Nature-inspired gallery celebrates Taiwans aboriginal cultures with cargotecture

March 31, 2017 by  
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A shimmering wave-like roof mirroring the Pacific Ocean tops this stunning new structure that celebrates Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures with eco-friendly construction. Bio-architecture Formosana recently completed the Taitung Aboriginal Gallery, a 1,921-square-meter exhibition center that draws inspiration from nature just as the architects of Austronesian culture did for centuries. With Taitung’s rich and varied landscapes as well as its seven different aboriginal tribes, the architects drew on a wealth of cultural and environmental resources for their design. The Taitung Aboriginal Gallery was created to celebrate the artistic and nature-inspired architectural elements of Austronesian culture. Thus, the architects created a large steel-framed roof with an undulating shape that mimics the topography and ocean, and is decorated with diamond shapes that symbolize the eyes of the ancestral spirits. The shape allows for access to natural light and ventilation throughout the building while providing much needed shade and cooling from the tropical sun. The sloped sides also facilitate collection of rainwater , which is stored in five small ponds in the plaza. Related: Mecanoo wins competition to design the Tainan Public Library with natural materials As an island with several major ports, Taiwan collects approximately 10,000 shipping containers from the ocean every year. The architects recycled a number of the containers into rooms within the Taitung Aboriginal Gallery. The repurposed and repainted shipping containers are individually air-conditioned and serve as aboriginal handicraft shops. “In Taitung’s tropical climate, individualized air conditioning reduces the refrigerating ton by 50%, and the electricity use by 60%,” write the architects. + Bio-architecture Formosana Via ArchDaily Images by Lucas K. Doolan

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Nature-inspired gallery celebrates Taiwans aboriginal cultures with cargotecture

Tiny power plant sucks CO2 from the air and turns it into fuel

November 11, 2016 by  
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Ineratec , an offshoot of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), has devised a creative solution to the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) soaking the atmosphere. The company developed a small power plant that sucks CO2 out of the air and turns it into fuel . Researchers aim to switch on a pilot plant, called the Soletair Project, at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland later this year. Ineratec’s mini power plant is so small it can fit inside a shipping container . KIT says there are three parts to the system: a microstructured reactor, a direct air capture unit created by VIT, and an electrolysis unit which runs on solar power created by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). The direct air capture unit extracts CO2 out of the air and then the reactor converts the CO2 and regenerative hydrogen via the electrolysis unit into fuel. The Ineratec founders say the system can produce gasoline, kerosene, or diesel. Related: Cutting-edge MIT research converts carbon emissions into usable liquid fuel Ineratec founder Tim Böltken told New Atlas, “We supply an entirely new, modular technology that is a real alternative to the costly large chemical facilities used for the conventional gas-to-liquid process.” Böltken said there are many other possible applications for the plant, including gathering fuel from sewage treatment facilities. He also suggested organic farmers might be able to use the system to generate energy. VTT Principal Scientist Pekka Simell said in a statement , “The project will produce expertise for enterprises in various fields, and it will result in a multidisciplinary industrial integration that no one company can achieve on its own.” VTT and LUT will build a demonstration plant set to being operating this year, and in 2017 LUT plans to continue testing. According to KIT, Ineratec is planning to commercialize the compact plant, which could hit the market in 2018. Via New Atlas Images via Ineratec and KIT

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Tiny power plant sucks CO2 from the air and turns it into fuel

72-ton elevating house lifts 5 feet into the air to escape flooding

November 11, 2016 by  
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Larkfleet Group has created a revolutionary Elevating House that literally rises above flood waters. In case of a flood , the house can rise nearly five feet into the air in under five minutes – even though it weighs almost 72 tons. Larkfleet recently requested planning permission to build the house and begin testing. The house is elevated via eight mechanical jacks, according to Larkfleet Group, and instead of building on a traditional foundation, they’ll construct the house on a steel ring beam. The company says the house will have a ” modular steel-frame design ” and can even be “disassembled and re-erected on another site on conventional foundations as a family residence.” Related: Six Flood-Proof Buildings That Can Survive Rising Tides If they obtain planning permission, Larkfleet aims to erect a three bedroom experimental house in Lincolnshire in the UK, possibly in 2017. Should they succeed in building the house, the company will test how the jacking system works and is maintained over a period of around five years. Larkfleet says Elevating House would be raised based on warnings from the UK Environment Agency before a flood strikes, but notes the home could still be raised quickly if necessary. Their plan is to ensure residents raise their home and then evacuate, but the home could still receive power from a battery and rooftop solar panels if necessary. Flexible hoses would keep Elevating House connected to water and sewage. Such a design could allow homes to be built in locations currently undeveloped because of concerns over flooding . Larkfleet Group CEO Karl Hick said in a statement, “The elevating house effectively eliminates the risk of flood damage to homes so that more land across the country can be approved for future home building. This will help to tackle the ‘ housing crisis ‘ that is being caused by the demand for new housing far exceeding the supply.” + Larkfleet Group Images via Larkfleet Group

