Design experiment examines safety of food grown in urban vertical gardens

October 23, 2020 by  
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Interior architecture firm Annvil has brought together a team of urban planners, designers, environmentalists and natural scientists to study the interaction between the urban environment and horticulture. The project, called G(U)ARDEN, is a vertical garden experience set in Latvia aimed at exploring the safety of growing food in urban gardens. Urban agriculture has already been proven to reduce air pollution, collect and use runoff, increase productivity of space and aid in urban cooling, but it is still lacking in substantial scientific research in the safety of these plants being used for food. The G(U)ARDEN project will measure the biochemical composition of vegetables and fruits grown in urban environments, especially in places with intense traffic and air pollution.  Related: Snøhetta to revitalize Midtown Manhattan with vibrant garden The primary urban vertical garden of this project is located in Riga, Latvia and is made up of local plants from the city’s horticulture centers and nurseries. Researchers chose to use endemic plants to inspire residents to grow and conserve locally as well as to encourage sustainable and effective urban environmental development discussions. “Today we live in a digital world where everything is instantaneous. In answer to that, we want to stimulate people’s interest in real life — interest in the physical world and in being close to nature,” said Anna Butele, author of project G(U)ARDEN and the founder of Annvil. “We can do that by creating even more green environments in the city — meeting places that bring together different groups of society. This way we can also bring attention to neglected environments in the city.” The pilot program has started with the team studying the garden’s vegetable and fruit harvest in a scientific laboratory. Crops are measured for the presence of heavy metals, while the air and water is measured for microbiological composition to help identify all possible risk factors associated with the impact of the urban environment on edible plants . The data obtained from the experiment will aid in continued projects to help create a series of urban gardens in Latvia’s largest cities next year. + Annvil Photography by Ingus Baj?rs via Annvil

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Design experiment examines safety of food grown in urban vertical gardens

Midcentury warehouse becomes a community-building asset in Mexico City

September 30, 2020 by  
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In a bid to sustainably create more inclusive and connective space in Mexico City, local architecture practice BAAQ’ has rehabilitated Dr. Atl 285 — an industrial structure from the late 1960s — into a mixed-use community hub topped with a productive urban garden. Located in the neighborhood of Santa Maria la Ribera just west of the historic center, the adaptive reuse project responds to the area’s ongoing densification process that has attracted a younger population in recent years. In adapting the building into a community-forward space rather than tearing it down to start anew, the architects have also carefully preserved the cultural and architectural heritage of the the structure while minimizing the project’s environmental impact. Primarily built with reinforced concrete beams and columns, Dr. Atl 285 was originally used for industrial purposes. The architects left the reticular concrete structure exposed in a nod to the building’s past while inserting new cubic elements of wood as part of a new, flexible, modular design that can adapt to different program needs of varying sizes and configurations. The permeable construction also allows natural light to pass through the building. Related: A lush rooftop oasis flourishes on this renovated Art Deco townhouse in Mexico City In addition to a rooftop urban farm that produces food for all users, the architects have created a series of common spaces in the outdoor areas. A water treatment plant was installed beneath the building’s old courtyard to eliminate drainage discharge. By recirculating all of the water used, the water treatment plant helps save up to 45% of water. A garden was planted atop the water treatment plant to provide additional outdoor green space and to improve air quality.  “The project aims to demonstrate the adaptability of architecture in the existing resources, the regenerative potential of the city, and the ability to generate sustainable projects nowadays,” the architects explained in a project statement. “All this to preserve the cultural and architectural heritage through the restoration of these constructions and projects, not only to maintain the presence of each neighborhood but also to reduce the environmental impact of real estate development.” + BAAQ’ Phototography by Jaime Navarro via BAAQ’

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LEED Platinum Akademeia High School caters to millennials

April 13, 2020 by  
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When  Medusa Group Architects  was tasked to design a high school in Warsaw, the Polish interdisciplinary design studio’s team seized the opportunity to address the perceived failures of the public education system to keep up with changing millennial needs. As a result, their design of Akademeia High School, completed in 2015, encourages a welcoming and flexible “lifestyle atmosphere” where students are encouraged to stay in school even after classes end. Built primarily of locally sourced timber, the school also boasts low energy consumption and has achieved LEED Platinum certification with a total of 86 points.  Spanning an area of 14,369 square meters, the Akademeia High School comprises a U-shaped building that wraps around a central  courtyard . Taking inspiration from urban design and place-making principles, the architects deliberately introduced a sense of ambiguity to many of the indoor spaces to encourage students to adapt the rooms to multifunctional uses. Seating, for example, is no longer limited to benches and chairs but also encompasses sculptural interior surfaces and the stairs of the outdoor amphitheater-like structure facing the central courtyard. The school cafeteria has also been transformed from a traditionally single-use space into a  multi-use  space akin to a “fashionable restaurant” that is open throughout the day for various functions. “This is a place where you can work with literature, meet with a psychologist, wait for parents and at the same time sit at a laptop and do homework, preparing the elders,” explain the architects in their project statement. “We wanted pupils in small groups to learn the culinary art from the kitchen, get to know the flavors and make inspiring, culinary travels – geography with gastronomy in one.” Related: A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun Students can further their culinary arts education on the accessible roof, where an  urban garden  grows and houses beehives during the summer. The herbs grown on the roof are used in the school cafeteria. The rooftop space can also host classroom activities, from biology and physics to astronomy and geography.  + Medusa Group Architects Photography: J?drzej i Juliusz Soko?owscy

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LEED Platinum Akademeia High School caters to millennials

We need to think beyond urban farming

February 26, 2020 by  
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But the broader agricultural world can learn much from how those operations use data.

