Green-roofed campus brings a sustainable social nexus to Toronto

April 1, 2021 by  
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Community building recently received a boost in Toronto’s bustling downtown core with the completion of the new $65 million Canoe Landing Campus, a social nexus that combines a community recreation center, public and Catholic elementary schools and a childcare center under a massive shared green roof. Designed by local firm  ZAS Architects , the new campus provides a much-needed social infrastructure to CityPlace, one of the city’s most populated residential developments with over 20,000 residents. In addition to its expansive green roof and surrounding landscaping, the project includes solar panels that renewably generate 10% of the building’s energy needs.  Completed last year, the roughly 158,000-square-foot Canoe Landing Campus was designed to maximize open space and seamlessly merge with the existing Canoe Landing Park. Shared community spaces and programming for all ages include sports facilities, a community kitchen, gardening plots and more. A pedestrian corridor separates the two-story community center from the three-story  schools  on the ground level, while an elevated east-west bridge connects the buildings above. The schools — which share common areas that include imaginative indoor play spaces with a climbing wall and roller coaster track — are organized with the younger students on the lower level and the older students on the upper two floors.  “The building’s design welcomes neighbours to take part in community activities allowing for a synergistic sharing of spaces between the  community centre , schools, and childcare,” said Peter Duckworth-Pilkington, Principal, ZAS Architects. “Ultimately, the way the world approaches community space is forever changed. Now, more than ever, physical space must foster meaningful human connection while also remaining flexible to support communities with evolving hybrid and virtual needs for years to come.” Related: Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass-timber college building to rise in Toronto An active roof tops the campus and features a running track, sheltered outdoor space for yoga and a full-sized basketball court. A series of passive zones and gardening plots surround the “active roof.” The project also commissioned Anishinaabe artist Que Rock and artist Alexander Bacon to create a 90-meter-long mural on the south walls of the schools to celebrate the land’s  Indigenous  culture.  + ZAS Architects Photography by Michael Muraz

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Thinking Huts and Studio Mortazavi plan a 3D-printed school in Madagascar

March 16, 2021 by  
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International architectural firm Studio Mortazavi has teamed up with Colorado-based nonprofit Thinking Huts to propose designs for the world’s first 3D-printed school to be located in southern Madagascar . Developed to improve access to education in remote and impoverished areas, the modular concept taps into 3D printing for its low-carbon benefits and ability to shorten construction time from months to a matter of days. The design team, which has also partnered with Finland-based 3D technology company Hyperion Robotics and local Madagascar university EMIT, hopes to break ground on the pilot project in 2021. According to UNESCO, over 260 million children around the world lack access to education — a staggering number that includes over half of Madagascar’s 1.3 million primary-age children, who are not enrolled in school due to classroom overcrowding. As a result, Thinking Huts and Studio Mortazavi chose southern Madagascar for the pilot site, not only because of the pressing need for more educational infrastructure but also because of the country’s economic growth potential, political stability and optimal conditions for solar harvesting. Related: BIG unveils sustainable, 3D-printed lunar igloos for Moon exploration The 3D-printed pilot school will follow a low-cost modular design for scalability and adaptability. Inspired by a beehive, each wedge-shaped module will be printed from clay with natural pigments from the local landscape, then joined together with other units into a variety of configurations. Each module can be used as a standalone classroom that accommodates 20 children with space for a library, reading area, whiteboard desks and chairs, two individual toilets, a shared sink and storage. The modules can also be easily adapted for other uses such as a dance studio, woodworking shop and even housing. The eco-minded prototype project is expected to feature a vertical garden on the outside of its 3D-printed walls as well as rooftop solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system. “We are thrilled to be working with Studio Mortazavi who is at the forefront of design and innovation, forming a strong partnership that values sustainability within the construction industry as we seek to increase access to education via 3D-printed schools,” said Maggie Grout, founder of Thinking Huts. “We believe education is the vital catalyst to solving global issues ranging from gender inequality to poverty; achievable through local partnerships, we are building a future where communities have the necessary infrastructure to ensure that education is accessible to all.” Once the prototype project is complete, Thinking Huts hopes to build three additional schools with its materials partner LafargeHolcim in Madagascar’s Ibity. + Thinking Huts Images via Thinking Huts

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An urban farm tops a LEED Gold-targeted health education tower in Toronto

