Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders

November 2, 2017 by  
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Steven Holl Architects just beat out a slew of other firms with plans for the new Doctors Without Borders headquarters in Geneva. The energy-efficient “Colors of Humanity” building features an innovative facade made of multi-hued photovoltaic glass and it’s topped with a lush green roof . The New York-based architect’s design was chosen over various proposals from architecture firms around the world. According to Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the MSF Operational Centre Geneva, the winning design best represents the MSF ethos of community: “Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future.” Related: Steven Holl Architects designs LEED Platinum-targeted cultural center for Shanghai The massive photovoltaic facade , which is 40% transparent, pulls double duty: it produces up to 72% of the building’s energy needs and creates an interior framework for the community inside. Solar panels will also be installed on the building’s roof, sharing space with a large roof-top garden . Additionally, the innovative glass wall system is “open ended,” which means the building could be expanded in the future if need be. The inside layout is focused on the needs of the MSF community, and each individual space is designated by its color. Designed to foster interaction , the building has various circulation paths where workers and visitors can take a break in one of the many seating alcoves. This design feature was strategic to encourage community collaboration: “These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building.” + Steven Holl Architects Via Archdaily

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Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders

Groundbreaking Passivhaus development features ultra-green homes that you can actually afford

October 24, 2017 by  
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UK-based architectural firm Hamson Barron Smith have built a ground-breaking Passivhaus development in Greater Norwich, UK. The Carrowbreck Meadow project includes 14 ultra-sustainable homes, which have been designed to pay homage to the local rural barn vernacular found in the area. The Passivhaus development is the largest of its kind in the area, but will also serve as a benchmark for sustainable building everywhere because 43% of the development is comprised of affordable housing. Built in the traditional barn style, the Carrowbreck Meadow homes are clad in a mix of white render and black-stained timber. The A-frame roofs are covered in either slate or red roof tiles. Wood used in the construction was 100% locally sourced from sustainable northern forests. Additional sustainable features include using low-carbon materials where possible such as the insulation in the roofs, which is made out of recycled newspaper. Local contractors and subcontractors were also hired for the job to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. All of the homes are installed with electric car charging points, rainwater butts and PV connection points. The master plan also includes a unique waste management system that facilitates reusing and recycling processes for the homeowners. Related: Passivehaus Container Complex Proposed for Leeds Waterfront Located in a heavily wooded lot, the positioning and orientation of the homes was strategic in order to take advantage of solar gain in the wintertime and avoid extreme heat in the summer. The homes are installed with an abundance of windows that let in natural light , but are equipped with venetian blinds and brise soleils to provide shade. A heat recovery system provides fresh filtered air throughout the structures. The green building materials and low energy features used in the development, as well as the homes’ integrated thermal bridges and draft-free building envelopes – which is five time over the strict passivehaus regulations for airtightness – have earned the project a full Passivehaus certification . However, the fact that the development includes a high number of affordable homes really makes the Carrowbreck Meadow project unique. By offering 43% percent of the property as affordable housing, the architects hope to not only provide locals with sustainable and energy efficient options, but one that fosters a strong inclusive atmosphere as well. The Carrowbreck Meadow development design was recognized with a RIBA Eastern Region Design Award in May 2017. + Hamson Barron Smith Images via Hamson Barron Smith

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Groundbreaking Passivhaus development features ultra-green homes that you can actually afford

MVRDV unveils futuristic hotel whose rooms can be configured in countless ways

October 24, 2017 by  
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Could flexible architecture be the future of urban design ? Prolific Dutch architects MVRDV just unveiled one very colorful hotel whose nine rooms can be transformed into a variety of configurations. The funky hotel – called (W)ego – is an example of how flexible architecture can help urban areas adapt to diverse needs quickly and effectively — whether it’s making room for growing families, providing student housing, or creating shelters for refugees. The 30-foot-tall hotel is the center of the firm’s Dutch Design Week installation called The Future City is Flexible. In it the firm proposes a new urban design model that is suited to the “users’ most elaborate fantasies.” The hotel has a total of nine rooms, each of which is designated by ultra-vibrant colors and quirky features geared to a variety of tastes. Related: Fully-furnished shipping containers form unique prefab hotel in Manchester The life-sized installation allows visitors to negotiate with each other in order to find the perfect living space of their dreams. The interactive method is based on the idea of creating a participatory process in order to achieve true happiness, “Through gaming and other tools, (W)ego explores participatory design processes to model the competing desires and egos of each resident in the fairest possible way,” explains MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas. The hotel, which is currently on display in Eindhoven, was created in collaboration with The Why Factory , the firm’s own research lab that studies how cities across the world will deal with issues such as climate change and population growth in the future. + MVRDV + The Why Factory Via Dezeen Photography by Ossip van Duivenbode

