12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

February 13, 2020 by  
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When the frost begins to thaw and the first signs of spring appear, it’s time to start thinking about your garden. While it’s true that many of your plants won’t fully come to life for another six months, the more you can knock off your list before spring, the better off your plants , lawn, and schedule will be. So even if you’re still enjoying cozy time in front of the fire, consider tackling, or even preparing for, some outdoor chores during breaks in the weather. Weeding If you live in a snow-covered area, this task will have to wait, but if the thaw is on it’s the perfect time to tackle the first round of seasonal weeds. Since the soil is soft before the heat of summer cements it in, pull weeds and invasive grass for a jump start to the  spring weeding. The earlier and more frequently you pull them, the easier they are to control throughout the season. Related: 11 unique edible plants for your garden Building  If the weather outside is still too severe to work the ground, there are still ways to prep your garden from within the cover of your workshop. Plan and build trellises, arbors and raised beds in preparation for the planting season. Fencing If the heavy frost is past, dig into that fence-building project. Your post hole digger will glide through the soil much easier early in the year than it will if you wait until August. Plus, your garden space will be protected from wildlife and domestic animals before you even get the seeds in the ground. Transplanting It’s important to get your plants established before the growing season begins so they are ready to accept nutrients and thrive. Deciduous trees and shrubs still in their dormant season can be moved as long as the ground isn’t too frozen or too wet. Evergreen flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons, myrtles, azaleas and camellias can be moved once the threat of frost has passed. Organizing Even if you can’t check weeding or planting off your list, late winter is the ideal time to care for your lawn and garden supplies. Choose a reasonably agreeable weather day and empty the garden shed or supplies from the garage. Wash planting pots and allow them to dry. Clean and add protectants to tools. Also, sharpen blades and take an inventory of trimmer string and similar supplies that need replacing. Reorganize tools and supplies and donate unneeded or duplicate items to your local Habitat for Humanity reStore. Also, create a planting calendar so you have an idea of the workload in the upcoming months. Organize your seeds in a box in order of when they need planting — whether you’re using indoor starts, a greenhouse, or direct planting. This is also the perfect time to order seeds or plants. Make sure to check out your local extension office for garden plant sales nearby. While you’re in planning mode, make a list of desired projects for the year and create a workable timeline for each, complete with a budget. Edging Lawn edging is another task that is much easier in soft soil so tidy up the edges around all lawns and add a border if it’s in your plans. It will make mowing and other maintenance much easier throughout the season. Deadheading As your plants begin to rise from their winter slumber, deadhead last year’s growth as appropriate for each plant. Trim off spent blooms you may have missed in the fall, including the foliage from  ornamental grasses . Also, remove the faded flowers from winter pansies and other current bloomers to extend their blooming season. Caring for fruit February and March (if this is winter in your area) are the time to get root plants in the ground. This includes blueberries and raspberries. For fruit trees, protect them from the birds by adding netting before the fruit begins to develop. It’s much easier to cover plants and trees before they fill out with a full bloom. If you already have established berries, go ahead and cut them back now as the growing season begins. Pruning trees While we’re discussing trees, late winter is still a dormant time where trees respond well to pruning. It’s also easier to see the growth pattern of the branches so you can select which of them needs to be trimmed back. Avoid pruning spring-blooming trees  until after they have completed their bloom season. Pruning shrubs and climbers Now is also the time to trim back ivy, wisteria and other climbers as well as hearty shrubs like boxwood. Creating a shape now drops care down to a maintenance level for the season , meaning you will just need to monitor its growth, feeding, and watering. Feed the birds Even though the temperatures may be starting to level out or rise, the birds are still foraging for food so give them a handout. Clean and fill bird feeders with quality food to keep them coming back for more. Dig a pond If you have set a goal of putting in a pond or other feature, dust off the design and get digging now. Again, you’ll find it much easier to create a hole in soft soil than rock hard tundra . If it will be a while before you finish the task, make sure the hole is properly covered to avoid accidents. Via Thompson and Morgan Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

