These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

April 28, 2017 by  
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Although the US may be moving backwards in terms of clean energy, countries like Sweden are going full throttle while adding plus-energy homes to their cities. Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture designed this newly-built apartment complex in Linköping. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also produces enough energy to sell surplus electricity back to the grid. Sweden’s solar energy tax used to be quite punitive, but the country has thankfully slashed the tax by 98% . As a result, developers and private home owners are embracing solar energy. In fact, the Linköping apartment complex generates more energy than it needs from its large roof-mounted photovoltaic array . Related: 8 homes that generate more energy than they consume As far as design, the architects wanted something that would pay homage to the city’s vernacular. Beautiful brass-colored windows on a white concrete facade give the building a delicate, yet modern aesthetic. On the interior, the units are bright and spacious and come with high ceilings . A community courtyard severs as a gathering place where residendts can discuss their amazingly low energy costs. + Kjellgren Kaminsky Images via Kjellgren Kaminsky

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These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

IKEA unveils plan to lift 200,000 people out of poverty

April 19, 2017 by  
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When most people think of IKEA , they most likely think of affordable furniture and trendy home accessories. But many people are unaware of the company’s lofty social goals. In addition to their efforts to promote sustainability , it turns out IKEA is also working on a plan to alleviate poverty for Syrian refugees and other disadvantaged people around the globe. IKEA recently announced it’s building new production centers in Jordan this summer, as part of a plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world. The facilities will be open and running by August, and will provide jobs to refugees producing rugs, cushions, bedspreads, and other handmade woven items. These particular facilities are the result of a partnership with the Jordan River Foundation , a non-governmental organization founded by Jordan’s Queen Rania. To start out, these particular plants will only employ 100 people, rising to 400 within two years. About half will be local workers and the other half will be Syrian refugees . Related: IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program The new production centers are just one of many projects the furniture giant is working to establish around the world. Already, they’ve launched programs to help Indian women and Sweden’s immigrant population, which employ about 2,000 people collectively. The ultimate goal is to eventually employ about 200,000 people around the world through these initiatives. Rather than lead the projects themselves, IKEA is teaming up with local social entrepreneurs – organizations that help use business solutions to alleviate poverty, rather than simply distributing aid. Not only does this help provide jobs for people who desperately need them, it also helps organizations that would normally be too small to meet IKEA’s supplier guidelines to get their work into stores around the globe. Related: IKEA is launching a whole range of “no waste” products made from recycled materials This isn’t the first time IKEA has used its clout for social good. The company also recently established the IKEA Foundation to help children in poor communities, and unveiled an award-winning flat-pack refugee shelter design . So the next time you buy a new bookshelf or visit just to sample the Swedish fare at the restaurant, you can feel good knowing your purchase is helping others around the world. Via Dezeen Images via YouTube/Screenshot

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IKEA unveils plan to lift 200,000 people out of poverty

This spellbinding icy blue throne was 3D-printed by robots

April 19, 2017 by  
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The robotically 3D-printed Voxel Chair 1.0 looks like it came straight out of a science fiction film. The futuristic mesh-like prototype was designed by Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin , and manufactured using extruded PLA plastic through Robotic Additive Manufacturing Platform (RAMP), an innovative process that enables 3D printing of large-scale products with stunning detail and durability. The Voxel Chair, whose shape is inspired by the  Panton chair design, is the first prototype of its kind using new software that is specifically developed for robotic 3D printing. Unlike most 3D printing processes that use pre-defined forms, this innovative software – based on research by Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin – allows for optimal control of thousands of line fragments. Related: Lilian van Daal creates a Biomimicry-inspired, 3D-printed chair Designed in collaboration with fabrication firms Nagami.Design and Vicente Soler, the chair was built out of transparent PLA, a non-toxic, biodegradable plastic that can be made out of various renewable resources like corn starch. Cyan-colored particles were mixed into the plastic to give the chair its unique glass-like appearance. The unique chair is just one example of how the RAMP process can be used to build stronger 3D-printed products . Considering the breakneck speed of advances in the field, unprecedented large-scale 3D objects are only a matter of time. The Voxel Chair 1.0 is currently on display at the Imprimer Le Monde in Centre Pompidou Paris. + Manuel Jimenez Garcia + Gilles Retsin Via Ignant Images via Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Gilles Retsin and Nagami.Design

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This spellbinding icy blue throne was 3D-printed by robots

