Old shipping container repurposed as a 40-foot-tall parking booth

July 10, 2018 by  
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Columbus, Ohio is now home to what is probably the world’s most unique parking booth. The firm behind the design, JBAD architects , turned an old shipping container  on its end to create a 40-foot-tall red tower that provides a striking contrast with the surrounding buildings. The new city landmark will be used as a parking attendant booth but has additional flexible space that could be used for a variety of services. Glowing bright red in the evening time, the shipping container tower was designed to stand out against the existing Columbus skyline. According to the architects, “This tower presents the parking booth as a new tower on the city’s skyline, realized at a scale both tall and small, its proportions and monolithic nature mimicking the office towers that surround it.” Related: 3 stacked shipping containers create a diving tower in Denmark The architects refurbished the  reclaimed shipping container  off-site to complete its transformation into a glowing “MicroTower.” As part of the renovation, the architects painted the structure a bright crimson with various lights that turn the MicroTower into a beacon in the night. To outfit the first floor as a proper booth, they installed a polycarbonate lift-and-fold garage door that acts as a shading canopy when open. The structure’s bottom floor was specifically designed to provide enough space for the parking booth attendant to keep an eye on the parking lot. The south and west facades of the shipping container tower have windows that overlook the entire parking area. However, there is plenty of space for other uses. As it is currently, the entire booth only takes up two-thirds of the MicroTower’s total floor space. The rest of the ground floor was left vacant to be used for a variety of services, including food, coffee takeout or bike storage. + Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design (JBAD) Via Dezeen Photography by Brad Feinknopf

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Old shipping container repurposed as a 40-foot-tall parking booth

Here’s how Paris is building the eco-community of the future

June 20, 2018 by  
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The Clichy-Batignolles eco-district aims to set a new standard in sustainable urban design.

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Here’s how Paris is building the eco-community of the future

Weathering the storm: how your business can mitigate natural disasters

June 20, 2018 by  
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You don’t have to be a risk manager to prepare for potential storm damage.

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Weathering the storm: how your business can mitigate natural disasters