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MVRDV unveils futuristic hotel whose rooms can be configured in countless ways

Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year

October 24, 2017 by  
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Six years ago, Bjarke Ingels Group unveiled plans for a ski slope power plant that could provide the city of Copenhagen with electricity, hot water, and a steady stream of recycled materials. It’s a wild design, and we never thought it’d see the light of day – but fast forward to 2017, and Copenhill is nearly complete. The waste-to-energy plant is currently operational, and by the end of next year it will be topped with 30 rooftop trees, the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall, and a 600-meter ski slope. Inhabitat recently traveled to Copenhagen for a first look inside this landmark building – hit the jump for our exclusive photos. When it officially opens next year, the Amager Bakken waste-to-energy plant will process 400,000 tons of waste annually to provide 160,000 homes with hot water and 62,500 homes with electricity. The new plant replaces the aging Amager Resource Center, and it’s able to produce 25% more energy while cutting CO2 emissions by 100,000 tons per year. Despite the fact that the plant effectively burns trash, its emissions are remarkably clean thanks to advanced filtration technology – the air in the plant’s vicinity is actually healthier than in Copenhagen’s city center. The plant will also enable the city to salvage 90% of the metals in its waste stream, and it will yield 100,000 metric tons of ash that will be reused as road material. Did we mention that it’s designed to blow enormous smoke rings? BIG Project Manager Jesper Boye Andersen told Inhabitat that “The completion date is after summer 2018, we are still pushing for the smoke rings, and we have proven that the technology works.” The building’s facade is made up of staggered metal planters that vary in size and shape to carefully control solar exposure. When it rains, each planter will drain into the one below it to sustain a flourishing vegetated wall. Copenhill’s roof will made from an artificial turf material, and it will be open to skiers and snowboarders all-year-round. In addition to the ski slope, the roof will feature a cafe, a running path, and the world’s largest artificial climbing wall, which will measure 86 meters tall by 10 meters wide. According to recent estimates, the total cost of the plant will be 4 billion DKK (about $632 million). It was financed by five nearby municipalities that will benefit from the energy, hot water, and other resources it produces. + BIG + Amager Resource Center Inhabitat was invited to Denmark by Visit Copenhagen , which paid for meals and lodging for 3 days

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Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year

LAVA unveils greenery-infused Garden Island to revamp Sydney Harbour

October 20, 2017 by  
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Australia-based firm LAVA just unveiled a stunning proposal for converting an inaccessible plot of land near Sydney Harbour into a sustainable waterfront community. The ambitious Garden Island proposal envisions a vibrant green public space with eco-friendly residential towers and multi-use buildings that would host activities throughout the year. Although the area is currently used by the Royal Australian Navy, the proposal hopes to completely overhaul the area in order to convert it into a new waterfront community. Using a sustainable model , a breezy cityscape would be built along the existing coastline that would include residential and multi-use buildings operating with green technology. The various towers, which would offer stunning views of the harbor, would all be installed with plenty of rooftop terraces and surrounded by public gardens . Related: LAVA’s Winning Design for Masdar’s City Center LAVA’s proposal also includes implementing various adaptive reuse methods where possible. For example, a former dry dock would be converted into a floating market that would have room for public baths, shopping, and performance spaces. The development would also install a number of amenities throughout renovated space such as a waterfront promenade, museums, and various social facilities that would aim to foster a strong sense of community. + LAVA Images via LAVA

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LAVA unveils greenery-infused Garden Island to revamp Sydney Harbour

Angular cedar-clad home in New Zealand is designed to go completely off-grid

October 17, 2017 by  
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New Zealand firm Herriot Melhuish Oneill has created a beautiful eco-friendly home deep in the rolling farmland just outside of Wellington. The Peka Peka House is comprised of three cedar boxes with glazed walls that provide views of the breathtaking landscape – and it’s set to be 100% off-grid. The home’s volume is comprised of three connected boxes. The living and dining area are located in the larger box and the bedrooms are in the second cube. These two structures are both clad in a beautiful black-stained cedar with large windows that connect the living spaces with the exterior environment. The third box, which houses the garage and workshop, was built out of profiled-polycarbonate, and “glows” from within at night. Related:See how the “Kiss-Kiss House” snaps in half like a branch to embrace the landscape The home’s orientation was strategic to benefit from the area’s harsh climate. Thanks to the home’s many openings, the interior is naturally ventilated by the afternoon sea breezes. Additionally, the interior courtyard faces north in order protect the space from any strong winds. The home is surrounded by a timber deck that connects the home to its natural surroundings and lets the homeowners enjoy the outdoors comfortably. The Peka Peka house was designed to eventually go 100% off grid . Installed with PV and solar hot water panels, the home produces a lot of its own energy. To conserve that energy, the insulation in the home is above-code insulation, and an exposed, insulated concrete slab under the home helps retain heat. LED lighting is also used throughout the space. + Herriot Melhuish Oneill Via Archdaily Photography by Jason Mann

