China breaks ground on first Forest City that fights air pollution

June 26, 2017 by  
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A pollution-fighting green city unlike any before is springing to life in China. Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti , the first “Forest City” is now under construction Liuzhou, Guangxi Province. The futuristic city will use renewable energy for self sufficiency and be blanketed in almost 1 million plants and 40,000 trees—a sea of greenery capable of absorbing nearly 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 57 tons of pollutants annually. Commissioned by Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning for the north of Liuzhou along the Liujiang river, the 175-hectare Liuzhou Forest City will be the first of its kind that, if successful, may raise the bar for urban design worldwide. This first Chinese Forest City will host 30,000 people in a community where all buildings are entirely covered in nearly a million plants of over 100 species, as well as 40,000 trees, that produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen . The use of greenery-covered facades builds on Stefano Boeri’s previous works, including the Vertical Forest residential building in Milan. The new green city will be entirely wired and connected to Liuzhou with a fast rail line used by electric cars. Powered by geothermal and solar energy, Liuzhou Forest City will include residential areas, commercial and recreational spaces, two schools, and a hospital. The project is slated for completion in 2020. Related: China’s first vertical forest is rising in Nanjing The architects write: “The diffusion of plants, not only in the parks and gardens or along the streets, but also over building facades, will allow the energy self-sufficient city to contribute to improve the air quality (absorbing both CO2 and fine dust of 57 tons per year), to decrease the average air temperature, to create noise barriers and to improve the biodiversity of living species, generating the habitat for birds, insects and small animals that inhabit the Liuzhou territory.” + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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China breaks ground on first Forest City that fights air pollution

Detroit debuts brand new 20,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza

June 14, 2017 by  
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Detroit , Michigan is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for pedestrians . But the city is taking one step to overcome that with the recent opening of a new plaza by the iconic Spirit of Detroit statue. The 20,000 square foot civic square offers space for live performances and art displays, and will host food trucks . The Spirit of Detroit Plaza takes over one block of Woodward Avenue between Jefferson Avenue and Larned Street in front of the statue, which has adorned the area since 1958. The space boasts tables and chairs, colorful paintings on the sidewalk, lights, and planters. It will go through a 90-day trial this summer to see how pedestrians and traffic respond to the newly-created area. Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement, “Every world-class city has a central plaza where people can gather and celebrate its civic history, and in front of the Spirit of Detroit is the perfect place for all Detroiters to have the opportunity. We are committed to a Detroit that’s open and accessible to all and this new plaza has been envisioned to celebrate all of the diversities that come together to make us a great city.” Detroit said the new plaza offers “a more direct pedestrian link between Downtown and the Detroit Waterfront.” Vehicles will be redirected onto other nearby streets. The city also said the plaza’s presence could help slash the potential for crashes. The plaza helps simplify an intersection and that fact along with adjusted area traffic signals could even reduce delays on Jefferson Avenue. If the trial goes well, city agencies and the mayor aim to make the plaza permanent. City Planning Director Maurice Cox described the Spirit of Detroit Plaza as a “key piece in making a more vibrant, walkable, diverse downtown.” He appears to have high hopes for the plaza, saying in a statement, “By simplifying the downtown grid and consolidating traffic flow, we are creating a more inviting street and safer pedestrian crossings. And of course, if something changes or the design doesn’t work as well as we expect, we can adjust it or even restore its original design. We expect this will reset expectations for what is possible on neighborhood streets across the city.” Via Curbed Detroit and the City of Detroit Images via Janette Sadik-Khan on Twitter , City of Detroit , and City of Detroit on Twitter

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Detroit debuts brand new 20,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza

Giant glass orb in Paris is wrapped with a rotating solar sail that follows the sun

