MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a "floating roof"

November 14, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based design practice MAD Architects has broken ground on the Courtyard Kindergarten, a striking adaptive reuse project that transform a traditional siheyuan courtyard from the 1700s into the site of a creative and colorful kindergarten. Located in Beijing, the project aims to preserve the cultural heritage of the site while injecting fresh life through the addition of new structures, including a “dynamic floating roof” that surrounds the historic courtyard. As with many of the firm’s projects, the design features curvaceous elements and is evocative of a Martian landscape. “There is a saying in old Beijing when children are naughty: ‘if you go three days without being punished, the roof will cave in,’” said MAD principal Ma Yansong of one of the inspirations behind the eye-catching rooftop , a place the firm describes as “full of magic — a playful escape for the children that is a symbol of freedom and endless imagination.” Designed as the primary space for children to engage in outdoor sports and activities, the multicolored floating roof will curve around the siheyuan’s existing hipped roofs and tree canopy and will also feature an undulating landscape of several small ‘hills’ and ‘plains.’ Classrooms, a library, a small theater and a gymnasium will be located below the roof in a new building with an open-plan layout that’s surrounded by walls of glass to let in ample natural light as well as views of greenery and the historic buildings next door. The building will also wrap around three existing ancient trees, creating miniature courtyards where children can connect with nature. The Courtyard Kindergarten will accommodate 400 children between the ages of two and five. Related: A 650-foot-long running track tops this space-saving elementary school in China The design aims to reconcile new and old elements, from the existing modern building on-site that was built in the 1990s to the nearly 400-year-old courtyard. Having just broke ground this month, the Courtyard Kindergarten is expected to be completed and operational in the fall of 2019. + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a "floating roof"

Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

October 29, 2018 by  
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Designed by Delft-based cepezed and cepezedinterior, the Technova College in Ede has recently opened its doors as the newest branch of the Regional Education Center ROC A12 with a strong focus on sustainability. Powered by energy from a biomass plant and on-site solar panels , the nearly energy-neutral building largely owes its eco-friendly design to an executive consortium (Team Technova) responsible for overseeing maintenance and the energy supply. The school’s highly transparent design fills the interiors with light and turns the building into a showcase for the neighborhood. Completed this fall, the Technova College began with the dismantlement of a couple of older buildings on the ROC campus as well as the seamless integration of a single existing structure into the new-build. The various classrooms are organized around a double-height space referred to as the “innovative workplace” that sits at the heart of the school, along with reception. A college theater is located adjacent to the central workshop. All areas are designed to promote collaboration and interaction for not only the students but the surrounding community as well. The glazed facade that surrounds the ground-floor work spaces allows direct views of the student activity inside. For the interiors, cepezedinterior used a material palette of wood and steel along with strong color accents to create a robust, industrial atmosphere to complement the departments of Technique & Technology, Media & ICT and Sound & Vision. “We wanted a building which empowers great education,” said Toine Schinkel, member of the board of directors of the Christelijke Onderwijs Groep (COG) that commissioned the building. “With this design, we will create an innovative and enjoyable learning environment for all our technical students. We aspire students to aim for the best, and this calls for an innovative and modern educational building.” Related: Weathered steel trees wrap around a solar-powered school building In addition to solar panels, the energy-efficient school building draws energy from a nearby biomass plant in Ede and is designed for natural ventilation that meets the standards of the ‘Frisse Scholen Klasse B’ (Fresh Schools, category B). “Join the Pipe” water fountains were installed throughout to deter the use of PET bottles. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

