South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

June 20, 2017 by  
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Travelers looking to explore Peru in style can now jump aboard South America’s first luxury sleeper train – the Belmond Andean Explorer . The train’s interior was designed by London-based Muza Lab to pay homage to the golden age of train travel, enhanced with vibrant colors and textures inspired by the local Peruvian culture and landscape. According to the founder of Muza Lab, Inge Moore, the train’s interior is designed to take travelers back to another age of train travel: “We design journeys, and with Belmond Andean Explorer, we have distilled the romance, nostalgia and freedom of the train voyage. The train is a place of transition where time seems to slow down between the departure and the arrival. Our vision was to design somewhere to ponder and dream, a space where the beauty of the land can infuse the soul.” Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train Although the name and the design of the Belmond Andean Explorer are new, the 16-carriage train was originally the Great South Pacific Express. During the renovation process, the design team worked hard to renovate the space while retaining some elements out of respect for train’s long history. The train’s original timber walls were painted soft, neutral tones to help create an open, airy feel that runs throughout the interior. However, it’s not quite a minimalist color palette; touches of vibrant colors and varying textures are found throughout the train thanks to the various Peruvian crafts and artistry that were found locally. In fact, most of the design touches were locally sourced – from the timber floors and roman blinds to the hand-crafted woven textiles. The sleeper cabins were designed to provide a luxurious travel experience. Once again using local culture for inspiration, each cabin is named after Peruvian flora and fauna. In addition to the comfortable beds and soft Saffiano leather seats, vibrant tapestries can be found in each car as well as baby alpaca blankets for extra chilly nights. Even the smallest detail speaks to the country’s rich culture, such as the brass room keys in the shape of the Chakana Cross – a symbol of the Incan civilization as well as the train’s crest. Outside of the private sleeper cars , guests can also enjoy watching the beautiful landscape pass by from the rounded outdoor deck of the Observation Car, called Ichu after the tall grasses that grow on the Peruvian plains. There are also two dining cars, a serene spa, and an old-world piano bar named after the herb Maca. + Muza Lab + Belmond Andean Explorer

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South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever

June 20, 2017 by  
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Fear not the flat tire, road trippers! The future of tire technology is rolling into reality, thanks to Michelin’s Vision tire. The 3D-printed tire does not need to be inflated, and it’s designed to last through the entire lifetime of a vehicle. It’s also equipped with high-tech sensors and it’s 100% biodegradable to boot. Michelin used 3D printing technology to create an airless tire modeled on alveolar structures – like as the air sacs found in human lungs. This means that the tire’s interior is structurally solid, while the outer layers are more flexible, which prevents blowouts and flat tires. The tire is printed from organic , recyclable, biodegradable materials and it can be recycled when it has reached the end of its product life. Related: Continental Tire looks to dandelions for a more sustainable tire 3D printing allows the tire’s treads to be customized to meet the needs of a specific vehicle , and Michelin minimized the amount of rubber used in the tire to enhance its sustainability. Embedded sensors keep track of each tire’s wear and proactively order reprints for smooth driving. Michelin imagines an eventual product that incorporates butadiene – a major component of modern synthetic rubber that is derived from wood chips or straw. Although Michelin has not discussed when these tires will be available for purchase, the company believes that the concept may soon become a reality. Via Yanko Design Images via Michelin

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Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever

Forgotten ancient city recently found in Ethiopia offers new insight into country’s history