June 7, 2017 by  
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Architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines teamed up to create the stunning, solar-powered Seine Musicale located on Seguin Island in Paris. The shimmering glass globe is framed within by Ban’s beloved timber , and its exterior is wrapped with a massive solar panel “sail” that rotates around the building to follow the sun. Located in Paris’ Boulogne-Billancourt suburb, the urban project is part of Jean Nouvel’s Island Master Plan for Seguin Island . The multi-use building comprises a concert seating hall with a capacity of 4,000, a classical music hall that seats 1,150, along with various rehearsal and recording rooms. Additionally, the building is surrounded by ample green space for visitors and practicing musicians. Related: Elliptical Music Pavilion in Austria is made from locally-sourced silver fir Although the exterior is clad in glass panels, that doesn’t mean that timber-loving Ban has forsaken his green building material of choice. The hexagonal globe frame, including the building’s beehive ceiling, is made out of timber. However, the star feature of the design is undoubtedly the massive triangular sail covered in solar panels. The sail will constantly rotate, following the path of the sun in order to provide the building with optimal solar energy throughout the day. The large covering also acts as a solar shield for the building’s all-glass Grand Foyer. A spokesperson from Shigeru Ban Architects explained that the building’s design was carefully crafted to fit into Nouvel’s urban plan for the area, hopefully becoming an eco-friendly icon for the developing area, “This environmentally friendly sail will ultimately become a new identity for the complex. It is expected to become a new symbol as the western gate into Paris.” + Shigeru Ban + Jean de Gastines Via Arch Daily Photographs via Luc Boegly & Sergio Grazia

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Giant glass orb in Paris is wrapped with a rotating solar sail that follows the sun

16th-century Czech home reborn as a guesthouse imbued with history

June 7, 2017 by  
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ORA architects transformed a 16th-century home in the former Jewish quarter of Mikulov, Czech Republic into Štajnhaus, a beautiful bespoke guesthouse and residence. Built in the Czech Renaissance period, the old house has been damaged, rebuilt, and transformed numerous times over hundreds of years. The architects carefully peeled back those layers in the palimpsest-like home to uncover unexpected architectural elements. In upgrading the old home, the architects also worked to preserve many of the original details such as old plasterwork and stone steps. In hopes of preserving these historic features—many of which continued to unexpectedly turn up in the process—the architects let these discoveries inform the renovation to keep the building as organic as possible. The old and new features are meant to blend together, giving every room a unique character. Materials, such as timber beams and bricks, salvaged on-site were reused as tiles and furniture. The vaulted brick wine cellars beneath the home were also brought back to life. The aboveground walls were painted white to reflect light and give the building an airy, spacious feel. Related: This Czech archaeological museum springs from the ground like a series of caves “We came to a ‘pudding stone’. The more individual layers, spaces and surprising circumstances we uncovered, the more revisions and alterations our project we had to make in our project; and this lasted, in fact, until the end of realisation,” wrote the architects. “In the beginning we did not have a clue where we would come to in the end. We were looking for a limit what time we could come back to and for a point when we should rather go on a new journey. But we still wanted to preserve the house as an organic unit. You will not find a straight wall or a rectangular opening in the house, so we had to reinvent and remake to measure all the elements, which the investor was compliant with.” + ORA architects Via ArchDaily Images by Jakub Skokan, Martin T?ma / BoysPlayNice

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16th-century Czech home reborn as a guesthouse imbued with history

Kinfolks hipster haven in Brooklyn oozes an off-grid, hippie aesthetic

June 7, 2017 by  
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Pacific Northwest hipster vibes meets Buckminster Fuller in clothing company Kinfolk’s beautiful multi-use events space in Williamsburg. Carved out from a former mechanic’s garage, 94 Kinfolk welcomes guests with two geodesic-inspired shells built of plywood, Douglas fir, and Western red cedar. New York-based Berg Design Architecture designed the events venue to meet the client’s desire for a space that feels “like it was designed for an off the grid Pacific Northwest hippy mathematician.” Located on Wythe Avenue near Kinfolk 90, the creative collective’s first location, the newer Kinfolk 94 events space includes a bar, art gallery, and retail. To bring the former car garage’s 20-foot-tall ceilings down to a more intimate human scale, Berg Design Architecture inserted two timber “geo-shells” and a bar canopy. The curved additions are of slightly different sizes and create semi-enclosed areas that evoke a cozy, bird’s nest -like feel. The shells can be altered with removable panels. Related: Patalab Architects transform dank mechanics garage into light-filled London home “As a design directive the client asked that the space look like it was designed by a ‘Pacific North West hippie Mathematician’,” wrote the architects. “The bar area had to feel intimate on a slow night with only 30-40 people but feel connected to the rear event space when the venue is filled to capacity with 150 people. The bar and event space needed to be adaptable to a variety of uses including art gallery shows, movie screenings, DJ dance parties, musical performances and large dinner parties.” + Berg Design Architecture Via ArchDaily Images © Edward Caruso