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72-ton elevating house lifts 5 feet into the air to escape flooding

The Keystone XL Pipeline could be resurrected under Trumps administration

November 11, 2016 by  
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We’ve already written about how Donald Trump’s incoming administration could spell disaster for the environment. But it could end up being worse than we thought. Just days after the election, TransCanada announced it would attempt to revive its controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which was shot down by President Obama a year ago. Under Obama’s administration, the company spent seven years pursuing a permit from the State Department to build a cross-country crude oil pipeline. Ultimately, the company was denied the permit due to the project’s expected impact on the environment – specifically, its contribution to climate change . The Council of Canadians estimates that running the pipeline could increase the planet’s greenhouse gas levels by a shocking 22 million tons a year. The pipeline would also be bad news for anyone living nearby – farmers and ranchers alike opposed the initial project out of fears that a leak could damage water supplies. This effort is only the latest in a long line of stunts by TransCanada. Earlier this year, they attempted to sue the US government for shooting down the pipeline. The company also made a grab for land using eminent domain in Nebraska, much to the horror of local landowners. Related: What Trump’s victory means for the environment (it’s not good) While Donald Trump hasn’t released a formal statement on the pipeline, it would be trivial for the energy company to approach him for approval – he’s already spoken of his desire to scrap federal environmental regulations. First on the list is the Clean Water Act, one of the key rules barring the Dakota Access Pipeline from moving forward without a fight. With a cabinet full of climate deniers , it’s unlikely the Obama administration’s concerns will be considered at all. If we want to prevent this pipeline from going through, environmentalists are going to need to unite and mobilize to stop it. Why not make a donation to your favorite green charity today to get started? Via The Washington Post Images via Shutterstock ( 1 , 2 )

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The Keystone XL Pipeline could be resurrected under Trumps administration

California officially becomes the first state to ban plastic bags

November 11, 2016 by  
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California just made history by becoming the first state in the Union to officially ban plastic bags . The California Plastic Bag Veto Referendum (Proposition 67) was approved by voters on Nov. 8 by a narrow margin of 51.97% in favor to 48.03% opposed. The narrow win came despite a $6 million campaign waged by the out-of-state plastic bag industry. “California voters have taken a stand against a deceptive, multi-million dollar campaign by out-of-state plastic bag makers,” said Californians Against Waste (CAW) campaign co-chair, Mark Murray. “This is a significant environmental victory that will mean an immediate elimination of the 25 million plastic bags that are polluted in California every day, threatening wildlife.” Related: California Lawmakers Pass Nation’s First Statewide Plastic Bag Ban The writing was already on the wall for plastic bags in California, as San Francisco banned plastic bags in 2007 – with nearly half the state following suit soon after. The California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 270 in 2014 , which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. But, according to the Sacramento Bee, the American Progressive Bag Alliance led a campaign to repeal the bill, claiming it would kill thousands of jobs in a state and cost residents hundreds of dollars each year in bag fees. Voters soundly defeated Proposition 65, a related measure that proposed an environmental fund created with the proceeds from a 10-cent fee on the sale of cloth and other alternative bags. Via Californians Against Waste and the Sacramento Bee Images via European Parliament and katerha , Flickr Creative Commons

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California officially becomes the first state to ban plastic bags

Urban Rigger: affordable floating dorms made from shipping containers in Copenhagen

