Copycat Tower Bridge in China sparks controversy

March 2, 2017 by  
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China is infamous for copying famous architecture from other countries – according to The New York Times the country boasts 10 White Houses, a couple of Great Sphinxes, four Arcs de Triomphe, and at minimum one Eiffel Tower. Now in the city of Suzhou, a Tower Bridge based on London’s iconic landmark is drawing attention, although the New York Times says it’s unclear why the bridge , which was completed in 2012, has suddenly been garnering international notice. Images of Suzhou’s Tower Bridge have drawn awe – one news outlet described the Chinese bridge as even more magnificent than the original. Suzhou’s bridge certainly is much larger; it accommodates a five-lane highway and flaunts four towers instead of two. Pedestrian walkways and observation platforms allow people to enjoy the views and architecture of the bridge. Related: China officially bans ‘weird’ architecture But not everyone is enamored with the Chinese Tower Bridge. Suzhou, which has been called the Venice of the East, has its own architectural traditions, such as whitewashed courtyard houses and ancient gardens. Some of China’s most beautiful traditional architecture can be found in the city. Li Yingwu, president of Beijing-based firm OAD Group , called Suzhou’s Tower Bridge plagiarism. He said, “I was really surprised that it got built in Suzhou, because it has preserved its culture really well. It shows that local officials lack confidence in their own culture. They don’t understand that architecture essentially is about culture. It’s not merely an object.” One news outlet, JSChina.com.cn , even suggested the copycat bridge would hinder promotion of the country’s traditional culture. Suzhou has 56 other copycat bridges, according to The New York Times, imitating international bridges like Australia’s Sydney Harbor Bridge or Paris’ Alexandre III Bridge. Architect Cheng Taining of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told Beijing News in 2015 some officials believe foreign-style structures bestow status on an area, making it look more modern or sophisticated. Via ArchDaily and The New York Times Images via CCTV Facebook

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Copycat Tower Bridge in China sparks controversy

World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion-years-old

March 2, 2017 by  
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Around four billion years ago, bacteria formed tiny tubes and filaments, likely in deep-sea hydrothermal vents. An international team of scientists lead by the University College London (UCL) recently discovered those microorganism remains, preserved for billions of years, which the scientists think could be the oldest fossils humans have ever unearthed. The discovery might even hold clues to life on other planets like Mars .

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World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion-years-old

Sydney plans to divest $500 million from fossil fuels

September 7, 2016 by  
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Sydney can now add its name to the list of cities working to divest money away from fossil fuels . The city council is working toward a policy that would divest $500 million from banks investing in fossil fuels. Although the Australian city faces an election this Saturday, campaigners think the policy will go through regardless of the election’s outcome. Current Lord Mayor Clover Moore called for a policy that would place fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal on the council’s “environmentally harmful activities” list and would prioritize investing in institutions that put money into sustainable activities instead. Right now the council manages over $500 million. According to Moore, 56 percent of the council’s funds go toward the “big four” banks in Australia. But in 2015, those four banks put $5.5 billion into oil, natural gas, and coal. Related: Copenhagen city council approves plan to divest from fossil fuels The council passed the motion calling for the policy unanimously. After the election they’re expected to devise an investment policy divesting from fossil fuels that the council would need to approve. Moore has already said she’ll work to move the policy forward if re-elected. The motion was supported by independent councilors and those from the Liberal, Labor, and Greens parties. Campaigner Isaac Astill of 350.org , a group that lobbied for the policy, said it appears the policy has “wide appeal” and that it will likely “sail through after the election.” Finding new banks in which to invest could still be a challenge. Moore told Guardian Australia, ” Climate change is the most important issue of our times. We urgently need to reduce our greenhouse emissions and move away from fossil fuels to clean energy – but we are currently frustrated by the market offerings for green investments and the ability of smaller banks without loans to fossil fuel projects to accept more of our deposits.” Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and CeBIT Australia on Flickr

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Sydney plans to divest $500 million from fossil fuels

Scientists discover an enormous, hidden reef behind the Great Barrier Reef

August 29, 2016 by  
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New laser data from the Royal Australian Navy has revealed a massive reef behind the rapidly dying Great Barrier Reef. Giant fields of circular, donut-shaped mounds, between 200 and 300 meters in diameter, are created by a type of green algae. Unfortunately, this reef is likely facing the same threats as the neighboring Great Barrier Reef . A collaboration between James Cook University , the University of Sydney , and Queensland University of Technology led to the discovery of just how large these fields are. Dr. Robin Beaman of JCU said in his co-authored paper , “We’ve known about these geological structures in the northern Great Barrier Reef since the 1970s and 80s, but never before has the true nature of their shape, size and vast scale been revealed.” Related: Startling video shows coral bleaching in action The mounds are bioherms, or organic reef-like mounds, made by the growth of Halimeda green algae . Upon death, they form small limestone flakes similar to the shape of cornflakes and mounds begin to form over time. These Halimeda bioherms are between 200-300 meters wide and 10 meters deep. Thanks to the new glimpse into the area, over 6,000 square kilometers have now been mapped. The closer look has raised questions of environmental preservation and historical documentation. Associate Professor Jody Webster of the University of Sydney said, “As a calcifying organism, Halimeda may be susceptible to ocean acidification and warming,” and wonders about the extent of possible damage so far. Dr. Beaman is interested in what researchers can learn from bioherm sediment samples about changes in the reef systems over the last 10,000 years. Further impending research will help scientists better understand the structures, their impact, and their future. Via Daily Mail Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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Amtrak to launch next-gen high-speed trains in US in five years