June 20, 2017 by  
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Archaeological research in Ethiopia has largely centered around early humans , but there’s more to the country’s past than just our origins. Researchers recently found an ancient city at Harlaa, Eastern Ethiopia, that offers clues into the early days of international trade between the 10th and early 15th centuries. Legends has it the city was once the home of giants. Archaeological work has been lacking around Harlaa, where University of Exeter researchers, working with archaeologists from Leuven and Addis Ababa , recently uncovered the forgotten city. But local farmers, who had found pottery and even Chinese coins, suspected there may be more to find in the area. The massive size of some of the building stones for the city – which is around 1,640 feet by 3,280 feet big – led to stories it had once been populated by giants. Related: Research suggests humans emerged 2.8M years ago amid major climate change event Giants didn’t live there, according to Timothy Insoll, professor in the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the university. But the area was home to a wealth of archaeological treasures. Researchers uncovered a 12th century mosque as well as indications of Islamic burials. They found glass vessel pieces, beads, and imported cowry shells. They unearthed pottery that came from faraway places like China, the Maldives, Madagascar, and Yemen. They also discovered silver and bronze coins that came from Egypt in the 13th century. Insoll said in a statement, “This discovery revolutionizes our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia…The city was a rich, cosmopolitan center for jewelry-making and pieces were then taken to be sold around the region and beyond. Residents of Harlaa were a mixed community of foreigners and local people who traded with others in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and possibly as far away as the Arabian Gulf.” Archaeologists partnered with the local community to excavate the area over two years. So far they’ve dug down around eight feet, and plan to continue the work next year. Many findings will be displayed in a heritage center operated by locals for a new source of income. Some pieces will go to Ethiopia’s national museum in Addis Ababa. Via the University of Exeter Images courtesy of Tim Insoll

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Forgotten ancient city recently found in Ethiopia offers new insight into country’s history

Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact

June 20, 2017 by  
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A decrepit lumberjack’s shack has been transformed into a beautiful light-filled weekend getaway just outside of Montreal . Local studio YH2 led the renovation of the shack, renamed La Colombière, turning the simple one-story building that lacked running water into a cozy three-story retreat with all the luxuries of home and minimal landscape impact. When the owner Suzanne Rochon commissioned YH2 for La Colombière, she required that the renovation not expand past the shed’s existing footprint for fear of damaging the surrounding forest. Thus, the architects built upwards, drawing inspiration from the way a tree branches into a canopy. No trees were cut and heavy machinery was avoided to minimize site impact . Related: Sublime Nook Residence blends seamlessly into the snowy Canadian landscape The redesigned three-story retreat is clad in dark cedar in reference to the bark of nearby conifers, while the vertiginous interior is painted all in white. “Materials and structure of the previous phase are kept and uninterrupted so that the addition acts as an extension rather than an insertion,” write the architects. A living room is located on the first floor while the bedroom and bath are placed on the second. The eye-catching third-floor is bookended with oversized windows and an outdoor covered terrace to the west. + YH2 Images by Francis Pelletier

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Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact

Luxury tree house lets owners hide away in a Cape Town forest

June 20, 2017 by  
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Not all tree houses are rustic backyard projects—some, like the stunning House Paarman in Cape Town, take the typology to luxurious new heights. Designed by South African studio Malan Vorster , this one-bedroom getaway is a modern interpretation of the forest and blends in with its surroundings. The compact cabin is elevated off the ground and immerses guests into the tree canopy with views overlooking the forest and a quartet of square reflection pools. The freestanding House Paarman is an abstraction of the forest and comprises four cylindrical units that symbolize trees, each with a tree trunk-like steel pillar with branch-like beams and circular rings that provide support to the floors above. The four cylindrical units are arranged in a pinwheel layout around a square base. The columns, arms and rings are constructed from laser-cut and folded Corten steel plate. Western red cedar wraps the building and is left untreated so as to develop a patina over time. The architects write: “Inspiration was drawn from the timber cabins of Horace Gifford and Kengo Kuma’s notions of working with the void or in-between space, while Louis Kahn’s mastery of pure form and the detailing ethic of Carlo Scarpa informed a process of geometric restraint and handcrafted manufacturing.” Related: Dreamy treehouse hidden in Woodstock offers magnificent Catskills views This masterful attention to detail can be seen everywhere in the compact cabin , which was designed with ample glazing to give it a sense of lightness. Connections between the mostly vertical steel elements and the horizontal timber elements are joined with hand-turned brass components. Furnishings, such as the bed and cabinetry, were custom-made from solid oak. In addition to floor-height glazing, natural materials and a subdued color palette reinforce connection with nature. The House Paarman features a living space on the first floor, a bedroom on the second, and roof deck on the third. A sculptural staircase connects the floors. A plant room is tucked below the building on the ground floor. The half-round bays created by the cylindrical shapes include a patio, dining alcove, bathroom, and built-in seat. + Malan Vorster Images by Adam Letch and Mickey Hoyle