Hong Kongs greenest school champions environmental stewardship

October 22, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects has unveiled images of its recently completed French International School of Hong Kong – Tseung Kwan O, a colorful and energy-efficient development that the firm has declared as the city’s “greenest school.” Designed to promote sustainability, the new primary and secondary school serves as a green oasis in the city. Boasting significant water savings and sewage reduction, the school is designed to meet Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM) Plus Gold standards, a Hong Kong rating tool for green construction. Completed in September, the new campus of the French International School serves 1,100 students in a multicultural learning environment — the student body represents 40 nationalities — that champions collaboration and sustainability. Its distinctive facade speaks to the diverse campus vision and features a grid of 627 multicolored ceramic tiles. In addition to the primary and secondary classrooms, the campus includes a library, a canteen, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, an auditorium with a multifunctional arena, multiple gardens and a 400-meter-long track called “The Loop” that connects the campus playgrounds and gardens. A healthy environment is promoted through ample green space, which improves urban air quality, provides natural shading and creates a green refuge in an urban environment where access to nature is limited. A total of 42 native trees grow within the campus, and the Native Garden offers educational opportunities. The interior is dressed in eco-friendly surface materials including natural rubber floors, bamboo ceilings, non-toxic paints and fabrics made from pure wool. The buildings are oriented to optimize access to natural daylight and seaborne winds to minimize the need for air conditioning and artificial lighting. Low-flow fixtures offer up to 30 percent water savings. Related: Henning Larsen unveils green, mountain-inspired buildings for Shanghai The learning environment is further enhanced with improved room acoustics, reduced background noise and a layout that encourages team building. “We dissolved the traditional classrooms,” said Claude Godefroy, design director and partner at Henning Larsen Hong Kong. “We pushed boundaries on how learning spaces can allow teachers and classes to work together in a more collaborative, open space.” + Henning Larsen Photos by Philippe Ruault

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Hong Kongs greenest school champions environmental stewardship

Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US

October 22, 2018 by  
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At the beginning of the century, refillable bottles were the only option when you purchased a beer or soda from the local merchant. With the invention of the steel can in 1938, however, that practice began to change. Within 10 years, the 100 percent refillable glass usage for beer had dropped to 84 percent. When non-refillable glass started taking over mainstream production, that number dropped to 8 percent by 1986 and, according to the Container Recycling Institute , refillable beer bottles now account for less than 4 percent of the total containers used. Today, Oregon is getting back to the basics by revitalizing the use of refillable beer bottles. The World Counts reported, “The world’s beer and soda consumption uses about 200 billion aluminium cans every year. This is 6,700 cans every second — enough to go around the planet every 17 hours.” While recycling is an important piece of the puzzle, a large percentage of cans and bottles are tossed into the landfill. Those that do make it to the recycling plant require massive amounts of water and energy to recycle into clean, usable material. With all of this in mind, Oregon recently initiated a statewide recycling program that cuts out the need to break down materials and turn them into something new. Instead, they’ve gone old school by bringing back refillable bottles. Related: Eco-minded Melbourne brewery breaks the mold for sustainable beer production The process works the same as any other bottle deposit system. The consumer pays a deposit upfront when buying a beverage. Upon returning the empty container, they receive the deposit back. The bottle return machines identify the refillable bottles by a unique barcode and automatically separate them from the recyclable glass options. The bottles themselves are slightly different in other ways, too. Noticeably thicker and marked with a “refillable” stamp, the bottles can be reused up to 40 times, which sharply dials back the carbon footprint for the industry. Oregon has been poised to reintroduce refillable bottles into the market because of an existing statewide program that collects and recycles bottles and cans. With that efficient infrastructure in place, adding refillable bottles to the mix is a natural step in the progression of responsible resource management within the state. It’s no surprise that Oregon is an early adopter of the program, as it has a long history of innovation in the beverage recycling industry. In fact, Oregon was the first state to pass a bottle refund law in 1971. In order for the program to be cost-effective, there are some stipulations in place. For example, bottles leaving the state and not being returned for refill drives up costs. To protect against this, bottlers who commit to using the refillable bottles are only allowed to export 20 percent of those bottles out of state. Although Oregon hopes to be a leader in the refillable bottle movement, the program is still going through some growing pains. Bottles are currently being shipped to Montana for cleaning until Oregon can complete its own facility to do the work. While the state’s Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t put an exact measurement on the impact of these efforts, most agree that even with temporary transport to another state, refillable bottles cut the carbon footprint at every post-production phase of the life cycle. The real measure of the program’s success will come with the deposit return rates. If people don’t return the bottles, the system won’t work. This is a struggle that Double Mountain Brewery founder Matt Swihart knows all too well as the original provider of refillable bottles within the Oregon brewing industry. He’s fought an uphill battle in his efforts to successfully introduce refillable bottles to his Hood River bottling plant. With an initial return rate of only 15-20 percent, he’s hoping an organized state system will help facilitate his goals. “Anything we get back and clean saves us money down the road, and of course is a more responsible environmental package,” Swihart told OPB . “Frankly, it’s just the right thing to do.” Currently, seven breweries in Oregon have stepped up to the program. Widmer Brothers Brewing is one such optimistic leader of change. It has always been transparent in its efforts to maintain sustainability wherever possible in the beer-making process, with actions like donating spent grains to local farms and providing reusable to-go containers for employees to cut back on waste. For a company that looks to repurpose and recycle everything down to the crayons and corks, moving to refillable bottles is a natural progression. The company stated, “In 2016, we completed our first Life Cycle Analysis on a bottle of beer produced at our brewery to understand the biggest opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint, learning that one bottle generates 392 grams of carbon dioxide emissions. We are partnering with suppliers to improve!” And now, the brewery is doing just that. Buoy Beer, Double Mountain, GoodLife, Gigantic, Wild Ride and Rock Bottom breweries have also signed on with hopes of many others joining as the program gains credibility. Although breweries are in the spotlight right now, there is hope that the soda industry will also jump on the refillable bottle bandwagon. Who knows — maybe it’s just a few short years before we make the full circle back to refillable milk bottles. Via  OPB ,  The World Counts and  Container Recycling Institute Images via Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative and Thomas Picauly

