German community bands together to convert old WWII bunker into a ‘green mountain’

May 29, 2017 by  
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Hamburg residents are taking their community’s urban design into their own hands – and the results are amazing. A team of local residents and architects are planning to convert a WWII bunker into Hilldegarden , a mixed-use community space topped with a rooftop garden covered in lush greenery. The massive bunker was originally used to launch anti-aircraft fire at enemy planes, but has since been occupied by a number of businesses. The space has been home to a popular nightclub, a music school, retail spaces, offices, etc. The new project would see the space continue its mixed-use atmosphere, but topped with a massive public rooftop garden with walking trails. Related: Century-old WWI bunker is reborn as a contemporary alpine shelter Working with a number of local design studios, the community has created a proposal that would extend the bunker by almost 200 feet to add space for more facilities such as a kindergarten, community center, and even a hotel. A building permit was recently issued that approved the proposed additional space. However, the most spectacular part of the proposal is the massive, terraced roof top. The greenery would be staggered into a winding walkway that leads up to the roof, creating an artificial hill that would provide a beautiful 360-degree view of Hamburg. The green space would be open to the public, inviting people to stroll around the “green mountain.” The garden would use a number of sustainable techniques to operate, including a grey water-collection system for irrigation. Part of the public garden will be dedicated to urban food production where residents can apply to run their own garden plots. According to the organizers behind the project, “The Hilldegarden will offer a view to all. For a new, more symbiotic city. Housing plants, trees, bees, birds. Symbolizing reunion, learning and collaboration. And a bit of plain hedonistic pleasure. Funded by investors. Made for everyone.” + Hilldegarden Via Archdaily Images via Hilldegarden

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German community bands together to convert old WWII bunker into a ‘green mountain’

China subverts pollution with contained vertical farms – and boosts yield

May 26, 2017 by  
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Around one fifth of arable land in China is contaminated with levels of toxins greater than government standards, according to 2014 data. That’s around half the size of California, and it’s a growing problem for a country that faces such levels of pollution they had to import $31.2 billion of soybeans in 2015 – a 43 percent increase since 2008. Scientists and entrepreneurs are working to come up with answers to growing edible food in a polluted environment, and shipping container farms or vertical gardening could offer answers. The toxins in China’s environment have made their way into the country’s food supply. In 2013, the Guangdong province government said 44 percent of rice sampled in their region contained excessive cadmium. Around 14 percent of domestic grain contains heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium, according to research from scientists in 2015. Related: Arctic town grows fresh produce in shipping container vertical garden Could shipping container farms offer a way around this contamination? Beijing startup Alesca Life Technologies is testing them out. They turn retrofitted shipping containers into gardens filled to the brim with arugula, peas, kale, and mustard greens, and monitor conditions remotely via an app. They’ve already been able to sell smaller portable versions of the gardens to a division of a group managing luxury hotels in Beijing and the Dubai royal family. Alesca Life co-founder Stuart Oda told Bloomberg, “ Agriculture has not really innovated materially in the past 10,000 years. The future of farming – to us – is urban .” And they’re not alone in their innovation. Scientist Yang Qichang of the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences is experimenting with a crop laboratory, testing which light from the visible light spectrum both helps plants flourish and uses little energy . His self-contained, vertical system already yields between 40 and 100 times more produce than an open field of similar size. He told Bloomberg, “Using vertical agriculture, we don’t need to use pesticides and we can use less chemical fertilizers – and produce safe food.” Via Bloomberg Images via Alesca Life Technologies

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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

Elon Musk reveals boring tunnels are for Hyperloop

May 23, 2017 by  
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Cleantech pioneer Elon Musk wants you to drive a Tesla electric car or truck, power your home with SolarCity solar panels and store renewable electricity with Tesla Powerwall battery packs. Oh yeah, he also wants to zip you from DC to NYC in less than 30 minutes via Hyperloop pods that can reach speeds of more than 600 miles per hour racing through evacuated tubes. Now Musk has revealed that part of the reason he started The Boring Company , besides finding a solution for LA’s “soul-destroying traffic,” is to launch and test Hyperloop by using his new Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to dig underneath the City of Angels . “Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes,” the company’s new FAQ page states regarding its specific goals, adding that “the electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people. And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race The FAQ page mentions that The Boring Company aims to fix congestion in major cities by building an underground network of road tunnels “many levels deep” with the ability to keep adding levels. The key to making this work would be “increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more.” Costs would be mitigated by reducing the tunnel diameter, which the site claims can be accomplished by placing vehicles on a “stabilized electric sled.” Speeding up tunneling is another way to reduce costs, with the stated goal for the TBM to defeat the snail in a race. Hyperloop One has already built a full-scale test track at the company’s development site in Nevada. Countries from India to South Korea  to the United Arab Emirates  to Russia  have expressed interest in Hyperloop technology. It is clear that the race to build the first Hyperloop rapid transit system is underway and similar to his other ventures, Musk is eager to take the lead. + The Boring Company + Hyperloop One Via Archinect Images via The Boring Company

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Moscows Urban Farm teaches kids how to grow their own food

