Monumental inverted pyramid home in Spain will blow your mind

September 4, 2017 by  
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Just when you thought you’ve seen it all when it comes to home architecture, along comes one of the most imaginative homes yet. This inverted pyramid cutting into a hill in rural Spain is a mind-bending villa that offers epic views of the surrounding forest and the swimming pool below, in a shape that you wouldn’t expect.  The residence was designed as a thought-provoking way to reinvent how homes interact with their environment. Tokyo-based Makoto Takei + Chie Nabeshima /TNA designed the home to contrast the landscape, and to surprise and delight. Part of the Solo Houses project, which included design proposals from twelve architects, the pyramid volume houses a variety of spaces defined by several mezzanines and platforms that provide visual connections throughout the interior. A stairway leads to an outdoor swimming pool that was conceived as a huge volume embedded into the terrain. Related: Juan Carlos Ramos Unveils Amazing Pyramid House Worthy of a Pharaoh Large windows draw natural light into the interior and provide views of the forest. Three bedrooms occupy the top floor. These private quarters are connected to the main living areas via a lounge. Different heights and sloping exterior walls make the space feel more spacious and airy. This layout also allows the light from the windows to reach the furthers corners of the interior. + Makoto Takei + Chie Nabeshima TNA Via Fubiz

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Evovelo unveils cute little solar car you can pedal like a bicycle

July 28, 2017 by  
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Today Evovelo unveiled a tiny solar-powered vehicle that combines the advantages of a car — such as safety, weather protection and stability — with the ease of a bicycle and the low energy consumption and space utilization of a light electric vehicle. The cute little trike is called Mö, and its practicality, customization, and sustainability make it a great fit for commuters looking to lower their environmental impact. Mö is perfect for short commutes, as it is made from sustainable materials and it has an all-electric range of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles). The vehicle has a top speed of 45 Km/h (about 30 mph), and a set of roof-mounted solar panels rapidly recharge the vehicle’s 1000Wh battery. A single hour in the sun will yield 5-10 kilometers of range, and the vehicle will fully recharge in 3-4 hours. The tricycle can also be propelled by pedal power to further extend its range, and a regenerative braking system stores energy as the vehicle slows down. Its dimensions of 140 cm wide, 200 cm long and 130 cm high means Mö doesn’t take up much space; however, it is large enough to seat two adults up front and two children in the back with optional kids seats. Because Mö has a full lighting system, turn blinkers, safety belts, a front crash crumple zone, side impact protection, and other safety features, one can feel comfortable commuting in the environmentally-friendly vehicle. The vehicle’s battery can be removed and charged at home, in the office, or in a garage – wherever one has access to an electrical outlet. Evovelo’s new prototype officially debuted today in Malaga, Spain, and more information — including its cost — will be released in the near future. + Evovelo

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Renewables will reign supreme by 2040, latest BNEF report shows

June 21, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy is on track to take over the world, if Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)’s predictions are correct. This month they released their annual New Energy Outlook (NEO) report, which reveals 51 percent of the world’s power generation could come from renewables by 2040. During the next 23 years, 72 percent of the $10.2 trillion spent on new power generation will go into solar power and wind power . The future sure looks bright for renewable energy. NEO 2017 lead author Seb Henbest said their report indicates “the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable” as costs for wind and solar continue to plummet. Batteries will also play a role in the shift of the world from polluting fuels to clean ones. Related: Dropping costs in renewable tech spurs rapid shift to clean energy Coal is on its way out, if the NEO 2017 predictions are correct. The BNEF team wrote in Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, and the United States, solar is at least as cheap as coal, and in just a few years – by 2021 – it will be less expensive than coal in Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, China, and India. And while the report suggests 51 percent of the world’s power could come from renewables in 2040, Greentech Media pointed out that’s an average. Some countries could get more than 51 percent energy from renewables – countries like Mexico, Italy, Brazil, and Chile could get as much as 80 percent of their energy from clean sources. Wind and solar on their own will account for more than 50 percent of power in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Mexico. Green technology adoption – like rooftop solar – will be on the rise. Electric vehicles will “bolster electricity use and help balance the grid .” Henbest told Greentech Media, “The cost declines that we are seeing with these technologies are so steep that it becomes a matter of time as to when they start crossing over and becoming competitive in different ways. These things are getting cheaper faster than we thought even a year ago.” Via Bloomberg New Energy Finance ( 1 , 2 ) and Greentech Media Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Renewables will reign supreme by 2040, latest BNEF report shows