February 11, 2020 by  
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Since 1974, Taylor Guitars has been a champion guitar brand, renowned for its signature sound and instrument-manufacturing innovations. In this feature, Inhabitat goes behind-the-scenes at the company’s headquarters and factory in El Cajon, California, where tour guide Ryan Merrill shares the Taylor Guitars approach to  sustainability , sourcing  wood  and making guitars.   Inhabitat:  What can you share about the process of making a Taylor Guitar? Merrill:  The very first step of building our guitars is housing them in this outdoor tent when the wood arrives. What we’re seeing here is mostly mahogany. When we bring in wood from around the world, they’re accustomed to other types of climates, places that are generally a lot more humid – Cameroon, India, Hawaii. When it gets here, we therefore need to make sure that wood acclimates to our  weather , temperature and  humidity . If we don’t, then as that wood is drying out in the factory, and we’re working on the guitar, it’s going to start bending and warping in different ways. We want all that bending and warping to happen here outside rather than during the process when we are building guitars because we have some tools in there that have high accuracy. And with that level of accuracy in cutting, if the wood is warping, it’s going to cause some problems. So we leave this wood outside here to acclimate. Water that’s sitting inside the grain of the wood, you want to bring down to about 10%. Sometimes that takes two weeks, sometimes that takes a month. Related: YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees Inhabitat:  What does Taylor Guitars do with any leftover wood cuttings? Merrill:  The first measure of our sustainability endeavors is that after we’ve cut wood for our guitars, the scrap wood — instead of us throwing them into the trash bin — we actually utilize it by giving them to other companies that need them, like toymakers, people who make birdhouses, even companies that turn the wood into  mulch . Inhabitat:  Forest management,  reforestation  and the sourcing of ethically harvested tonewoods — the wood used to build acoustic guitars — are important values to Taylor Guitars. Tell us more about that. Merrill: We understand that in order to make our products, we have to cut down trees. But we make sure to plant more trees  than we are taking out of forests every year, and we’ve continued to be dedicated to that goal. A pipe dream Taylor Guitars has is to plant all of the trees we use for all of our guitars on the land we own. That way, we won’t have to source our wood anywhere else in the world, but just focus on effectively using that one piece of land that is ours with all our trees on it. Of course, that’s still what we are working toward. For now, the two places we are focused on are in Cameroon, where we have our ebony, and in Hawaii, where we have our koa. Out in Hawaii, for instance, we own over 570 acres on the Big Island, where we are planting koa trees. Now, koa trees take about 40 to 60 years to grow — that’s a long wait for us to be able to use those trees for guitars. Ebony is even longer, taking 100 to 200 years to fully mature. Inhabitat:  Now, on display here in the corporate headquarters gallery are an array of signature Taylor Guitars, made from various types of wood. What’s the importance of wood type, or tonewood? And, why are certain ones chosen over others for guitar-making? Merrill:  The type of wood affects the instrument sound. First, it’s important to know that woods flavor the sounds. And, historically, there’s hundreds of years’ worth of experimentation on what types of woods are best for what is now the modern guitar . And the main ones that have been settled on are rosewood and mahogany, which are the hardest woods.  So, in a mahogany guitar, you’re going to hear a lot of mid-range sounds, not a lot of bass, not a lot of treble. In rosewood, you’re going to get a lot of bass, you’re going to get a lot of treble, but not as much of the mid-range. You’ll probably notice we’ll get more deep tones and more sparkle with rosewood. Inhabitat:  These are some exotic-sounding names of tonewoods lining this guitar gallery wall. Tell us more about them. Merrill:  Cocobolo is a South American rosewood, so it has a very similar tone to a rosewood guitar. Ovangkol is an African relative of the rosewood. Sapele is an African relative of mahogany. Most tonewoods are going to fall within those two very broad categories. There are some exceptions — we have  maple , which is a very bright wood. It’s the only wood that’s distinct from mahogany and rosewood. We have something like koa as well, which has the mid-range of mahogany and the sparkle of rosewood, but it doesn’t have the bass of rosewood.  Koa guitars have become increasingly popular amongst guitarists. And that’s because as koa wood ages, it gets more dense, which means it will start to produce a better low-end sound. So, if you buy a koa, it might sound one way, but then five years down the line, someone might pick up that same guitar and go, “Wow! This has way more bass than I ever heard out of this instrument!” And that’s one of the very unique things about koa — just the amount that it opens up over time. Inhabitat:  Taylor Guitars has been recognized as a leading guitar-making pioneer. What are some things you can share about what makes you stand out from other guitar manufacturers ? Merrill:  We’re the only company making sapele guitars. We’re the only company making ebony bodies. And we’re the pioneers of the V-bracing, whereas all other guitars elsewhere are still employing the X-bracing. Inhabitat:  What’s the difference between your V-bracing and the conventional X-bracing in guitars out there? Merrill:  One of the beautiful things about the V-brace is that it’s very forgiving of notes that aren’t quite in tune. With an X-brace, the notes start to warble — you can hear the notes bouncing back and forth. You can kind of hear the decay there — decay is just the note fading out. When you compare that with something like a V-brace, the notes just keep ringing — we call it bloom, where it almost grows into a larger chord after you first strum it. You can hear the difference, it sounds fuller, and a lot of that comes down to the sustaining, and that’s the V-bracing being a little more forgiving with those notes. It was fitting for Merrill to say the word “sustaining” to describe the V-brace and what it does to guitar notes, because it circularly tied into Taylor Guitars’ sustainability initiatives. As the tour winded down, a large plaque — entitled “Taylor’s Commitment to Sustainability” — was visible on the way out, reminding everyone of the quality the company stands for in the soundness of its products and  supply chain . Images via Mariecor Agravante