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Luxury tree house lets owners hide away in a Cape Town forest

China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’

June 6, 2017 by  
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City public transportation systems typically rely on a mix of trains and buses . But what if the two could be combined? Chinese company CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive recently debuted a trackless train that could ease traffic and emissions in urban centers. The Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) uses sensors to run along invisible tracks on city streets. Train tracks on city streets could be a thing of the past if all goes well with the ART, recently unveiled in the city of Zhuzhou in the Hunan province in China , where it recently went on a trial run. Firstpost described the ART as the world’s first trackless train. Sensor technology enables the ART to glide over roads, helping it track a guiding system in place. The sensors send the information back to the train’s central control unit – what Firstpost described as a brain – to help it travel smoothly. Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train More than 300 people can ride on the ART, which is comprised of three carriages in its basic state but can expand to include five. It has rubber wheels with plastic cores. A twin-head system means the train never has to make a U-turn, according to Firstpost. The trackless train is over 103 feet long. The ART is powered by electricity , so it won’t give off carbon emissions as traditional trains do. It can travel at a speed of around 43 miles per hour. CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive has reportedly been testing the ART technology for around four years, but the trackless train could finally be ready to roll out on the road in 2018. The company boasts a wide array of electric locomotives. Their Blue Locomotive won the title of Best New Energy Locomotive at the Berlin International Rail Transit Technology Exhibition. Via Firstpost Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’

Nations tallest timber building to rise in Portland

June 6, 2017 by  
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The nation’s tallest wooden high-rise will soon take shape in Portland , Oregon. Funded by a $1.5 million-dollar award from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition , the innovative timber building, named Framework, will be built from domestically sourced and engineered wood products. LEVER Architecture designed the mixed-use high-rise as a beacon of sustainability with its use of low-carbon materials, green roof, and resilient design. Slated to begin construction this fall, the 12-story Framework building will comprise ground-floor bank and retail, five floors of office space, and five floors for 60 residential units with a mix of studios as well as one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Nearly half of the 90,000-square-foot building will be zoned for affordable housing. The mixed-use building will also be primarily built of cross laminated timber and is designed to be fire- and earthquake-resistant. In a Framework press release: “Beneficial State Bank, a triple bottom line community bank, teamed with project^, a values-based commercial real estate developer; and Home Forward, the public housing authority for Multnomah County, Oregon to reimagine their existing Pearl District property in Portland, Oregon into Framework, the nation’s first wood high-rise building. The building seeks to develop a model for a sustainable urban ecology by promoting social justice , sustainable building, and economic opportunity thus yielding broad advancement of these objectives at a national scale.” Related: Magnificent timber skyscraper will sequester carbon and add greenery to Bordeaux Framework, which is expected to complete construction in late 2018, will likely be the nation’s first timber high-rise building with wood from the ground-floor as well as the first with exposed wood in North America. The building is also expected to use significantly less energy than a traditional building of similar size and function with energy savings of 60 percent when compared to code and water savings exceeding 30 percent compared to code. Framework is also expected to result in 1,824 tons of carbon dioxide emission offsets, equivalent to taking 348 cars off the road for a year. + LEVER Architecture

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Nations tallest timber building to rise in Portland

