‘Trump Forest’ plants trees to offset president’s climate ignorance

August 15, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is notorious for his ignorance on climate change . So instead of sitting by while his administration harms the planet, a British climate scientist, American PhD candidate, and French and Kiwi sustainable hat company founder decided to take action. They started Trump Forest to encourage people to plant trees , and have seen a huge response: so far hundreds of people around the world have pledged 130,999 trees . “Where ignorance grows trees” is the tagline of the Trump Forest project. Dan Price, Jeff Willis, and Adrien Taylor initiated the project in March of this year in New Zealand with a contribution of 1,000 native trees from Taylor’s company Offcut (which plants a tree for every cap sold). From there, hundreds of people in places as far-flung as Malawi, Japan, and the United States pledged to plant trees too. Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth Trump Forest isn’t after money, according to their website. Instead, they hope people will pay for and plant trees where they live in the name of America’s president, or donate to charity Eden Reforestation Projects . Taylor told the BBC of Trump, “Only a small percentage of the world voted him in, but we all have to deal with the consequences of his climate ignorance.” The organizers told the BBC they would need to plant a forest as big as Kentucky to offset Trump’s policies. They also estimated they’d need to offset 650 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025 to make up for the actions of America’s commander-in-chief – that’s over 100 billion new trees. They think it’s feasible. Wouldn’t a forest named after Trump just bolster his already large ego? The organizers say people have complained about that, but they’d prefer if the president got on board. Taylor told the BBC, “We kind of want him to love the forest; this is his forest after all. We would love it if he tweeted about it.” Price said, “All we’re trying to do is pick up the slack he created and do the work for him.” If you want to get involved, you can check out the project here . + Trump Forest Via BBC Images via Pixabay and Ozark Drones on Unsplash

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‘Trump Forest’ plants trees to offset president’s climate ignorance

Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

July 21, 2017 by  
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Need a quiet space to get away from it all? French architecture firm,  Les Etablissements Tourneux has created a multi-use wooden shelter that hangs from the tree tops. Although compact in size, the Sequoia Shelter is incredibly flexible thanks to multiple wooden planks with hinges, which allow the structure to be configured in a variety of shapes without causing harm to the tree or its branches. The shelter is made out of individual panels of spruce that can be configured in different shapes. It’s also possible to create various awnings and terraces within the design. The narrow apex at the top and flexible configuration were strategic to creating a hanging treehouse that causes little to no damage to trees and branches. Aesthetically, the natural spruce planks give the treehouse a light, airy feel. Related: Kengo Kuma envisions shapeshifting nomadic shelters woven from hundreds of identical wooden pieces The structure is incredibly easy to put together, making it a practical solution for off-grid living , an additional guest room, or just for plain, old fun. A flat base means it can be set on the ground and easily transported. Recently, the shelter was used as a music studio and lecture space for the Embranchements Festival in Nancy, France. + Les Etablissements Tourneux Via NotCot Images via Les Etablissements Tourneux

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Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

Shigeru Ban designs 20,000 homes for severely overcrowded refugee camp in Kenya

July 21, 2017 by  
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World-renowned architect, Shigeru Ban , is taking his talents to those who need it most. Working in collaboration with UN-Habitat, the UN agency that focuses on sustainable development , the 2014 Pritzker Prize recipient designed a prototype for some 20,000 new homes for refugees in Kenya’s Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement . True to form, Ban promotes the use of locally-sourced, sustainable materials in the shelter design. The Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement is currently home to almost 37,000 refugees, 17,000 of whom arrived in the first half of 2017 alone. This continuous influx of inhabitants is expected to increase over the next few months, putting the settlement, which has a capacity of 45,000, in a severely precarious situation. Related: 10 groundbreaking designs by Shigeru Ban that changed our ideas about architecture Ban is well-known for his dedication to humanitarian construction, having built various refugee and crisis shelters around the world, namely Rwanda, Italy, and Nepal. Ban is also known for his work with sustainable and locally-sourced materials, a trait that will be essential in the Kenyan camp. On a recent trip to the settlement, Ban highlighted the importance of using local construction techniques and sustainable materials , “The key thing will be to design and construct shelter where no or little technical supervision is required, and use materials that are locally available and eco-friendly. It’s important that the houses can be easily maintained by inhabitants.” The plan calls for Ban’s shelter design to be used initially as a prototype for 20 shelters. After a test period, the design, if successful, will be used to replace some of the camp’s deteriorating structures. + Shigeru Ban Via Archdaily Images via UNHCR