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Kinfolks hipster haven in Brooklyn oozes an off-grid, hippie aesthetic

Berlin could build a 6-mile greenery-lined bike path under its U1 subway

June 2, 2017 by  
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A community-led proposal envisions converting the abandoned space beneath Berlin’s elevated U1 subway line into a “grand boulevard for bike traffic” that would stretch almost 6 miles throughout the city. The proposal, Radbahn Berlin, is led by a team of local specialists and community leaders who would like to put the forgotten area to use as a covered bike path lined with vibrant green spaces, bike service stations, and recreational areas for cafes and food trucks. Although still in the early stages, the Radbahn vision is supported by many – especially those who think the city is lacking in bike infrastructure. The proposed cycle path would run almost 6 miles underneath the elevated rail line , which stretches along one of Berlin’s main roads connecting three districts and various neighborhoods. Currently, the space beneath the rail line is completely idle, with the exception of a few illegally parked cars. Related: German community bands together to convert old WWII bunker into a ‘green mountain’ According to the plan, the location would be perfect for a well-organized bike boulevard considering that the area around the station is already rife with cyclists. However, the current bike path in the area is fairly short and split in various areas by protruding tree roots. For local bicyclists, the obvious solution would be to install a better bike path under the rail line, creating a safe route for bike traffic without having to disturb car traffic. There would be more than enough space for a two-way cycle path bordered by swaths of green vegetation. Radbahn Berlin is the brainchild of architect Matthias Heskamp, and the team is comprised of a group of professionals from five countries and various backgrounds whose common objective is to improve cycling conditions in the German capital. According to Bike Citizen , the project has received support from the Berlin Senate, and the team will be making a presentation to the city in early summer. As stated in the team’s urban design proposal, the main goal is to “revitalize the former space along the iconic U1 line to a pulsating urban artery. It thereby acts as a playground for modern mobility, innovation and leisure activities.” + Radbahn Berlin Images via Radbahn Berlin

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MVRDV transforms an abandoned highway into a "plant village" in the sky

May 23, 2017 by  
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Architectural superstars MVRDV have transformed an abandoned highway in Seoul into a 983-meter-long elevated Skygarden. The “plant village” is located high above traffic, and it welcomes visitors to stroll through 24,000 indigenous trees and shrubs. Dutch firm MVRDV  was tasked with turning a 1970s-era highway into a space that would not only add greenery to the city, but would make the area more pedestrian friendly. The design is called Seoullo 7017 is Korea, which means “Seoul Street,” combined with 1970 and 2017, the years the highway was built and the year it was renovated. The park contains more than just the garden walkway itself. Along the way are tea houses, shopes, galleries, a theater and restaurants. Former on and off-ramps were converted into stairs, elevators and ramps to get on and off the garden superhighway. Plants are organized on the Skygarden in different families. These families are grouped by the Korean alphabet. This naturally led to splitting the Skygarden into different groupings of fragrance and color, providing visitors with a different experience depending on the season and area of the garden . At night, the Skygarden is illuminated with blue light, which is healthier for the plants. Related: Philadelphia Unveils Their Own Elevated Rail Park for the Abandoned Reading Viaduct “Our design offers a living dictionary of plants which are part of the natural heritage of South Korea and now, existing in the city center,” said Winy Maas of MVRDV. “The idea here is to connect city dwellers with nature, while at the same time also offering the opportunity of experiencing these amazing views to the Historical Seoul Station and Namdaemun Gate.” + MVRDV via ArchDaily and Dezeen images via Ossip van Duivenbode

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MVRDV transforms an abandoned highway into a "plant village" in the sky