March 11, 2021 by  
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Global design practice Perkins and Will has raised the bar for sustainable campus design with the award-winning Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex, a Ryerson University facility designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. As an example of “vertical campus typology,” the 28-story tower combines academic departments, residences, labs, administrative offices and even a rooftop urban farm in Toronto’s dense downtown core. Completed in 2019 for $104 million CAD, the health education tower was crowned the 2021 Best Tall Building Award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Located on the east side of Ryerson’s campus near Yonge–Dundas Square, the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex offers nearly 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art living and learning space and serves as a new gateway into campus. The striking high-rise is wrapped in expansive glazing along with white aluminum panels punctuated by vibrant orange accents. As part of Ryerson University’s goal of shaping the future of Toronto , the eye-catching tower features public spaces woven throughout the building. An atrium at the street level also activates the public realm with a café and study spaces. The café kitchen uses fresh produce sourced from the urban farm on the roof. Related: Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass-timber college building to rise in Toronto The first eight stories of the building house four academic departments — the Schools of Nursing, Midwifery, Nutrition and Occupational and Public Health — with classrooms , teaching kitchens and labs. The tower also includes a digital fabrication lab that is visible from the outside, flexible research facilities and university administration offices. Residence dorms occupy the upper levels of the tower and house up to 330 students. Accessibility is made seamless throughout to encourage inclusivity, collaboration and community. In addition to a productive green roof , the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex integrates a variety of environmentally friendly features including low-impact materials; a graywater recycling system for the faucets, toilets and showers; and a metering and monitoring system that allows residence students to see their energy and water consumption online. The architects expect that the building will use 32% less energy and consume 35% less potable water compared to traditional construction. + Perkins and Will Photography by Tom Arban via Perkins and Will

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An urban farm tops a LEED Gold-targeted health education tower in Toronto

Tesla is building a 100MW battery in Texas

March 11, 2021 by  
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Under the guise of Gambit Energy Storage LLC, a secretive subsidiary of Tesla, a new, 100-megawatt battery is coming to Angleton, Texas. Angleton is located approximately 40 miles south of Houston and has a population of about 20,000. The project follows a massive winter storm that rendered the Texas power grid useless. The new battery is expected to work as a backup to the grid, as climate change has made it clear that relying on the grid may not be tenable for the future. The battery is expected to power up to 20,000 homes. When the project is complete, the residents of the town may no longer have to worry about power outages, even in the most extreme weather events. The project is slated to start operating in June 2021. Related: Tesla — the real environmental impact The Gambit project has drawn a lot of attention nationally, not because of its type but due to the secretive manner in which it is being conducted. The locals say that the workers on the site appear to be under strict instructions not to draw attention or respond to public questions. Reporters had to dig deep to link Gambit to Tesla. Elon Musk’s Telsa has been investing in energy quietly but rapidly. “Tesla’s energy storage business on a percentage basis is growing faster than their car business, and it’s only going to accelerate,” said Daniel Finn-Foley, head of energy storage at Wood MacKenzie Power and Renewables. “They are absolutely respected as a player, and they are competing aggressively on price.” In 2015, Tesla introduced its first Powerwall home batteries . Later, it expanded to larger grid offerings with the Megapack. The company has multiple battery projects, including a 100 megawatt project in South Australia, a 20 megawatt Southern California Edison Mira Loma substation just east of Los Angeles and an upcoming 182.5 megawatt system in the San Francisco Bay Area that is expected to begin operations in August 2021. These projects offer clear indications of Telsa’s fight for a space in the green energy market. Musk himself has been quoted saying that the energy business is bigger than the automotive industry, an indication that the company will focus more on clean energy in the future. + Gambit Energy Storage Park Via EcoWatch and Bloomberg Image via Tesla

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Tesla is building a 100MW battery in Texas

ZHA unveils solar-powered student residences for HKUST

February 18, 2021 by  
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In response to an urgent demand for more student housing at its Clear Water Bay campus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has tapped Zaha Hadid Architects and local architecture firm Leigh & Orange to design the university’s new residence halls that will house more than 1,500 students once complete in 2023. The student housing buildings also incorporate sustainable design features in line with the university’s pledge to transition the Clear Water Bay campus to carbon-neutral operations. In addition to implementing rooftop solar and high-performance insulation, the architects will optimize the residential facilities’ energy-efficient operations with digital design tools, including Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D simulations. Inspired by the university’s mission to solve pressing global issues with technology and innovation, the architects have harnessed the power of digital design tools to optimize the design across multiple site parameters, including terrain, solar radiation, sight lines and soil considerations. As a result, the new residences will be strategically integrated into a steep, sloping site with a hexagonal configuration that embraces the natural landscape. The digital tools will also ensure passive solar considerations, proper material selection and efficient construction strategies to minimize time and waste. Related: ZHA’s sculptural “urban oasis” in Hong Kong to be LEED Platinum The 35,500-square-meter HKUST residence halls will comprise three differing clusters that all include communal living areas and rooms that face open spaces. The “Y” cluster apartments will accommodate 27 students; the “V” cluster will house 36 students; and the “Linear” cluster will offer collective housing for 18 students. The residences will be connected via a rooftop walkway — the main circulation route connecting to the academic blocks in the north — that will include shaded gathering spaces and photovoltaic arrays . To protect against Hong Kong’s intense sunlight, the buildings will be wrapped in high-performance, prefabricated facade units fitted with double-glazed windows and external solar shading fins. + Zaha Hadid Architects + Leigh & Orange Images via Visual Brick