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Shigeru Ban designs 20,000 homes for severely overcrowded refugee camp in Kenya

Aspiring Jedis can pilot the Millennium Falcon at Disney’s upcoming ‘Star Wars’ hotel

July 21, 2017 by  
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Aspiring Jedis will now be able to practice their light saber moves at the upcoming Star Wars -themed hotel in Disney’s Orlando and Anaheim park locations. According to CNN , the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge experience will be set on a remote trading port on the edge of space. Visitors will be able to interact with a host of familiar characters, dress up in proper Star Wars attire, and even pilot the beloved Millennium Falcon, “shooting blasters or preparing for hyperspace” along the way. Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, revealed a few details of the new attraction at the recent Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, “To say we are excited for the Star Wars-themed lands to open in 2019 is an understatement,” Chapek said, “All along, we have said this will be game-changing, and through the model we can begin to see how truly epic these immersive new worlds will be.” Related: Disney’s ‘World of Pandora’ Avatar park opens with floating mountains and glowing forests Reportedly, the new park experience will be set on a remote planet in the Outer Rim where the First Order and Resistance forces are battling for control. The immersive experience will let visitors become active participants in the otherworldly atmosphere as well taking time to pilot the Millennium Falcon . On set will also be some familiar faces such as BB-8, Chewbacca, members of the First Order, and more. “You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. “It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits,” adds Chapek. Along with the multiple interactive experiences, all of the shopkeepers and staff in the park will be dressed up as Star Wars-themed creatures and aliens to ensure that the atmosphere is as authentic as possible. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is slated to open first in Orlando and then in Anaheim in 2019. + Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Via CNN Images via Disney Parks

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Aspiring Jedis can pilot the Millennium Falcon at Disney’s upcoming ‘Star Wars’ hotel

Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

July 21, 2017 by  
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When the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent began pushing for green roofs , a supermarket wondered if it could do regulations one better. Fast-forward a few years and IGA Extra Famille Duchemin now claims to be the first grocery store in Canada to sell produce grown on its own roof. High above its LEED Gold-certified retail space, IGA’s 25,000-foot garden features more than 30 different varieties of certified-organic produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, kale, eggplant, and basil. Speaking to the Ottawa Citizen , co-owner Richard Duchemin said he decided to perceive Saint-Laurent’s requirement not as a burden but an opportunity. Related: New York City unveils massive green-roofed film and fashion hub in Brooklyn Not only does a green roof help regulate the temperature of the building below it, saving energy, but it also feeds into consumer demand for food with a smaller carbon footprint. “People are very interested in buying local,” he said. “There’s nothing more local than this.” The garden, which is irrigated using water reclaimed from the store’s dehumidification system, has also become a mini-Eden for birds, bees, and other embattled urban fauna. Duchemin compares IGA’s produce-laden roof to those “little boxes where [supermarkets] grow herbs,” but on a grander scale. “We pushed it further because we know we’re able to sell what we produce here,” he added. Related: Green roofs cool co-working shipping container office in Brazil If proven successful, GA Extra Famille Duchemin could even kick-start a trend across Canada. Pierre St-Laurent, executive vice-president for Quebec at Sobeys , which owns the IGA chain, is said to be following the store’s progress with great interest. Photos via Facebook Via Ottawa Citizen

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Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