Eco-group faces imprisonment after reviving an abandoned Spanish village

June 8, 2018 by  
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Like many countries around the world, Spain is struggling to address the problem of rural inhabitants abandoning villages to migrate to urban areas. However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Fraguas. Nearly 50 years after residents left the small area in northern Castilla-La Mancha, an eco-minded group of people decided to revitalize the village. Since 2013, the community has managed to breathe new life into Fraguas by rebuilding dilapidated homes, installing solar panels , planting vegetable gardens and restoring the area’s natural forest growth. By most accounts, it is a heart-warming story of the reformation of a once-beloved village — that is until the Spanish government decided to start legal proceedings to kick the new residents out of town. After decades of urban migration, the Iberia Peninsula is currently teeming with hundreds, if not thousands, of extinguished communities, many of them up for sale . While most of the villages were left abandoned, the previous residents of Fraguas were bought out by the government in the late 1960s to make way for a planned reforestation program . The village had only a handful of full-time inhabitants and became overgrown by nature’s creep. At one point, it was being used as a military training camp for Spanish soldiers, who took to blowing up the remaining buildings. Related: This revolutionary sustainable community in Atlanta is still thriving 15 years after its founding When the group arrived at the derelict site, they were set on bringing the land back to life through sustainable principles . The members began by clearing out the mass plant growth that had taken over the buildings and streets. Then, they started to reforest the area in and around the village, clear out roads and walking paths and plant orchards and large crops of vegetables. To restore the many dilapidated buildings and homes, the group researched as much as they could about the village’s original layout. As they created their master plan, the team started to draw up plans for installing various green technologies such as  solar panels and a communal gray water system. When the group began to revitalize as an eco-village , they met with various former residents, most of whom gave the group their blessings. One such supporter, Rafael Heras, was born in the village 71 years ago, but left at 19 to work in Madrid. Heras helped the team by describing life in what he calls a simple and self-sufficient area. “There was no electricity and no proper road; we used to keep it clear so that cars could come through,” he said. “It wasn’t a prosperous place, but I had a happy childhood here and people got by quite well.” Another former resident, Isidro Moreno, was also instrumental in the village’s rebirth by providing maps, plans and photos of the area as it was when he was growing up. In his guidebook, he addressed a heartfelt letter to the group. “To the new residents of Fraguas,” it reads. “Let’s see if you can recover this village’s history once more … I want to remind you to treat these stones with the love and respect they deserve, even if today they’re dead and lost among brambles and weeds. In another time, they were alive and were part of the story of the people who struggled so hard to live and who went through so many calamities.” Despite the support of many, there are some powerful adversaries that want to put a stop to the group’s hard work. The regional government recently said that the new residents can no longer stay in the village. In fact, not only is the government trying to evict the collective, but it is going through legal channels to punish the members for their “invasion” of the area. Currently, six members face more than four years imprisonment each along with a fine of up to $30,000 that will be used to demolish and destroy all of the effort that the group put into rebuilding the village over the last five years. According to  The Guardian , the regional government’s representative in Guadalajara Alberto Rojo has suggested that the group would had been better off rebuilding a village on the brink of extinction. He explained that there are more than 200 villages in the same area that have fewer than 50 inhabitants and would love to welcome new neighbors. “Of course we agree that there needs to be re-population initiatives in the province – and let’s hope there will be many – but only in the right kind of places,” he said, adding that the area of Fraguas is part of the Sierra Norte natural park, which is protected by law. Rojo also claimed that the village is in a danger zone for forest fires. Jaime Merino, one of the new residents, dismissed Rojo’s argument about the potential fire danger, insisting that the group has significantly reduced the risk of fire by cleaning up the overrun vegetation, and they have even offered to dig firebreaks around the village. He explained that the government says one thing, but does another. “There’s a certain resistance to this kind of project in this country,” Merino said. “They always say they’re going to take steps to tackle depopulation and find ways to get people back into rural areas, but this is an example of that. That’s the paradox: it’s Guadalajara’s department of agriculture, the environment and rural development that wants to demolish the village.” At this time, the Fraguas collective is going on the offensive to protect the home that they have spent years rebuilding. A Change.org petition has already attracted more than 76,000 signatures, and the group has launched an appeal for contributions on their website to fund legal bills. The group regularly posts updates on their Facebook page as well. + Fraguas Revive Via The Guardian Images via Fraguas Revive

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Eco-group faces imprisonment after reviving an abandoned Spanish village

These new electric trucks from Volvo could soon be collecting your garbage

May 17, 2018 by  
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Swedish multinational manufacturing company Volvo has revealed its two new electric truck models, designed with tasks such as delivery and refuse collection in mind. These electric trucks could replace those currently on the road for these services, vehicles that are a major source of diesel emissions in urban areas worldwide. “This opens the door to new forms of cooperation with cities that target to improve air quality, reduce traffic noise, and cut congestion during peak hours since commercial operations can instead be carried out quietly and without tale-pipe exhaust emissions early in the morning or late at night,” Volvo Trucks President Claes Nilsson said in a statement . Volvo’s new electric trucks seem well suited to European cities, many of which are moving towards reducing or even eliminating the use of internal combustion vehicles in the coming years. The newly revealed models also recognize the rising consumer demand for cleaner air, thus cleaner vehicles. “We believe that the technology today is mature when it comes to performance, range and weight in these type of applications in city use,” said Nilsson. Volvo plans to continue to develop new models of electric trucks going forward. Related: Volvo will only sell electric cars starting in 2019 One of the trucks, the Volvo FL Electric, is smaller than other models so as to better serve the needs of dense urban areas. “Today, each of our 300 conventional refuse vehicles emits approximately 31,300 kg carbon dioxide every year,”  Rüdiger Siechau, CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg,  said in a statement. “An electrically powered refuse truck with battery that stands a full shift of eight to ten hours is a breakthrough in technology.” Because of its electric engine, the Volvo FL Electric is able to deliver cargo inside a building without producing health-harming emissions. The silent engine also opens up new possibilities for serving cities. Volvo’s electric trucks follow its previous production of more than four thousand electric buses and their ongoing reconfiguration of its battery supply chain, which would ensure a more positive environmental impact. Via CleanTechnica Images via Volvo Trucks

