A magical field of solar-powered lights takes over a California landscape

June 10, 2019 by  
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Internationally acclaimed Britain-based artist Bruce Munro recently unveiled his largest site-specific project to date: Field of Light at Sensorio, a sprawling art installation that covers a hilly, countryside landscape with more than 58,800 stemmed fiber-optic lights powered by solar energy. Located in Paso Robles, California, the illuminated composition opened to the public May 19 to mark the launch of the first phase of Sensorio , a new destination for immersive art. Installed across a multi-acre landscape, Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio is a walk-through artwork that gently illuminates the landscape with “subtle blooms of morphing color.” Munro was inspired to create the installation after a 1992 camping tour of Australia’s red desert center, where he reflected on how different a desert looks after the rains trigger flower blooms. He sought to recreate that phenomenon with a field of lights that would only bloom after dark. His first iteration of Field of Light was created in 2004, in Wiltshire, U.K.; since then, he has been invited to temporarily recreate Field of Light around the world. Field of Light at Sensorio is Munro’s largest-ever exhibit and his first U.S. exhibit entirely powered by solar . “Munro’s oeuvre aims to transcend time and space by inspiring moments of awareness, inviting viewers to contemplate a world larger and more mysterious than their own existence,” a press release noted. Artworks by Munro have been exhibited in permanent collections of museums around the world. Related: Studio Roosegaarde’s laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky Munro’s Field of Light epitomizes the Sensorio concept, which was created as a thought-provoking destination that explores the intersection of art , technology and nature with “amusing, mystical and kinetic experiences.” Future phases of Sensorio will include exhibits and buildings to be put into place by 2021 as well as a future hotel and conference center. Field of Light at Sensorio will remain on display until January 5, 2020. + Bruce Munro Photography by Serena Munro

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A magical field of solar-powered lights takes over a California landscape

Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system

May 27, 2019 by  
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It’s always interesting to see the homes of architectural professionals, but one Texas home builder is blowing our minds with his custom-made design. When builder Jeff Derebery and his wife Janice Fischer were ready to build their own house just outside of Austin, they reached out to OM Studio Design and Lindal Cedar Homes to bring their dream to fruition. The result is a gorgeous prefab home  that features a substantial number of sustainable features such as solar power and LED lights, as well as whimsical touches that reflect the homeowners’ personalities such as a water catchment system concealed under the guise of pop art. The design for the 3,000-square-foot, single-story home is filled with features that show off the homeowner’s fun personality as well as building knowledge. Clad in an unusual blend of Shou Sugi Ban charred siding and cedar planks with an entryway made out of turquoise copper panels, the home boasts a unique charm. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island Stepping into the interior of the four bedroom and two-and-a-half bath home, an open layout that houses the living room, dining area and kitchen welcomes visitors. The space is incredibly bright and airy thanks to a series of clerestory windows and floor-to-ceiling glazed walls that both stream in natural light and provide unobstructed views of the river and rolling landscape. There is also a spacious 350-square-foot screened porch that is the perfect spot for dining with a view. But without a doubt, the heart of the home is an exterior open-air courtyard that separates the private spaces from the social areas. An idyllic space for reading in solitude or entertaining, the courtyard is decorated with furniture made out of recycled plastic . The beautiful design conceals a vast array of sustainable features. The roof of the structure is covered in commercial-grade foam panels in a solar-reflecting white that provides a tight thermal envelope for the home. Additionally, the house generates its own energy thanks to the rooftop solar array of 36 panels that was installed on the adjacent carport. According to the architects, the family has a negative electric bill in both winter and summer and are often able to sell energy back to the local grid. Texas builders have a lot of experience in dealing with the state’s drought issues, so Jeff and Janice were careful to integrate a water-conserving strategy into the home as well. An on-site well with a 2,500-gallon holding tank meets their personal water needs, and two additional tanks, one by the carport and another by the horse barn, collect and store rainwater that is used for various tasks such as taking care of the horses and dogs, cleaning and irrigating. Then, there is the fun artwork hidden throughout the home and the landscape. As lovers of art, Jeff and Janice wanted to incorporate a few unique but functional pieces on their property. First there is Cubie, a 12-foot storage cube made of polycarbonate panels that conceals a well holding tank as well as the water softener and a UV filtration system. There is a fun pop art propane tank shaped like a yellow submarine with the faces of the members of The Beatles painted in the windows. Finally, a pop art collection wouldn’t be complete without a little Andy Warhol, so a deer feeder tower was painted as an oversized can of Campbell’s soup. + OM Studio Design + Lindal Cedar Homes Images via Lindal Cedar Homes

