Light-filled family home sensitively embraces a British Islands native landscape

April 17, 2018 by  
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When DLM Architects was asked to create an energy-efficient and sustainable family home in St Peter Port of Guernsey, the site’s densely planted vegetation proved both a boon and a challenge. The local planning department had imposed many site restrictions due to the number of protected trees, but after four years of negotiation the architects managed to settle on a solution resulting in a beautiful and light-filled dwelling with a sensitive environmental footprint. Named ‘The Glade’ after the its location in a clearing surrounded by forest, the new-build family home occupies a spacious 3,230 square feet of living space spread out across two floors in a roughly L-shaped plan. To preserve privacy and views from and to neighboring properties, the home is partly sunken into the site’s natural topography with the basement set into an existing swimming pool excavation from the previous build. Guernsey granite and reclaimed brick , mostly sourced on site, clad the ground floor. Cladding is split on the upper floor, with the eastern side featuring a steel-framed cantilever covered in a living wall of 4,000 plants of 13 native species to camouflage the building into the tree canopy. The living wall also doubles as an extra layer of insulation while providing a buffer from acoustic and air pollution from the nearby roads. A double-glazed link housing the staircase separates the plant-covered east wing from the west end where the second level is clad in cedar. Related: Gorgeous modern home makes stunning use of recycled and salvaged materials Open-plan living is prioritized throughout the home, as is ample glazing to maintain a fluid connection with the outdoors. A natural materials palette is also used throughout the interior. “A skin of locally reclaimed brick is coated with lime slurry, raw pigment plasters line the walls, with grey limestone to the floors, oak joinery, machined brass ironmongery, a bespoke raw steel staircase and furnishings and a reclaimed granite trough as the cloakroom sink,” wrote the architects. “Where possible local materials and fabrication has been utilised delivering a soft traditional character within a contemporary envelope.” + DLM Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Peter Landers

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Light-filled family home sensitively embraces a British Islands native landscape

Soak in views of the Indian Himalayas at this bamboo-clad hotel villa

April 17, 2018 by  
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Perched high on the mountains of Uttarakhand, India sits The Kumaon , a rustic yet elegant hotel with breathtaking Himalayan views. Boasting floor-to-ceiling mountain views, the hotel designed by Zowa Architects seeks to highlight the natural landscape as much as possible with its minimized footprint and use of locally sourced materials. All hotel structures were designed to harvest rainwater that’s stored in a large holding tank at the bottom of the site, while interstitial spaces between buildings are planted with seasonal crops to be used in the kitchen. Located in the village of Kaser devi near the town of Almora, The Kumaon comprises 10 rooms housed in chalets and separates the main shared facilities—the lounge and dining room, library, reception, and spa—in the main building at the highest point of the site from the services building placed at the bottom. The rooms are embedded into the terraced sloping landscape. “We decided to design the rooms in pairs, one atop the other and scatter them across the site at different levels,” wrote the architects. “This was partly to reduce the bulk of the building and also to reduce the overall footprint of the development.” The main building consists of two floors: the ground floor houses the managers’ quarters and offices in addition to a spacious lounge and library. The floor above is dramatically cantilevered to the north to allow for spectacular views of the Indian Himalayas , which are best enjoyed in the second-floor dining room. The roof of the ground floor doubles as a terrace for outdoor dining and yoga. Related: Himalayan Village: A Charming Mountain Resort Made of Local Materials in Northern India To pay homage to the local culture, the architects enlisted the help of local craftsmen and used local materials wherever possible, such as local pinewood that’s found in the flooring, doors and windows. Furnishings were also designed and made on site. The structures, built of concrete, are clad in bamboo stringed together with copper wiring to soften the architecture. The handcrafted furnishings, natural materials palette, and emphasis on natural light give the hotel a rustic back-to-nature vibe. + Zowa Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Akshay Sharma

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Soak in views of the Indian Himalayas at this bamboo-clad hotel villa

Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them

April 6, 2018 by  
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Iceland has become a popular tourist destination due in no small part to its breathtaking views and unique geological features, but it is also one of the worst examples of deforestation on the planet. When settlers first arrived in Iceland in the ninth century, up to 40 percent of the land area was covered with forests. The Vikings cleared these trees for fuel and to make space for grazing. Erosion from overgrazing and disruption from volcanic events left Iceland nearly without woods. Now, in collaboration with forest farmers and local forestry societies, the Icelandic Forest Service is working to regrow what was lost centuries ago and bring forests back in Iceland. Icelandic Forest Service director Þröstur Eysteinsson understands the true magnitude of what the organization he leads is trying to accomplish. “Iceland is certainly among the worst examples in the world of deforestation . It doesn’t take very many people or very many sheep to deforest a whole country over a thousand years,” said Þröstur . “To see the forest growing, to see that we’re actually doing some good is a very rewarding thing.” Þröstur is motivated by a driving desire to build ecological resilience . “My mission is to support growing more forests and better forests, to make land more productive and more able to tolerate the pressures that we put on it.” Related: Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men in world first The only native forest-building tree, the downy birch, has struggled to establish itself in new forests. With assistance from the Euforgen program, the Iceland Forest Service is introducing locally-tailored, non-native tree species, most of which are from Alaska , into Iceland woodlands. These newly mixed forests are “growing better than anybody ever thought,” according to Þröstur. The ultimate goal is to improve Iceland’s forest cover from the current two percent to twelve percent by 2100, with help from carefully curated non-native trees . Via Treehugger Images via Deposit Photos and  Icelandic Forest Service

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Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them

Millions of insect species will go extinct before we even discover them

December 14, 2017 by  
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Only 200 years ago did humans begin to systematically categorize the species, and within that relatively small stretch, we’ve recorded about 2 million species of plants, animals, fungi. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. By some estimates, we still have another 2 million to uncover, and by others, there are upwards of 100 million left to be classified. However, with deforestation, sprawl, and, above all, climate change putting the planet in jeopardy, scientists believe millions of species will die off before we will even encounter them. And the implications of this are far-reaching. For several decades, scientists have warned that we are headed into, or may even be experiencing, the sixth mass extinction . As The Guardian notes , there have been five other instances like this in the past, including the end-Cretaceous extinction, which led to the demise of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. However, to know for certain if we’re amidst doom and gloom, scientists need to determine the rate at which species are disappearing, and when human activity is factored in, how by how much this rate increases. Related: Plummeting insect population signals potential “ecological Armageddon” Previous studies have deemed humans to indeed be major drivers, possibly causing animal species to go extinct “up to 100 times” faster because of human activity, as one  team of American and Mexican scientists  found. However, Terry Erwin, a world-renowned tropical entomologist, says that the data that has historically been used in these studies is wholly incomplete and “biased towards a very small portion of biodiversity.” Rather, if scientists want an accurate picture of existing conditions, they need to look beyond vertebrates to invertebrates like worms, snails, spiders, octopuses, and most importantly insects, which account for about 70 percent of the Earth’s living creatures. Indeed, only one in 200 of all known species is a mammal. With that said, to determine the true rate of extinction of species on Earth, you need to determine the scale of the insect kingdom—and this is the biggest challenge. While the scope of the insect population is still being explored, The Guardian does cite a “breakthrough” that’s offered some insight into what we’re dealing with. In 1982, Erwin headed to a rainforest in Panama with the goal of determining how many species of insect lived on average across one acre of forest. He chose one tree, which he draped in sheeting and used blasts of insecticide to fog the bugs out. Over several hours, as the insects evacuated the tree onto the sheeting, Erwin was able to collect 1,200 species of bugs, of which he later determined more than 100 of which were exclusive to that one tree. From those findings, he averaged that there are about 41,000 different species per hectare of rainforest, and in turn 30 million species worldwide. The estimates, however, he now deems conservative and suspects the number could actually be between 80 and 200 million, but adds that tens of thousands of them are probably disappearing annually without us even knowing. Of no surprise, climate change is being pinned as the fundamental driver of the great insect die off. Scientists have even noticed drops in the virgin forests of Ecuador and places where insecticides aren’t being used and humans have not cut down a single tree. As the Guardian writes, based on data collected, Erwin and his collaborators have found that the Amazon rainforest has been slowly dying out over the last 35 years. “[If the forest goes out] everything that lives in it will be affected,” he told the site. The disappearance of insect life on Earth would surely mean the end of all life on Earth. Insects are responsible for the planet’s course of evolution from flowering plants to food chains and are key to keeping those systems functioning. As EO Wilson, a celebrated Harvard entomologist, and inventor of sociobiology, tells The Guardian, humanity would last all of a few months without insects and other land-based arthropods. “After that, most of the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would go, along with the flowering plants. The planet would become an immense compost heap, covered in shoals of carcasses and dead trees that refused to rot. Briefly, fungi would bloom in untold numbers. Then, they too would die off. The Earth would revert to what it was like in the Silurian period, 440m years ago, when life was just beginning to colonise the soil – a spongy, silent place, filled with mosses and liverworts, waiting for the first shrimp brave enough to try its luck on land.” Via The Guardian Images via MaxPixel and Wiki Commons