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These new electric trucks from Volvo could soon be collecting your garbage

Cube Haus seeks to solve the housing crisis with affordable prefab homes

May 9, 2018 by  
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Many large cities are struggling with severe housing issues, and one new startup is proposing an architectural solution. Developer Cube Haus – founded by Philip Bueno de Mesquita and Paul Tully – has commissioned four architects to design affordable, modular houses that can be configured to fit into empty urban areas of varying sizes. Working with different designers and architects, Cube Haus aims provide affordable housing in urban areas such as London. The architects’ proposals include a number of styles and designs, but all of the houses are based on a modular construction model , which enables them to adapt to the square footage limits of each site. Related: Largest-ever modular Gomos building to be completed in just a few months International architecture firm Adjaye Associates submitted a beautiful multi-story timber structure that can be adapted to fit on a typical London terrace. The interior has an open floor plan that offers the ultimate in flexibility, and a large patio area provides natural light. The structure could be built as high as adjacent buildings to blend in with the existing architecture. London-based designer Faye Toogood ‘s concept envisions a simple single-unit volume with dual-pitched roofs, clad either in galvanized steel or charred timber. A light wood interior with an open floor plan would be illuminated with natural light thanks to large vertical windows. London firm Carl Turner Architects submitted two designs for the project. The first is a one-story, extended bungalow with bright yellow skylights that flood the interior space with natural light. The second design is a two-story townhouse, clad in brick and timber and topped with two separate pitched roofs that face two different directions. An open-air terrace between the roofs can serve as a rooftop garden or social space. Lastly, Skene Catling de la Peña ‘s proposal includes a stone-clad home with a timber interior . At the heart of the interior design is a vertical, green-tiled chimney with a cast-iron fireplace. The Cube Haus project is committed to using these five innovative prototypes to create a portfolio of varied building types that can be scaled to size for larger, multi-family spaces or single-unit use. All of the buildings will be constructed with cross-laminated timber with components manufactured off-site in the UK. + Cube Haus + Adjaye Associates + Faye Toogood + Skene Catling de la Peña + Carl Turner Architects Via Dezeen Images via Cube Haus

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Cube Haus seeks to solve the housing crisis with affordable prefab homes

New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo

May 9, 2018 by  
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The deadly virus Ebola has returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A new outbreak of Ebola stuck the northwest town of Bikoro with 21 suspected cases of the virus. Out of five samples sent to the DRC’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) , only two were positive for Ebola. In 1976, the first case of Ebola was documented in the DRC, and there has been nine outbreaks of the virus since then. The unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 infected 28,000, killed 11,000 and shocked the world. However, the virus ‘s latest reemergence in the DRC is no reason to panic. Previous outbreaks in the DRC have been contained thanks in part to the country’s vast, largely inaccessible land area, which inhibits travel and trade between towns. The DRC’s last Ebola outbreak occurred in the village of Likati in 2017, however the virus was contained within forty-two days. Related: Ebola mutated to become even deadlier during recent outbreak Led by Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, the first scientist to document Ebola, the INRB is experienced in responding to Ebola outbreaks. “We’re advanced in public health ,” an epidemiologist at the INRB told the Atlantic . “If you compare us with Europe or the U.S., eh, but here in Africa, we are high. We have experience.” Early monitoring and reporting is key to success. “We have a surveillance system that works,” Kinshasa School of Public Health leader Emile Okitolonda said. “Here, nurses know that if they see a suspected case, they report it.” The INRB will also receive expert assistance from the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières in responding to Ebola. The primary challenge in the DRC is a lack of resources – a problem that may be exacerbated by President Trump ‘s recent request to cut $252 million in funding for international Ebola relief. Congress must decide within 45 days whether to act on Trump’s request. If they do nothing, as they are wont to do, the funding will remain in place. + INRB Via The Atlantic Images via Wikimedia Commons and Depositphotos