This incredible urban oasis cafe is filled with living trees and vintage cars

May 12, 2017 by  
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Vintage cars may be popular collector’s items, but rarely do you see them used as restaurant decor. That, didn’t stop New York and Guatemala-based architecture firm Taller Ken from parking a couple of repurposed vehicles inside the incredible Madero Cafe. The ambitious team also filled the 4,844-square-foot space with an array of vibrant colors and soaring 15-foot-high trees to create a playful culinary greenhouse. Related: Upcycled urban cafe in India modeled after communal “chawls” Located on one of the busiest streets in Guatemala City, the Madero Cafe holds court from the exterior as an odd monolithic red block with four cars protruding out of its exterior walls. We’ll never know if the design is a sarcastic nod to the speedy drivers that whiz by or the city’s chaotic urban design , but we do know that the interior design is just as irreverent. The quirky interior is a light-filled oasis of color with a forest of soaring palm trees that create a playful greenhouse ambiance. The massive amount of greenery is irrigated thanks to an integrated rainwater collection system installed on the roof. The plants are also kept healthy thanks to the natural light that floods the interior through multiple sawtooth skylights. The rest of the interior is a hodgepodge of colors and textures, supported by a dizzying multi-colored floor. Although at first glance, the vibrant concrete mosaics on the floor may seem random, they actually follow a pattern that leads to the kitchen and bathrooms, and a few other unique areas in the restaurant. Taller KEN refers to the project’s eclectic appearance as locally-inspired: “this project mines local patterns, materials and textures and collects them to make a fresh tropical atmosphere”. + Taller Ken Photography by Leonardo Izaguirre via Taller Ken

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This incredible urban oasis cafe is filled with living trees and vintage cars

Dubai’s craziest tower yet is the world’s largest picture frame

April 26, 2017 by  
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Dubai is building its craziest tower yet – and it’s set to open at the end of this year. The “picturesque” skyscraper is essentially a gigantic gold-plated picture frame with an observatory that offers stunning views Dubai’s skyline . The 492-foot-tall Dubai Frame is nearly complete, however its design is mired in controversy. The Dubai Frame will be located in the city’s beloved Zabeel Park , and it’s expected to attract nearly 2 million tourists annually. Construction is currently underway, however the unique skyscraper has been struck by a massive lawsuit. Architect Fernando Donis has filed an Intellectual Property claim against Dubai Municipality stating that the city stole his design. Related: Dubai’s crazy rotating wind-powered skyscraper is actually being built After beating out 900 other concepts, Donis’ design was chosen as the winner of an international design competition , which was hosted by Dubai Municipality and ThyssenKrupp Elevator in 1998. After winning the competition, however, the architect and the city failed to agree on contractual terms to construct the building. Apparently that didn’t stop the city from taking the design as its own and forging ahead with construction. Work on the Dubai Frame began in 2014. Although the current design is notably flashier, the building is extremely similar to Donis’ prize-winning concept. Donis explained to CNN that the picture frame structure is “the same height, it’s very much the same width, the location is exactly the same and the name is even mine.” So far, the Dubai Municipality has not yet responded to claims that it has breached intellectual property laws. + Fernando Donis Via CNN Images via Donis Architecture

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Dubai’s craziest tower yet is the world’s largest picture frame

This insane giant traffic roundabout in England will make your head spin

April 21, 2017 by  
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Europe’s many traffic roundabouts are complicated enough – but this head-spinning, multi-directional traffic intersection in the UK is enough to make you walk to your destination. Located in Swindon, the famed Magic Roundabout is actually five mini roundabouts placed around a larger central, counterclockwise roundabout. Designed by engineer Frank Blackmore of the British Transport and Road Research Laboratory, the intersection was built in 1972 as an innovative attempt at controlling traffic flow in the area . When the complicated layout was unveiled, the mini roundabouts weren’t even marked in order to leave room for reconfiguration after further studies were conducted. At the time, a police officer was stationed at each circle to direct traffic. Related: LA’s most dangerous intersection made safer with innovative crosswalk “scramble” Today, although locals surely have a handle on its complicated rules, driving the 7-circle roundabout still requires nerves of steel. Once inside the vehicular labyrinth , traffic flows counterclockwise around the outer roundabout, while interior traffic flows in a clockwise manner around the five mini roundabouts, which all lead to various exists located on the outer loop. Forty-five years after its inauguration, the intersection has become more and more famous, or infamous. In 2007, BBC News published a survey that named the Magic Roundabout as one of the “ 10 Scariest Junctions in the United Kingdom “. However, despite its harrowing appearance, the roundabout has an excellent safety record, mainly due to the slow traffic pace required once inside the crazy intersection. Via Boing Boing Images via Wikipedia and Wired

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This insane giant traffic roundabout in England will make your head spin

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