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Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system

A chic, nature-filled office building in Tokyo boldly brings the outdoors in

May 27, 2019 by  
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In Tokyo, a new office tower stands out from the concrete jungle with its embrace of nature. Designed by prolific Japanese design studio nendo in the centrally located Kojimachi neighborhood, the Kojimachi Terrace is an 11-story high-rise wrapped in a grid-like, timber-faced facade that’s complemented with a bright interior dressed in a warm palette of wood, raw stone and bronze-colored stainless steel. A “Sky Forest” — a three-story, open-air garden — punctuates the building’s top floors and provides employees with a “nature-like hideaway” in the heart of Tokyo . Sheathed in a glass skin, the Kojimachi Terrace still manages to achieve a human scale thanks to its second covering, a grid of timber-clad elements that continues from the exterior to the interior. The grid’s seemingly sporadic pattern helps hide the safety rails and pillars that are required to support window construction and are disguised with wooden finishes to blend in with the grid. Further softening the building’s appearance are the plant-filled balconies placed on six out of the building’s 11 floors. These outdoor terraces can also be turned into private meeting spaces, while the three-story “Sky Forest” at the top of the building offers a more immersive nature escape open to the sky. “Typical office buildings are usually built as closed-off blocks with artificial climate control that do not share any real physical connection with their exterior environments. Therefore, in the ‘Kojimachi Terrace’ design, the external elements were taken into account to allow for a more physical experience of the outdoors, like witnessing the changing weather and yearly seasons,” explained the architects, adding that some of the glass panels that clad the facade are operable to allow for natural ventilation . Related: Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie The interior design also references the natural landscape. In addition to the inclusion of raw stone and bronze-colored stainless steel materials, the interiors feature a hand-applied plaster finish on the floors and walls that create a textured and uneven appearance. The woven grid elements from the exterior are also continued into the interior, where they are transformed into lighting fixtures and echoed in the design of the furnishings and carpet patterns. + nendo Photography by Takumi Ota via nendo

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A chic, nature-filled office building in Tokyo boldly brings the outdoors in

Meet Solar Cat, a cute and creative take on renewable energy

May 24, 2019 by  
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Solar power just got an adorable new makeover. New York-based technology company Grouphug opened Solar Cat at the New York Hall of Science on Earth Day 2019 as an exhibit to demonstrate the fun and creative side of renewable energy. While conducting preliminary research for the project, Grouphug founder Krystal Persaud interviewed 100 New Yorkers and found that many of them had misconceptions about solar power. Wanting to erase the stigmas about solar panels being an eyesore and only available to people with a certain type of home, Persaud set out to integrate more industrial design into solar technology. Related: Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen “At Grouphug, our mission is to change the perception that renewable energy is a boring utility purchased by the most privileged,” Persaud explained on the company blog . “The technology itself can be designed to be more relatable, have a personality and be fun.” With a team of NYSCI “Explainers,” students and an electrical engineer, the Solar Cat project was brought to life. The 140-watt cat-shaped solar panel is mounted to the window at the New York Hall of Science, harnessing the sun’s rays to power an adjacent interactive pedestal with educational facts about sustainable power . Flipping a switch on the solar panel can send real energy into a model home, and a pair of USB ports can be used to charge a visitor’s phone, all using the power harnessed by Solar Cat. Adding an extra educational aspect, the cells that make up the cat are made of transparent plastic, meaning that visitors can see the different components inside unobstructed. Grouphug isn’t stopping with Solar Cat. The company has even more plans for projects focused on sustainable design . Combining solar panels with a consumer’s personal interests (such as cats) will hopefully inspire more citizens, in New York and otherwise, that renewable energy isn’t just for the affluent or tech-savvy. The company also hopes to show that solar technology doesn’t just have the power to harvest the sun’s energy but also the power to make people smile. + Grouphug Images via Grouphug

