A small Swedish town becomes home to urban development experiments

September 18, 2020 by  
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Stockholm-based architecture firm Anders Berensson Architects has unveiled designs for the Tibro Train Tracks , an ongoing urban development project to transform an abandoned track area in the Swedish town of Tibro into an innovative hub for urban planning experiments. Commissioned by the municipality of Tibro with support from the ArkDes Swedish Center for Architecture and Design, the practice-based research project explores the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which calls for sustainable cities and communities. Under the direction of SDG 11, the Tibro research project aims to find new ways of sustainably revitalizing small, rural towns. Located in southern Sweden, the small town of Tibro is best known for its furniture industry and local manufacturing. As a result, the architects opted to highlight the town’s history by taking an inventory of the machines and industrial features that could be adapted into site-specific projects and interventions. Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France The project has created 60 fast photomontages, 16 inventories of local producers, 17 urban projects and proposals and one urban planning proposal for the abandoned train track in the heart of the town. The one-year project comprised three phases. Phase 1 consisted of community meetings that began with 60 fast photomontages to stimulate discussion among locals, who have created over 300 proposals. In Phase 2, the architects visited 16 local companies, schools and associations to figure out what elements in their site-specific projects could be locally produced. For Phase 3, the discussions and inventories were combined to create a “smorgasbord” of 17 proposals, prototypes and projects for the abandoned train track area. The 17 proposals span small and large interventions, from increasing tree coverage by the train tracks to the creation of the Tibro Market Hall. “The site itself as an abandoned yet central site with a small interest to invest and develop fast can be seen as a disadvantage but with a focused strategy over a long time it can be turned into the opposite,” the architects explained. “With more time experiments can be done, tested and evaluated. Small projects, tests and prototypes can be built and removed or kept. Things can grow organically in a focused plan with a resilient strategy.” + Anders Berensson Architects Images via Anders Berensson Architects

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A small Swedish town becomes home to urban development experiments

Rihanna’s new Fenty skincare line leads the industry in sustainability

September 18, 2020 by  
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Fans of Rihanna’s trendy cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, have a lot to look forward to with the new addition of her latest enterprise, Fenty Skin. The Fenty Skin line, released in July 2020, boasts a clean, vegan and earth-conscious system that incorporates recycled post-consumer materials and refill systems for products that embrace sustainability in all the right ways. Rihanna spent years frustrated and overwhelmed by the vast number of skincare choices available and even had a few bad experiences with a product that discolored her skin. “Fenty Skin is my vision of the new culture of skincare,” Rihanna said . “I wanted to create amazing products that really work, that are easy to use, and everyone can apply it.” Fast forward to 2020, and the talented singer and entrepreneur has created an approachable and simple skincare system that celebrates the valuable lessons she has learned throughout her own skincare journey. Related: Haeckels delivers zero-waste skincare with Bio Restore Membrane Globally sourced, clean ingredients It’s no secret that Rihanna’s successful career has brought her around the world, from her home country of Barbados to New York, Los Angeles and Paris, and the Fenty Skin ingredients certainly reflect that. Everything is clean, vegan , gluten-free and mineral oil-free, combining global ingredients like vitamin C-rich Barbados Cherry with popular skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide (vitamin B3). The affordable products also feature refreshing, tropical fragrances like coconut and wild desert Kalahari Melon, with synthetic fragrance never exceeding 1% of the total formula. Other thoughtful and unique ingredients include Japanese Raisin, a natural and ancient detoxifying botanical; Australian Lemon Myrtle, a healing flowered plant that reduces oil; and Ginkgo Biloba, a tree used in Chinese healing techniques to clarify skin. “I’ve lived and traveled all over the world and I wanted to make sure that Fenty Skin represented the best-of-the-best when it came to our ingredients,” Rihanna said on the company’s website. “I wanted safe, clean, effective formulas that celebrated and respected what our planet has to offer.” You won’t find any harsh ingredients here, either. Fenty Skin’s formulas are free from parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, formaldehydes, thiazolinones, paraffins and sodium lauryl sulfate, to say the least. Even better, the SPF products don’t use any reef-harming or coral-bleaching oxybenzone or octinoxate, and all products are free from the plastic microbeads that have been shown to harm marine life. It’s inclusive, too, with every Fenty Skin product tested on all skin tones, textures and types. Sustainable packaging Fenty Skin is designed to have less of an impact on the environment by striving to reduce, reuse and recycle at every opportunity. “I wanted the packaging to be beautiful, but also functional with an earth-conscious approach,” Rihanna explained on Fenty Skin’s site. “We eliminated boxes where we could, we have refill systems, and we use recycled materials where possible. Nobody is perfect, but I really believe we can try our best to do right and we’ll keep evolving as we go.” The company makes an effort to eliminate excess packaging , and even those products that require protective paper boxes have recyclable elements. Fenty Skin also utilizes refillable systems so that customers can buy a product once and purchase a refill when they run out without having to throw away the entire container. The system requires less packaging and makes the products less expensive in the long run, a win-win. Where possible, the bottles, tubes and jars incorporate post-consumer materials, and all shipping boxes are fully recyclable. Fenty Skin Start’rs Fenty promotes 2-in-1 products with its three main “Fenty Skin Start’rs,” consisting of the Total Cleans’r Remove-It-All Cleanser ($25), the Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum ($28) and the Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen ($35). The regime starts with a gentle makeup remover-cleanser complete with a creamy lather that removes dirt, oil and makeup without drying, then moves into a toner-serum hybrid to target pores, improve dark spots and fight shine, and finishes with a moisturizer-sunscreen combination for hydration and sun protection. One of the most compelling aspects of Rihanna’s new skincare line is that it doesn’t showboat its sustainability (which is hard to come by nowadays, considering the uptick of greenwashing in the beauty industry). Looking at the products themselves, there’s no gaudy green label or wood-capped packaging to make it appear more eco-friendly. Packaging is minimalist and chic, not unlike the Fenty Beauty products that highlight the superior colors and formulas in simple-yet-stylish containers. Instead, the brand is transparent about its goals to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious behind the scenes. As Rihanna herself puts it, Fenty Skin is a “vision of the new culture of skincare.” This earth-conscious business model is a role model for all companies, no matter the industry. + Fenty Skin Images via Bold PR

