Stunning, sustainable lodge blends into beautiful landscape

January 16, 2020 by  
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Romanian architecture firm BLIPSZ has created a near-autonomous holiday home that combines the charms of rural Transylvanian architecture with a sustainable and contemporary design aesthetic. Surrounded by gently rolling hills and valley views, the Lodge in a Glade comprises two barn-inspired structures with green-roofed surfaces that appear to emerge from the earth. South-facing solar panels generate about 90% of the building’s energy needs, which are kept to a minimum thanks to its passive solar design and underfloor heating powered by a geothermal heat pump. Located in a Transylvanian mountain village, Lodge in a Glade is a luxurious retreat that seeks to embrace its surroundings while minimizing its visual impact on the landscape. To that end, the architects used mostly natural building materials, including locally molded clay bricks and mineral gabion wall cladding, as well as gabled roof profiles that recall the region’s rural vernacular. The expansive size of the four-bedroom home is partly hidden by its horizontal massing and the local grasses that cover the non-pitched roof sections.  The green roofs provide insulating benefits that are reinforced by cellulose, wood fiber, and compacted straw bale insulation. Triple-glazed windows frame views of the outdoors while locking in heat. The thermal mass of the timber house also benefits from the clay brick wall fillings and thick polished concrete floors throughout. Thirty-three solar panels generate the majority of the home’s energy needs and are complemented by a safety back-up electrical grid connection for very cold and cloudy days. Rainwater is collected and reused for automated irrigation.  Related: Solar-powered Dutch home produces all of its own energy with surplus to spare “The challenge of the project was experimenting with a multitude of alternative techniques and materials to seamlessly integrate traditional and high-tech elements demanded by the clients along with the sustainable , green solutions,” the architects said in a statement. “The required interior area is quite impressive, especially compared to the modest, traditional local households nearby. Shapes and materials were chosen to blend the expansive building in the special scenery.” + BLIPSZ Via ArchDaily Images by Makkai Bence

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Stunning, sustainable lodge blends into beautiful landscape

Children hurt after Delta jet dumps fuel on schools

January 16, 2020 by  
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On January 14, a Delta jet malfunctioned and dumped jet fuel over Los Angeles-area schools. The incident injured more than 50 people, including students from Park Avenue Elementary, San Gabriel Elementary, Graham Elementary, Tweedy Elementary, 93rd Street Elementary and Jordan High School. Currently, injuries such as skin and eye irritation and breathing problems have been reported. As the Los Angeles Unified School District said, “Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes.” Several people affected by the fuel were treated on-site. A “reverse 911” text message was sent out to locals, informing them of the event, noting affected areas and advising residents on how to proceed. The L.A. County Fire Department also updated its Twitter with the number of patients affected at each school site. As of Tuesday evening, the patient count included 31 patients from Park Avenue Elementary, six patients from Tweedy Elementary, one patient from Graham Elementary and six patients from San Gabriel Elementary. The Delta flight in question was Flight 89 to Shanghai , which apparently experienced an engine malfunction after takeoff. According to Delta, safe landing procedures following such a malfunction required fuel release — though the Federal Aviation Administration commented that fuel-dumping procedures “call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground.” This event isn’t the first environmental issue Park Avenue Elementary has faced, either. For an eight-month period between 1989 and 1990, the school was closed due to a mysterious ooze appearing. Investigation then discovered that the school was formerly the site of a city dump . As Elizabeth Alcantar, recently appointed mayor of Cudahy, said, “The very same playground experienced another environmental injustice. For our residents, they’re rightfully upset, and there is concern over when this will truly be over.” Via L.A. Times and CNN Image via Pixabay

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Children hurt after Delta jet dumps fuel on schools

