Traumhaus Funari transforms an old military site into affordable housing

August 5, 2021 by  
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Traumhaus Funari is an urban development on the site of a former U.S. military barracks in Germany. The neighborhood design takes a unique approach with a focus on green spaces and pedestrian access, while also creating affordable, diverse and individualized housing. Architectural firm MVRDV aims to redesign the idea of a suburban neighborhood by partnering with Traumhaus, a prefabricated home builder. Putting their strengths together has resulted in a district of homes that owners can help design from the ground up. Related: DMAA designs Residential Greenhouse in Germany The process starts with Traumhaus’ standardized housing elements. From there, owners select from a set of variations on an original design. This allows each family to customize their home with material selection, interior layouts, size and architectural design. Designs range from single-level units equipped for handicapped access or senior living to stilt houses with outdoor living spaces. Developers hope this range of options will bring together a diverse neighborhood for families and individuals. In addition to variation across what could be otherwise be a monochromatic and cookie-cutter style development, the Traumhaus Funari homes with green façades offer environmentally friendly options that burst with color, for those who choose it, and use natural materials like wood for those who prefer a more natural look. The first phase of the masterplan will add 124 single-family homes and 26 apartments to the district. Outside the living spaces, underground parking keeps the surface level aimed at pedestrian travel and play. Plants, parks, sporting areas, gardens and walkways encourage a connection with nature.  “Traumhaus has already shown how a systematic construction approach can increase affordability and accessibility in housing,” said Winy Maas, MVRDV founding partner. “With Traumhaus Funari we want to take the next step, creating a model that retains this affordability while challenging the expectations for lifestyle, and the variety of ways to inhabit a suburb or village. In Funari we are creating something that is more sustainable and more social — a model that can be replicated across Germany and beyond, to the benefit of everyone. From Traumhaus to Traum world.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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Traumhaus Funari transforms an old military site into affordable housing

NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants

November 3, 2017 by  
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In its quest to sustainably serve the needs of urban farmers , NexLoop  found inspiration for its water management system in the natural world. Seeking to create a system that is self-sufficient and adaptable to local needs, the NexLoop team observed the ability of cribellate orb weaver spiders to craft webs that capture water from fog in the air. The team then incorporated this design into their system, called the AquaWeb, to passively capture water from the atmosphere. The biomimetically-designed AquaWeb incorporates ideas from fungi, bees, and plants to create a naturally-inspired solution to the complex human problem of growing food. For its work, NexLoop was awarded the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and the Biomimicry Institute. After determining how water capture would work, the team looked at drought-tolerant plants such as the crystalline ice plant to learn how it effectively stores water to survive in dry areas and applied these lessons to the AquaWeb’s storage system. As for distribution of this water, the team studied fungi , which are essential organisms in places like forests where mycorrhizal fungal networks transport water and nutrients to trees that need them. As for a solid structure, the team incorporated the hexagonal shape of honey bee nests. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry The AquaWeb seeks to meet the needs of a global community that is increasingly urban . The global population is expected rise to at least 9 billion by 2050, 70 percent of which will live in cities. This historic shift towards urban living will require adoption of food systems that are locally based, resilient, and efficient in its use of resources. AquaWeb’s passive capture and storage of rainwater is a key feature for stability in a world increasingly plagued by extreme weather. As part of the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize, the NexLoop team received $100,000 to promote and refine its design. The second place prize was awarded to Team Windchill, which designed an electricity-free refrigerator based on animal temperature regulation, while the third place prize went to Team Evolution’s Solutions, which invented a food waste nutrient recycling and supply system aimed to help hydroponic farmers . + Biomimicry Institute Images via NexLoop and Depositphotos

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Berlins famed brutalist Bierpinsel tower hits the market for $3.8m

October 30, 2017 by  
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You can now live in one of Berlin’s most iconic examples of brutalist architecture – for the price tag of $3.8 million. The famous Bierpinsel tower was originally built in 1972 as a restaurant, but it has sat vacant for years – and now it’s officially for sale . Soaring 150 feet over the cityscape, the tower has a whopping 12,765 square feet of space – and it could be repurposed into one very funky home or a sweet boutique hotel in the sky. Designed by architects Ralph Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte, the tower holds court over Schlossstrasse – the second biggest shopping street in Berlin . It was originally a restaurant before converting into a nightclub and cafe, but it has been vacant since 2006. Related: 1970s Berlin Restaurant Transformed into Graffiti Art Tower In 2010 four street artists created vivid artwork on the Bierpinsel tower’s exterior , but it has failed to find any commercial use. Although the work has faded over the years, the art by Honest and Soyzone Gonzales is still visible. Sotheby’s Real Estate lists the tower as a “four-bedroom home”, but it could be put to many uses. Of course, potential tenants will have a large renovation on their hands. The interior of the tower has already been gutted, but it would take quite a bit of work to turn it into a home or hotel. + Sotheby’s Real Estate Via The Spaces Lead image by Jan M / Creative Commons