September 22, 2016 by  
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Copenhagen icon and world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels designed the Urban Rigger units, but the idea was the brainchild of Kim Loudrop, an entrepreneur who founded the Urban Rigger startup. Loudrop sought to create a “revolutionary and innovative floating dwelling system” that took advantage of unused prime real estate—the water. The urgent student housing shortage galvanized the entrepreneur, who also noticed that 80 percent of major universities in Europe were centrally located in cities, with many near bodies of water. The floating Urban Rigger dorms built on the water seemed like a natural solution. Copenhagen was used as the first testing ground—the city is one of the ten costliest cities in the world to live in—but the startup has hopes of expanding the patented concept worldwide. Flexible, floating, and undeniably cool, the mobile Urban Rigger units offer waterfront living at a fraction of the normal cost. BIG’s 680-square-meter modular design comprises nine stacked shipping container units organized in a circle to frame a centralized winter garden and common area. Each modular shipping container dorm houses 12 students, who have their own bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, but also have access to a 160-square-meter common green courtyard, kayak landing, bathing platform, barbecue area, and 65-square-meter communal roof terrace. Related: 7,500 affordable floating homes could help fight London’s crippling housing crisis To meet carbon neutral status, the floating dorms are powered by solar energy and a hydro-based heat-exchange system that draws on seawater as a natural source of heat. NASA-developed aerogel is used to insulate the interiors, while Grundfos energy-saving pumps are installed for wastewater, heating, circulation, and drinking water. Urban Rigger says the shipping containers, made entirely of Corten Steel, are upcycled to save on materials, energy, and cost . According to Fast Company , each energy-efficient shipping container dormitory is manufactured at a Polish shipyard for $700 to $800 per square foot. Urban Rigger has already begun plans to build their next 24-unit project in Sweden and is fielding requests from North America. But the success of the startup will depend on the willingness of cities to open up their waterfront properties to the affordable floating dwellings. Fortunately, the company and Ingels are optimistic. “We might be in a situation where the goodwill of addressing an issue that is important to the government means that we’d get some access to the key waterfront sites under their control,” Ingels told Fast Company . The architect also sees potential in the experimental model for future applications in refugee housing and his firm even has plans of building Urban Rigger housing for their interns. + Urban Rigger Via Fast Company Images via Urban Rigger and BIG

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Urban Rigger: affordable floating dorms made from shipping containers in Copenhagen

Earthquake-resistant kindergarten made using recycled marine shipping containers

September 10, 2016 by  
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When engineered discovered that the aging structure that housed the “OA Kindergarten” in Japan ’s Saitama Prefecture wasn’t likely to withstand a major earthquake, they decided to give it an eco-friendly update. The new, resilient structure can stand up to shaking and was made out of a collection of stacked shipping containers , along with parts of the original structure. Japan-based  Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro were tapped to create the safe, innovative new space.

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Earthquake-resistant kindergarten made using recycled marine shipping containers

Repurposed shipping containers inject funky and unexpected color to a historic home renovation

August 1, 2016 by  
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Artist Markus Linnenbrink and his wife, gallerist Cindy Rucker, commissioned LOT-EK to renovate the existing two-level carriage and to add a penthouse above. “We thought a lot about what we wanted from this house and how to make this our house,” they told New York Magazine . The single-family home, called the Irving Place Carriage House, eschews the typical house design with its cargotecture addition and with the rejection of bathroom tiles and marble counters for more unusual elements like the kitchen backsplash made from end-grain wood chips. Related: PHOTOS: Daring Shipping Container House Boasts a Dramatically Sliced Profile In contrast to the shipping container’s vibrant orange shade, the facade is painted in alternating diagonal bands of pale gray and black. “It echoes the same stripe design of the container ‘tower’ inside,” said LOT-EK principal Giuseppe Lignano. The tangerine ‘tower’ houses the kitchen, bathrooms, mechanical space, and the stairs and is framed by walls tinted orange, while the other walls of the home are painted white. The orange vertical volume extends from the ground to a roof that’s topped by a penthouse made from four repurposed shipping containers, also painted in an orange shade. + LOT-EK Via New York Magazine Images via LOT-EK

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Repurposed shipping containers inject funky and unexpected color to a historic home renovation

Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

May 2, 2016 by  
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Urban farming is a trend that appears to be here to stay, and is even catching on at airports, shipping containers and rooftops. I recently attended a lively session at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference in Lexington,…

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Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

You can order HonoMobo’s prefab shipping container homes online

April 1, 2016 by  
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