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Meet Solar Cat, a cute and creative take on renewable energy

An apartment complex in Amsterdam follows biophilic design principals

May 24, 2019 by  
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Dutch architecture firm  GG Loop has wrapped an apartment building in Amsterdam with a beautiful facade of timber slats. According to the architects, the design for the Freebooter Apartments incorporates a number of biophilic design principals in an attempt to connect the building’s residents with nature. In addition to its light-filtering timber screen, the building also includes a number of materials that pay homage to the city’s maritime traditions. The four-story apartment block is a prefabricated structure that was manufactured offsite using steel and cross-laminated timber. The prefabrication process not only reduced the cost and environmental footprint of the project but the construction time as well. In fact, the entire construction process only took six months from start to finish. Related: Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume According to architect and founder of GG Loop Giacomo Garziano, the design for the Freebooter Apartments was inspired by the principles of biophilic design, which aims to connect architecture with natural elements. “We are part of nature in a deep and fundamental way, but in our modern lives, we’ve lost that connection,” Garziano said. “Freebooter is a response to that; as I see biophilic design as the key to truly innovative design, balancing the technical aspects of environmentally conscious construction with the qualitative, lived-in experience of an organic and natural space.” The sustainable design was focused primarily on natural materials and natural light. Before the project broke ground, the architects conducted a study of the sun’s movement over the course of the year. This analysis was instrumental in the positioning the building and placing the timber louvers at certain angles so that the interior spaces were properly lit by diffused natural light. The long vertical planks of timber cover the entire building, including the terraces. Cutouts in the timber screen allow more light to stream into certain spots of the complex. As a nod to the city’s long history of shipbuilding, the design also features various elements of marine architecture, such as the red cedar planks, pine wood, steel and glass. These aspects are found throughout the interior, where natural light , pine-clad walls and curved stairways and corridors create an atmosphere of being in a ship’s cabin. The two-story units all feature open-plan living spaces on the ground floor with the bedrooms on the second floor. Throughout the space, minimalist design features and large glass facades that open up to spacious terraces shaded by the tops of the louvers enhance the feeling of being close to nature. + GG Loop Via Wallpaper Photography by Francisco Nogueira

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An Australian dairy farm is updated with solar-powered grass-to-gate facilities

May 22, 2019 by  
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People around the world have been demanding ethical treatment of dairy cows for years, and one brilliant Australian firm, Bosske Architecture , has listened and delivered. The Bosske team has designed a new solar-powered dairy farm facility with a robotic creamery in Northcliffe, Western Australia. The only dairy production facility of its kind in the world, Bannister Downs Dairy is a massive operation that is powered by a 100 KW array of roof-mounted solar panels that generate enough power for the entire ‘grass-to-gate’ facility. The gorgeous exterior of the dairy manages to pay homage to the long history of the farming sector, while at the same time provides an ethical and sustainable milk production system that revolves around the health of the herd. The entire complex is clad in red anodized panels that catch the sun’s reflection throughout the day, changing from deep rust-hued red to purple to a shimmery gold. Related: New floating dairy farms could produce 260 gallons of milk each day The dairy is split into two areas: the public area for visitors and events like conferences and workshops, and the working end, which houses the milking production. The entrance is through a typical barn, inspired by the traditional Australian sheds found on local farms. An elongated gabled barn then stretches toward the milking end, which has an internal viewing gallery of the entire production. At the end of the building there is a cafe that overlooks the expansive farmland. The gorgeous exterior of the dairy farm conceals a very modern interior with state-of-the-art robotic milking and other large-scale dairy processing equipment. The innovative design allows milking, processing, bottling and packaging to take place in one location. The milking process is developed around a voluntary milking system for the cows that operates 24 hours a day. The herd, which grazes out in the field surrounding the creamery, is milked by rotary robotic milking machines that can also analyze and help maintain the health of the cows. To keep the creamery as sustainable as possible, the entire process runs on a massive 100 KW array of solar panels . Additionally, water conservation is integrated into the building with water collection and reuse systems throughout. + Bannister Downs Dairy + Bosske Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Silvertone Photography and Peter Bennetts via Bosske Architecture>/em>