The low-impact Bridge House hovers over a stream in Los Angeles

January 15, 2020 by  
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Architecture is often heavily influenced by the existing landscape surrounding a structure, but architect Dan Brunn didn’t let the weaving waterways on his Los Angeles property limit the options for his home. Dubbed the Bridge House, this 4,500-square-foot home straddles 65 feet of natural stream without harming the landscape. The long, narrow home nestles into the forested background with limited street exposure. The focus on nature is evident with natural light streaming in from expansive windows throughout, a living wall in the living room and an outdoor terrace. In fact, the 210-foot-long home provides a wide expanse of northern exposure for more natural light and less energy consumption. Related: The Garden House features greenery and bee-friendly landscapes While the overall theme is sleek and minimalist, the pool area — complete with a full pool house, an outdoor shower, space for grilling and a Yamaha music room — aims to create an oasis for entertaining. But don’t let the luxuries and size fool you. In addition to the layout and physical situation of the home, each space was designed with low impact in mind. Starting with the foundation, the bridge design suspends a large portion of the structure, minimizing the impact on the landscape. For the structure itself, a BONE steel modular system was incorporated to ease on-site construction with sustainable materials. Plus, the system’s precision leaves little to no cutoff waste, and the steel itself comes from up to 89% recycled material . Although there was waste from the removal of the previous home, all usable parts were donated to the local Habitat for Humanity for reuse. The air quality inside the home is enhanced by the living wall of plants and superior insulation. A water filtration system eliminates the desire for bottled water, and solar power provides for much of the home’s energy needs. + Dan Brunn Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Brandon Shigeta via Dann Brunn Architecture

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The low-impact Bridge House hovers over a stream in Los Angeles

This minimalist, solar-powered home stands strong against earthquakes

January 14, 2020 by  
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Located in the Swiss municipality of Grimisuat in the district of Sion, House ROFR was created with the future in mind. The modern, solar-powered home is situated on a hilly slope with the help of a protective and stabilizing wall along a surrounding orchard. In addition to its impressive green design features, the house also frames breathtaking views of its mountainous setting. The area here in the canton of Valais is known for its seismic activity. The Swiss Seismological Service has recorded about 270 earthquakes per year over the past 10 years, making it the most quake-prone region in the country. This, of course, has influenced the design decisions made by architects completing projects in the potentially hazardous part of Switzerland — and House ROFR is no exception. The entire structure of the building is made of strong concrete. Related: Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva Per the client’s request, the 200-square-meter flat roof was equipped with as many solar modules as possible. Excess energy from the solar panels is stored in batteries, supplying both the house and electric cars with electricity. The home also uses geothermal heating to keep the interiors warm when the temperatures drop. The design provides for plenty of functional spaces with luxurious additions, such as a wine cave and cheese cellar on the ground floor along with a laundry room, changing room and bathroom. There are two areas making up the property — a larger, 220-square-meter house with the entire living space distributed on the upper floor as well as a smaller, two-level flat. The upper floor holds a patio terrace, the kitchen, a large fireplace and a concrete corridor connecting the different rooms. Occupants must go through the open garage to enter the house, though it is separated from the landscaped garden by larch wooden slats for added aesthetics. Rather than building a traditional garage, the designer wanted to give the owner the opportunity to turn the garage into an additional living area in the future. + Ralph Germann Architectes Photography by Lionel Henriod via Ralph Germann Architectes

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This minimalist, solar-powered home stands strong against earthquakes

Wearable garden vest is nourished by wearer’s own urine

January 14, 2020 by  
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Are you looking to spruce up your wardrobe this spring? Well, we’ve got the season’s eco-fashion garment for you — a wearable garden vest that thrives on your urine. Created by designer Aroussiak Gabrielian , the lush “garden cloak” concept was inspired as a potential solution to crop scarcity around the globe. With the potential to grow up to 40 crops, the green vest is irrigated by urine filtered through reverse osmosis. According to Gabrielian, the living garments are supposed to reconnect the food producer and consumer in order to foster a more self-reliant and resilient food production system .”The habitats are essentially cloaks of plant life that are intended to provide sustenance to the wearer, as well as flourish as expanding ecosystems that attract and integrate other animal and insect life,” Gabrielian said. Related: New biofabricated clothing made from algae goes through photosynthesis just like plants Recently unveiled at the Rome Sustainable Food Project, each cloak is an individual microhabitat made up of several layers. The multi-layered system is made up of moisture-retention felt and a drip and capillary irrigation layer, followed by the sprouting plant system . The living ecosystem layer is made up of plants, including herbs, greens, fruits, vegetables, legumes and fungi, that require sun and water as inputs. Another layer is made up of pollinators , which are essential to creating a fully sustainable crop output. The garden vests are outfitted with an integral system that recycles human waste, primarily urine. Collected via a built-in catheter, urine is stored, filtered and used to irrigate the plants. An innovative osmosis system, originally developed by NASA, converts urine into water by draining it through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out salt and ammonia. Working with a team made up of microgreens researcher Grant Calderwood, fashion designer Irene Tortora, Chris Behr from the Rome Sustainable Food Project and collaborator Alison Hirsh, Gabrielian’s  innovative project was made possible thanks to funding from the American Academy in Rome. Additionally, the grow lights were donated by PHILIPS. + Aroussiak Gabrielian Images via Aroussiak Gabrielian