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Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

KUKU birdhouses combine sustainability and wildlife protection

February 5, 2020 by  
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Birds play an important role in the environment. They are responsible for dispersing seeds, pollination  and pest control. However, urban growth contributes to driving them out of their homes. The KUKU birdhouse offers a solution to the problem in a cute, functional and sustainable design. Designed by Marco Antonio Barba Sánchez , KUKU was created to provide a place for birds  to feel protected and to reproduce. The inspiration comes from the realization that bird populations are dropping in many areas around the world.  Related: These tiny and adorable vintage campers are made for birds “Of 10,000 species of birds in the world, 1,200 are in danger of extinction and 93% are due to the growth of cities and agriculture. We are killing them!!” Marco Barba Industrial Design said in a tweet (quote translated from Spanish). A large part of the issue stems from agricultural practices and the development of cities, but birds have natural enemies like all other animals . The KUKU provides a home where the birds may not have been able to build one naturally. It’s a place where they can take refuge from predators and larger pest birds.  Since the motivation for KUKU stemmed from a  love of nature , it is made with sustainable materials. The shape is geometric, which is meant to be an abstract version of the sun, an element that is vital to birds. Also, the shape allows protection from predators and plenty of room for the winged creatures to feel at home. So while it may not be able to solve the problems of clear-cutting trees , over-development or plastic consumption, KUKU can provide housing for a critical species on the planet. KUKU is nearly ready to hit the market. You can sign up in advance on the KUKU website and receive a notification when it becomes available. Marco Barba Design is a Mexican company focused on sustainable industrial design with a host of design awards under their belt. + KUKU Via Design Milk Images via Marco Barba Design

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Treehouse hotel in Bali offers maximum views with a minimal footprint

February 4, 2020 by  
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Bali-based architect Alexis Dornier has become known for his tropical architecture that creates a seamless connection between the human-made and nature. His latest project, the incredible Lift Treetop Boutique Hotel just outside of Ubud, Bali, continues the architect’s signature building technique of elevating eco-friendly structures off the ground to further reduce environmental impact. Located in Penestanan, a village just outside the popular tourist town of Ubud, the Lift Treetop Boutique Hotel is comprised of three soaring treehouses , each one distinct from the next. Embedded into a lush tropical forest, the treehouses offer guests the perfect spot to reconnect with nature while enjoying incredible views from high up in the canopy. Related: Prefab homes on stilts include solar panels, water collection systems and organic gardens Although all of the thatched-roof accommodations come with king-sized beds with en suite bathrooms and outdoor spaces, the treehouses are all different from one another. The Ernest Hemingway House was built using traditional methods of the Javanese people. The lowest of the three units on offer, this treehouse offers guests a serene, one-story lodging filled with rattan and reclaimed wood furniture. The George Orwell House has two stories. The top floor of this serene treehouse has a bedroom with an extended outdoor balcony and a rooftop deck for a bit of stargazing or bird watching. Next up is the largest of the three treehouses — the luxurious Stanley Kubrik House. Here, guests will enjoy a world of understated luxury, with an interior that offers unobstructed views from any angle. This treehouse offers a large en suite bedroom as well as an outdoor area with plenty of seating, including a hammock . Guests of the hotel will not only be able to immerse themselves in their own little paradise up in the trees, but they can also enjoy the hotel’s luxurious common areas. The treehouses are gathered around a central area with an abundance of lounge spaces, including a small sauna and a swimming pool. There is also an elevated yoga deck for getting bendy before hitting up the snack bar. + Alexis Dornier + Lift Bali Via ArchDaily Images via Alexis Dornier

