Hollands first Vertical Forest to rise with 10,000 air-purifying plants

July 6, 2017 by  
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Hot on the heels of the world’s first Forest City in China , Stefano Boeri Architetti has announced their winning bid for the first Vertical Forest in the Netherlands. Set to rise in Utrecht, the Hawthorn Tower will, like its Milanese predecessor , be blanketed in greenery and is expected to absorb over 5.4 tons of carbon dioxide. The equivalent of one hectare of woods will be installed on the tower to create a real urban ecosystem with over 30 different vegetal species. Slated to begin construction in 2019, the Hawthorn Tower will infuse greenery into the heart of Jaarbeursboulevard area close to Utrecht Station. The tower is one of two tall buildings in the development, the other designed by Amsterdam-based MVSA studio. “The 90 meters in height tower designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti attempts to create, in Utrecht city center, an innovative experience of cohabitation between city and nature,” said the architects. Around 10,000 plants of different species—360 trees, 9,640 shrubs and flower—will be installed on all sides of the facade. The mixed-use building is positioned as the “new healthy center of Utrecht” and will comprise offices, fitness and yoga areas, bike parking, and public leisure space. Its scale and design will thoughtfully react and complement the surrounding urban fabric. The tower will also host the Vertical Forest Hub, a research center on worldwide urban forestation that’s open to the public on the ground floor and directly connected to the sixth-floor roof garden. The research center will showcase the different technical and botanic solutions chosen for the tower and track the progress of Vertical Forests under construction around the world. Related: China breaks ground on first “Forest City” that fights air pollution The Hawthorn Tower is the latest Vertical Forest of its kind to be unveiled, this time in the heart of Europe, and follows in the steps of other urban forestation projects designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti. Other projects include soon-to-be-completed Vertical Forests in Nanjing and Lausanne, a greenery-covered Mountain Hotel in Guizhou , and other green buildings planned in Paris, Tirana, and Shanghai. Construction on Hawthorn Tower is expected to finish in 2022. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images by Imaginary A2 / Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Hollands first Vertical Forest to rise with 10,000 air-purifying plants

Incredibly rare two-headed porpoise found in the North Sea

June 15, 2017 by  
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An unsuspecting fisherman recently stumbled across an incredibly rare two-headed dolphin. Only nine examples of conjoined twins have ever been found among cetaceans , according to Erwin Kompanje, curator of mammals for the Natural History Museum Rotterdam in the Netherlands . So he jumped at the chance to study a rare specimen of conjoined harbor porpoises caught the end of May by Dutch fisherman. But when he reached out to the fisherman, what happened next was a scientist’s nightmare. It’s not unheard of for trawlers to accidentally catch a porpoise. There are hundreds of thousands of the cetaceans near the coast of the Netherlands. But no one has ever caught conjoined twin harbor porpoises. The fisherman snapped photos, which made their way to Kompanje. He couldn’t wait to study the creature in the laboratory. Related: Fish with “human-like teeth” spotted in Michigan lakes Kompanje could tell the twins were male, and had likely recently been born – and he thinks they were born alive. They probably didn’t live for long; either they had two brains which might have told them to swim in different directions, or a single heart may have failed to pump enough blood to keep them alive. Conjoined twins are an extremely rare find. And these looked to be in good condition. Others that have been discovered were undeveloped fetuses – such as one found near Japan in 1970 in a dolphin’s womb – or have started to decompose, such as a dolphin with two beaks found in 2001. Kompanje reached out to the fisherman to try and obtain the specimen for study. But this story doesn’t have a happy ending for science. The fisherman thought it was illegal to catch the conjoined twins, so after the photographs, they tossed the creature back into the sea. Kompanje told The Washington Post, “For a cetologist, this is a real horror.” Based on the photographs he was still able to publish a paper in DEINSEA, the online journal of the natural history museum, joined by one scientist of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and one from Wageningen Marine Research . Sadly, we may never know more about the rare twins. Via The Washington Post Images via Kompanje, E.J.O.; Camphuysen, C.J.; and Leopold, M.F.

