Wooden skyscraper city proposed for Stockholms most eco-friendly neighborhood

September 5, 2018 by  
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When Anders Berensson Architects was tapped by the Stockholm Center Party to design a new Stockholm neighborhood that would be the densest, tallest and most environmentally friendly in the city, the Swedish architecture firm responded with Masthamnen, a skinny timber “skyscraper city” elevated atop traditional city blocks. The mixed-use proposal includes a combination of residential, office and retail spaces in a pedestrian-friendly environment integrated with public parkland that connects the new district with the surrounding hilly landscape and urban fabric. Located in a valley between three hills, Masthamnen is organized into three main parts: a lower block city on the same level as today’s dock levels; an elevated timber “ skyscraper city” on top; and a series of landscaped roofs and bridges that link the development to the hilly terrain. The lower section would comprise 19 new city blocks ranging from six to 10 floors. In total, these blocks would contain 2,500 apartments, 60,000 square meters of office space and nearly 100 shops and restaurants. The wooden skyscraper city elevated atop these blocks would consist of 31 new skinny wooden skyscrapers ranging between 25 and 35 floors to include approximately 3,000 apartments with an estimated 30 shops and restaurants. Views are prioritized in the design and layout, and each skyscraper is given sufficient clearance to avoid obstructing views. Cross-laminated timber would be used as the primarily building material. Related: Nation’s first large-scale mass timber residence hall breaks ground in Arkansas “When entering the new city area you will often be at the same height as the roofs of the new district,” Anders Berensson Architects added. “Therefore we have chosen to propose a Public Park on all roofs of the lower block city and connect them with bridges. The roofs and bridges form a large public landscape that binds together all beautiful high situated promenade trails that already exist on eastern Södermalm. This way, we also make eastern Södermalm easier and more beautiful to have a stroll on.” + Anders Berensson Architects Images via Anders Berensson Architects

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Wooden skyscraper city proposed for Stockholms most eco-friendly neighborhood

Solar-powered autonomous car could revolutionize travel

September 5, 2018 by  
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There’s finally hope for those tired of waiting on mile-long taxi stands at the airport. Developed by architect Steve Lee of Los Angeles-based Aprilli Design Studio , the Autonomous Travel Suite is a solar-powered electric vehicle that could revolutionize the future of travel and urban design. Lee was inspired to create the driverless  mobile suites to provide travelers with a comfortable door-to-door transportation service, complete with a memory foam mattress, kitchen and mini bar, a washroom and work space. Recently chosen as a finalist in the Radical Innovation Awards , the self-driving hotel suite would be part of an Autonomous Hotel Chain. Conceptualized as a personal rental car and hotel room, the self-driving cars are meant to be an extension of what Lee calls a “parent suite,” offering all of the comforts of a luxury suite while on the road. Related: GM unveils new self-driving car with no pedals and no steering wheel When not in use, the solar-powered cars would charge in a docking facility at the main hotel, of which the mobile unit would serve as an extension. Guests would be able to choose between different room types and sizes at different prices, and they could order custom features, such as a televisions or extra beds. The futuristic design was created with the busy traveler in mind, offering a driverless, door-to-door car service  that would allow guests to work or rest while on the go. The car interiors would include a foam mattress, a wash room and a working space, along with ample storage for luggage. In addition to the comfy living area, the suites would be built with smart glass, which can be dimmed for privacy. At the moment, the driverless hotel suite on wheels is just a concept, but Lee maintains that its real-world cost would be beneficial to travelers. Pricing would be cost-effective, because the solar-powered cars would bundle both transportation and lodging. + Aprilli Design Suite Via Curbed Images via Radical Innovation Awards

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Architects transform a derelict lot into an urban oasis in New Delhi