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Treehouse hotel in Bali offers maximum views with a minimal footprint

myfoods smart greenhouses can grow nearly 900 pounds of produce a year

February 4, 2020 by  
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At CES 2020, French startup myfood presented a smart greenhouse that it says can grow up to 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of organic fruits and vegetables a year with only a few hours of work a week. Combining permaculture principles with smart technology to monitor plant health, the myfood smart greenhouses aim to change people’s relationships with food as a means of reducing the global carbon footprint . The startup has distributed nearly 200 smart greenhouses in 14 countries around the world and hopes to target the North American market next. Based in the French commune of Molsheim, myfood was born as a reaction against the agro-food industry’s intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers that have contributed to the loss of biodiversity and negatively affected human health. To reconnect people with nature, myfood developed a series of compact smart greenhouses to give communities around the world the opportunity to cultivate a healthy and diverse diet with fresh produce year-round from the comfort of their homes. Related: 3-hectare desert farm in Jordan can grow 286,600 pounds of veggies each year myfood currently has three types of smart greenhouses. For urban dwellers, the startup developed the 3.5-square-meter City smart greenhouse that can produce up to 100 kilograms of fruit and vegetables and can fit atop a rooftop, terrace , large balcony or small garden. Single urban dwellers with a very small living footprint can consider the 0.65-square-meter Aerospring Vertical Garden, which can grow up to 40 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a year in a small pot. The largest option, which is best suited for a single-family home with a yard, is the 22-square-meter Family smart greenhouse that can grow up to 400 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a year and is ideal for four people. All myfood structures are designed for easy and quick installation and are equipped with LED lighting and other energy-efficient systems that can be monitored remotely from a smartphone. Buyers also have the option to customize their smart greenhouses to best suit their needs, from off-grid applications to winterizing. “ Climate change requires a profound change in our consumption habits to limit our carbon dioxide emissions,” said Mickaël Gandecki, myfood co-founder. “To easily cultivate in a sustainable and efficient way, we employ both a synergy between fish and plants, as well as an approach inspired by nature and based on cutting-edge agronomic research. The connected and intelligent features enrich the experience by collecting parameters useful for managing the greenhouse. A dedicated social network supports users from the launch of the project, to the first harvests and beyond.” + myfood Images via myfood

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Seaweed pavilion encourages environmental conservation at WEF

February 4, 2020 by  
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In the landlocked Swiss town of Davos-Klosters, German designer Julia Lohmann has brought multi-sensory elements of the sea to guests of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 50th Annual Meeting. Hidaka Ohmu is a seaweed installation accompanied by a seaweed prototyping workshop. Created as part of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum exhibition, ‘Partnering with Nature,’ the installation aims to “encourage participants to play with natural elements, learn about the symbiotic relationships in nature and be inspired to imagine a more cohesive approach to working with nature.” Made from kelp and rattan, the organic pavilion immerses visitors in the scents and colors of the ocean as a reminder of the importance of environmental conservation. The Hidaka Ohmu installation is part of Julia Lohmann’s Department of Seaweed, an ongoing collection of work that explores the sustainable uses of seaweed and ways the material can be used to spark dialogue. At WEF, the installation took the shape of an organic pavilion with a rattan frame and semi-translucent kelp panels, the colors of which change depending on the light. Hidaka Ohmu takes its name from the Hidaka kelp used for the installation and the pavilion’s resemblance to Ohmu, the massive insect-like creatures from the 1984 Japanese animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind , a cautionary sci-fi tale of environmental devastation. Related: 100% biodegradable, edible packaging is so much better than plastic In addition to exploring the sights and smells of Hidaka Ohmu, WEF participants were invited to create objects from seaweed themselves in Lohmann’s Department of Seaweed prototyping workshop. The workshop aims to make science and our relationship with nature more tangible as a means of encouraging environmentally responsible actions and raising awareness about climate change . The installation and workshop were presented from January 21 to January 24, 2020. “We need an empathic, more than human-centric way of engaging with nature,” Lohmann said. “Every species has an equal right to life on this planet. We can use the same human ingenuity that has led to the climate crisis we are facing now — and design has a lot to answer for in this — to protect and regenerate the ecosystem that sustains us.” + Julia Lohmann Photography by Valeriano Di Domenico, Farouk Pinjo, Claran McCrickard, and Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary via WEF