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Incredibly rare two-headed porpoise found in the North Sea

Green roof with bee hotel tops energy-neutral fair trade building in the Netherlands

May 25, 2017 by  
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Fair trade fruits and vegetables aren’t the only things coming and going at Nature’s Pride—buzzing bees and birds are also flocking to the sustainable distribution hub. Paul de Ruiter Architects designed the giant green-roofed facility in Maasdijk, where it serves as one of the largest Dutch importers of exotic fruits and vegetables. As a recipient of a BREEAM Excellent certificate, Nature’s Pride is also one of the top five most sustainable distribution centers in Western Europe. The design of the 37,000-square-meter Nature’s Pride facility is guided by the company’s philosophy for openness and transparency. The energy-neutral building features a flexible structure that can be modified with minimal interventions. “Recesses in the floor can easily be closed, emergency staircases can be moved and the floor at the packaging department can be loaded more heavily,” write the architects. “All together it enables to building to fulfill a completely different function if required in the future.” Related: Former museum in Rotterdam is transformed into a luxury energy-saving villa Produce enters the distribution center via the north side’s fourteen loading docks and is transported out on the east side. Glazing wraps around the building to let in natural light. The large roof contains room for parking and electric vehicle charging stations. The building also includes a 2,000-square-meter green roof with a bee hotel and a butterfly roof garden. Stormwater runoff is collected and reused for flushing the toilets and cleaning operations. + Paul de Ruiter Architects Images by Jeroen Musch

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Green roof with bee hotel tops energy-neutral fair trade building in the Netherlands

Architects transform barns into solar-powered workspaces for Dutch daredevil

April 10, 2017 by  
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Rotterdam-based architecture studio Instability We Trust transformed two barns into a set of contemporary workspaces for the famous Dutch daredevil, Wim Hof . Nicknamed “The Iceman” for his ability to withstand extreme cold, Hof commissioned the adaptive reuse project to house his training seminars on the health benefits of cold exposure and breathing techniques. Located in Barneveld in the eastern Netherlands, the solar-powered building juxtaposes two visually contrasting volumes: an “extraverted” glass house and an “introverted” wooden cave-like structure. The L-shaped building comprises two interconnected gabled structures with open and flexible interiors. The gabled glass house is almost entirely transparent with an “outward atmosphere which relates to the air,” whereas the gabled timber-clad structure has a “grounded atmosphere which relates to the earth.” Though the timber volume is without windows, its connection with the glass structure allows access to natural light . Large sliding doors open the volumes up the outdoors and permits natural ventilation. Related: Historic Dutch nursery transformed into stunning solar-powered home Vertical planks of larch sourced from the sawmill next door clad the enclosed cave-like volume. The two gabled end walls were custom-made from clay plaster to create a warm and earthy environment that, combined with the suspended light sculpture, makes the space ideal for meditation. Photovoltaic cells and thermal cells generate renewable energy on site. “A visually clean and calm appearance is accomplished by combining an array of different elements such as insulation, gutters, drainage pipes, sliding door rails, glass panels and structural beams into one carefully detailed wooden slatted element, almost like a click-on facade,” write the architects. + Instability We Trust Via ArchDaily Images via Instability We Trust , © Pim Top

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Architects transform barns into solar-powered workspaces for Dutch daredevil

Calming views of the garden alleviate patient anxiety at this modern dental clinic

January 13, 2017 by  
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Imagine staring out at a bucolic scene with birds bouncing around in a field of waving grasses while sitting in the dentist’s chair. It might make the whole experience a little less awful, right? This dental clinic in the Netherlands was designed to make patients feel more relaxed by providing calming views of the garden outside. The light-filled building with a neutral material palette and open-plan layout, designed by Studio Prototype , is part of a cluster of healthcare facilities in the new Huurlingse Dam urban plan in Wichen, in The Netherlands. The building’s sculptural form promises to become a keystone for the neighborhood and provide vistas of the surrounding landscapes. Its clutter-free interior is lit via large openings and a skylights intalled in the central area of the building, above a hallway. Light-stained birch wood furniture and glass dominate both the exterior and interior of the project. Related: Light-filled dentist clinic shows how good design can calm patient fears “The distinctiveness of the sculpture in combination with its freestanding position and sight lines, enhances the open and accessible character of the practice,” said architect Steven Otten. “The open setup of the plan and the large panoramic view towards the garden create a light and spacious place in which the patient feels comfortable,” he added. + Studio Prototype Via Dezeen Photos by Jeroen Musch

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Calming views of the garden alleviate patient anxiety at this modern dental clinic

