Japanese builder unveils plans for worlds tallest timber skyscraper in Tokyo

February 15, 2018 by  
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Japanese builder and developer Sumitomo Forestry has unveiled designs for the world’s tallest timber skyscraper in the heart of Tokyo. Designed by Nikken Sekkei , the 1,148-foot-tall wooden tower will form part of the W350 Project, a mixed-use environmentally friendly development that the firms aim to complete in 2041 to mark Sumitomo’s 350th anniversary. The company says these steel-and-timber structures will help “transform the city into a forest.” Early renderings of the W350 project show the timber buildings covered in greenery and filled with natural light as part of Sumitomo’s message of promoting a healthier living environment. The buildings will be built to withstand earthquakes and be constructed with a 9:1 ratio of wood to steel. The development’s skyscraper centerpiece will house a hotel, offices, retail and residences. When complete, it will not only be the tallest timber tower in the world but also the tallest building in Japan. Related: Magnificent timber skyscraper will sequester carbon and add greenery to Bordeaux W350 is estimated to need over 6.5 million cubic feet of wood and cost approximately 600 billion yen. While the building framework will be made of a hybrid timber-steel structure, the interior will feature exposed wood in an attempt to bring people closer to nature. The company hopes that the project will popularize timber architecture and help jumpstart a revitalization of the forestry industry in rural areas and interest in reforestation . + Sumitomo Forestry + Nikken Sekkei Via Telegraph Images via Sumitomo Forestry

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Japanese builder unveils plans for worlds tallest timber skyscraper in Tokyo

Tokyo capsule hotel gets a Finnish-inspired refresh and sauna

January 22, 2018 by  
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Capsule hotels are commonplace in Tokyo, but the recently renovated ºC (Do-C) Ebisu hopes to stand out from the pack with its contemporary Finnish-inspired refresh. Designed by Tokyo-based practice Schemata Architects , the renovated hotel is one of the newest offerings by capsule hotel chain 9h (nine hours). Though guests won’t have much room in their tiny capsule units, they do have access to a roomy Finnish-inspired sauna. 9h hotels typically redesign and build their capsule hotels from scratch, but decided to take the renovation route with ºC (Do-C) Ebisu. Schemata Architects was asked to preserve the existing capsule units but otherwise gut the interior and overhaul the exterior. The building was also retrofitted with new saunas . “In Japan, people often stereotypically associate capsule hotels with saunas due to the conventional style of capsule hotels in the past,” wrote the architects. “The existing building was actually not equipped with saunas, but we intentionally recreated the stereotypical image by adding saunas there, while eradicating the conventional impression, to establish a powerful combination of capsules and saunas representing the identity of ºC.” Related: Kyoto’s Futuristic Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Offers a First Class Sleeping Experience in Tiny Pods The eight-floor capsule hotel’s narrow building facade was repainted in a rusty red hue, matching the color of the anti-corrosive paint applied to the structural steel members. Natural timber is used throughout the interior, while clear fiber-reinforced plastic, chosen for waterproofing purposes, can be seen in the space connecting the shower room and sauna. The project was completed December 2017 and is located a one-minute walk away from Ebisu Station. You can make bookings online ; the capsule hotel is open to both men and women. Per the name, each stay at the minimalist hotel is only nine hours: one hour to get ready for bed, seven hours of sleep, and one hour before checkout. + Schemata Architects Images by Nacasa & Partners

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Tokyo capsule hotel gets a Finnish-inspired refresh and sauna

Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

January 19, 2018 by  
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Could a 22-mile bridge crossing the English Channel help boost transport between the United Kingdom and France after Brexit ? Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thinks so – he proposed the infrastructure project and spoke about a second link with France’s president Emmanuel Macron . Johnson reportedly said to Macron that it’s ridiculous that two of the largest economies in the world are joined by only one railway line. The publication said Macron “is understood to have responded positively.” Johnson tweeted a picture of the two of them flashing a thumbs-up after what he described as great meetings. En marche ! Great meetings with French counterparts today pic.twitter.com/D73B1rSkd3 — Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 18, 2018 Related: New bridge linking Japan and Russia could enable 8400-mile rail trip from London to Tokyo But some people put the brakes on the idea . The United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, which represents over 180 maritime industry bodies, tweeted there would be challenges with such an undertaking. CEO Guy Platten told The Guardian the Dover Strait – at the English Channel’s narrowest part – “is the world’s busiest shipping lane” and that the largest ships going through the strait can be around 70 meters, or nearly 230 feet, tall. Others pointed out that such a bridge would be incredibly expensive. Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges. https://t.co/jYD5O8B19W — UK Shipping (@ukshipping) January 18, 2018 Reuters reported France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, “All ideas merit consideration, even the most far-fetched ones … Let’s finish things that are already under way before thinking of new ones.” And a spokesperson for prime minister Theresa May said there were “no specific plans” regarding a Channel bridge: “What was agreed yesterday, and I think that’s what the foreign secretary tweeted about as well, is a panel of experts who will look at major projects together including infrastructure.” But according to The Guardian, some engineers said the Channel bridge idea might not be so far-fetched; architect Alan Dunlop pointed to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is around 34 miles long. Bridge designer Ian Firth told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the project would be entirely feasible, and that before construction of the Channel tunnel there were bridge options being considered. Firth said, “There are bridges of a similar, if not quite the same, scale elsewhere…It would be a huge undertaking, but it would be absolutely possible, and shipping impact issues could be dealt with.” Via The Guardian (1, 2) and Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

This mesmerizing lamp reacts to earthquakes across the globe in real time

January 19, 2018 by  
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This minimalist lamp responds in real time to earthquakes around the world. French artist Fabien Bouchard , who works under the name Parse/Error , linked the lamp to the data from IRIS ( Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology ) to which it reacts by emitting light pulses and rumble-like sounds when an earthquake occurs. The clean, simple design makes the Earthquake Lamp a beautiful object for any home, but its purpose makes it more than a beautiful light source . The artist, who lived through the great 2011 T?hoku earthquake in Japan , drew inspiration from this devastating event and created an object that would offer a tangible connection to the Earth and the power of nature. Related: 14 brilliant new lighting designs that will inspire you Its shape– a flattened planisphere that represents the axis of the longitudes– gives off light and sound pulses that change according to the location, magnitude and duration of earthquake across the globe. Linked to a sub-woofer, the Earthquake Lamp produces an impressive rumble that will stop you in your tracks and induce a sense of both fascination and anxiety. + ParseError

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This mesmerizing lamp reacts to earthquakes across the globe in real time

Technicolor greenhouse in Tokyo converts into pulsating light show when plants are touched

October 25, 2017 by  
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Although dancing in most greenhouses might be inappropriate in most cases, the fun Digital Vegetables installation in Tokyo is enticing visitors to bust a groove among the greenery. Created by Tokyo design company, Party , the installation is a digitally-equipped greenhouse filled with plants that set off a disco-like light and sound show when touched. Located in Tokyo’s Midtown’s garden space, the installation is part of the Design Touch event, whose 2017 theme is unsurprisingly “touch”. The Digital Vegetable (“Digi Vege” as its known locally) is a fun greenhouse pavilion filled with seven different kinds of veggies. The tags on the veggies invite visitors to gently touch the plant, which is connected digitally to a programmed system that immediately triggers a series of vibrant lights and ambient sounds that run though the pavilion. Related: NASA unveils inflatable greenhouse for sustainable farming on Mars The idea behind the interactive installation is to encourage people to consider the shapes and sounds that make up the hidden ecosystem of plants . “Start off by touching the 7 types of lives now growing strong in the soil,” says Naoki Ito, the design’s project leader. “Then, bathe in the design of vegetables, enhanced by videos and sounds.” As for the accompanying soundtrack, sound designer Ray Kunimoto created a melody by mixing orchestra instrumentals with actual recordings of rubbing seeds, touching leaves, and eating fruits. He explains: “Tomatoes are violin, carrots are trumpet, cabbages are oboe, mini radishes are flute, sweet potatoes are piano, eggplants are harp, pumpkins are clarinet”. + Digital Vegetable + Party Via This is Colossal Images via Digital Vegetables