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Angular cedar-clad home in New Zealand is designed to go completely off-grid

This startup is training crows to throw away cigarette butt litter

October 17, 2017 by  
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Did you know that cigarettes take twelve years to decompose on average? That’s a big problem, as they are the most littered item on Earth – every year, approximately 4.5 trillion cigarettes are discarded with little regard for the environment. The new startup Crowded Cities has a plan to rid streets of this type of pollution – and it involves training crows to exchange cigarette butts for food. It’s a well-established fact that crows are one of the smartest animals in the world. Not only are they skilled problem solvers, they can create and use tools . Dutch startup Crowded Cities is developing a device that trains crows to collect discarded cigarettes . In exchange, the crows receive peanuts. The CrowBar is based on a design created by an American inventor . The device has a large funnel where cigarette butts can be deposited, and a dispenser for releasing peanuts . The hope is that crows get busy cleaning up the streets in exchange for some easy food. The task isn’t impossible, considering Crowded Cities has a four-step plan to train the crows. Related: Meet Cig, the sea turtle made of over 1,000 cigarette butts strewn on a Florida beach First, the machine offers a piece of food next to a cigarette butt on a small platform. This trains the bird to expect food from the machine . Second, the machine begins dispensing food only after the crow arrives at the machine. This teaches the crow how to operate the CrowBar. Third, the machine presents only the cigarette butt with no food. Confused, the crow will begin pecking and looking around. When he/she inadvertently drops the butt into the dispenser, food will be released. The fourth step is to remove the cigarette butt entirely, leaving only a couple scattered on the crowd in the nearby area. The crow will begin collecting butts from the surrounding area, bringing them to the CrowBar, then dropping them into the dispenser for food . At this stage, the training is complete. The startup is in the process of building a prototype to test whether or not the design will work. Because cigarettes are filled with toxic chemicals, Crowded Cities will monitor the crows’ health and behavior. If the method proves successful and the birds aren’t adversely affected by the cigarette butts, you may see a CrowBar in your city in the near future. + Crowded Cities Via Popular Mechanics Images via Crowded Cities , Pixabay

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Google will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2018

October 13, 2017 by  
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After 10 years as a carbon-neutral company, Google has announced that all of its data centers and offices will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy , mostly from solar and wind sources. The corporate giant made quick progress towards meeting their goal, which was set in 2016 and will be fulfilled by 2018. In its 2017 Environmental Report, Google, self-described as the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, declared that in making its big shift to clean energy, it had pioneered “new energy purchasing models that others can follow” and “helped drive wide-scale global adoption of clean energy.” “We believe Google can build tools to improve people’s lives while reducing our dependence on natural resources and fossil fuels,” said Google executive Urs Hölzle. Google’s rapid shift to clean energy is welcome not only for the influence it may have on other companies but also for its impact on Google’s energy consumption, which was estimated in 2015 to be as large as the city of San Francisco . In line with its sustainability focus, Google has also launched an initiative to add air quality sensors to Google Street View vehicles and plans to change its waste disposal systems to ensure that the company adds nothing to landfills. Half of Google’s 14 data centers have already reached that particular milestone. Related: Alphabet X to beam wireless service to Puerto Rico with a fleet of balloons Most of Google’s renewable energy is purchased from an outside provider. However, they are making important moves to provide some of their own in-house energy, including the company’s recent acquisition of the Tellenes wind farm in Norway. The 12-year deal to provide 100 percent of the energy produced will power Google’s data centers in Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland . Google expects to purchase power as soon as it is available, which is expected in fall 2017. Via Inverse Images via Wikimedia Commons   (1)  and Robbie Shade/Flickr

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This prefab concrete house harvests rainwater with food-growing vertical gardens