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Wearable garden vest is nourished by wearer’s own urine

3D-printed concrete forest pavilion proposed for Dubais Expo 2020

December 31, 2019 by  
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United Arab Emirates-based design practice MEAN* (Middle East Architecture Network) has proposed a sculptural 3D-printed pavilion for a prominent traffic roundabout to welcome visitors to the upcoming 2020 Expo in Dubai. Designed as a “spatial forest,” the interactive installation comprises a series of palm tree-like concrete elements and branching LEDs. The “Expo 2020 Landmark” proposal is also powered with solar energy and can be programmed to light up at night with a variety of lighting modes.  Towering at a height of over 26 feet, the domed Expo 2020 Landmark was inspired by the Expo 2020 logo and UAE’s iconic palm trees. As a symbol for innovative construction, the installation would be built from 3D-printed shell components that can be cast on-site with Ultra High Performance Concrete, a material selected for its durability and resilience to Dubai’s harsh desert climate. Related: Energy-producing pavilion proposal for Expo 2020 mimics Brazil’s biomes “Robotically 3D-printed concrete construction has been lauded for saving on material waste by reducing the amount of formwork involved in the process of casting, as well as providing a cleaner construction site, all while allowing for a higher degree of complexity in design,” the architects said in a project statement. “We believe that Expo 2020 would be a fantastic platform to showcase the possibilities of this emerging construction technology to the world.” The Expo 2020 Landmark can be enjoyed by motorists traveling in the roundabout as well as pedestrians, who would be invited to enter the pavilion and explore the spaces between the 3D-printed , palm tree-inspired elements. Solar panels installed on the structure would be strategically tilted for maximum solar exposure and to deter sand buildup. + MEAN* Images via MEAN*

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3D-printed concrete forest pavilion proposed for Dubais Expo 2020