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Technicolor greenhouse in Tokyo converts into pulsating light show when plants are touched

Entering this mind-blowing mirrored room is like walking inside a diamond

October 25, 2017 by  
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Inspired by the path of light traveling through a diamond, Artist Chris Cheung and his art group XEX created a trippy, LED-lit room clad with tessellated mirrored panels. Prismverse invites visitors to enter and get lost in its dizzying vortex of shimmer and color. Cheung (also known as honhim) installed LED bulbs in the flooring to reflect light off of the mirrored geometric panels that line the walls. The interactive installation simulates the experience of walking through a brilliantly-cut diamond. Related: Dazzling crystal canopy showers passersby with 5,000 rainbows in London The installation was designed for skincare brand Dr.Jart+. Visitors are invited to touch the products located on a pedestal in the middle of the room. At this moment, the room erupts in a shimmery light show accompanied by ambient music by sonihouse . Images of star formations, gemstones, and flowing water represent the brightening and moisturizing effects of the product line. + Chris Cheung / Honhim + XEX Via Design Milk Images via XEX

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Entering this mind-blowing mirrored room is like walking inside a diamond

Rocks in Canada hold oldest evidence of life we’ve found

September 29, 2017 by  
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3.95 billion-year-old rocks could offer the oldest evidence we’ve found for life on Earth . A team led by the University of Tokyo found graphite in Labrador, Canada that they think is biogenic, or produced by living organisms. They contend this is the oldest evidence of life, as opposed to microfossils found earlier in Quebec , saying the dating process used in the latter was highly controversial. In March, the journal Nature published the findings of an international team of researchers who’d found fossils in Quebec that they said could be between 3.77 and 4.28 billion years old. Now, nine scientists at institutions in Japan say they’ve actually found the oldest evidence of life on this planet, and it’s in 3.95 billion-year-old rocks. Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion years old These researchers found graphite in sedimentary rocks. Tsuyoshi Komiya of the University of Tokyo said, “Our samples are also the oldest supracrustal rocks preserved on Earth.” Phys.org pointed out the Quebec fossils were found in a similar formation. The Japan team measured the isotope composition of the graphite to find it was biogenic, although the identity of the organisms that produced the graphite or their appearance are mysteries. Komiya said the team could work to identify the organisms by scrutinizing “other isotopes such as nitrogen, sulphur, and iron of the organic matter and accompanied materials.” They can also analyze the rock’s chemical composition to try and figure out the organisms’ environment . Other researchers, like geochemist Daniele Pinti of the University of Quebec at Montreal, seem impressed by the new team’s findings and process. He told CBC News, “For the moment, it looks very convincing.” Phys.org said that should the discovery be accurate, it would mean life sprung up on Earth a geological second after the planet formed around 4.5 billion years ago. Nature published the new study this week. Via Phys.org and CBC News Images via Wikimedia Commons and Tashiro, Takayuki, et al.

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Rocks in Canada hold oldest evidence of life we’ve found