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Seaweed pavilion encourages environmental conservation at WEF

This container home in Brazil helps its residents disconnect

December 24, 2019 by  
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The 2,766-square-foot Hanging House was designed by the architects of Casa Container Marília in the rural area of ??Campos Novos Paulista, Brazil. About 80 percent of the materials used in construction were recycled , including the primary maritime shipping containers that make up a majority of the structure. The home also lacks two major modern amenities — televisions and Wi-Fi — to encourage a digital detox. The Hanging House sits elevated from the ground, so the windows are level with the native trees abundant throughout the property. This also lessened the impact on the landscape. The wooden deck balconies blend in with the branches of the trees as well, making it feel much like a treehouse. It earns its name from the numerous hammocks that hang from the ground level, one of many places where the homeowners can kick back and relax. There is a modular green roof attached to the container home as well as a rainwater storage system that reduces the need for excess irrigation around the property. The interior doors on the first floor were made with reused plates of the containers. Following the completion of the project, 70 percent of the debris left over — mostly made up of wood and steel scraps — was also reused. No outside soil was brought to the site, and a minimal amount of concrete was used in the foundations to preserve and protect the soil drainage and root patterns. Related: This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online All of the walls are insulated with a thermoacoustic blanket, and the interior has a cross-ventilation system with wide openings to encourage airflow. Nestling the house under the trees also provided the building with plenty of shade. Thanks to this air exchange and thermal arrangement, the house has no need for an air conditioning system, even on the hottest days of the year. The container home has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a beautiful kitchen that opens up to the living spaces. The interiors are dressed in timber, creating a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. In an effort to allow residents to disconnect from the outside world and better connect with the surrounding nature, there are no televisions or Wi-Fi available on the property. + Casa Container Marília Images via Casa Container Marília

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This container home in Brazil helps its residents disconnect

Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

November 21, 2019 by  
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When designing the House of Three Trees, Seoul-based architecture practice Jae Kim Architects & Researchers (JK-AR) started with a question: What would Korean architecture look like if timber remained the dominant construction material from ancient times until today? To answer this alternate-reality proposition, the architects conceived a project representative of “the rebirth of East Asian timber architecture of the 21st century” that blends digital design and fabrication with traditional Korean architecture. Built with sculptural, tree-like structures that employ the iconic wooden bracket systems of ancient times, the experimental home also relates to the local vernacular with low-cost materials commonly used in rural Korean buildings. During the late Joseon Dynasty of Korea in the 17th and 19th centuries, timber resources were mostly exhausted until globalization led to the import of cheaper wooden materials from around the world. Due to the popularization of reinforced concrete structures and the high cost of timber construction, development of timber architecture slowed. Using algorithmic tools, JK-AR envisions how timber architecture could have evolved had timber resources continued to be readily available with The House of Three Trees. The experimental home features tree-like supporting structures solely composed of wooden joinery — using more than 4,000 timber elements — constructed with traditional techniques and zero additive fasteners. Related: Moon Hoon’s funky new home captures sunlight on Jeju Island “The house criticizes today’s application of traditional buildings that is superficial, merely imitating traditional expressions in architecture, or too abstract,” the architects explained. “Rather, the house redefines the virtue of East Asian timber buildings in its tectonic aspect which is a combination of structure and ornamentation. Moreover, the house serves as an example of how contemporary technology, such as design computation and digital fabrication, can reinterpret traditional architecture. Technology can give East Asian timber construction the potential to evolve in a new direction.” The home takes on a hexagonal shape, influenced by the irregular building plot, with an interior defined by three tree-like columns that support the roof. Covered in asphalt shingles, the butterfly roof is raised to provide a glimpse of the trees inside. Polycarbonate corrugated panels wrap around the home in a nod to rural Korean construction; these panels also create a double-skin around the plywood facade to improve the building’s insulation performance and water resistance. + Jae Kim Architects & Researchers Photography by Roh Kyung via Jae Kim Architects & Researchers