June 26, 2017 by  
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Air pollution might be invisible, but it results in 7 million premature deaths each year. Fortunately, there’s a solution – the CityTree is a high-tech green wall that scrubs the air of harmful particulates – and it has as much air-purifying power as 275 urban trees. As you might have guessed, the CityTree isn’t really a tree . Instead, it’s a moss culture. Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions said: “Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants .” The CityTree is under 4 meters tall, approximately 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep. Two versions are available – one with or without a bench – and a display is included for information or advertising. Due to the huge surface area of moss installed, each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. Additionally, the installations are fully autonomous, as solar panels provide electricity and collected rainwater is filtered into a reservoir where it is pumped into the soil. Related: Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide The invention also has WiFi sensors which measure the soil humidity, temperature and water quality. “We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is.” said Wu. Every day, a CityTree can absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter. Over the length of an entire year, the invention can remove 240 metric tons of C02. Green City Solutions seeks to one day install CityTrees in major cities around the world – but they presently faces bureaucratic challenges. Said Wu, “We were installing them (the CityTrees) in Modena, Italy, and everything was planned and arranged, but now the city is hesitant about the places we can install because of security reasons.” Regardless, the company will persist and already has plans to introduce the invention to India , where air pollution has reached dangerous levels in certain locations. So far, 20 CityTrees have been successfully installed in major cities around the world – including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong. Costing about $25,000 each, they are a big investment – but one deemed to be worthwhile as they clean the air of harmful contaminants. + Green City Solutions Via CNN Images via Green City Solutions

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This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

Giant sequoia skyscrapers designed to keep rotted trees standing

May 5, 2017 by  
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Modernization has harmed giant sequoias: not only have they been cut down in groves, but climate change has diminished their lifespan. Four designers in South Korea want to help preserve the trees’ legacy with a skyscraper called Tribute: The Monument of Giant , that could be tucked inside hollowed-out trunks, helping to keep trees with rotted heartwood from crashing down. The skyscraper would allow a visitor to feel small inside the vastness of a giant sequoia, while also offering education about the natural wonders. Ko Jinhyeuk, Cheong Changwon, Cho Kyuhyung, and Choi Sunwoong believe in the past, human desires and development clashed with the natural world. They said nature’s response is the natural disasters that wreak havoc throughout the world. They pointed to deforestation as both a cause of such disasters and “one of the worst crimes on nature .” Earning an honorable mention in the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition , they offered up an answer. Their skyscraper is enveloped inside a dying tree in a bid to help keep it standing. Related: Incredible farming skyscraper could fight poverty and feed the world Although giant sequoias can be over 300 feet tall, with diameters between 20 and 26 feet, their roots often aren’t deep, so when their heartwood – what the designers described as a structural backbone – starts to rot, the weight of the trees can cause them to topple over. A skyscraper nestled inside could prevent this ending. “This project attempts to show a new architectural approach to human coexistence with nature,” the architects said in their design statement. They said their skyscraper, inside the empty void of a giant sequoia, wouldn’t hinder the breathtaking beauty of the tree. The building would then become “active as an artificial organ to replace the trunks rotten away.” Platforms inside the tree would offer opportunities for laboratories, exhibitions, education, and photo opportunities on observation decks. A lattice-like cage would comprise an outer casing that appears to blend in with the tree. Via eVolo and Dezeen Images via eVolo

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Giant sequoia skyscrapers designed to keep rotted trees standing

Octopuses and their cephalopod cousins can edit and recode their own genes

May 5, 2017 by  
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Octopuses have earned a reputation as clever aquatic escape artists . But in addition to being underwater Houdinis , these creatures (and other coleiod cephalopods like cuttlefish and squid) were recently discovered to have another mind-blowing trick: they can rewire their own genetic material to adapt more quickly to their environment. Researchers found that  octopuses and their relatives can edit and recode the RNA component of genes, which allows them to reprogram cells (often in their nervous systems) and adapt to external stimuli in the environment, such as a change in water temperature. Changes at the RNA level manifest in the formation of different versions of proteins from the same gene . The result is that these cephalopods can make transient changes that don’t have an effect long-term on their overall  evolution and that could even be turned on or off by the cephalopod herself. Researchers believe the reason for the cephalopod’s overall slow rate of evolution is due to the extreme possibility of change and editing in their RNA. As per the study’s lead author Joshua Rosenthal : “If a squid and octopus want to edit a base, they must preserve the underlying RNA structure. This means that the RNA structure can’t evolve. If it collects mutations as a result of DNA mutations, it would no longer be recognized by the editing enzymes. We normally think of mutations as the currency of evolution. But in this case their accumulation is suppressed.” The slow rate of change in cephalopod DNA also may indicate that these sea creatures have been around longer than previously believed. Beyond the fact that this recoding provides yet another example for why these sea creatures  are fascinating, researchers continue to be interested in and slightly mystified by the reasons behind this action, although some believe their extreme use of RNA editing is linked to their intelligence and their behavioral complexities. Further fueling this idea were the findings by researchers that less intelligent and less cephalopod species such as the nautilus had far lower levels of RNA editing. Related: Octopuses are taking over the ocean and no one knows why However, the intelligence/RNA editing connection is not as clear as the water cephalopods love to swim around in. “It’s a really interesting phenomenon, but it’s unclear why they need so much RNA editing,” says Jianzhi Zhang from the University of Michigan . “It’s not absolutely clear if it has to do with behavior; humans have very complex brains and behaviors and in us, RNA editing is very rare.” Indeed, RNA editing is found in mere dozen of sites out of the 20,000 genes in the human body, while the cephalopods studied ranged from 80,000-130,000 editing sites. The study’s authors, however, also consider the possibility that “protein recoding may not be the primary function of editing in cephalopods” and that perhaps another purpose, such as immunity, might be the goal. The study was published in Cell . Via Science ,  Scientific American , The Atlantic Lead image via Wikimedia Commons