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Rihanna’s new Fenty skincare line leads the industry in sustainability

Off-grid bamboo bungalow embraces nature in Thailand

May 25, 2020 by  
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When Mr. Phol asked Bangkok-based architecture studio  TOUCH  to design for him a private home in Thailand’s north-central province of Petchabun, the brief came with a challenge — the home would have to operate entirely off the grid . Set approximately 1,200 meters above sea level in a rural area, the remote property has no electricity, water supply or even other buildings nearby. As a result, the architects created TREE Sukkasem VILLA, a self-sustaining home that combines traditional Thai design and contemporary elements. Completed in 2013, the TREE Sukkasem VILLA is a one-story  bungalow -style home that spans 450 square meters with a wraparound deck. The three-bedroom, two-bath home also includes an L-shaped open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen oriented toward the south. Each room opens directly to the deck and views of the lush surroundings. The home’s open design takes advantage of cool mountain winds so that no air conditioning is needed.  As the architects explained in a project statement, the “concept of this house is to live without public electricity and water but with the house itself  sustainable . In order to create a “green” architecture, simple functions with clear design and easy to construct are the main point to design this villa, yet it still comfortable because of tropical-design was added into the process.” Related: Low-impact Thai home uses modular design to harmonize with nature To take advantage of passive solar conditions, the architects elevated the building off the ground to promote passive cooling and as a preventative measure against snakes and other wild animals from entering the home. The reinforced concrete roof was also designed with deep overhangs to mitigate solar heat gain and is integrated with a rainwater collection system as well as solar panels. A diesel generator provides supplementary electricity. Locally sourced materials, such as wood and  bamboo , were used throughout the home.  + TOUCH Images by Chalermwat Wongchompoo

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Off-grid bamboo bungalow embraces nature in Thailand