New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%

March 20, 2017 by  
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An innovative new project called LIFE+ Methamorphosis is pioneering a new sustainable biofuel for cars . Car company SEAT and water management company Aqualia have transformed wastewater into the alternative fuel . Powered with this biofuel produced during one year at a treatment plant in Spain, a vehicle could circumnavigate the globe 100 times. SEAT and Aqualia came up with a creative answer to the issues of pollution from traditional car fuels – which have led to traffic restrictions in cities like Madrid – and reusing water , a scarce resource. To make their biomethane , wastewater is separated from sludge in treatment plants, and then becomes gas after a fermentation treatment. Following a purification and enrichment process, the biogas can be utilized as fuel. Compared against petrol, production and consumption of the biofuel releases 80 percent less carbon dioxide, according to SEAT . The new biofuel works in compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled cars. Related: Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees The project aims to show feasibility at industrial scales through two waste treatment systems. The UMBRELLA prototype will be set up in a municipal waste treatment plant serving Barcelona. The METHARGO prototype will create biomethane at a plant handling animal manure. The biogas made with the second prototype can be utilized directly in cars or could be added to the natural gas distribution network, according to the project’s website . A mid-sized treatment plant can handle around 353,000 cubic feet of wastewater every day, which could yield 35,000 cubic feet of biomethane, according to companies involved with the project. All that biomethane could power 150 vehicles driving around 62 miles a day. SEAT will supply vehicles to test the biofuel over around 74,500 miles. The European Commission is funding the project. Other companies participating include Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas , Gas Natural , the Catalan Institute for Energy , and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area . Via New Atlas Images via SEAT and LIFE+ Methamorphosis

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New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%

Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

March 20, 2017 by  
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The far reaches of northern Vietnam are beautiful but heartbreakingly poor. Children of the Hmong ethnic minority who live in the villages routinely suffer from lack of access to healthcare and education. Vietnamese architecture firm 1+1> 2 has provided a ray of hope for those in Lung Luong village in the remote Thai Nguyen Province with the construction of a beautiful new school made from local materials including rammed earth and bamboo. The school’s beautiful swooping and colorful form is an inspiration to the village and serves as a welcoming haven protected from the harsh elements. The Lung Luong elementary school is sited on a mountain peak and constructed to replace a poorly insulated structure that was piercingly cold in days of heavy rain and draught. Under the leadership of architect Hoang Thuc Hao, the villagers excavated part of the peak to create an even foundation. The excavated soil was recycled into rammed earth bricks used to build the school’s structure. The soil bricks’ thermal properties help maintain a temperate indoor climate year round. Locally sourced timber and bamboo were also used in construction and existing trees were protected during the building process. The elementary school is spread out across the mountaintop, covering an area of over 1,400 square meters. The orientation and placement of the buildings and the swooping colorful bamboo canopy above optimize natural lighting, ventilation, and sound insulation. The school comprises classrooms, playgrounds, gardens, multipurpose rooms, a medical room, library, kitchen, toilets, and dormitory. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier “The goal of this project is to create a school with conveniences striving against the harsh nature,” write the architects. “The classrooms are compatible with the mountain, spaces between them are slots which makes everything appears like an architectural picture pasted on the terrain. The corridor connects all functional areas. The foundation of the buildings respects the natural terrain which means that they wind up and down as the mountain path.” + 1+1> 2 Via ArchDaily Images © Son Vu

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Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