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Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US

A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers

September 20, 2018 by  
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The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute in Thailand is taking its own teachings to heart with the an eco-friendly campus crafted from 22 recycled shipping containers. Now, the institute has a clear example when teaching students about the importance of upcycling and sustainability, plus plenty of space for educating on tree conservation, urban farming, waste management and more. As an institution aimed at teaching others about sustainability, the ISDSI made every effort to minimize any impact throughout the building process. Starting with a bare lot full of trees , the final design saved all but two of the acacia wood grove by using a skilled crane operator to maneuver the shipping containers into place around the existing landscape. They also scrutinized the amount of concrete that was necessary and took steps to avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Related: 13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island The  shipping containers were hand-selected with the end design in mind, so when each showed up on site, it had a specific purpose. Once the containers were properly stacked, builders began to cut out portions of the massive metal boxes in order to create windows, doors, decks and connecting open-air walkways. To take the sustainable design one step further, none of the cut metal went to waste, as it was turned into interior walls, doors, sinks, bathroom stalls and a kiosk and welcome counter in the cafe and gym. The complex also includes classrooms, conference rooms, a kitchen and plenty of outdoor spaces. The entire project took about nine months to complete. In addition to reusing containers slotted for melt-down recycling on the front end of the project, careful thought went into long-term energy savings from daily operations. For example, the entire campus uses low-energy LED lighting for areas not already lit through copious natural lighting. Proper insulation keeps the campus temperate, but when air conditioning is necessary, each pod has its own unit for efficiency, and most of the units were recycled from old buildings. Outside areas also received a sustainability upgrade with the use of composting , an on-campus garden, plants and green spaces, all intended to help support the soil and provide fresh air. + The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute Images via ISDSI

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Worlds largest Victorian glasshouse receives a glorious restoration