August 29, 2016 by  
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In a big leap forward for American railroad transportation, Amtrak is accepting a $2.45 billion loan from the federal government to improve its technology . The project will span over the next several years and include the addition of 28 next-generation high-speed trains, major upgrades to four major Northeastern stations, and tons of amenities to draw in more passengers. When Amtrak ’s new trains hit the tracks in 2021, travelers will have a high-tech transportation option unmatched by any other in the country. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH-3FsmU6KQ Vice President Joe Biden made the historic announcement at the station that bears his name in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday, noting that the bulk of the loan—around $2 billion—is earmarked for the new high-tech train cars . Once they are put into service, the new cars will increase the Acela fleet by 40 percent. The new additions will be decidedly next-generation in nature, with one-third more rider capacity, additional outlets and USB connections, better Wi-Fi, and the ability to travel as fast as 186 miles per hour. Related: Amtrak teams with Google to create a real-time train locator map “This is a serious, serious upgrade,” Biden said during his announcement. “One out of every three jobs (in the country) are here, along this corridor… you’d need seven more lanes on I-95 to accommodate the traffic if Amtrak shut down.” Amtrak’s new cars are promised to be 95 percent USA-made, built primarily in New York by Alstom. The 28 new cars will service the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington D.C., and are expected to reduce energy usage by 20 percent. The increased passenger capacity combined with higher speed and lower energy consumption could represent a major win for travelers and commuters, as well as the surrounding environment. The remaining $450 million of the federal loan will be used to upgrade four major Northeast Amtrak stations, including Union Station in Washington DC and Penn Station in New York City. The railroad infrastructure between Boston and D.C. will also get a long-awaited sprucing up. All work is expected to be completed by 2021. Via Engadget Images via Amtrak and Wikipedia

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New protective timber slats shield the renovated Escu House from Sydney’s sun

August 2, 2016 by  
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The architects extended the front living space to incorporate the existing veranda and introduced a vertical slatted timber element as a privacy shield and part floor-to-ceiling balustrade . The name of Escu House references this subtle introduction of a buffer zone-“escu” means “shield” in French. In addition to its protective role, the facade treatment lets northern light into the interior and allows windows to be opened wide. Related: Sydney Church Renovated Into A Chic Home Complete With Indoor Pool Inside, the architects introduced layers of joinery and finishes that strengthen the connection to nature. Several original elements such as the David Trubridge pendant light create accents that reference the 1960s design, while blue, yellow and grey kitchen tiles introduce subtle pops of color. Built-in furniture and concealed storage were added to the back of the house, kitchen and open family room. + Bijl Architecture Photos by Katherine Lu

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New protective timber slats shield the renovated Escu House from Sydney’s sun

Soothing pyramidal LED lamp illuminates etchings of familiar cityscapes

June 3, 2016 by  
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The LED -powered All Around Lamp was first featured at Milan Design Week 2016, hosted by Local Design Australia . Its ambient light shines through plastic panels etched with various landmarks from Milan and Sydney, chosen as homages to the cities integral to the exhibit. Novozhilova also offers personalized etchings for those interested in owning her creations, which come in either a large or a small size. Related: 14 brilliant new lighting designs that will inspire you The tetrahedron shape is modified by cutting off one of the corners, creating an option for the lamp to transform into a chic side table. Otherwise, the lamps can be placed onto any side to become a unique piece of self-illuminating artwork . The etchings overlap and take on a variety of abstract combinations, depending on how the lamp is placed, which allows for an endless variety of bright and creative decor. + Maria Novozhilova Images via Maria Novozhilova

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Chile is generating so much solar power that it’s giving it away for free

June 3, 2016 by  
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In recent years, Chile has invested so much in its solar power industry that the country is now generating more electricity from the sun than it knows what to do with. A new report reveals that spot prices on solar electricity dropped to zero for 113 days of the year through April, and many more days of free solar power are expected to come. Taking advantage of free solar power is a huge benefit for residents, but analysts are concerned about how this will impact the market, since investors and owners of solar power plants may lose money.

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Chile is generating so much solar power that it’s giving it away for free

Mid-century bungalow in Sydney is wrapped in a stunning slatted wood screen

April 6, 2016 by  
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Abandoned railway line becomes a thriving elevated park in Sydney

March 31, 2016 by  
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