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Millions of insect species will go extinct before we even discover them

Alaskan city’s temperatures spiked so significantly NOAA algorithms thought they were wrong

December 13, 2017 by  
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Every month the NOAA puts together a climate report , documenting changes in average temperatures across the country. While the agency found in November that much of the U.S. had seen an “above average” or “much above average” climb—it was actually the seventh warmest November on record—nowhere was this upswing more apparent than in Barrow, Alaska, where temperatures jumped so remarkably that the NOAA’s algorithms deemed the collected data to be flawed and omitted it. As shared in the  NOAA’s report , “In early December 2017, due to a sharp, but real, increase in temperature during the 21st century at Barrow (Utqia?vik), NCEI’s quality assurance algorithms retroactively rejected the station’s monthly temperatures dating to late summer 2016.” Related: Video of starving polar bear ‘rips your heart out of your chest’ Indeed, temperatures had jumped so significantly this year that the NOAA’s system believed the data collected was a mistake. As the Denver Post writes, “this kind of quality-control algorithm is only good in ‘average’ situations with no outliers.” Deke Arndt, the chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch, described the flub as “an ironic exclamation point to swift regional climate change in and near the Arctic.” As reported by NOAA, Barrow, which is the United States’ northernmost city, experienced its warmest November on record with a temperature of 17.2°F, 16.4°F above the 1981-2010 normal, and 1.9°F warmer than the previous record in 1950. The rise has been a result of melting sea ice, which has historically served to reflect sunlight and kept temperatures stable. “The current observed rate of sea ice decline and warming temperatures are higher than at any other time in the last 1,500 years, and likely longer than that,” the NOAA report said. Moreover, the region has seen large swaths of permafrost turn to mud (permafrost contains huge amounts of frozen greenhouse gases) and the spread of non-native plants common to warmer climates across the tundra. The Arctic region overall had its second-warmest year, just after 2016. And the above hasn’t caused you to sit up in alarm, the NOAA’s more exhaustive  Arctic Report Card , a peer-reviewed document that includes the work of 85 scientists across 12 countries, was given the title: “ Arctic shows no sign of returning to [the] reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” In other words, say hello to the “new normal.” Via Denver Post Image via Wiki Commons graphs and maps via NOAA

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Alaskan city’s temperatures spiked so significantly NOAA algorithms thought they were wrong

MIT’s winning solar-powered dome tree habitats for Mars mimic earthly forests

November 28, 2017 by  
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If humans start constructing cities on Mars , we have an opportunity to build sustainably from the start. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) team designed an environmentally friendly city for the red planet that mimics a forest , with solar-powered dome tree habitats connected with roots, or tunnels. Their vision, called Redwood Forest, recently won first place in the Mars City Design competition’s architecture category. As many as 50 people can reside in each one of Redwood Forest’s domes, which offer open space with plants and water – harvested from Mars’ northern plains – atop roots with access to private spaces and other domes. The roots also protect colonizers from cosmic radiation, extreme thermal changes, or micrometeorite impacts. Related: Stefano Boeri Architects envisions a Vertical Forest City on Mars The 10,000-person city will “physically and functionally mimic a forest,” according to MIT postdoctoral researcher and team co-lead Valentina Sumini, and will draw on local resources like ice, regolith, and water . MIT doctoral student George Lordos said, “Every tree habitat in Redwood Forest will collect energy from the sun and use it to process and transport the water throughout the tree, and every tree is designed as a water-rich environment. Water fills the soft cells inside the dome providing protection from radiation, helps manage heat loads, and supplies hydroponic farms for growing fish and greens.” Solar panels will generate energy to split stored water to produce oxygen and rocket fuel, Lordos said. Solar power will also help charge hydrogen fuel cells , “necessary to power long-range vehicles as well as provide backup energy storage in case of dust storms.” These ideas wouldn’t only work on the red planet. The MIT team says many of their design features could be applied to Earth. Underground multi-level networks could ease traffic above by offering an alternative route for electric cars. Hydroponic gardens underneath cities could cultivate fresh produce with lower transportation and land costs. And their tree habitat design, MIT said, “could create living and working spaces in harsh environments, such as high latitudes, deserts, and the sea floor.” + Mars City Design Via MIT News Images via Valentina Sumini/MIT

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MIT’s winning solar-powered dome tree habitats for Mars mimic earthly forests

‘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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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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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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