New waterproof solar cell generates power even after it gets soaked

September 21, 2017 by  
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A new solar cell could go through the laundry and emerge still working. The photovoltaic cell, developed by Japanese research institution RIKEN and the University of Tokyo , is ultra thin and coated on both sides with waterproof film. The solar cell can be stretched or compressed or washed and continue to function. Researchers in Japan have created a waterproof solar cell able to withstand a wash and keep on generating power. They developed flexible, super thin, organic photovoltaic cells based on PNTz4T, a material they developed in the past. Both sides of the cell were covered with an acrylic-based elastomer that allowed light to reach the cells, but prevented air and water from leaking on to them. Related: This carbon nanotube yarn generates power when pulled The researchers then tested the waterproof solar cells to see if they’d retain efficiency. The initial device had an efficiency of 7.9 percent – per square centimeter it generated a current of 7.86 milliwatts. They soaked the cells in water for two hours and then found the efficiency had decreased by 5.4 percent. They also compressed the device by almost half for 20 cycles, while subjecting it to water, and found it had 80 percent of the initial efficiency. Photovoltaics integrated in textiles in the past have suffered from a lack of energy efficiency , or they weren’t robust and didn’t resist being deformed well, or they weren’t stable over the long-term in water or air – or some combination of those three. This new waterproof cell, that’s able to be compressed, could open up more options for wearables with solar cells. The photovoltaic cells could power sensors that record body temperature and heartbeats or provide early warnings of health issues, according to research group leader Takao Someya. The journal Nature Energy published the research online earlier this week. Via RIKEN Images via RIKEN

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New waterproof solar cell generates power even after it gets soaked

Grow your own mushroom lamp with this brilliant DIY kit

September 21, 2017 by  
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Ever wanted to grow your own lamp? Now you can, thanks to a brilliant collaboration between eco-designer Danielle Trofe and Ecovative . Recently launched on Kickstarter, the Grow-It-Yourself Lamp Kit lets you grow a beautiful lampshade by combining a mushroom substrate with a small amount of water and flour. The Grow-It-Yourself lamp kit includes one bag of mushroom mycelium substrate, a lampshade mold, a UL-certified pendant lamp set, and growing instructions. Using Ecovative’s patented Mushroom Material technology, the  mushroom mycelium – the root of the mushroom – is guaranteed to grow, making this a perfect project for those without any green thumb whatsoever. Related: Danielle Trofe’s Brilliant Mush-Lume Lamp is Grown From Fungi! Once the substrate is placed in the mold, you’ll just have to add tap water and a bit of flour. After a few more simple steps, including baking it in the oven for a bit, your new eco-positive lampshade is ready to go. The kit comes with basic hanging pendant set, but can be updated to include a table lamp stand made from sustainable wood . + Grow Kickstarter + Ecovative Design + Danielle Trofe Images via Kickstarter

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Grow your own mushroom lamp with this brilliant DIY kit

Megacities could save $505 million a year thanks to trees

August 30, 2017 by  
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Trees offer enormous monetary benefit to megacities , or those urban areas where over 10 million people reside. New research led by Theodore Endreny of SUNY’s College of Environmental Studies and Forestry highlights the idea that cities shouldn’t overlook the immense value of these plants: every year they could offer a payoff of $482 million in lowered air pollution , $11 million in stormwater remediation, $8 million in carbon dioxide sequestration , and $500,000 savings on heating and cooling costs. The researchers looked at Los Angeles, Beijing, Tokyo, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Moscow, London, Istanbul, Mexico City, and Cairo. They built on estimates from the i-Tree model developed by the United States Forest Service , which analyzes environmental benefits from trees, with local data. They found median tree cover in all the cities was 21 percent, with potential tree cover at 19 percent. Tree cover varies by megacity – for example, in Cairo tree cover is just 8.1 percent while in Moscow it’s 36 percent. Tokyo claims the prize for greatest tree canopy cover per person, according to CityLab. Related: California street trees are worth $1 billion, says USFS and UC Davis The benefits each megacity reaps from trees varies some as well. Cairo doesn’t receive much precipitation so they don’t benefit that much from stormwater remediation. And Mumbai’s energy expenditures aren’t as high as other megacities’ so it doesn’t benefit as much in that area. Los Angeles got the most benefit from trees sequestering carbon dioxide. The researchers suggest cities plant more trees to nearly double the benefits gleaned from the leafy canopies. And as nearly 10 percent of humans live in megacities, the move could serve millions of people. The journal Ecological Modelling made the research available online at the end of July. Six researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the Parthenope University of Naples contributed to the study. Via CityLab Images via Laith Abdulkareem on Unsplash and Florian ? on Unsplash

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