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ZHA unveils solar-powered student residences for HKUST

The River School places classrooms around a central courtyard

February 1, 2021 by  
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Great design means different things to different people, but the best architectural design incorporates history, culture and functionality. In addition to these paramount foundational elements, L’École du Fleuve (The River School) also presents a plan that relies on locally sourced, sustainable and recycled materials. The River School won second place in the international Archstorming competition , which called for designs for a school in Senegal. The designers, Tina Gao and Prathyusha Viddam with research support from Amy Zhang, aimed their finished project at honoring the history of the local area, where making and using buckets and baskets is standard. They also drew inspiration from the rivers around the Casamance region; these rivers are central to the culture and economy of the area, as is education. Related: Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably The competition was organized in conjunction with NGO Let’s Build My School (LBMS), a U.K.-based charity with a focus on building schools in developing countries, especially in remote areas with limited access. The brief for the competition outlined the need for using local, renewable materials and easy, affordable construction techniques. The idea is for community members to be able to use the design elements to build homes and other buildings by replicating the process. L’École du Fleuve is situated to curve around an existing tree that provides a gathering space in the shade. Like a bend in a river, the building arcs with all classrooms facing the central courtyard. The doors for each classroom are composed of bamboo screens that can fully extend to open the classroom to the outdoors. Outside of the classrooms, gardens provide vegetables, which are then served from a small kitchen. Sustainable building requires attention to water usage. The River School harvests water through a terraced rainwater channel in the courtyard. The water is then funneled into two percolation ponds. A PVC pipe inserted into each pond then disperses the water into the ground and back to the well. In addition, a collection tank in the restroom is filled with water collected from gutters along the roof. Going back to the process of bucket making, the outer facade is made up of adobe bricks formed using plastic buckets as molds. The bricks are stacked in a pattern that resembles traditional baskets, paying tribute to the way Senegal’s women balance baskets on their heads. The process for laying the bricks allows for sunlight and ventilation within the space. Primary walls are composed of easy-to-source natural materials , such as clay, sand and straw. A small amount of cement speeds up the process and stabilizes the structure. The roof trusses are made from locally grown bamboo in a process that the community can replicate in other buildings.  + Essential Design Images via Essential Design

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GM pledges carbon neutrality by 2040, expands electric fleet

February 1, 2021 by  
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General Motors has announced an ambitious plan to be carbon-neutral by 2040. The largest U.S. auto maker also aims to eliminate tailpipe emissions from light-duty vehicles by 2035. “General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO, in a press release. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.” Related: Biden to replace entire federal fleet with electric vehicles GM is working with the Environmental Defense Fund on envisioning an all-electric future. Currently an electric vehicle costs approximately $19,000 more than a gas-powered model, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. GM is promising “vehicles across a range of price points,” although it hasn’t yet said how low that range will go. The company said that globally, it will offer 30 all-electric models by mid-decade. U.S. consumers can look forward to 40% of available models being battery electric by the end of 2025. This all requires big money. GM has pledged a $27 billion investment in electric and autonomous vehicles over the next five years. GM will continue to develop its Ultium battery technology. Product use accounts for 75% of GM’s carbon emissions , while production facilities generate the other 25%. GM plans to use 100% renewable energy to power its operations at U.S. sites by 2030 and globally by 2035. “With this extraordinary step forward, GM is making it crystal clear that taking action to eliminate pollution from all new light-duty vehicles by 2035 is an essential element of any automaker’s business plan,” said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. “EDF and GM have had some important differences in the past, but this is a new day in America — one where serious collaboration to achieve transportation electrification, science-based climate progress and equitably shared economic opportunity can move our nation forward.” + General Motors Via NPR Image via General Motors

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House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