A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun

March 10, 2020 by  
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The French city of Nîmes recently welcomed the Ada Lovelace Secondary School, Occitania’s first-ever clean-energy school that’s earned both BEPOS energy level certification and a sustainability rating of Silver-level BDM (Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens). Opened in the fall of last year, the eco-friendly school is the work of French design firm A+ Architecture . In addition to its energy-saving and -producing features, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School features a bold and contemporary design to help boost the neighborhood’s ongoing urban revitalization efforts. Crowned winners of a 2015 design competition for the project, A+ Architecture was tasked to reconstruct the 400-student secondary school to a new site that would also include space for housing for half of the student population, sports facilities, a race track and three staff houses. The 5,898-square-meter school also needed to be held up as a positive sign of urban renewal in the Mas de Mingue district. Related: New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels “Beyond the environmental basics, we have produced a contemporary, bold, powerful and dynamic architectural structure,” the architects explained. “We wanted people to be drawn to this place of education in this difficult neighborhood. Shapes collide, as stainless-steel panels make it seem as though the facades are empty, which are broken up by rows of windows.” Topped with 800 square meters of solar panels, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School is clad in locally sourced stones that vary in size for visual interest and to help give the volume a more human scale. For stable indoor temperatures, the architects insulated the walls with wood and hemp and installed wood boilers for supplemental heating. Students have also been invited to learn about the school’s energy-saving systems through a digital building model accessible through a game and website managed by Citae. + A+ Architecture Photography by Benoit Wehrle via A+ Architecture

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A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun

Researchers convert durian and jackfruit biowaste into ultracapacitors

March 10, 2020 by  
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Durian fruit is notable for its funky stench, making it a rather malodorous waste when it is discarded. But a new study from Australia’s University of Sydney, published in the Journal of Energy Storage , focused on recycling durian waste into an affordable, sustainable source of energy storage to counteract global warming. How? The researchers have discovered a way to create ultracapacitors from durian and its related jackfruit cousin. Who knew that putrid-smelling biowaste could pack an electrical punch? “Super-capacitors are like energy reservoirs that dole out energy smoothly. They can quickly store large amounts of energy within a small battery-sized device and then supply energy to charge electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, within a few seconds,” explained associate professor Vincent Gomes. “Using durian and jackfruit purchased from a market, we converted the fruits’ waste portions (biomass) into super-capacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently.” Related: New technological process transforms everyday trash into graphene As TreeHugger reported, the waste biomass of durian and jackfruit are “converted into a carbon aerogel using non-toxic methods.” These aerogels are then leveraged and converted into electrodes, “which are tested for their energy storage properties.” Interestingly, these durian- and jackfruit-derived electrodes “demonstrate outstanding performance, making them a green, low-cost energy solution for charging phones, laptops and tablets.” When compared to what’s currently on the market, the electrodes developed from durian and jackfruit have proven to be a more energy-efficient alternative to traditional ultracapacitors derived from activated carbon. “The durian and jackfruit super-capacitors perform much better than the materials currently in use and are comparable, if not better, than the expensive and exotic graphene -based materials,” Gomes said. “We have reached a point where we must urgently discover and produce ways to create and store energy using sustainably sourced materials that do not contribute to global warming.” + Journal of Energy Storage Via TreeHugger Image via Jonny Clow

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Self-sustaining Ugandan surgical facility provides healthcare to underserved areas

January 21, 2020 by  
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In an inspiring example of humanitarian architecture, Kliment Halsband Architects teamed up with Mount Sinai Surgery in New York to create the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility, a prototype for an independent, self-sustaining ambulatory surgical facility. According to the architects, roughly 5 billion people lack any form of safe or affordable surgery, leading to millions of deaths annually worldwide. In response, the architects created a modular, easily replicable surgical facility to provide ambulatory surgical procedures for underserved populations in resource-poor regions. Located in Kyabirwa, a rural village near the equator in Uganda, the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility is located on a site that originally lacked potable water, reliable electricity, internet or adequate sanitary facilities. To keep construction simple, the architects used a modular and minimally invasive design inspired by locally available materials. Taking advantage of the area’s abundance of red clay, the architects used locally sourced and fired bricks and cladding tiles for the main structure and topped it with a wavy roof reminiscent of the nearby White Nile. Related: Snøhetta designs healing forest cabins for patients at Norway’s largest hospitals Uninterrupted power is provided by 75 kWp solar panels installed atop the wavy roof, Li-Lead Acid Hybrid battery storage, an onsite generator and intermittent power from the grid. The team also installed 20 miles of underground cabling with fiberoptic service to provide critical internet connection for telemedicine links to Mount Sinai Surgery in New York, where doctors provide advanced surgical consultation and real-time operating room video conferencing. Gravity tanks with a filter and sterilization system store well water and intermittently available town water on-site, while water from a graywater system is recycled for toilet flushing and irrigation. The building relies primarily on natural ventilation and is not air conditioned with the exception of the operating rooms. “The primary reason for the limited availability of surgical treatments in underserved parts of the world is the belief that surgery is either too expensive or too complicated to be broadly available,” reads the project’s client statement. “We believe that surgical treatments are essential to building healthy communities worldwide and that surgical therapies need not be complex or expensive. This model is built around developing an independent, self-sustaining facility capable of providing surgical treatments in resource-poor areas.” + Kliment Halsband Architects Photography by Bob Ditty and Will Boase via Kliment Halsband Architects