March 20, 2017 by  
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A waste-management company has developed a new, patented process that turns sanitary products, baby diapers, incontinence pads, and other so-called “absorbent hygiene products” into power. PHS Group , which serves 90,000 households, schools, offices, and retirement homes across the United Kingdom and Ireland, says that it handles about 45,000 tons of the stuff a year. A plant in the Midlands is currently converting 15 percent of that waste into compressed bales that can be burned to provide fuel for power stations. Refuse-derived fuel is neither an untested concept in Europe, where the practice is par for the course, nor in the U.K., where it’s gaining ground. But diapers, tampons, and their ilk have proved trickier because their dampness makes incineration most costly. But neither is dumping them in the landfill, where they’ll take decades to degrade, a sustainable solution. “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue,” Justin Tydeman, CEO of the PHS Group, told Guardian . PHS Group’s system, which is being evaluated by the University of Birmingham for its effectiveness, not to mention its impact on the environment, sounds simple in principle. Related: How Sweden diverts 99 percent of its waste from the landfill The company begins by shredding and squeezing the material, then disposing of any waste liquid as sewage. The remaining dry material is packed into bales, ripe for tossing into the fire. “Whether or not it turns out to be a major source of energy in itself, the key thing is we find a good way to handle what is a complex and growing waste stream,” Tydeman said. “We don’t want this stuff just going into the ground.” An aging population makes PHS Group’s tack even more vital than ever, Tydeman added. “The great thing about life today is people are living longer, but what comes with that is often incontinence issues,” he said. We want this to be a growing issue, because we want people to live longer.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash , Pixabay

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2017 Pritzker Prize goes to Catalan firm RCR Arquitectes

March 1, 2017 by  
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Architecture’s most distinguished award just went to a relatively unknown firm from Catalonia. The Pritzker Prize recipients Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta from RCR Arquitectes have completed few projects outside of northeast Spain , but their elegant work emphasizing the environment has gained global attention. The trio started their firm in Olot, Catalonia in 1988. They’ve designed projects as diverse as an athletics track to a kindergarten. Pritzker jury chair Glenn Murcutt, an Australian architect, said of RCR Arquitectes, “They’ve demonstrated that unity of a material can lend such incredible strength and simplicity to a building. The collaboration of these three architects produces uncompromising architecture of a poetic level, representing timeless work that reflects great respect for the past, while projecting clarity that is of the present and future.” Related: 2016 Pritzker Prize awarded to Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena The firm emphasizes structures that will last. They eschew trends in favor of well-done construction. They’re known for taking care to fit structures in beautifully with surrounding nature. They sometimes will design custom furniture for the buildings, finding it hard to find other furniture that fits their vision. There are even rumors they ask clients to sign contracts saying they won’t change the buildings since they constructed so precisely. Many of RCR Arquitectes’ projects can be found in Catalonia, although they have also designed a museum and art center in France. Recycled steel or plastic are often among the building materials they utilize. Their Tossols-Basil Athletics Track in Girona, Spain winds through oak forest clearings, deftly avoiding trees, and is green to match the natural surroundings. A sloped pathway takes visitors down to their Bell-Lloc Winery, also in Girona, beneath a roof of recycled steel. The dark interior, broken up by light streaming through slots in the roof, provides visitors with a new perspective on winemaking. Their El Petit Comte Kindergarten lacks conventional walls; instead, colorful plastic tubes let light filter playfully through. Some are solid and others can be turned, allowing children to interact and play with the building itself. Even RCR Arquitectes’ office provides a glimpse into their unique design. They converted an old 20th century foundry, preserving older features of the building like crumbling walls while adding massive glass windows to flood the space with natural light. + RCR Arquitectes + Pritzker Prize Via Dezeen and The Guardian Images via Pritzker

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Architect turns old cement factory into incredible fairytale home – and the interior will blow you away