The best eco tourism spots in Montreal

December 31, 2019 by  
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Montreal is a lively city where there’s always something going on. Perhaps you’ll arrive in the middle of an enormous Pride celebration, with pink balloon-festooned streets blocked off for a huge party. Or maybe you’ll play on 21 Balancoires, a set of musical swings — notes play as people swing — that appears downtown every springtime. Montreal has long been a major port city. It’s located at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which stretches from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of two million, Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city. It’s a bilingual city with a European feel. While more than half of Montreal’s residents are bilingual in French and English, quite a few only speak one language or the other, depending on their family’s native tongue and their education. Americans, especially those from the west coast, may love being in a place with Euro-style buildings dating back as far as the 1600s. It’s the mix of picturesque old and totally modern that makes Montreal so beautiful and fun. Outdoors Montreal For a more urban outdoors experience, check out one of Montreal’s many street fairs. May through June are the top months for closing off streets to traffic and turning them into party zones. Unless you’re extremely hardy, summer is the best time to partake in Montreal’s outdoors activities. Winter is long and cold here. You’ll need serious gear to have a good time outside. Mount Royal is a small mountain that overlooks the city and serves as a 692-acre city park that has it all. You can hike , rent a paddleboat, get your cardio workout by climbing the 550-step staircase on the south side, picnic or participate in a drum circle. During winter, people tube, toboggan, ski, snowshoe, or skate on a manmade lake. The Mount Royal Chalet rents winter equipment. Whatever you’re doing on Mount Royal, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the city. The Montreal Botanical Garden is lovely in every season. Check out cultural gardens within the larger garden — Chinese, Japanese and First Nations are all represented here. In autumn you can stroll beneath golden leaves, and in winter you can cross country ski inside the garden . Don’t miss the Insectarium to get a close-up look at bug life. Did you know that 91% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec? If you visit Montreal between late February and late April, get out to the countryside to experience a sugar shack. Many offer games, tastings and maple-themed meals as part of the fun. At La Cabane À Tuque , maple producers harvest maple sap the old-fashioned way, with buckets. Visitors can join in. They run an eco operation with a hempcrete -insulated house, a wall made with recycled bottles, and they even serve vegan meals. Montreal wellness scene Montreal is a secular city, but you’ll quickly notice the gorgeous churches and French Catholic influence. Nuns opened and ran the first hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, in 1645. For a historical look at the local wellness scene, at least from a European perspective, the Musee de Hospitallers chronicles Montreal’s early medical efforts. For one of the best modern spa experiences anywhere, pack your swimsuit and flip flops and head for Bota Bota , an old river ferry turned floating spa. It’s docked in the old port on Saint Lawrence River, where you can soak in a water circuit, fill your lungs with clouds of eucalyptus in the steam room, eat spa cuisine and relax in hanging chairs, all while gazing at river traffic. Bota Bota lets you choose between a quiet zone and a large area where you can visit with friends. Wanderlust Montreal , known for its Wanderlust Festival, is based in Montreal. Check out their website for current studio classes, concerts and yoga events. Eating out in Montreal When I asked local vegan activist Élise Desaulniers why Montreal has so many vegan restaurants, she said, “We hate debates in Canada . We like to find the middle ground. So, the conclusion is you should eat less meat. But being vegan 100% of the time is considered too extreme.” So that means Montreal’s omnivores support the vegan restaurants, making the city full of choices for veg visitors. Montreal has a vegan festival every fall, which Desaulniers co-founded. For some of the most interesting vegan sushi anywhere, Sushi Momo’s creations range from simple eggplant and avocado rolls to complicated concoctions full of exotic ingredients beyond my comprehension in French or English. I let the server choose for me. If you’re with a group, order the 2-foot-long wooden boat filled with assorted sushi. Lola Rosa draws people from all walks of life to its four locations for hemp burgers and international-inspired comfort food. Panthere Verte stays open late and is known for its falafel and organic vegan cocktails. Café Chat L’Heureux features a vegetarian menu of soups, sandwiches and salads, plus eight friendly kitty hosts. This is the place to get your feline fix when traveling through Montreal. Public transit Montreal’s subway system is relatively easy to figure out. Best of all, trains run every eight minutes on average, and every three minutes during rush hour. A robust bus system rounds out the public transportation network and will get you to all major landmarks. An express bus called the 747 Shuttle runs 24 hours a day between the airport and downtown, and only costs ten dollars. Ride-share services also operate in Montreal. The BIXI bike share system runs during fairer weather months, from April 15 through November 15. Since bike shares are aimed at shorter rides, consider renting a bike from Montreal on Wheels if you want one for a whole day or the duration of your stay. The bike rental shop also offers guided group bike tours. Eco-hotels For an upscale eco-hotel, stay at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth . Its impressively long list of sustainability initiatives includes employing three beekeepers , no using palm oil in its menus and turning old sheets and curtains into cleaning rags. On the more affordable, communal end of the spectrum, the Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal offers dorm or private rooms with shared bathrooms and an airy, plant-filled space with a full kitchen. The Hôtel de l’ITHQ , run by the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, is a clean, modern hotel run largely by tourism students. As a member of Canada’s Green Key eco-hotel program, it also follows many sustainability practices. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Bota Bota

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The best eco tourism spots in Montreal

Matthew McConaughey unveils tiny eco-retreat in Australia

December 23, 2019 by  
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Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is jumping on the tiny cabin movement , and it’s “alright, alright, alright” with us. The famous actor has teamed up with Australian travel company Unyoked and Wild Turkey to build The Reserve — a tiny, off-grid cabin that operates on solar power. We already know that McConaughey is a huge fan of the outdoors, and regularly disconnects from the hustle and bustle in places like his beloved, restored Airstream . His latest tiny cabin venture follows his passion for both simple living and eco-friendly design. Located on the Central Coast of New South Wales, The Reserve is a tiny home that was built entirely with sustainable materials. The off-grid cabin, which runs on solar power , was designed to offer guests a serene retreat to rejuvenate in Australia’s incredible landscape. Related: This off-grid tiny cabin in the Australian wilderness is just what you need for a late summer getaway The dark wood-paneled cabin is a rustic, yet sophisticated retreat that offers an off-grid experience without sacrificing comfort. Here, the typical modern amenities of Wi-Fi and flat-screen televisions are replaced by large windows and a firepit. The cabin still includes the basics, such as a queen-sized bed, a gas stove, plates, linens and even a concealed bourbon bar. Working with the team from Unyoked, McConaughey added several personal touches to the tiny cabin . For those struggling to leave their smartphones behind for entertainment, guests can read some of McConaughey’s favorite authors, such as a collection of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson and works by Og Mandino. For music-lovers, there are cassette tapes of Bob Dylan albums that can be listened to on a vintage stereo. As the sun sets, guests can warm up with a nice, toasty glass of Wild Turkey at the bourbon bar. Built as a part of Wild Turkey’s Thanks initiative, the proceeds from cabin bookings and $1 from every bottle of Longbranch sold in November and December will go to the initiative’s charity partner, the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. “I’ve always been in awe of Australia’s natural beauty,” McConaughey said in a statement. “My hope now is that The Reserve by Wild Turkey x Unyoked cabin will inspire Australians to reconnect with nature as an antidote to the frenetic pace of life.” + Unyoked Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Getty Images via Unyoked

