Delightfully surprising green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope

June 25, 2018 by  
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Anchored to a pine-studded slope, the Bailer Hill house is designed to evoke a natural rock outcropping. Seattle-based Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects completed this cascading stack of timber-clad boxes in the San Juan Islands for a retired couple who wanted to feel at one with the surroundings. Faced with glazed sliding doors and topped with feathery green roof patios, the home blends in with the landscape and embraces it through panoramic views. Inspired by Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects’ previous projects, the clients sought out the firm to help replace the existing converted garage on their San Juan Islands property with a “delightfully surprising” home. The clients worked closely with the architects in a highly collaborative process that led to an unconventional and site-sensitive design carefully sited to mitigate the steep slope and to capture the incredible views. The 3,228-square-foot home, which is spread out across four levels, comprises an open living area, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor that is also linked to a reading room and rear office. The master suite is located on the basement level, while the guest room and studio are placed in the upper two volumes. “Looking out over expansive water views, this house is the expression of the clients’ desire to connect to both the immediate landscape and the view beyond,” the architects explained. “Cascading organically down the hill, the house remains firmly rooted to the earth even as it rises high above the ground. It is a complex form with a simple goal: capturing the beauty of this spectacular site.” Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands The stacked formation allowed the architects to create a series of grass-roofed patios accessible from large lift-slide doors. Each volume is carefully rotated to capture select views. Natural light pours into the interior through these large doors as well as through the clusters of small rectangular windows. + Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects Images by Eirik Johnson

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Delightfully surprising green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope

UNStudio designs future-proof cable car for Amsterdam

June 25, 2018 by  
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Amsterdam residents and visitors alike may soon see the city from sweeping new heights. Dutch architectural practice UNStudio has unveiled designs for the IJbaan Cable Car, a “future-proof” public transit system connecting Amsterdam West with Amsterdam Noord / NDSM. The cable car will span a little less than a mile (1 1/2 kilometers) and can be easily expanded in the future if needed. The IJBaan Cable Car was commissioned by the IJbaan Foundation (Stichting IJbaan), a grassroots citizens’ movement initially started in 2015 as a crowdfunding campaign led by Bas Dekker and Willem Wessels. Now supported by the Municipality of Amsterdam, the initiative aims to “create a new connection across the IJ bay by the 750th anniversary of Amsterdam in 2025.” The all-electric public transport system will create transport hubs and destinations. Designed as a new architectural icon, the cable car system consists of two stations—NDSM Marina on the North and Minervahaven to the South—and three supporting pylons with varying heights. Inspired by the city’s industrial past, the slender and sculptural towers will not be visible from Amsterdam’s famed canal ring so as to abide by UNESCO World Heritage height limitations. The system will take 4.6 minutes to complete a full journey at an average speed of 13.42 miles per hour. The passenger cabins can accommodate 32 to 37 passengers, while bicycle cabins can hold four to six bicycles . Related: Sleep inside this giant crane turned into luxury digs in Amsterdam “A cable car is an extremely sustainable public transport system,” says UNStudio founder and principal architect Ben van Berkel. “It is a very fast and green way of traveling, which is attractive for cyclists, commuters, students, residents and visitors. In Amsterdam you see a growing need for connections across the IJ, with the new metro and bridges. The city is growing enormously and such an ‘air bridge’ contributes to the development of the entire region. Transport by air also relieves the increasing pressure on traffic and the existing transport network on the ground. It is not only efficient but also fun. People are going to see and experience their city in a whole new way.” + UNStudio Images via UNStudio

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UNStudio designs future-proof cable car for Amsterdam

Scientists discover new gibbon species inside tomb of Chinese emperor’s grandmother

June 25, 2018 by  
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In a new study published in the journal Science , scientists detail the identification of a new species of gibbon, one that had gone extinct at some point over the past two millennia. The remains of Junzi imperialis were first discovered in 2004, when archaeologists at Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology in Xi’an discovered a mausoleum nearby the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China ‘s first emperor, which is famously guarded by thousands of terracotta soldiers. In addition to the partial skull of the gibbon, the mausoleum contained bones from numerous animals, such as panthers, lynxes, black bears and cranes. The gibbon likely would have belonged to the emperor’s grandmother, Lady Xia. “Having gibbons as pets appears to have been common among Chinese royals during ancient times,” study co-author Alejandra Ortiz told NPR . Years after the gibbon skull was uncovered, London -based archaeologist Samuel Turvey took an interest in its unusual characteristics. The remains were discovered “a huge distance from any of China’s surviving gibbon populations,” hundreds of miles south of the tomb, Turvey told NPR , “which immediately suggested that this specimen could be something extremely interesting.” Research suggests that through deforestation, humans were the likely cause of the gibbon’s extinction. Because of the gibbon’s dependence on the tree canopy ecosystem, it is very vulnerable to the destruction of its forest habitat. Related: Reforestation in China heralds the return of rare animals The discovery of a new, but extinct, ape species brings mixed emotions. “We feel that the discovery of Junzi imperialis is extremely important because it helps us to fill gaps in the understanding of gibbon diversity,” Ortiz said. However, the “discovery is sad, because it reinforces the idea that humans represent a major threat for the survival of species of gibbons and other apes, and our findings suggest that we have been a threat for quite a while.” + Science Via NPR Images via Benjamin Radzun and Eric Kilby

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Scientists discover new gibbon species inside tomb of Chinese emperor’s grandmother

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