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Virtual reality helps scientists plot the ideal urban green space

April 16, 2018 by  
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Green spaces offer urban residents the chance to escape the concrete jungle and experience nature’s restorative benefits — if those spaces are well-designed. North Carolina State University researchers found vegetation density can impact a person’s feeling of safety, depending on where green space is located, and immersive virtual reality helped them test perceptions. Virtual reality doesn’t only offer an escape into fantastical images. NC State University researchers employed VR to explore different types of urban green spaces . Researchers captured 360-degree, high-resolution images of a city park and downtown plaza in Raleigh with a robot , and manipulated vegetation to create multiple environments. Related: How virtual reality can help paraplegic patients learn to walk again They discovered virtual visitors to the downtown plaza wanted vegetation to surround them. Doctoral student and landscape architect Payam Tabrizian said in the university’s statement , “In an urban setting, being enclosed by vegetation feels restorative. It can serve as a shield from the urban environment and create a kind of refuge where people can sit and relax for a while. People preferred urban environments that were very green and being enclosed in vegetation didn’t seem to bother them that much.” But the opposite was true in the park . Tabrizian said, “In the neighborhood park setting, people preferred the opposite in terms of vegetation density and arrangement. It seems that people have enough green surrounding them and want to know what’s happening around them. When you enclose them with vegetation, they don’t like it. They feel unsafe.” Immersive virtual reality could assist landscape designers in testing new designs or exploring how they might improve urban green spaces. “As landscape designers, the instinct is to want to make changes, but sometimes leaving things as they are may be the best,” Tabrizian said. “This technology allows us to design a true experiment in which we control the variables, without ever planting or moving a tree .” The Journal of Environmental Psychology published the research online earlier this year. + North Carolina State University + Journal of Environmental Psychology Images via North Carolina State University

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Episode 120: Google’s power play, Uber’s bike bet, underground gardens

April 13, 2018 by  
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In this episode, we unpack the evolution of corporate renewable energy procurement and ponder how ride-sharing services will disrupt the future of urban design.

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Episode 120: Google’s power play, Uber’s bike bet, underground gardens

$300M live-work campus gets green light to replace former juvenile jail in NYC

March 29, 2018 by  
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Green spaces, affordable housing , and over 300 jobs are coming to the south Bronx. The Peninsula, a mixed-use development designed by WXY architecture + urban design and Body Lawson Associates , just received the City Council go-ahead. Located in the Hunts Points peninsula, the $300 million initiative will transform the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center into a greenery-filled live-work campus spread out across five acres. First unveiled in 2016, The Peninsula aims to transform the neighborhood with a projected 740 units of 100% affordable housing, 52,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, and over 300 permanent new jobs. “It’s a big day for justice in the Bronx . As we move to build more than 700 affordable homes, open space and small businesses in Hunts Point on the site of the old Spofford facility, we are seeing a community rising and the righting of old wrongs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. Related: Former juvenile justice center to become a greenery-filled affordable housing complex in the Bronx As a mixed-use destination, The Peninsula will also offer 15,000 square feet of commercial space, 50,000 square feet of light industrial space, and 53,500 square feet of community facility space, a quarter of which will be dedicated artist workspaces. Anchored by local businesses, the five-acre campus will comprise five buildings featuring solar panels and green roofs as indicated by renderings. The Peninsula will be constructed in three phases with phase I expected for completion in 2021, phase II to be completed in 2022, and overall completion slated for 2024. + WXY architecture + urban design + Body Lawson Associates Images via WXY architecture + urban design and Body Lawson Associates

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