$70 DIY acoustic tractor beam moves objects with sound

January 13, 2017 by  
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Tractor beams may soon be no longer fictional tools under the command of starship captains, as a team of researchers at the UK’s University of Bristol has managed to create a simple tractor beam out of easily obtainable parts. Check out the video above to learn how you can build your own for just over $70. https://youtu.be/6YV0lou4L4c According to the University of Bristol , the concept for this tractor beam is much simpler than a recent sonic tractor beam that uses sound waves to trap and manipulate tiny objects. According to the recent paper published in Applied Physics Letters, this tractor beam design uses just one electric signal and a passive wave modulator. As the University of Bristol notes: “The passive wave modulator is a type of acoustic lens that can alter the transmitted or reflected waves. The research team’s passive wave modulator can be made in various different ways. In one example it’s a collection of tubes with different lengths and in another it’s a carefully contoured surface. In both cases it can be 3D-printed using an off–the-shelf printer. Using a single waveform a static tractor beam can be created. If two waveforms are used then up and down manipulation of objects can be achieved.” Related: This revolutionary new paper battery is powered by bacteria According to research assistant and lead author of the paper, Asier Marzo, “The technique can generate an acoustic tractor beam using only a single electrical signal, this will reduce the cost and complexity of tractor beams making them a more affordable technology for manipulating and analyzing levitated samples. With our new research now everyone can have an acoustic tractor beam.” The device is so simple, the university has released a YouTube video showing people how they can build their own tractor beam at home for just over $70. That’s a far cry from previous tractor beam technologies, which required phased arrays of more than 50 sound channels, with each made up of a signal generator and an amplifier. Via University of Bristol Video and image via University of Bristol , YouTube

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$70 DIY acoustic tractor beam moves objects with sound

Old Dutch farmhouse gets a modern makeover with locally-sourced materials

December 2, 2016 by  
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Architect Jeanne Dekkers converted this brick farmhouse in the Dutch village of Banholt into a beautiful family house and studio. The team renovated the existing building with spruce-clad extensions that line the edges of an inner courtyard, resulting in a bright and airy space with a gentle environmental footprint. The farmhouse is located on the outskirts of an agricultural region in the Netherlands . The architects converted a former shed into a studio space and connected it to the new carport, creating a layout that resembles that of traditional farmhouses of the region. The additions are separated from the existing brick structures thanks to horizontal timber cladding. The old horse stable was transformed into a light and modern living space with an office. Two large openings made of Iroko wood frame the landscape and let the light inside. A stainless steel core containing the kitchen, bathroom and toilet occupies the central area of the building. Two round staircases clad in wood connect the ground floor with the second floor. Related: Historic Belgian farmhouse renovated into a modern solar-powered home The team collaborated with local artisans through the project, prioritizing local materials and local building techniques. They also reused some of the original materials, including old steel ledgers, roof tiles and bricks. + Jeanne Dekkers Architecture Via Dezeen Photos by Holly Marder

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Old Dutch farmhouse gets a modern makeover with locally-sourced materials

Former factory site in rural Amsterdam to be reborn as a modern neighborhood

November 28, 2016 by  
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Located between two dikes and a centuries-old street with traditional Dutch houses, Klein Kadoelen will overlook beautiful views of the nearly 600-year-old Wilmkebreekpolder, a reclaimed meadow/polder in the middle of the district. The residential development will consist of 48 dwellings arranged in a layout informed by the existing topography for an organic feel. The houses are densely clustered together separated by small brick-lined streets and alleys that can lead to unexpected expanses of landscape. A public square will be located at the heart of the development and abundant landscaping knits the neighborhood together. Related: Daan Roosegaarde uses light art to breathe new life into an iconic Dutch dike Inspired by the surroundings neighborhoods, the Klein Kadoelen houses will feature gabled roofs , timber construction, and a natural color palette of whites, grays, blues, and greens to match the landscape. A variety of housing types will give the new neighborhood visual interest and character. “[It’s] a beautiful location, hidden in the neighborhood, between the large urban developments on the IJ and the unique ‘Waterland’ nature reserve north of Amsterdam,” write DELVA Landscape Architects. “The core of this plan is to blend the neighborhood in to a natural, sustainable way in the existing urban and rural context.” The project’s first phase is expected to be complete in early 2018. + DELVA Landscape Architects/Urbanism + Houben/Van Mierlo Images via DELVA Landscape Architects/Urbanism