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Self-sustaining Ugandan surgical facility provides healthcare to underserved areas

New tiny home for glamping on Governors Island offers guests the best views of NYC

January 21, 2020 by  
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Finding a little serenity in NYC is never an easy feat and often requires New Yorkers to head outside of the city to take in a little quiet time. But thankfully, Big Apple residents and visitors alike can now enjoy a relaxing stay in a fabulous new tiny home retreat on Governors Island . Just a 7-minute ferry ride from downtown Manhattan, Outlook Shelter offers guests a high-end, luxury glamping experience with city vistas they won’t find anywhere else. Previously, adventurers looking to spend the night on Governors Island were limited to sleeping in glamping tents located on a campsite known as the Collective Governors Island Retreat . Now, the campsite has broadened its accommodation offerings with five contemporary tiny cabins, designed by tiny home specialists, Land Ark RV . Related: Kennebunkport campground offers tiny cabins, Airstreams and more Designed to blend the features of a luxury hotel with the serenity of a quiet glamping experience, the tiny homes boast a contemporary design. Clad in corrugated metal and Brazilian hardwood on the exterior, each 400-square-foot structure includes two decks. These outdoor spaces provide unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty and the harbor. Once inside, guests will be able to enjoy some down time in living spaces inspired by Scandinavian design . Furnished with items from Danish design brand Hay, the tiny homes feature high ceilings and ultra-large windows that create a bright and airy atmosphere. Each cabin has a small living space and kitchenette along with a bedroom featuring either one king-sized bed or a king-sized bed plus a double bed upon request. The en suite bathroom comes with a rain shower and a luxurious tub that sits under a massive window, so guests can take in one of the best views in New York while soaking their cares away. The unique tiny home retreat is a short ferry ride from downtown Manhattan, yet this peaceful oasis is tucked into hills of the historic island. Sleeping up to three guests, each tiny home comes with a number of high-end features that may or may not justify the rates, which start at a whopping $595 per night. + Glamping Hub + Outlook Shelter Via Tiny House Talk Images via Glamping Hub

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New tiny home for glamping on Governors Island offers guests the best views of NYC

Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Spain’s Rías Baixas area is a picturesque part of the country. Now, in this idyllic region sits a highly energy-efficient home designed by local firm ARKKE . The architects incorporated several bioclimatic features into the design, taking advantage of the local climate and landscape to help reduce the building’s energy use. The Small Bioclimatic House is a compact, two-bedroom home that sits elevated on a steep hill side overlooking the Ría de Arousa, the largest estuary in Galicia. The area is known for its picturesque landscape dotted with quaint fishing villages, so the architects wanted to create an energy-efficient home that harmonizes with the surroundings and complements the existing vernacular. Related: Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint The home is just over 900 square feet and is surrounded by natural landscaping. According to the architects, the layout and size of the house was inspired by the limited building space as well as the stunning views. The firm explained, “The essential premise of the commission was to design a small, highly efficient and healthy house capable of making the most of a very narrow plot but with delicious views of the Arosa estuary.” The architects created a simple, one-story design with two bedrooms, a living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The front wall is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a front deck; this helps the family to enjoy optimal natural light as well as unobstructed views year-round. To create a strong thermal envelope for the home, the architects chose to build with CLT . The porch extends laterally, forming eaves that shade the interiors from direct solar radiation, again reducing the home’s energy use. Additionally, the entire envelope has been insulated with a unique exterior insulation system (SATE) to withstand both the region’s frigid winters and the searing summer months. + ARKKE Via ArchDaily Images via ARKKE