This crazy boot-shaped tiny house could only exist in Texas

April 19, 2017 by  
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Only in Texas, people. This whimsical boot-shaped home may look like a quirky roadside stop, but it’s actually a fully functioning home available for rent . Designed and built by Dan Phillips of Phoenix Commotion – a firm that specializes in building affordable homes using reclaimed materials – the unique 2 bedroom, 1 bath home comes with custom features, a nice yard, and even a stunning rooftop deck “to boot”! The cowboy boot home, which is located in Huntsville, Texas, looks solitary from most angles, but it’s actually connected to a small tin-roofed bungalow with a wrap-around porch. The addition was added on to increase the total floorspace to a compact, but livable 711 square feet . Related: Beekeeper built dream hexagonal house without ‘hateful’ right angles Things are just as curious on the interior as they are outside. Dan Phillips has made a name for himself for building with whatever reclaimed materials he can find, and the cowboy boot house is no different. Throughout the home, the walls are clad in various wood pieces collected from other building sites. Shards of tiles make up the mosaic flooring, and parts of the ceiling are plastered in vintage record covers. The home has two bedrooms (one of which is accessed by ladder,) a single bathroom, and a kitchen clad in undulating metal sheets. A red spiral staircase leads to a rooftop deck located on the highest level of the boot. Although the boot home does have its roadside quality, the people behind the design, Phoenix Commotion, have more than just quirky homes in their portfolio. Since 1997, the company has constructed over 20 eco-friendly, affordable homes using reclaimed materials in the Huntsville area. All of their projects are built with help from future tenants, who tend to be low-income families. + Phoenix Commotion Via New Atlas Images via Har.com

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This crazy boot-shaped tiny house could only exist in Texas

Sweden opens an entire mall full of reclaimed goods

April 7, 2017 by  
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You’re familiar with thrift stores – maybe you shop at one from time to time. But have you ever seen an entire mall of reclaimed goods? Such a thrifter’s paradise exists in Sweden , about 1.5 hours west of central Stockholm. ReTuna Återbruksgalleria , or ReTuna Recycling Galleria, peddles reused or upcycled goods, pioneering the climate -friendly future of the shopping mall. How does ReTuna work? People can submit items worthy of reclaiming or restoring to the Return. Staff from the city of Eskilstuna’s Activity, Motivation, and Work unit sort the donated items, which are then fixed up, repaired, or transformed to be sold in the mall. The goods are assigned to the mall shops based on each one’s business plan. There are 14 shops inside ReTuna, along with a restaurant serving organic food . Related: 6 Places You Can Find Trash to Transform into Treasure The purpose of the creative mall is to explore a new way of shopping resulting in less harm to the environment . All businesses in the mall must operate in an environmentally friendly way, and if they must purchase new goods – such as the cafe – the items must be organic or climate-friendly. According to the mall’s website, “ Sustainability is not about holding back and living less – but achieving more with the resources we already have.” Mall manager Anna Bergström says on the website they envision customers stopping by to donate old furniture or clothing, and then entering the mall to find maybe a new jacket or a new lamp, and having a bite in the organic restaurant. She said, “When you leave here, you should feel that you did something good for the environment.” The ReTuna website says it is “perhaps the world’s first shopping mall that will take advantage of things that need new homes.” The recycling mall will host an information meeting on April 20, 2017. + ReTuna Återbruksgalleria Images via ReTuna Återbruksgalleria and ReTuna Återbruksgalleria Facebook

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Sweden opens an entire mall full of reclaimed goods

This train station which doubles as city hall in Sweden will function as an "urban living room"

February 2, 2017 by  
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The new station and city hall in the southern Swedish city of Växjö is an urban living room that gathers several functions under one striking, prismatic roof. White Arkitekter ‘s winning proposal for an anonymous competition, the building combines an expressive form with accessibility, and provides a series of public spaces for citizens, visitors and employees. The 150,000-square-foot wooden structure is topped with an elegant, sloping roof that ensures lower energy consumption . The three main entrances connect these spaces to the city and lead to a central space that functions as a public living room with a tourist office, exhibition area, waiting room, cafés and shops, meeting rooms  for various occasions and a modern workplace for municipal employees. While glass dominates the exterior of the building, the interior prominently features wood. Related: White Arkitekter wins bid to design Sweden’s tallest timber building “Our goal has been to create a building at the forefront of development in sustainable construction as well as to achieve the highest Swedish environment certification,” said Klara Frosterud, Lead Architect at White Arkitekter. “People are placed at the heart of this building which will be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable over time,” she added. + White Arkitekter Via World Architecture News Images by Tegmark

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This train station which doubles as city hall in Sweden will function as an "urban living room"

Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round

December 2, 2016 by  
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Sweden’s famed ICEHOTEL , perhaps the “coolest” hotel in the world, has just unveiled a permanent luxury lodge made entirely of ice. The newly-designed ICEHOTEL 365 has all of the chilly charm of its sister hotel, but will be open 365 days a year thanks to state-of-the-art solar-powered cooling technology that will keep the structure frozen during summer months. Located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle in the Swedish village of Jukkasjarvi, ICEHOTEL rose to fame thanks to its unique igloo structure made out of “snice”, a mixture of snow and ice collected from the Torne River. The fantastical structure has been built and rebuilt every year since 1989. Related: World-Famous Swedish Ice Hotel Forced to Install Fire Alarms Despite Sub-Freezing Temperatures Now the new ICEHOTEL 365, which sits adjacent to the other temporary structure, has just been unveiled. Thanks to the solar-powered cooling technology , guests can now enjoy either cold or warm rooms year round, along with a cocktail room, saunas, and even an ice church. The cold rooms are kept between -5 and -8 degrees Celsius, and although the beds are made from blocks of ice, they have thick mattresses on top of wood crates for added comfort. Reindeer hides and thermal sleeping bags keep guests warm and comfy during the night. Like the original hotel, the 365 version has a series of thematic rooms called Art Suites. Each room has carved ice detailing created by artists from around the world. And if you really want to splurge, go for the Deluxe Suites. The largest suites in the hotel, the Deluxe Suites also have individually designed carvings as well as a private heated relaxation area, sauna, shower, and en suite bathrooms. + ICEHOTEL 365 Via Contemporist Photographs by Asaf Kliger and ICEHOTEL

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Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round

Uniti Sweden unveils super high-tech tiny EV for urbanites

November 24, 2016 by  
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Companies like Tesla have done a lot to advance electric car technology to curb carbon emissions . Now Uniti Sweden is seeking to take electric car transportation to the next level with a tiny “super high-tech” electric vehicle specifically designed for urbanies . The group ahs just raised over $1.3 million on crowdfunding platform FundedByMe to make their sleek, eco-friendly car a reality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCKHUv1hKS0 Uniti Sweden’s car, also called Uniti, is a two-seat vehicle designed for short range trips, like a city commute, although the car has a 150 kilometer, or around 93 mile, range. The small car weighs a mere 400 kilograms, or almost 882 pounds. But the company didn’t compromise on safety; they say they were able to drastically slash car weight by removing “excess plastic moulding, furnishings, and static interfaces such as plastic buttons,” according to their crowdfunding page. The sporty car is equipped with a 15kW AC motor and is comprised primarily of biomaterials. Uniti Sweden describes the city car as sustainable and socially responsible. Related: Tiny electric car smashes world record by hitting 0-60 mph in 1.5 seconds Not only is the Uniti environmentally friendly, it includes several futuristic features like an augmented reality Head-Up Display that offers information like current speed while a user is on the road. Their technology tracks a driver’s head movements and hands to enhance the experience. The car is even designed to be able to drive autonomously . In a video describing their design, Uniti said, “The idea felt obvious: cars in our cities are overweight, over-sized, overpowered, pump out poisonous gases, and there are 1.2 billion of them on Earth today. And for all that environmental harm, economic strain, and health impact, cars generally carry around only one or two people for short distances.” The $1.3 million Uniti Sweden just raised on FundedByMe will go towards developing the technology, creating the first prototype, and expanding the team. They aim to finish their prototype in 2017, and ultimately plan to start distribution in Western Europe. + Uniti Sweden Images via Uniti

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Sweden wants to fight waste with new tax breaks for repairs

September 21, 2016 by  
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The Swedish government is unveiling an intriguing plan to discourage throwaway culture. The new proposals would slash the VAT tax rate on repairs to bicycles , clothes, and shoes by half in order to encourage consumers to reuse their old items rather than simply replacing them. The law would also allow residents to claim back income taxes on the cost of repairs to large appliances such as ovens, dishwashers, and washing machines. The tax breaks are the work of Sweden’s ruling Social Democrat and Green party coalition. The VAT cuts are expected to not only reduce the cost of repairs, but to also help stimulate the repair industry within the country. Officials are hoping the development of a new home-repairs service industry will help provide jobs for immigrants lacking a formal education. Related: Repair is Beautiful: Paulo Goldstein Repairs Broken Objects to Be Better Than Before The incentives are part of a wider effort in Sweden to reduce carbon emissions , and cutting the amount of new household goods produced will go a long way toward that goal. The proposals will be presented before Sweden’s parliament as part of the government’s budget, where lawmakers will vote on whether to approve the measure. If passed, the new law would go into effect at the start of 2017. Via The Guardian Images via PixaBay and Wikimedia Commons

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Millennia-old cave dwellings in Italy renovated into luxurious hotel suites

September 21, 2016 by  
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The architects designed four new suites, a common area and a spa for the La Dimora di Metello Hotel in Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Southern Italy. They added new walls and luxury hotel amenities to the existing configuration of dwellings that date back to the Paleolithic era. Tuff, a light porous volcanic rock, and plaster were used to recreate the earthy feel, complementing the cave walls’ existing texture. Related: 6 Awesome Caves to Call Home Details made of wood , neutral fabrics and subtle lighting fixtures make the spaces look and feel luxurious and modern. This mix marries the traditional and the contemporary, providing an exclusive space that has become a real tourist attraction. + Manca Studio Via Contemporist Photos by Pierangelo Laterza

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