January 20, 2021 by  
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As part of a National Association for Urban Renewal project that will run until 2030, the Maison de l’enfance à Albertville (Savoie, France) is the first step in an ambitious urban development masterplan in the area. Translated House of Childhood, the building was designed by Tectoniques Agency and is functional, inviting, striking and environmentally friendly. With a commitment to early childhood, this initial project is a multipurpose facility with a dynamic, open floor plan that incorporates a municipal daycare center, a family daycare center, space for nursery assistants, a leisure area and a school restaurant. Related: Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village According to a press release, the House of Childhood is, “set in the heart of the Bauges, Beaufortain, Lauzière and Grand Arc mountain ranges,” making for a natural backdrop in nearly every direction. Architects placed an emphasis on the upper level of the building in order to capture the sweeping landscape. In addition to exceptional views of the surrounding peaks, the building responds to a goal of minimal site impact . In fact, a compact design caters to the architects’ call for preserving the ground in anticipation of future land development of green spaces. The team relied on a concrete foundation — Albertville is in a seismic zone — but equally relied on natural materials like different types of locally sourced wood for framing and furniture. To soften the look, the concrete walls are surrounded by a wooden structure. The upper facade offers protection and visual appeal with a combination of shimmering bronze and copper coloring. A significant portion of the building was built using prefabricated panels, ensuring industrial quality while allowing expediency of construction. This technique enabled the project to be completed in 13 months. Energy-efficient elements are included, such as the biomass heating network and ventilation provided by an adiabatic AHU to keep children cool during hot summers. The centralized entrance provides access to a reception area on one end and the dining room, activity rooms and technical rooms on the other. The first floor houses a courtyard with a generous playground. Natural light illuminates the interior through a combination of skylights and glazed facades. The interior design is also focused on the children, drawing natural elements inside with fully exposed bleached beech and spruce walls, ceilings and furniture. Paint colors designate separate spaces; for example, yellow defines the changing rooms and blue defines the restrooms.  + Tectoniques agency Photography by Renaud Araud via Tectoniques agency 

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LEED Gold-targeted Knight Campus advances scientific innovation

January 13, 2021 by  
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The University of Oregon recently welcomed the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a 160,000-square-foot campus built to accelerate groundbreaking scientific discovery and development in a collaborative multidisciplinary environment. Designed by New York-based  Ennead Architects  and Portland-based Bora Architecture & Interiors, the Knight Campus raises the bar for research facilities with its human-centered design that prioritizes wellness and socialization as well as energy efficiency. The eco-conscious campus features high-performance glazing as well as cross-laminated timber materials and is on track to achieve LEED Gold certification.  Named after benefactors Penny and Phil Knight who contributed a $500 million lead gift, the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact comprises a pair of L-shaped towers that frame an elevated terrace and courtyard at the heart of the campus. Transparency is emphasized throughout the design from the glass bridge that connects the two towers to the large expanses of glazing that make up the buildings’ unique  double-skin facade  and put the interior lab and office spaces on display. “So much of research is about improving the human condition,” said Todd Schliemann, Design Partner at Ennead Architects. “Our goal for the Knight Campus was the creation of a humanistic research machine – one that supports practical needs and aesthetic aspirations, but more importantly, one that inspires the people who work in it, those that move through it and those that simply pass by, and that contributes to the  university  community and the greater context.” Related: Oregon Ducks hit a home run with über-green Jane Sanders Stadium The campus was designed with input from University of Oregon faculty and staff, who helped inform the building’s open workspaces of varied sizes and highly adaptive spaces that give researchers the freedom to change their lab spaces to nimbly work across fields as needed. The new labs also boast cutting-edge technologies, such as  3D-printing  and rapid prototyping, to speed up the process of taking scientific discovery to market.  + Ennead Architects Images via Ennead Architects

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LEED Gold-targeted Knight Campus advances scientific innovation

Zimbabwe permaculture education center promotes self-sufficiency

December 11, 2020 by  
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German architecture firm  Studio Anna Heringer  has completed the first kindergarten in  Zimbabwe’s  Chimanimani District, a rural and desolate region home to about 200 families that have long lacked access to education. The kindergarten, which builds on the firm’s award-winning portfolio of humanitarian architecture, serves as a pilot project for PORET, Zimbabwe’s permaculture community, to promote permaculture and encourage self-sufficiency in the local community. Using community labor to support the local economy, the buildings are constructed from locally sourced timber, thatch and stone. Constructed over approximately 11 months in 2014, the kindergarten consists of a pair of domed buildings set on stone foundations. The structural frames use timber from Zimbabwe tree plantations. Inspired by the country’s beautiful thatched roofs and the routine tradition of cutting grass to lower an area’s risk of fire, the architects covered the structural ribs with thatching. Local craftsmen were employed for the labor-intensive work of thatching and building the stone foundations, thus providing the community with a good share of the construction budget. “With these local techniques the project aims to build with a process that reinforces solidarity and team spirit, skills and knowledge, self-confidence and dignity,” the architects explained. “Due to the contexts climate and local conditions buildings, unless built in glass and steel, will not last forever, but it is essential that the know-how to maintain and rebuild them is kept alive and traded on to the following generations. This is why we see this project primarily as a training in advanced building techniques with existing materials that can become the compost of the kindergarten fields one day.” Related: Donkey-drawn mobile libraries bring books to people in Zimbabwe While in operation, the kindergarten will teach children permaculture principles from the basics of soil and plant care to water harvesting techniques. The two buildings can also function as training and meeting spaces for the community.  + Studio Anna Heringer Images by Margarethe Holzer

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