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Former factory site in rural Amsterdam to be reborn as a modern neighborhood

Why people are going nuts over this unusual pillow

November 28, 2016 by  
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“Are You freaking kidding me? This pillow is amazing!” “The best pillow you will ever sleep on!” If you look online at the reviews of the Hullo buckwheat pillow you might be surprised by the passion and excitement of its fans. After all, a pillow is just a pillow, right? Not according to Hullo and their legions of fans. Whereas most pillows are filled either with goose down or synthetic foam, Hullo is filled with buckwheat hulls, which gives them something like the feeling of a bean bag chair, rather than a traditional pillow. For buckwheat pillow devotees, this unique material makes for an amazing sleep experience. According to the Hullo Pillow website, natural buckwheat hulls circulate air around the face more effectively and that dreaded “too-warm-pillow” feeling that sometimes hits you in the middle of the night. Buckwheat pillows also supposedly help the musculoskeletal system by aligning the vertebrae properly when a person is lying down, relieving chronic pain and providing restful sleep. Because of this, we’re thinking that Hullo pillows might make a good, healthy and eco-friendly holiday gift this year. Although a pillow may not seem like the most thrilling present, the benefits of restful sleep and good health extend beyond the limited-time joy provided by things like DVDs, gadgets, and other knick-knacks. Since buckwheat pillows conform to the body so well, they have been reported to eliminate migraines, neck and back pain, insomnia, snoring, allergies, sleep apnea, and even asthma. Conventional pillows are typically filled either with cruelly-sourced bird feathers or with chemical-based foams which can off-gas volatile organic compounds into your face while you sleep. Hullo pillows are completely non-toxic, breathable, free from animal-cruelty, and they can last for years. RELATED: Why a buckwheat pillow makes a good pillow The Hullo Pillow is made in the USA, wrapped in 100% organic cotton twill, and filled with buckwheat hulls grown and milled by North Dakota farmers. The hulls themselves can be emptied or added for desired comfort. Hullo sells the hulls separately if you wish to have a firmer fill, or make your own. The hulls also allow for cool, all-natural support through the night. Available in size small (14″ x 20″), standard (20″ x 26″), and king (20″ x 36″), these pillows accommodate the whole family. Hullo also offers a 60-Day Money-back Guarantee, so if it doesn’t strike the fancy of the recipient, they can return it for a full refund. The company recommends trying it out for a few weeks at least, since it can be a major adjustment from softer, synthetic pillows. With so many positive online reviews and the promise of the best sleep of one’s life, here’s one idea to consider this year when making your holiday list. + Hullo Pillow – $59 to $149

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Why people are going nuts over this unusual pillow

The Netherlands will spend 150 million Euros to turn cow poop into biogas

November 4, 2016 by  
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Dutch farmers now have the opportunity to turn cow manure into energy . Turning cow poop into power isn’t a new idea , but the Netherlands government is banking on poo being a potent source of power for their country. The country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs will spend 150 million Euros, around $166.5 million, on a cow poo to power project. In the Netherlands, the agriculture industry is responsible for 10 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions . Methane emanating from dairy farms comprises a majority of the offending emissions. Through the economic ministry’s program, Dutch dairy farmers might be able to curb those emissions through leasing anaerobic digesters , which break manure down into biogas with the help of bacteria. A machine inside the farm takes the cow poop to the digester dome outside, and other machines extract phosphates and nitrates farmers can use for fertilizer from the cow dung. Farmers can sell the biogas at a 12-year fixed price which the government will subsidize. Related: Villagers in carbon-hungry Thailand tap the sun and dung for clean energy Dairy farmer Pieter Heeg, who works on his family’s 75-hectare farm, is among the farmers who will turn poo into power with anaerobic digesters. He told The Guardian he anticipates making 10,000 Euros, or over $11,000, every year selling the biogas. His farm used to simply spread manure across their land, but now they’ll be able to obtain energy for their own use and extra income. In 20 days, the Heeg farm generated 9,342 kilowatt hours of electricity using an anaerobic digester, enough to provide a year’s worth of power for three homes. Huge dairy collective FrieslandCampina, which purchases milk from 13,500 of 17,000 Dutch dairy farmers, is also behind the project. Their goal is for 1,000 big farms in the Netherlands to turn poo to power through the program in the next four years. Via The Guardian Images via U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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