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Berlins famed brutalist Bierpinsel tower hits the market for $3.8m

Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

October 27, 2017 by  
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In November, voters in Denver, Colorado will go to the polls to approve or disapprove a new ballot initiative that would require most new buildings of at least 25,000 square feet and some older buildings to include a green roof . The roofs would have to be covered with trees, vegetables or other plants that add aesthetic value and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Although the idea of green roofs is broadly popular, the mandate to require them is somewhat controversial. Nonetheless, supporters are optimistic that voters will ultimately approve the bold and beautiful policy to add even more green to the Mile High City. Denver’s proposed green roof mandate takes cues from Toronto , which implemented the policy seven years ago, becoming the first city in North America to require green roofs. Although San Francisco recently adopted a mandate for green roofs on new buildings, Denver would be the first to transform rooftops on existing buildings through the mandate. Supporters see real environmental and economic benefits from such a broad adoption of green roofs. A new study from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Green Infrastructure Foundation estimated that the adopted initiative would create 57.5 million square feet of green roofs by 2033 and generate $1.85 billion in energy cost savings and other benefits over the next 40 years. “We have all these flat roofs with all this space, and we’re not doing anything with them,” said Brandon Rietheimer, the initiative’s campaign manager, according to the Denver Post . “Why aren’t we putting solar or green vegetation up there? … We hear all the time that Denver is an environmentally friendly city, yet we rank 11th for air quality and third for heat islands.” Related: Denver food desert raises $50K for first community-owned grocery store Although the idea may be appealing, it still faces a mountain of opposition before it becomes law. “I think it would be great if we all had green roofs,” said Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman. “They’re so lovely. But the mandate is what worries me. … If you have so much support for it, then why wouldn’t the market just take care of it?” Even Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has come out against the measure, stating that it was “not the right approach” for the city. Despite heavy opposition, the initiative may prove endearing to the Denver electorate, particularly in an off-year election . Political analyst Eric Sondermann said, “I think the risk to the opposition is that it’s under the radar and it just looks good, looks cutting-edge, feels good and that no one digs into it”. Via The Denver Post Images via Denver Green Roof Initiative

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Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

October 27, 2017 by  
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In November, voters in Denver, Colorado will go to the polls to approve or disapprove a new ballot initiative that would require most new buildings of at least 25,000 square feet and some older buildings to include a green roof . The roofs would have to be covered with trees, vegetables or other plants that add aesthetic value and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Although the idea of green roofs is broadly popular, the mandate to require them is somewhat controversial. Nonetheless, supporters are optimistic that voters will ultimately approve the bold and beautiful policy to add even more green to the Mile High City. Denver’s proposed green roof mandate takes cues from Toronto , which implemented the policy seven years ago, becoming the first city in North America to require green roofs. Although San Francisco recently adopted a mandate for green roofs on new buildings, Denver would be the first to transform rooftops on existing buildings through the mandate. Supporters see real environmental and economic benefits from such a broad adoption of green roofs. A new study from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Green Infrastructure Foundation estimated that the adopted initiative would create 57.5 million square feet of green roofs by 2033 and generate $1.85 billion in energy cost savings and other benefits over the next 40 years. “We have all these flat roofs with all this space, and we’re not doing anything with them,” said Brandon Rietheimer, the initiative’s campaign manager, according to the Denver Post . “Why aren’t we putting solar or green vegetation up there? … We hear all the time that Denver is an environmentally friendly city, yet we rank 11th for air quality and third for heat islands.” Related: Denver food desert raises $50K for first community-owned grocery store Although the idea may be appealing, it still faces a mountain of opposition before it becomes law. “I think it would be great if we all had green roofs,” said Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman. “They’re so lovely. But the mandate is what worries me. … If you have so much support for it, then why wouldn’t the market just take care of it?” Even Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has come out against the measure, stating that it was “not the right approach” for the city. Despite heavy opposition, the initiative may prove endearing to the Denver electorate, particularly in an off-year election . Political analyst Eric Sondermann said, “I think the risk to the opposition is that it’s under the radar and it just looks good, looks cutting-edge, feels good and that no one digs into it”. Via The Denver Post Images via Denver Green Roof Initiative