September 20, 2018 by  
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After five years of restoration work, the iconic Temperate House recently reopened to the public, bringing with it an astounding 10,000 plants — many of which are rare and threatened. Designed by Decimus Burton and completed in 1899, the Temperate House is the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse and the iconic landmark of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew . To restore the building back to its full glory, Donald Insall Associates was called upon to sensitively renovate the greenhouse and insert modern technology for improved plant cultivation and care. Appointed as the conservation architects in 2012, Donald Insall Associates was tasked with improving the Temperate House for the enjoyment of the public and creating the “best possible conditions for plants.” This included optimizing air flow standards and lighting levels. During the renovation process — the largest in Kew’s history — all botanical specimens were removed save for nine trees considered too significant to risk moving. The structure was then thoroughly cleaned and then fastidiously repainted, while advancements such as new glazing and mechanical ventilation systems were put in place. The Temperate House reopened to the public on May 5, 2018. The massive greenhouse consists of 1,500 species spanning different temperate regions around the world from the Mediterranean and Africa to Asia and island floras. Meanwhile, both the internal and external landscaping have been improved with interpretation facilities and a new dedicated education space on site. Related: Wolfgang Buttress’ Hive is brought back to life in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew “The restoration of the Temperate House has been a complex and immensely rewarding project, recalibrating contemporary understanding of Victorian architecture and the development of past innovations,” said Aimée Felton, lead architect on the project. “New glazing, mechanical ventilation systems, path and bedding arrangements all took their founding principles from Decimus Burton’s own drawings, held within Kew’s archives.” + Donald Insall Associates Via ArchDaily Images by Gareth Gardner, Thomas Erskine

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Harvest your own produce at this solar-powered wellness retreat

September 20, 2018 by  
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The Inn at Moonlight Beach, located near San Diego, puts a fresh spin on wellness retreats . The inn was built with the WELL Building Standards in mind, a practice that focuses on improving the well-being of guests. Here’s a look at how the inn, redesigned and renovated by architect Shangwen Kennedy and husband Mike, is the perfect destination for your next vacation. The Inn at Moonlight Beach was constructed from reclaimed lumber and other recycled building materials. The inn is powered by solar panels , which output 90 percent of the building’s electricity. The owners also installed high-quality air and water filtration systems, as well as other environmentally conscious features, without sacrificing the comfort and well-being of guests. Related: Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat The inn has a few gorgeous shared spaces located in the main building. This includes a common room that features a book wall and dining area. Guests can enjoy bountiful fruits and vegetables in the common room, as well as ready-made breakfast baskets. After enjoying a fresh meal, guests can spend some time at the inn’s yoga studio, which offers lush garden views. Of course, they can also take a short walk to the nearby beach or explore the shops and cafes in the local town of Encinitas. The guestrooms are just as bright and inviting as the common areas. Each room features open spaces with fresh-cut flowers to make every guest feel at home. The rooms are also equipped with sitting areas, baths, modern amenities and decks that overlook the gardens below. The biodynamic gardens do more than just grace the perimeter of the inn. In addition to lending a vibrant area to view the ocean , the garden’s plants provide fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables for the establishment. The flowers are used to welcome guests in every room. The herbs are used for hot teas, and guests have full access to fruits and veggies whenever they need nourishment. + Inn at Moonlight Beach Images via Inn at Moonlight Beach

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Harvest your own produce at this solar-powered wellness retreat

September heat waves are causing early dismissals in schools

September 7, 2018 by  
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Snow days are one of the best perks of winter for students, but now, schools are closing for another variation of inclement weather. School districts around the country are releasing students because of excessive heat, an increasing trend in the face of climate change . Will these so-called “heat days” become the new norm? Schools in the eastern U.S. have been giving out more heat days than ever as record temperatures continue to hit New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and even parts of the Midwest. The cancellations are occurring more frequently in places that do not have adequate air conditioning, especially in relation to after-school programs. This past week, for example, schools on the East Coast shut down as temperatures climbed higher than 90 degrees. A few districts in New York also cancelled sporting activities. Related: One in 11 US public schools are plagued by toxic air Meanwhile, schools in New York City have remained open following a city investment in new air conditioning systems worth nearly $30 million to ensure schools were adequately cooled. The city plans on having every classroom air conditioned over the next four years, meaning no heat days for students and a costly impact on the environment. But for schools that don’t have a budget for air conditioning, heat days might become more frequent. In fact, union organizations in New York are advocating for laws that would require districts to close schools if the temperature is hotter than 88 degrees. In a few schools across the East Coast, teachers have reported temperature readings above 100 degrees in their classrooms, which clearly is not a safe environment for anyone. As global warming continues to affect the climate, record high temperatures could become common in months that normally are not associated with such temperatures. There’s no telling how many schools will adopt heat days as policy, but it is possible that these school dismissals become just as common as traditional snow days. Via New York Times Image via Nicola Tolin