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Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

Four tiny pavilions make up a low-impact forest home in Mexico

November 13, 2019 by  
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A family that enjoys nature together, stays together. That’s the idea behind the amazing, nature-inspired Casa de Bosque by Mexican architectural firm, WEYES Studio . Tucked into a lush forest, the family home is comprised of four small glass-and-brick structures, all linked by a series of outdoor walkways that weave through the treetops. Located in a large forest just outside of Santiago, Nuevo León, the home features an ingenious design that ensures the human-made structures find true harmony with their natural surroundings. Wrapped in lush vegetation, the four pavilions were all installed with ultimate care to reduce their impact on the landscape. Related: A cluster of coast forest cabins brings a nature-loving family closer together The home is comprised of four compact, concrete-framed, glass cabins . The layout was guided by the existing trees and roots, and the team took care to safeguard the 17 trees that made up the building site. The cabins are connected by stairs, corridors and exterior bridges that run in tune with the topography, rising and weaving through the tree canopy. Out of the four tiny pavilions , the largest is 485 square feet and houses the main living area, which comes complete with a terrace and an interior patio. There is also a garage and storage unit, a private resting pavilion and another private area that is designed to be a guest home or office space. According to the architects, they built the entire home with simplicity and sustainability in mind. “You see a simple construction, without technical complications, with a lot of detail in the placement of its materials,” the firm said. “There is a wide variety of apparent materials that will age with dignity over time and will blend with the surroundings. We translated the love for nature and the original lifestyle of users into a “minimal footprint”; not to destroy natural contexts but to build in conjunction with them.” In addition to its low-impact design, the cabins were all built with passive energy systems. With reducing consumption at the forefront of the design, the homes were strategically positioned to take advantage of the shade of the trees and natural cross ventilation. To help maintain a constant temperature indoors, even during the winter, double walls made out of baked clay brick were used in the construction. Additionally, the cabins use minimal electricity thanks to natural lighting that filters through multiple windows and skylights. + WEYES Studio Via ArchDaily Photography by The Raws via WEYES Studio

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Four tiny pavilions make up a low-impact forest home in Mexico