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Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

Dunkirk, France offers free public transit to all

October 26, 2017 by  
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The small coastal city of Dunkirk in northern France is perhaps most famous, at the moment, for its portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s eponymous 2017 film, but it also deserves special attention for its decision to offer free public transit to all. In a move designed to reinforce economic fairness and establish Dunkirk as a sustainable, low-carbon community, Mayor Patrice Vergriete established the city’s inclusive transit policy, which will expand free public transit service to seven days a week starting in September 2018. The policy change, paid for with money that was originally allocated for the construction of a sports stadium, has been successful in increasing and diversifying ridership and could prove to be a powerful model for other cities looking to improve their quality of life and decrease their carbon footprint. When Vergriete first ran for mayor in 2014, he articulated his vision of a diverse, inclusive city that welcomes young people and families, supports the mobility of the elderly, and empowers people with limited economic means , according to CityLab . “I wanted to give back purchasing power to the families,” explained Vergriete on his initial motive. After launching free weekend services, ridership soared, up 30 percent on Saturday and 80 percent on Sunday. When free public transit is fully expanding to an all-week schedule, Dunkirk will be the largest city in France, though not the first, to offer this service. Related: Singapore is banning all new private vehicles from its roads Although the public transit services in Dunkirk may be free to riders, it is not a free ride for the local government, which must fund the service . Vergriete has observed that some are skeptical of the city’s ability to deliver these services without burdening taxpayers. “They think it’s like magic,” said Vergriete. “They think it’s not possible, that you are a liar. You cannot pay the salaries of the drivers, for the buses, with free transport.” In fact, only 10 percent of the public transit’s funding in Dunkirk was paid for with fares, a model that is similarly used in cities around the world , writes CityLab. Since rider fares are already such a small slice of the pie, “mayors should think about making it free,” said Vergriete. “It’s really a choice that we are making to charge.” In addition to support from the regional government’s general budget, the free transit service is primarily funded by a special transit tax on businesses, which was originally raised by Vergriete’s predecessor to pay for an expansion to a local sports arena. “It is a question of political priority ,” said Vergriete, whose administration chose to use that money set aside for a stadium to fund inclusive public transit instead. Via CityLab Images via  Vincent Desjardins/Flickr , Marco Chiesa/Flickr and Depositphotos

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Dunkirk, France offers free public transit to all

Tesla rapidly installs solar power at a children’s hospital in Puerto Rico

October 25, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk is a man who follows up his words with swift action. As part of its contribution to rebuilding Puerto Rico’s devastated electrical grid with more resilient and sustainable micro-grid technology and on-site solar generation and storage, Tesla has already begun constructing a solar field near Hospital del Niño, a children’s hospital in San Juan. And its Powerpack energy storage systems are on the way. The revival of Hospital del Niño is expected to be the first of many projects that Tesla leads as Puerto Rico, 85 percent of which remains without power, rebuilds after Hurricane Maria . It is estimated that it will take six months before power is restored on the island. While 98 percent of hospitals in Puerto Rico are now open and serving those in need, only a small number have electricity. Even as traditional electrical infrastructure is restored, policymakers are pursuing new systems that will endure for the long-term. One such system is the microgrid, a system which combines power generation, often through solar panels, and energy storage technology and allows an individual building or group of buildings to remain with power even as the larger grid fails. Related: Tesla earns contract for world’s first solar, wind and storage project Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello originally reached out to Musk in early October regarding plans to bring Tesla’s micro-grid technology and goodwill to the recovering island of 3.5 million people. Although Tesla has not yet clarified how large the project will be or where funding is coming from, it has made clear that it intends to establish a strong presence in Puerto Rico and continue to develop microgrid sites across the island. Via Business Insider Images via Tesla

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Tesla rapidly installs solar power at a children’s hospital in Puerto Rico