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Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

This mountain-biking getaway is an energy-efficient base for adventure in Tasmania

October 31, 2019 by  
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Australia’s new mountain bike trails in northeast Tasmania are now more accessible than ever thanks to Dales of Derby , a contemporary, purpose-built group housing complex that is the perfect base for adventure. Local architecture and design studio Philip M Dingemanse designed the building, which won the 2019 Barry McNeill Award for Sustainable Architecture with its energy-efficient and low-maintenance features.  A former tin-mining center, the tiny Australian town of Derby was transformed in 2015 with the opening of Blue Derby, a network of mountain bike trails that traverses some of the island’s most stunning rainforest landscapes. Tapped to design lodgings to accommodate large groups of mountain bike enthusiasts, Philip M Dingemanse created a project that would double as an introductory building to the small village of Derby. Drawing inspiration from the town’s mining history, the architects created a simple gabled form and clad the exterior with Australian vernacular corrugated metal and timber in a nod to utilitarian tin miner homes. The architects also split the gabled building into seven pieces, with four sections pulled apart, to bring the outdoors in, while the interiors are lined with wood for a warm and inviting atmosphere. Related: Energy-efficient home in Whitefish was inspired by the region’s agrarian vernacular Built to sleep a large group of up to 24 people, Dales of Derby includes bunk beds that accommodate 16 people as well as four rooms with queen-sized beds that are accessed via a red vaulted foyer inspired by a mining tunnel. At the heart of the building is a large common area with a wood heater and a full kitchen with a dining area oriented toward the forest. To reduce the project’s energy demands, the architects installed solar hot water heaters and followed passive design strategies for optimal solar orientation and thermal control. “The built form is a singular functional object separated into pieces and strung out across the hill between road and river,” the architects noted. “Gaps become significant framing moments of eucalypt forest while nighttime gable lighting castes a permanent golden hue to graying timber walls; a memory of the raw timber cut, glowing on the outskirts of the township.” + Philip M Dingemanse Photography by Luke Hesketh via Philip M Dingemanse

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This mountain-biking getaway is an energy-efficient base for adventure in Tasmania

Forgotten urban spaces get new lives as beautiful gathering areas on Skid Row

August 16, 2019 by  
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As part of its project to update a 110-unit affordable housing project on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, California architecture firm Brooks + Scarpa has revitalized a couple of unloved service courtyards and a debris-filled alley into beautiful outdoor gathering spaces. Completed on a minimal budget, the Rossmore + Weldon Courtyards will provide a major positive impact on the quality of living for the tenants, who were formerly homeless. Low-cost design strategies were used to transform the neglected spaces into contemporary and welcoming areas. Completed for a cost of $140,000, the Rossmore + Weldon Courtyards include three small spaces measuring 7 feet by 50 feet, 10 feet by 12 feet and 15 feet by 20 feet for a total combined area of less than 850 square feet. These outdoor spaces had been poorly utilized and typically cluttered with debris and tenant bicycles. When the architects discovered these spaces, they convinced the client of their transformation potential on a minimal budget. To keep costs low, most materials were reused, recycled or purchased from a local hardware store. Related: Affordable housing for disabled veterans marries wellness and sustainability in Los Angeles At Weldon, the architects turned a southern courtyard and an alley on the west side into attractive outdoor living spaces. To brighten up the areas, the architects used white paint and an “interactive green wall ” of custom steel pot holders attached to a white CMU wall that holds potted plants, for which the tenants can provide care. Poured-in-place concrete seats and tables provide space to gather and rest, while white gravel and concrete pavers create visual interest and complete the light-toned color palette. In contrast, the Rossmore courtyard features a predominately timber palette. Designed around an existing ficus tree, the updated space features rolling wood-slatted benches mounted on steel-angle track as well as new planters. Bicycle storage has been integrated in all of the courtyard designs.  + Brooks + Scarpa Images via Brooks + Scarpa

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