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Matthew McConaughey unveils tiny eco-retreat in Australia

Ark tiny home blends off-grid capability with elevated design

December 13, 2019 by  
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These days, designing an off-grid tiny home doesn’t have to mean forgoing attractive design. Built by Willowbee Tiny Homes , the Ark was designed to go completely off the grid thanks to a full solar package, a fresh water holding tank, a gray water holding tank and a composting toilet. Furthermore, all of these incredible sustainable design elements are wrapped up in a breathtakingly gorgeous living space. Built on a 26-foot-long wheeled trailer, the Ark is ready to move into virtually any landscape. Constructed with durable materials, the tiny home is capable of withstanding nearly any type of climate. The cedar-clad home has a tight envelope comprised of high-quality insulation that keeps the interior warm and cozy, even in cold weather. Related: This tiny farmhouse features a quaint reading nook The Ark was also designed to be a powerhouse of off-grid living . The pitched roof is equipped with a solar array on each side, which allows the tiny home to generate all of the clean energy it needs to operate. Additionally, the house is installed with both a fresh water holding tank and a gray water holding tank to reduce water waste. Besides its impressive green design elements, the Ark is one of the most attractive tiny homes that we’ve ever seen. With bright white walls and even brighter blue accents, the interior space is unique and contemporary. There’s also no shortage of natural light streaming in from a bounty of windows and skylights. The off-grid tiny home features a roomy living area with storage built into the L-shaped couch, which can be folded out into various configurations . Just steps away, home cooks can whip up impressive meals in the kitchen that includes full-size appliances and electric-blue cabinetry. There are two sleeping lofts on either side of the small building. The master bedroom is accessible via a floating staircase, while the second loft is reachable by a ladder. Downstairs, the bathroom features an enviable, full-size bathtub, a washer and dryer combo and a composting toilet to round out the list of sustainable amenities. + Willowbee Tiny Homes Images via Willowbee Tiny Homes

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Ark tiny home blends off-grid capability with elevated design

These solar-powered, mobile chicken coops help farmers prepare for harvest

December 11, 2019 by  
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Created specifically for the farmers working at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, this automated, solar-powered chicken coop , by Designers on Holiday , combines two important agricultural tasks: giving a chicken brood access to fresh grass and letting the animals fertilize new crops. The Chicken Caravan is a lightweight structure with wheels so that it can easily be transported by hand or tractor. Clad in a shimmering aluminum to reflect heat, the modern chicken coop was built with two large “wings” on either side to shade the interior, protect the hens from direct sunlight and provide natural air circulation. Related: The Moop — a modern, modular, prefab coop for design-savvy chickens The Chicken Caravan is also automated. Solar sensors on the doors automatically trigger the doors to open at the first light day and close after sunset. A singular solar panel keeps the batteries charged for easy maintenance of the system. The interior of the tiny structure is designed to keep the chickens as comfortable as possible. It can also be outfitted with various nest boxes and perches. A narrow ramp folds out for the chickens to come in or out, and there is also a portable fence to keep the hens inside and predators at bay. While some people might not see the need for such an innovative take on a basic, functional design, the Chicken Caravan’s mobility is a true game-changer for farmers . The mobile structure enables them to easily move their chickens to different areas so they can graze evenly over the pastures while preventing overgrazing. As the chickens harvest one section, they can also be used to fertilize other areas during the planting season. + Designers on Holiday Images via Designers on Holiday

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These solar-powered, mobile chicken coops help farmers prepare for harvest

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