You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train

May 3, 2017 by  
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All aboard the swanky train! Japan just unveiled a new luxury sleeper train – and it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful. The gold-tinted Shiki-shima , which was designed by famed industrial designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama , features a sophisticated blend of modern and traditional Japanese materials such as washi paper walls and screens, cypress bathtubs, and lavish carpets. But the best part is the train’s amazing greenhouse-like cars that give you a panoramic view of your surroundings. The train’s design seeks to set the standard for modern train travel. The panoramic observation cars at either end of the 10-car train have large glazed wall panels that cover the walls and ceiling, offering sweeping views of the passing scenery. Comfy bentwood sofas that were made using traditional Japanese techniques are located throughout the communal lounge car, which is decorated with wall panels designed to “evoke the image of a quiet forest”. During the ride, guests will be able to enjoy select culinary specialties from their destination, served with nickel silver cutlery designed by well-known cutlery maker, Yamazaki Kinzoku Kogyo. Related: Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree The train has just 17 rooms: two large suite rooms and 15 smaller rooms. All of the rooms feature a bed, storage space and a private bathroom. Lucky guests of the luxury two-storey Shikishima suite will be able to enjoy a seating area and tatami mats , along with a rectangular cypress bathtub that provides a “fragrant bath-time experience.” The walls in the luxury suites are lined with floor-to-ceiling windows to provide customers with their own personal view. Of course, opulence this fine does not come cheap. Two to four day trips on the Train Suite Shiki-shima start at $2,865 and go up to a whopping $8,500. + Train Suite Shiki-shima Via Jalopnik

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You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train

Zero-emission hydrogen-powered car is designed to revolutionize everyday travel

May 3, 2017 by  
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Dubai-based designer Niko Kapa unveiled an Audi unlike any other luxury car we’ve seen before. Designed for zero emissions , this unusual coupé concept car features a banana-yellow aerodynamic shape that exudes playfulness. Dubbed the Audi Cetus, the hydrogen-powered car took top prize at the 2017 European Product Design Awards. Winner of the Platinum Prize in the Transportation category , the conceptual Audi Cetus draws inspiration from the curved hydronamic forms of dolphins. The two-person car’s smooth and streamlined shape minimizes air turbulence in the back and also reduces drag and lift forces. The vehicle is also designed with smart sensors and with electrochromic glass windows that maximize natural light in the car and can be dimmed on demand. Related: World’s first zero-emissions hydrogen train aces maiden voyage “Audi Cetus is a hydrogen-powered , zero-emission city car, designed to change everyday city travel,” writes the designer. “The idea was to create a car for 2 people that will be likeable and fun, in an effort to restore excitement to the experience of driving. A playful conceptual exercise, truly embraces aerodynamics to both reduce energy consumption and form part of a future design aesthetic.” + Niko Kapa

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Zero-emission hydrogen-powered car is designed to revolutionize everyday travel

New Utrecht Central Station houses train, bus and tram transport under one undulating roof

December 12, 2016 by  
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Utrecht Central Station, the city’s largest and busiest train station , has officially opened. Designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects , the new transit hub will house train, bus and tram platforms under one undulating roof. The waves of the roof don’t just look good, they help passengers orient themselves within the complex, with the train station under the tallest wave and the tram and bus stations housed under the lower waves. The station has been in development since 2003 as a replacement for the previous building which could not handle the rising number of commuters. Three times its original size, the new complex integrates different transport modes. Its most prominent features is the undulating roof that looks like a wave that radiates dynamic movement and helps passengers orientate themselves. Related: 6 Incredible Futuristic Train Stations The highest point of the wave is above the train station, while its lowest parts on each side contain the tram and bus stations. Glass skylights provide abundant natural light and also function as smoke hatches. Strips of LED lights on the ceiling emphasize the undulating movement. The station offers views of the city as well as trains and tracks. + Benthem Crouwel Architects Photos by Jannes Linders

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New Utrecht Central Station houses train, bus and tram transport under one undulating roof

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