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Octopuses and their cephalopod cousins can edit and recode their own genes

The prefab house of the future is made from recycled, reusable, and sustainable materials

May 5, 2017 by  
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This prefab home by Arup Associates is made from recycled, reusable and sustainably sourced materials . The Circular Economy Building was designed as a prototype for this year’s London Design Festival and built in only two weeks. The project revisits the archetypal house and reinvents it with refined prefab construction techniques and sustainable materials. The prefab clearly show its Circular Economy elements by revealing them visually– visitors can observe the layers of the envelope – including the demountable SIPS panels and the structural steel frame , which creates enables extension and future adaptation. The design aims to demonstrate that flexible, sustainable architecture can be highly compatible with a comfortable modern lifestyle. Related: Arup’s timber prefab Sky Believe in Better Building wins the 2014 Wood in Architecture Award The architects worked closely with Arup’s engineers to marry pleasant spatial solutions with sustainable building techniques. This informed the choice of finishes and fittings throughout the interior. Even the carpets, supplied by Desso on a take-back scheme, can be replaced when worn out and sustainably refurbished and reused . Related: London’s new Design Museum opens this week inside a renovated post-war modernist building The building’s superior acoustic performance is ensured by using an acoustic wall system built entirely from recycled plastic bottles . A high-tech automation system uses sensors to monitor the interior environment and adjust the skylights , blinds and lights. The building’s flat-pack construction utilizes custom-made panels standardized through several computational iterations. + Arup Associates Via v2com Photos by Simon Kennedy

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The prefab house of the future is made from recycled, reusable, and sustainable materials

Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

February 1, 2017 by  
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The Japanese reverence for nature has been well established, especially in the world of design. However, if anyone still has doubts, they should take a stroll through the Kayashima train station in Neyagawa, a northeastern suburb of Osaka. The train station was carefully constructed around a massive camphor tree that has stood on the site for 700 years. The Kayashima Station opened in 1910 and was built next to the large tree , whose exact age goes back before local records. As the local population began to grow, it became clear that the station would need to be upgraded. In 1972, plans were approved to expand the site and, according to Spoon and Tamago , those plans called for the tree to be cut down to make space. Related: Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung Although the history of the train station’s upgrades is a matter of records, there are multiple stories behind the tree’s intact presence today. Some say that it was indeed the Japanese respect for nature that saved the tree from being chopped down . Yet, others say it was nothing more than pure superstition. Apparently, the tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity, and its impending demise caused quite the uproar by the local community. Stories began to swirl that the tree was also angry and would curse anyone that dared to cut it down with bad luck. Whatever the case, station officials were persuaded to keep the tree, and ended up incorporating it into a new elevated platform . The construction was completed in 1980, and features a large hole cut into the roof of the platform where the tree majestically sticks out over the roof. Just to be on the safe side, the officials surrounded the base of the tree with a small shrine. Via Oddity Central Lead photo via Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei . Additional photography via Studio Ohana.

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