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Solar-powered Ring House heals a scarred hilltop landscape in Greece

May 20, 2019 by  
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On the southern coast of Crete, Greek architectural firm decaARCHITECTURE has turned a commission for a modern residence into an opportunity for land preservation. Named the Ring House for its rounded shape, the house was created to follow the existing topography and looks like an extension of its hilltop location. The site had been scarred by environmentally insensitive infrastructural development but has now recovered its original morphology and has been replanted with native flora . Located in the seaside village of Agia Galini, the Ring House is surrounded with beautiful sea views, yet suffers hot summers. To create a cooling microclimate , the architects built part of the structure into the earth and added several protected shaded areas, as well as an inner garden planted with a variety of citrus trees and edible plants. The resulting effect is one that the architects liken to an “oasis within an intensely beautiful but physically demanding environment.” “At a broader scale, the house is a landscape preservation effort,” explain the architects. “In the past, the topography had been severely scarred by the random and informal carving of roads. The excavation material extracted during the house’s construction, was used to recover the original morphology of the land. Furthermore, a thorough survey of the native flora was done in order to understand the predominant biotopes in the different slopes in the plot. During the spring, prior to construction, seeds were collected on site and cultivated in a green house to grow more seeds. These were then sowed over the road scars for the regeneration of the flora.” Related: Concrete home perched on Greek island cliffside designed with large cut outs to frame the amazing sea views Concrete beams that follow the existing topography of the hill and frame the inner garden define the Ring House. The entrance sequence begins from the parking pad to a long, curved walkway that wraps around the inner garden and provides access to the bedrooms on one side of the home and the open-plan living areas on the other side. The house is powered with rooftop solar panels. + decaARCHITECTURE Images by decaARCHITECTURE and George Messaritakis

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Solar-powered Ring House heals a scarred hilltop landscape in Greece

India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

May 20, 2019 by  
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The Indian government has embarked on many large scale renewable energy projects that are predicted to enable the world’s second most populous country to surpass its commitment to cut carbon emissions. According to a recently released report from Moody’s, 45 percent of all energy produced in India will be from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022. This is impressive, considering India only committed to 40 percent non-fossil fuel sources under the international Paris Agreement in 2015. Although coal remains the largest energy source, the aggressive additions of renewable sources will decrease coal’s overall contribution. Moody’s report, “Power Asia – Climate goals, declining costs of renewables signal decreasing reliance on coal power,” focuses on the role of investors in the energy industry as well as predictions for investments. Related: India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022 “There is a realization that renewables are quicker, cleaner, cheaper and also strategically in India’s interest because of energy security; it just makes financial sense to invest in renewables,” Sameer Kwatra, from the Natural Resources Defense Council,  said . The Indian government has invested in large scale wind, power and solar projects, including tripling its solar power capacity in three years. Much of the increase in renewable energy has been due to decreased prices in renewable technology and interest from private investors. If battery production and storage capacity also increase, the report expects that renewable energy sector growth could spike. Similarly, banks and private investors are under increased pressure to withdraw investments in fossil fuel companies and pipeline projects. Despite the fact that investments in renewable energy have been higher than fossil fuel investments for three years in a row, the coal industry is still growing steadily alongside the renewable industry, with Indian populations using more electricity annually. India’s success is a considerable achievement for the entire world. After the U.S. and China, India is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases . Via CleanTechnica Image via DoshiJi