Singapore is banning all new private vehicles from its roads

October 24, 2017 by  
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The government of Singapore , one of the densest countries in the world, has announced that the number of private cars on its roads will be frozen next year, even as the number of vehicles used for public transit are expected to increase. The rate of growth for all passenger cars and motorcycles will be decreased from the current 0.25 percent per year to effectively zero percent starting in February 2018. In going forward with this move, Singapore, one of the wealthiest countries in Asia , is building on its past successes related to its vehicle growth caps, such as its prevention of monstrous traffic jams that plague other cities in the region. Singapore is already one of the most expensive places to purchase a personal vehicle in part because of a requirement that vehicle owners acquire a “certificate of entitlement,” which is valid for only 10 years and has an average price tag of US$37,000. Even a relatively standard sedan can cost up to four times as much as it would cost in the United States . For this reason, there are only around 600,000 private cars in Singapore, which has a population of over 5.5 million people. Related: Green-roofed desalination plant is world’s first to treat both fresh and saltwater In making the growth cap announcement, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) stated that more than 12 percent of Singapore’s land area (only 277.6 square miles) is already taken up by roads and there is very little room left for the expansion of private vehicle ownership. To compensate for the decrease in private vehicles on the road, the Singapore government will invest Sg$28 billion over the next five years to develop and improve its public transit system . This includes Singapore’s metro rail, which, like many rapid rail systems in major cities , has been suffering from significant delays. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Oxford, UK to create first zero-emissions zone in the world

October 12, 2017 by  
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Oxford , England, with its history of learning dating back to the 11th century, is now shifting into the future with an electric-vehicle only zone in the city center. In banning all internal combustion engine vehicles, the city is establishing what it says is the first zero-emissions zone in the world. Starting in 2020, six streets in Oxford’s city center will be free of smaller gas-guzzling vehicles, including buses and taxis. By 2035, the ban will have expanded to all fossil-fuel powered vehicles and will encompass the entire city center. While such a dramatic change in the city center’s urban design may encourage less driving, thus less greenhouse gas emissions, the zone was inspired by a need to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, most of which comes from car exhaust, by three-fourths. Chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation. Data from the World Health Organization also indicates that Oxford is one of eleven British cities to exceed the safe limits of toxic particles known as PM10s and PM2.5s. A “step change” is urgently needed to prevent air pollution from “damaging the health” of Oxford residents, said city councilor John Tanner. Related: GM’s plans for “all-electric-future” spell doom for fossil fuel industry The switch-over plan is expected to cost Oxford city government, bus companies, and local businesses approximately £7 million to replace the fossil-fuel consuming vehicles, including all municipal vehicles, with electric vehicles. An additional £7 million will be spent to build compliance infrastructure , such as CCTV cameras with plate number recognition technology. Those who still choose to bring their old fashioned vehicles into the city center after the ban will face a significant fine. To sustain such a project, Oxford would require sustained commitment from local, regional, and perhaps federal government. Via The Guardian Images via  Martijn van Sabben ,  Giuseppe Milo

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Oxford, UK to create first zero-emissions zone in the world

LEED-seeking brick building in Montreal hides funky geode-like courtyard

October 6, 2017 by  
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Montreal’s ADHOC Architectes  created a beautiful residential building whose ubiquitous brick facade hides a crystalline-filled courtyard—inspired by the geode. Located in the trendy Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, La Géode’s many sustainable features are expected to earn the project Canada’s first LEED v4 certification for a multi-unit building. At first glance, the building looks like any other in the area. However, the brick facade – much like a geode – hides a crystalline treasure on the interior. The unique design of the five-unit residential building began with optimizing the footprint to create a layout that would be conducive to a quality living environment, based on maximum efficiency. By blending the street entry and alley space, the architects created a central entryway that leads into the inner courtyard. Related: Beekeeper built dream hexagonal house without ‘hateful’ right angles A small walkway covered in grey and white panels leads into the open-air courtyard , covered in the same facade. The space was strategically designed to create a sense of privacy for the residents as well as a pleasant outdoor space for socializing. In addition to creating a healthy communal space, the courtyard helps provide natural light and cross ventilation of the units, all of which come with private loggias that open up to the exterior. The walls were also built to have high acoustic performance, blocking out a lot of street noise, again enhancing residents’ quality of life. A large part of the design was focused on providing sufficient greenery for the tenants. Various shrub, climbing species and trees were planted to grow freely on the floor and the walls of the inner courtyard, adding to its healthy-living atmosphere. This greenery, along with the building’s high energy performance and various green features, are expected to earn the building a LEED v4 certification , a first for this kind of structure in Canada. + ADHOC Architectes Photography by Adrien Williams

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