March 1, 2017 by  
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When Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill stumbled upon an abandoned cement factory in 1973, he saw opportunity in the ruins. Bofill bought the early twentieth-century compound and, together with local Catalan craftsmen, transformed the sprawling structure of silos and compounds into an incredible fairytale home that blends surrealism, brutalism, and modernism. Located in Catalonia, Spain, the renovation is remarkable – not only for its stunning appearance, but also for the architect’s ongoing ambition to make the concrete fortress into a surprisingly livable home and studio. A true labor of love, the Cement Factory home is over forty years in the making and is constantly evolving with no foreseeable end in sight. The basic overhaul , which included partial destruction with dynamite and jack hammers, took a little over a year to make the complex livable. To soften the harsh concrete facade, the grounds were generously replanted and climbing vines were introduced on the walls. The renovated complex is more than just Bofill’s dream home—it also contains a workspace for his architecture firm, a conference and exhibition room, a model workshop, gardens, and archive rooms. The existing structures largely influenced the design of the interior and the industrial feel was retained wherever possible. The rooms are flooded with natural light from the tall ceilings and large windows, while the silos serve as giant works of sculpture. “The factory is a magic place which strange atmosphere is difficult to be perceived by a profane eye. “I like the life to be perfectly programmed here, ritualised, in total contrast with my turbulent nomad life,” said Bofill. His firm says the project “will always remain an unfinished work.” Related: Abandoned Industrial Silo Becomes Beautiful Residences in Denmark While the raw concrete walls and slightly oxidized surfaces were preserved, the complex of silos and industrial structures have come a long way from its cement factory past. In addition to its unexpectedly lush exterior, the interior features surprising and skillful combinations of warm tones, textures, and contemporary elements against the industrial backdrop. Every room is treated like a work of art, with carefully selected furnishings that allude to the site’s history. “I have the impression of living in a precinct, in a closed universe which protects me from the outside and everyday life,” said Bofill. “The Cement Factory is a place of work par excellence. Life goes on here in a continuous sequence, with very little difference between work and leisure.” + Ricardo Bofill

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Architect turns old cement factory into incredible fairytale home – and the interior will blow you away

Ship-like Hidden Pavilion uses the surrounding forest like a protective envelope

February 15, 2017 by  
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This ship-like pavilion in Spain reconciles the openness of glass architecture and the need for privacy. Penelas Architects designed the Hidden Pavilion as a quiet retreat that protects its occupants not through the use of curtains or blinds, but by treating the surrounding forest as a kind of natural envelope. The pavilion is nestled in a forest glade just northwest of Madrid, Spain . Its isolated location allowed the architects to completely open up the building toward the surroundings and draw maximum natural light into its interior. Designed to become one with nature, the building incorporates an existing 200-year-old oak tree, along with younger trees, to grow through gaps in its terraced areas. Related: Kengo Kuma unveils “blossoming” glass and timber villas for Bali With a floor space of 753 square feet spread over two floors, the pavilion includes a veranda and a rooftop terrace that overlook the surrounding forest. Natural materials , steel and glass are combined to create a kind of industrial appearance of an ocean liner that, instead of oceans, navigates the lush landscapes of central Spain. + Penelas Architects Via New Atlas Photos by Miguel de Guzmán + Rocio Romero

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Ship-like Hidden Pavilion uses the surrounding forest like a protective envelope

Futuristic, sustainable Urban Droneport could act as a hub for drone deliveries

December 5, 2016 by  
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Companies from Amazon to Facebook have bet on drones as the aerial vehicles of the future. But many locales lack the appropriate infrastructure to support the day-to-day management of hundreds of zooming devices. Enter architect Saúl Ajuria Fernández , who, as part of his master’s degree in architecture at Universidad de Alcalá , designed a solar-powered drone hub for Madrid called Urban Droneport. The futuristic dome-shaped Urban Droneport could allow companies to radically optimize package delivery. Spherical hangars allowing drones to take off with ease populate the outside of the droneport, while the interior would accommodate a logistics center and State Institute of Technology Development. Since the building would be close to three separate parks – Tierno Galván, Madrid Rio, and Lineal del Manzanares – the first floor of the Urban Droneport has been raised up so people could stroll around the base and connect to the different parks. Related: Avoid Obvious designs the first drone highway for a Utopian Chinese city Any futuristic design worth its salt incorporates sustainability , and Fernández’s design is no exception. In his description of the Urban Droneport he said prefabrication and modularity are two principles central to the design. “We opt for a metal structure with dry joints which allows both the assembly/disassembly and its expansion or modification. The building is modulated so that the details of its construction are solved with only one of its twelve slices,” Fernández said. Renewable energy would largely power the Urban Droneport; a system in the hangar doors could actually gather solar rays to provide almost as much energy as the building would need. A courtyard in the center of the Urban Droneport would facilitate natural lighting. While the Urban Droneport is designed for Madrid, Fernández said it could be easily adapted for other cities. He also said not only could the drone hub be used for package delivery, but also for drones ferrying medical supplies. + Saúl Ajuria Fernández Images courtesy of Saúl Ajuria Fernández

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