August 31, 2018 by  
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Delhi-based firm Harsh Vardhan Jain Architect has converted a derelict lot in South East New Delhi into a beautiful vertical home clad in glass panels and topped with a lush green roof . The architects designed the Garden Roof Parasol to be an urban oasis for a pair of newlyweds. The team ensured the home was filled with natural light and vegetation to create a sense of serenity within a hectic city landscape. The architects were approached by a soon-to-be-married couple who were looking to move in after their wedding. The building site is located on an “urban fringe” lot, between a bustling urban area and a planned settlement in South East New Delhi. The compact lot presented a number of challenges for its small dimensions, which included a one room structure, a stairwell and a courtyard. Related: A lush rooftop oasis flourishes on this renovated Art Deco townhouse in Mexico City To create a light-filled urban oasis for the newlyweds, the architects decided to use a combination of glass, steel and greenery. According to the design scheme , the strategy was to create an overarching roof over the existing structures to unify the space. By taking the design vertical, the architects could add a double height volume to the home. The new building was framed from prefabricated steel beams that were also used to create a solid platform for the roof. The existing masonry walls that were on the site were reinforced and filled with insulated glazing. An exterior ramp leads up to the entrance way — a small deck with a spiral staircase that provides access to the green roof. Related: 10 essential green roofing materials The interior living space, which is flooded with natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass facades, has minimal furnishings to reduce clutter. Many of the furnishings are flexible, such as the television console with built-in storage that doubles as access to the small study built into the former stairwell. The first floor houses an open-plan living area and a small kitchenette. Throughout the space, steel and fluted glass doors slide shut to separate the rooms or open to expand the space. From the bedroom on the upper floor, a small steel spiral staircase leads to the home’s vibrant  rooftop garden . + Harsh Vardhan Jain Architect Via Archdaily Images via Nakul Jain / Harsh Vardhan Jain Architect

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Architects transform a derelict lot into an urban oasis in New Delhi

Old Victorian home in Brooklyn gets incredible Passive House retrofit

August 1, 2018 by  
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Retrofitting an old house into a Passive House is a challenging feat to say the least, but when done right, it can be amazing. When Bo and Itzy decided to turn their old Victorian home in Brooklyn into a passive home, they took on the ambitious project with help from NYC-based firm  ZH Architects . The result is  powerhouse of energy-efficiency, redesigned and revamped for healthy living. Although the number of new passive home projects continues to grow, retrofitting old structures to fit Passive House requirements is still a massive undertaking rife with complications. In an interview with the architects, Bo explained that one of the biggest hurdles of their home renovation was making the space airtight. Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs “Most passive houses have been either newly built or brownstone/townhouse conversions,” Bo said. “It’s a lot easier to get this right when dealing with a rectangular box or only two exposed walls with a flat roof. With an old Victorian home like ours, there are nooks and crannies everywhere. The hardest part is really getting the house airtight, so you need to work both from the inside and the out taking great care that you don’t have any air infiltration or gaps. We used an Intello vapor barrier on the inside of the attic and a Zip System on the exterior.” The home currently has an air tightness of about 0.29 ACH (air changes per hour) which, according to the architects, is a world record for a retro-fit building. Insulation was a big factor in creating an energy-efficient living space. The architects wrapped the home in extra layers of thick, eco-friendly insulation and installed high-performance windows to create a sealed envelope. Despite New York’s bitterly cold winters and severe summer heat, the interior will sustain a comfortable temperature throughout the year. To complement this level of comfort, the interior design is light and airy, with white walls and hardwood flooring to create an inviting space. For Bo and Itzy, having a passive home was not only about monetary and energy savings , but also to focus on creating a healthy living atmosphere. Along with the home’s many efficient features, the renovation avoided all VOC paints and harmful chemicals. Instead of using polyurethane for the flooring, they went with a natural Scandinavian lye treatment which includes using a natural mixture of oil and soap. The home was also installed with Energy Star-rated appliances, solar roof tiles  and LED lighting . Of course, the process did mean making quite a few tough decisions about the home’s original features. For Itzy, the idea of getting rid of the large chimney was daunting, but by doing so, they were able to create an extra room in the attic. As another perk, they were able to install a wine cellar in the basement that uses an innovative concept for cooling. The heat pump water heater in the basement, which draws in warm air and blows out cool air, was redesigned to blow that cooler air into the wine cellar to keep the bottles cool. With this Passive House project complete, the residents and the architects hope to inspire others to take the time to retrofit old buildings for energy efficiency. + ZH Architects Images via ZH Architects

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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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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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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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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

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