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India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

Ultra-rugged, off-grid motorhome is built to go just about anywhere

May 10, 2019 by  
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The bulky BUMO RV might not be the sleekest ride on the market, but its robust design is built to be one of the toughest. Built by a family-owned German company, the all-terrain tiny home is made out of natural materials and can go completely off the grid, allowing those who want to explore the world to do so sustainably. Clad in a warm larch wood facade, the RV is equipped with solar power and a composting toilet, and it can be customized to include a rainwater treatment system and a wood-burning stove. Part tiny home , part cabin, the BUMO’s rugged exterior makes it easy to imagine exploring off the beaten path through deep forests and past soaring mountains. Built with a full aluminum frame, the RV features larch wood cladding that offers strong protection from the elements. Its robust aesthetic conceals a stealthy, self-sustaining system built into its body. Related: Tiny home clad in burnt wood packs a ton of luxury into just 240 square feet Built to be a durable, off-grid expedition vehicle, the BUMO runs on solar power and has plenty of sustainable features that make it 100 percent self-sufficient. In addition to its natural materials, the RV can be custom-equipped with a composting toilet, rainwater treatment systems and a wood-burning stove. Designed to be a comfortable home while on the road, the RV’s floor and roof are sustainably insulated with sheep’s wool, while wood wool made from wood shavings was used in the walls. The living space is clad in stone pine, giving off a cabin-like aesthetic. According to the company, pine was chosen for its claimed abilities to reduce heart rates , eliminate bacteria and promote a general sense of well being. The interior living space of the tiny home on wheels is compact but sufficiently furnished with all of the basics. The living room features a custom, L-shaped sofa that wraps around a dining or working table. There is a spacious kitchen with all of  the typical appliances. A sleeping area and the bathroom are also a tight squeeze, but they get the job done. Oak furniture was used throughout, once again forging a strong connection to the outdoors. + BUMO Via New Atlas Images via BUMO  

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Ultra-rugged, off-grid motorhome is built to go just about anywhere

Jendretzki Design envisions an eco retreat for NYC’s Rat Island

May 7, 2019 by  
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New York-based Jendretzki Design has proposed building an off-grid eco resort on NYC’s remote Rat Island. The design firm’s renderings show a series of prefab gabled cabins with ultra-large glass facades built on the island’s edge to provide stunning views of the ocean. According to the plans, the cabins and all buildings on site would be zero-energy, running on solar and wind power with rainwater collection systems. Rat Island (originally named “Rattle Island” for the locals that stood on the small island with rattles to warn passing ships about the dangerous rocks) is a privately-owned, 2.5-acre island that is just off of City Island Harbor and the greater Long Island Sound . Mostly made up of Manhattan schist bedrock, the island was once used as a quarantine hospital during the typhoid fever scares of the 1800s, but it is now vacant of any buildings due to the fact that the rocky outpost becomes submerged during high tide. Related: Go glamping with views of the Statue of Liberty on NYC’s Governors Island Despite its rocky terrain and low-lying stature, Pablo Jendretzki believes that the remote island would make the perfect spot for a serene eco retreat . “There is a small canal penetrating through the island that was carved out of the rocks about 100 years ago that we incorporated into the design so that canoes and small boats can arrive directly under the main building on high tide,” the studio said. According to the conceptual plans, the challenging terrain would require all structures to be built on concrete braces and piers bolted into the rocky landscape. The boutique retreat would be comprised of prefab wooden cabins with pitched roofs, all with living areas, bedrooms, a kitchenette and bathroom. Glazed facades would provide unobstructed views of the sea. The resort’s buildings would run on renewable energy, namely solar and wind power. The carbon-neutral structures would also have rainwater collection systems for potable and service waters. Additionally, the island’s waste would be directed to a compost treatment system. According to Jendretzki, the building plans are merely conceptual at the moment, but the firm is currently conducting zoning analysis to determine the feasibility of the project. + Jendretzki Design Via Dezeen Images via Jendretzki Design

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