Tacoma’s Dune Peninsula: from slag heap to beloved park

November 13, 2019 by  
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On a gorgeous fall day, people jog and walk dogs along Tacoma’s waterfront in the new Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park . Locals appreciate the almost miraculous transformation of this land. The human-made peninsula, named for the science-fiction book by Tacoma author Frank Herbert, was built over an accumulation of slag a manufacturer dumped into Puget Sound for 70 years. As Tacoma Park Board Commissioner Erik Hanberg said in a news release, “The theme in ‘Dune’ of a world destroyed by environmental catastrophe drew in part from Frank Herbert’s life experiences in Tacoma, which in the 1950s was one of the nation’s most polluted cities. The characters in the novel have a goal to ‘terraform’ their planet back to its inhabitable origins. That’s what we’ve done here. We have terraformed a polluted wasteland into a beautiful environment for all to enjoy.” Related: Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy The 11-acre addition to Point Defiance Park opened in July. The new Wilson Way bridge also opened, connecting Point Defiance Park to Ruston Way. Bicyclists , runners and walkers have long bemoaned the lack of connection between trails at this point, now solved by the new bridge. The most fun part of the design is a series of six slides connecting the park with the marina below. Stairs nearby offer another way to get down the slope, or a way to get back up, for those who want to repeat the slide experience — sometimes over and over. Concerts and other outdoor events have a new venue in the park’s Cambia Legacy Lawn. The paved Frank Herbert Trail provides a pedestrian path. Developers had a complex job of building this project around so many active uses, competing interests and different jurisdictions, according to Clayton Beaudoin, the principal of landscape architecture firm Site Workshop . This Seattle -based landscape architecture firm worked with Metro Parks Tacoma on designing the cleanup and layout of Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance. Metro Parks commissioned Adam Kuby and Nichole Rathburn to create site-specific artworks. Kuby’s work, Alluvion, uses steel pipes to suggest the smelter smokestack of the former ASARCO plant, long infamous for wafting “the Tacoma aroma” over the city. Rathburn’s Little Makers, a series of bronze forms, are based on the novel Dune, drawing parallels between the book’s plot and the transformation of a slag pile into a park. Beaudoin talked to Inhabitat about the transformation from slag heap to beloved new park. Inhabitat: What was this site like before you started building the park? Beaudoin: A portion of the site was occupied by the Tacoma Yacht Club, including their clubhouse, access road and parking. The other portion of the site was generally flat and covered with yard soils from the North Tacoma remediation project. There was no vegetation or infrastructure. Inhabitat: Tell us about the toxic slag — what were its risks to people? Beaudoin: The contaminants of concern (COCs) were lead and arsenic . When a new fracture face opened up, which happened as the slag weathered, small amounts of lead and arsenic would make their way into Commencement Bay, which caused heavy metal loading. The shoreline armoring and capping of the peninsula, which is located beneath the park, eliminates the metal loading to Commencement Bay. In addition, the slag could be ingested either by inhalation or eating it. The cap allows people to be on the peninsula and keeps them from having contact with the slag. Lead ingestion can cause severe mental impairment, and arsenic is a carcinogen. Inhabitat: How did you move it and where did the toxic slag go? Beaudoin: As part of the shoreline armoring, the slag was excavated to a 2:1 slope, so the shoreline armoring would be stable over time. The slag was moved using conventional construction equipment (excavator, articulated dump trucks and dozers). The excavated slag was placed on the peninsula (in the Yacht Club parking lot and under the park). The elevation of the peninsula was raised 10 to 20 feet to accommodate the slag and contaminated soil. This lowered the carbon footprint of the project by keeping the contamination onsite and not hauling it offsite. The capping system was then placed on top of the contaminated slag and soil. Inhabitat: Describe the woven geotextile cap. What is it? How big is it? What does it do? Beaudoin: There are three kinds of caps on the peninsula: low perm asphalt, low perm concrete and a multilayer cap composed of a geocomposite clay layer, 40 mil HDPE and a geonet. Each cap type prevents water from infiltrating the contaminants and then getting into Commencement Bay, and it also prevents people from coming in contact with the contaminants. The cap system is required to have a permeability less than 1 x 10-7 cm/sec. The cap covers all of the peninsula, which is about 13 acres. It also ties into the adjacent Point Ruston site, which is also a Superfund site and has a cap underneath it. This is the largest Superfund Redevelopment Project in Region 10 of the EPA . Inhabitat: What inspired you to build the slides? Beaudoin: Together with Metro Parks, Site Workshop has designed a lot of parks and public spaces, and we’ve learned to anticipate how people use space. At the very top of the slope is an overflow parking lo,t which we imagined would be used by boaters. After launching their boats, they would have to drive their trucks to the top and race back down some 90 feet of elevation to their boats. Slides seemed like the fastest — and most fun — way to do it. We’ve been working hillside slides into many of sloped projects, and since the Dune Peninsula was never intended to host a traditional playground, this seemed like a nice way to work something playful into the trail portion of project. Inhabitat: What do you like best about the resulting park? Beaudoin: The most gratifying and inspiring result is how the citizens of Tacoma have embraced the park in all of its rustic, rough and less-manicured edges. We think Dune Peninsula resonates with people because of how it celebrates Tacoma’s cultural and natural history without beating you over the head with it. There’s plenty of mystery to discover and beauty to inhale, and people (and the wildlife !) are responding in ways that should make everyone involved feel proud. Also, for such a large site, we were able to utilize several creative features, which were constructed in especially cost-effective but impactful ways. For example, the Moment Bridge, which has become a bit of an icon for the city, is constructed from off-the-shelf concrete girders akin to what you might see over a highway. However, the design team was able to craft those basic materials in a way that make it feel special, including the “moment” at the center, the railings and the unusually shaped piers. The planting scheme was developed to utilize site soils and be delivered in a way that minimizes maintenance compared to traditional landscapes (which import topsoil and bark mulch and require persistent maintenance). Early in the project, we created test plots to evaluate how the site soils responded to various amendments, which helped minimize cost and improve the success of the plantings. + Site Workshop Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

Excerpt from:
Tacoma’s Dune Peninsula: from slag heap to beloved park

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