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We need to think beyond urban farming

Cities need to change for people to thrive amid a changing climate

February 26, 2020 by  
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There’s a resilient, zero-carbon, equitable vision for the future. How do we get there from here?

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Cities need to change for people to thrive amid a changing climate

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

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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Kuehn Malvezzi tops a brick office building in Germany with an energy-efficient greenhouse

December 23, 2019 by  
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In the historic center of Oberhausen, Berlin-based architectural firm Kuehn Malvezzi has created a job center topped with a greenhouse in an unprecedented example of “building-integrated agriculture” in Germany. Named Altmarktgarten Oberhausen, the mixed-use facility symbolizes old and new: the brick-and-steel material palette references the area’s historic architecture, while the greenhouse serves as a place for innovative urban farming research. For a reduced environmental footprint, the architects installed systems for recycling rainwater, gray water and waste heat from the building operations. Created in collaboration with landscape architects atelier le balto and awarded the winner in a 2016 architecture competition, the mixed-use facility was constructed on the site of an old market hall at Oberhausen’s Altmarkt. The first five stories of the building function as a job center, while the top floor and rooftop greenhouse are used by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT). An interior courtyard with a vertical garden helps visually connect the sawtooth-roofed greenhouse with the brick building below. The vertical garden — which comprises hardy climbing plants, like the crimson glory vine and common hop, on a galvanized steel structure — are complemented with a bed of small shrubs and ground cover plantings. Related: A “floating” greenhouse is inserted behind a renovated Belgian home “The building, designed by Kuehn Malvezzi, blends confidently but calmly into the historical city,” the architects said. “The specificity of this important urban location results from the tension between the physicality of the brick building and the filigree lightness of the rooftop greenhouse planned in cooperation with Haas Architekten. From the regularity of its structure, the greenhouse on each of the three sides of the street forms its own conclusion, which responds sensitively to each context.” To access the greenhouse, visitors are led from a lime tree-lined market square, past the courtyard with the vertical garden and up a steel staircase to the roof. Operated by the municipality, the publicly accessible greenhouse overlooks views of Oberhausen’s historic center and the city beyond. + Kuehn Malvezzi Photography by Hiepler Brunier via Kuehn Malvezzi

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Carbon-neutral, prefab development targets sustainable urbanism for Rotterdams Rijnhaven area

December 19, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize the area of Rijnhaven, a Rotterdam port dating back to 1895, Blueroom and Urban Crossovers have designed a proposal for a new, mixed-use development that could serve as a leading example of sustainable urbanism. The project, titled ‘Rotterdam Next Level! — SmartMoves 51.90,’ proposes high-density development built from low-waste, prefabricated architecture in a range of building typologies, from high-rises to floating creative communities. The development is also designed with carbon-neutral targets and aims to increase biodiversity on both land and water. As a delta city, Rotterdam has had to cope with flooding for years as the majority of the urban area sits below sea level. Building on Rotterdam’s experience and reputation for resilient design, Blueroom and Urban Crossovers want to turn the Rijnhaven area into a forward-thinking example of urbanism that addresses climate change, climate adaptation and housing shortages all at once. Related: ODA to transform Rotterdam’s historic post office into a vibrant destination “A development that is attractive and accessible for all, but also, a development that adds a unique urban condition to the entire metropolitan area,” the designers said. “A district that further enforces the innovative and sustainable ambitions of Rotterdam. Thus, setting an example for climate adaptive urbanism for urban deltas around the world.” The proposal calls for a mixed program of hotels, retail, cafe, offices, makerspaces and dedicated facilities for housing international institutions focused on fighting climate change. The masterplan would also include a wide variety of residences that serve all market segments, from floating creative communities to single-family houses with gardens to high-rises with apartments and penthouses. Prefabricated construction would be used for efficiency and to minimize disruptions to the surrounding areas. Green public spaces, a floating park and a park promenade would be woven throughout, with areas set aside for urban vegetable and fruit farming. + Blueroom Images via Blueroom

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Carbon-neutral, prefab development targets sustainable urbanism for Rotterdams Rijnhaven area

Food security is a huge threat to Singapore — is urban farming the answer?

May 31, 2019 by  
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The island-state imports most of its food, but is threatened by crop yields and policy changes around the world.

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Food security is a huge threat to Singapore — is urban farming the answer?

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