October 10, 2017 by  
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Students from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri  designed this beautiful solar-powered home completely out of prefabricated concrete. Built to showcase the viability of building with concrete , the spectacular design includes a series of gutters on the exterior that serve as a large-scale hydroponic growing system that can produce food all year round. According to the team, the design of the Crete House is meant to be a reminder that concrete continues to be a viable and sustainable building material that makes for a beautiful alternative to wood constructions. Thanks an ultra-strong envelope comprised of four inches of standard concrete, five inches of insulation, and one inch of Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), the home is incredibly resilient against fire, moisture, mold, insects, seismic activity, and extreme weather. Related: 8 amazing homes that are 100% powered by the sun The design focuses on providing the ultimate in self-sufficiency – including energy generation, water reuse, and food production. Solar panels provide sufficient energy to the home, and a water-to-water heat pump provides hot water for domestic use as well as water for the home’s radiant heating and cooling system installed in the floor and ceiling. The precast insulated concrete panels of the home are factory-manufactured, but assembled on-site, reducing travel time and energy. In addition to the home’s structure, the concrete panels were used to create a series of large L-shaped gutters that extend out and away from the house. The shape of the gutters was strategic in creating an innovative system of water collection that directs to vegetated channels built into the vertical gutters that extend out into horizontal planters on the ground level. This all-in-one hydroponic system, complete with drip emitters, integrates a home garden system into the design, allowing occupants to grow their own food all year round. + Crete House + Solar Decathlon Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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This prefab concrete house harvests rainwater with food-growing vertical gardens

14 spectacular lamps unveiled at the London Design Festival

October 6, 2017 by  
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Lighting designers are constantly pushing the envelope with new materials, technologies and applications – and this year’s London Design Festival was awash in innovative designs. From an air-purifying algae chandelier to a lamp powered by melting ice and a series of pendant lights made from mushrooms , read on for our favorite finds from this year’s shows. Exhale Chandelier by Julian Melchiorri When is a chandelier more than just a chandelier? When it’s literally alive! Julian Melchiorri ‘s ‘Exhale’ chandelier is filled with algae that absorb CO2 and release fresh oxygen into any interior space. It’s also incredibly beautiful, with delicate green ‘leaves’ that optimize sun exposure to help the algae grow. Frost Light by EDHV Studio EDHV Studio’s Frost Light is powered by melting ice! A chunk of ice is set on a block of solid aluminum, and as it melts it generates enough electricity to power a small LED for 3 hours. Reflection Room by Flynn Talbot Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room is mind blowing. One side of the mirrored hallway is bathed in orange light, while the other is lit in blue. Where the two sides meet, a gradient of color is born. Fuchsia Lamps by Macmaster Design Macmaster Design ‘s new Fuchsia lamps look like hanging, flowers in bloom – and they’re made from FSC-certified black walnut and white oak. Voronoi III Lamp by Tala Tala just launched their largest sculptural light yet at the London Design Festival. The Voronoi III is inspired by patterns found in treetops, and its LED filament is modeled after the Fibonacci sequence. Tree Lights by Tamasine Osher Tamasine Osher ‘s gorgeous hand-turned Tree Lights are made of salvaged wood harvested from naturally fallen trees. The delicate patterns are caused by naturally occurring fungus that develops over a span of 2-3 years. I.Rain Helene Chandelier by Blackbody and Haviland Blackbody teamed up with Haviland to unveil a spectacular chandelier made from 145 OLED lights. Each light is nested within a porcelain cup embellished with “Matignon” white with gold patterns. Morphe Lamp by Crea-Re These beautiful lamps by Crea-Re look almost like colored stone – but they’re made from paper mâché! Maria Fiter crafts each lamp using recycled newspaper, natural pigments, and ecologically certified water-based glue. Lungplant by Tim van Cromvoirt Tim van Cromvoirt ‘s luminous Lungplant slowly expands and exhales like a living creature. He designed the lamp to reduce stress and create a meditative environment that encourages you to become aware of the tempo of your own breathing. Thea Kuta Lamp by Elisa Bortolussi These Thea Kuta lamps emerged out of Elisa Bortolussi’s desire to use yarn as an alternative tool for painting. The lamps are handmade from 100% wool, and their precise geometry and depth of color is dazzling. Mycelium + Timber Lamps by Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova These lamps are made of mushrooms! Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova found a way to pair mushroom mycelium with freshly cut wood waste to create a collection of sustainable furnishings. Stacked Glassware Lamps by New Citizen Design These beautiful pendant lights from New Citizen Design appear to be sculpted from glass – until a closer look reveals that they’re made of cups, bowls and plates! Designers Mayan Pesach and Sander Wassink salvage old glassware and combine it in unexpected ways – and each piece is unique. Panam Panama lamp by Lea Baert Lea Baert’s Panam Panama project transforms old fan grills into stunning lamps. Baert worked with communities of Panamanian craftspeople to develop the design using locally-sourced fibers. Upon returning to France, she updated the project with materials sourced locally in Paris. Atlas Light by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio Ladies & Gentlemen teamed up with Seattle-based artist and glass designer John Hogan to create the Atlas Light. This handcrafted lamp consists of an iridescent glass sphere flecked with gold leaf and set on a brass base. + London Design Week

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14 spectacular lamps unveiled at the London Design Festival

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