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September heat waves are causing early dismissals in schools

Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village

July 18, 2018 by  
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For design collective KLAB Architecture (Kinetic Lab of Architecture), one of the biggest challenges with public buildings in Greece is the lack of architect involvement in the construction process. To circumvent the problem, KLAB Architecture turned to prefabrication for its design of a public nursery in the Athens suburb of Glyfada. Drawing inspiration from a child’s archetypal drawing of a house, the modular gabled structures are clustered together to form the appearance of a tiny urban village. Organized around an open landscaped courtyard , the prefabricated nursery comprises a series of repeating modules of three differing sizes and shapes for visual interest. Each module was constructed in a factory and then transported via truck to the site for quick installation. The nursery follows a minimalist and modern aesthetic with its clean geometric lines and all-white exterior. Timber slatted pergolas provide shade and help mitigate solar gain; once they mature, planted shade trees will also help cool the buildings. Related: WeWork and BIG design innovative new school in NYC “We attempted to employ rather common materials and construction methods in order to create a more complicated structure with a small energy footprint,” KLAB Architecture said. “The exterior walls were constructed 10 centimeters thick, allowing us to maximize the available interior area, and were cladded, along with the roofs, with exterior wall insulation. Thus, by taking also into consideration the construction of wooden pergolas along the careful placement of the windows on the exterior walls, the building is sustainable providing comfort to the children.” Related: Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade The energy-efficient nursery is also filled with natural light and warm natural materials to create a healthy and welcoming environment for the children. In contrast to the white exterior, the interior features bright and colorful wall treatments and furnishings that inject life into the various classrooms. All classrooms are open on three sides to engage the outdoors. + KLAB Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Mariana Bisti

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Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village

New school in India will prioritize happiness and emotional intelligence

February 15, 2018 by  
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You won’t find the students at Riverbend School near Chennai, India in a traditional classroom – they might be in an ideation laboratory or a meditation room. The school is planning to focus on personal happiness, and turning out children who will give back to the world in a positive way. Designed by architecture studio Kurani , the campus of the Riverbend School was inspired by villages – where, according to anthropologists, personal relationships are strongest. Riverbend School will be a 400-student weekday boarding school dedicated to teaching happiness. The school’s founders, entrepreneurs at SPI Incubator , believe great achievements and lives are built on a foundation of emotional intelligence and personal happiness – which they think are overlooked in traditional education , according to Kurani. Related: Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food So they’re starting a school for middle and high school students that will prioritize those ideals. Kurani took the question: “How can architecture foster happiness?” as a launching point, and found in the longest study on happiness in the world that “real happiness comes from our relationships.” And as relationships are strong in villages, they modeled the layout of the campus after a village. “The school centers around a public plaza and has spaces for studying, playing, reflecting, living, and farming . Every aspect – intimate walkways, outdoor pavilions, traditional courtyard housing – encourages socializing,” Kurani said on their website. Prepping for standardized tests won’t be part of Riverbend School’s curriculum. Students will decide the topics they wish to learn, and learn through experience, according to Fast Company. They might code software for a rocket launcher or recite poems in a seminar on classical Indian literature or launch a business in a campus incubator. Faculty will serve as mentors and coaches, and teach students on living a happier life drawing on resources like ancient Hindu texts. The goal is for students to be exposed to a wide range of subjects as they discover how to learn about skills or subjects that personally interest them. The team is still working out how to bridge the gap between Indian educational regulations and their approach. Co-founder Vivek Reddy told Fast Company, “It’s not a school for everyone,” acknowledging some parents won’t like the approach. There will be an institute at the Riverbend School where researchers will delve into the school’s effectiveness. Construction on the school is slated to begin later this year, and could be complete in 2020. + Kurani + Riverbend School Via Fast Company Images via Kurani

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