanted to create an open environment conducive to socializing, collaboration and connection with nature. The headquarters will include diverse and flexible workplace environments, from seated work areas and standing desks to open lounge areas and flex spaces in the corridors and stairways. Related: UNStudio unveils twisting “Green Spine” high-rise proposal for Melbourne “UNStudio has carried out extensive research into the design of optimal work environments and the positive impact these can have on the health, wellbeing, creativity and therefore, productivity,” the firm said in a press release. “Within the design, both physical vitality and psychological wellbeing are understood to be synonymous, while the creation of community is considered fundamental to the encouragement of communication, interaction, knowledge exchange and creativity. In the design of the TBC Forum, environmental concerns are not merely related to the energy performance of the building, but to social sustainability and the performance of its users.” + UNStudio Images by Luxigon and Aand3 via UNStudio

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Floating prefab architecture addresses climate change on Chengdus Jincheng Lake

November 26, 2018 by  
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Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi of the firm NLÉ Architects recently unveiled his third iteration on the award-winning Makoko Floating School, a prefabricated building system aimed at addressing “the challenges and opportunities of urbanization and climate change” through sustainable and alternative building typologies. Dubbed the MFS IIIx3, the thought-provoking collection of structures has been set afloat on a lake in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province. The project was created in collaboration with local Chengdu partners Fanmate Creative Furniture Company and Chengdu Keruijiesi Technology Company. Located on Jincheng Lake in Chengdu’s new ecological belt, MFS IIIx3 marks NLÉ Architects’ fourth prototype of the Makoko Floating School. The first prototype floating structure was built in 2013 for and by the historic water community of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, an area considered at-risk for climate change . Although the initial project has met its demise , the architects have gone on to improve and reiterate their designs. In 2016, the Waterfront Atlas (MFS II) was launched in Venice, Italy, as well as the Minne Floating School (MFS III) in Bruges, Belgium. In their latest take on the Makoko Floating School, the architects have recreated the modular building in three sizes — small, medium and large. All structures were prefabricated from wood and locally sourced bamboo . The collection of floating buildings includes an open-air concert hall, an indoor exhibition space and a small information center. All three spaces are organized around a communal plaza. Related: Sustainable Makoko Floating School in Nigeria is finally complete “MFS IIIx3 is introduced into the dynamics of a 2,200 year-old history of water management expertise, originating from the Min River (Minjiang) and from Dujiangyan — an ingenious irrigation system built in 256 BC, and still in use today — keeping the southwestern Sichuan province free of floods and drought and making it one of the most fertile and economically developed urban and agricultural areas in China,” the architects explained. “MFS IIIx3 offers an approach to and revives an ancient yet contemporary civilizational relationship with water, originally inspired by the water community of Makoko in Lagos, and now adapted for the water city of Chengdu.” + NLÉ Architects Images via NLÉ Architects

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Floating prefab architecture addresses climate change on Chengdus Jincheng Lake

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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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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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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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

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