January 23, 2017 by  
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City living often removes people from nature and from where their food comes from, but an initiative in Moscow proves that doesn’t need to be the norm. Russian architecture firm Wowhaus recently completed Urban Farm, a development in Moscow’s VDNKh park that reconnects children with nature by teaching them how to grow their own food and how to cook meals. The farm in the city is the first of its kind in Moscow and covers a variety of agricultural activities from raising livestock to tending vegetable gardens. Located next to the Kamenskiye Ponds, the three-hectare Urban Farm comprises a series of open-air and covered areas built mainly of timber based on wooden house archetypes such as double-pitched roofs. The development is made up of three main educational areas: the livestock zone that includes a barn with chicken coops and pasture for the nearly 60 animals on site including goats, sheep, cows, and more; the workshops zone; and the crop zone that includes greenhouses , orchard, and vegetable garden. The Urban Farm is also home to a restaurant that includes a small cooking school for kids, a kiosk and picnic area, a library, children’s play area, and children’s fishing zone. Children are not only allowed to interact with animals, but are also encouraged to take care of them by preparing their food or directly feeding them. Staff teach children how to further care for the livestock and the economics and management of farming such as balancing a farm budget and making financial decisions. An on-site veterinarian makes sure all animals are well taken care of. Workshops housed in the beautiful arched buildings offer classes on pottery, woodworking, and other artistic pursuits. The greenhouses, clad in a pineapple-like facade, include hydroponic farming for herbs and vegetables, soil-based farming for flowers, and a nursery for more exotic plants. Related: Studio Gang’s Chicago farm school will teach kids how to grow their own organic food “The main objective of the project is to educate,” says a statement on VDNHk’s website . “Live exhibition is aimed primarily at children, but, as the experience shows not only kids, but also adults are happy to come here. All year round there will be held master classes, lectures, thematic presentations of plants and animals, as well as different recreational activities.” + Wowhaus Images via Wowhaus , VDNH

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INTERVIEW: Dorothy Neagle of the Good Food Jobs "gastro-job" search tool

January 12, 2017 by  
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In 2004, friends Dorothy Neagle and Taylor Cocalis Suazez created Good Food Jobs , an innovative “gastro-job” search tool, with the compelling tagline “satisfying the hunger for meaningful work.” The site offers a highly personalized support system to both employers and job seekers in every aspect of the food industry – from agriculture to education. We spoke to Dorothy Neagle, one half of Good Food Jobs, about taking a stand against unpaid internships, the vulnerability associated with job-hunting, and revolution in the food industry . Good Food Jobs is a two-woman show. The co-founders are not only good friends but also ice-cream aficionados. INHABITAT: At first glance, Good Food Jobs is a job site where people can post and find work opportunities involving food (whether it be service, production or other) in some way. Yet it is also much more than that. Can you describe the mission behind the endeavor? DOROTHY: When we started Good Food Jobs, we were creating something that we ourselves had a need for: a one-stop-shop for job opportunities that were not just related to food but were also personally fulfilling. One of our fundamental goals was to expand awareness around what a good food job was, and how working in the food industry went beyond the kitchen – that’s why we created eight categories for the jobs (Agriculture, Business, Culinary, Education, Media, Nonprofit, Production, and Other). INHABITAT: What is each of your own career trajectories? How did food, design, and values-driven initiatives intersect in each of your own paths? DOROTHY: My background is in Interior Design, and I spent my early years out of university working for an architecture firm in New York City. But I had a secondary goal in life that began to creep forward over time, a strong desire to merge environmental activism with my daily work. I quickly became unsatisfied with the client-driven goals of working in design and architecture, and I turned to food because agriculture and food culture are inherently planet-driven. Having met Taylor while studying at Cornell, we ultimately put our heads together and took the leap to start GFJ. INHABITAT: We are in an era where both the traditional workplace and the expectations of workers are changing (seeking meaningfulness in what they do, flexibility, user-friendly and collaborative, open workspaces, for example). How is Good Food Jobs disrupting the traditional job listings site and offering members (who sign up for free) more? DOROTHY: Good Food Jobs is a community space. When people find us through word-of-mouth or Google searching, they often remark that they feel as if they’ve been welcomed by something they had always yearned for but didn’t know existed. We personally answer every email in our business inbox, and we frequently catch typos and errors in job postings because we’re personally reviewing each one before we publish. We also took a stand against unpaid internships in 2014 (we no longer post them) and this year we’ve required that all employers be more transparent about the wages offered in their jobs. We make these changes incrementally as a result of feedback from our users. INHABITAT: GFJ primarily serves not only job-seekers, but also companies, institutions, restaurants and farms – to name a few. When it comes to the website design, imagery, newsletters and social media channels of GFJ, how do you reach and engage your target demographic? DOROTHY: I’m not sure what our target demographic is…human beings? Since we’ve never conducted a formal PR campaign, or placed more than an occasional advertisement, we rely on human connection to help us spread the word organically. Our daily work is basically customer service, and we take it very seriously (but not too seriously). When GFJ resonates with people, it’s because we’re identifying and opening up real conversation about some of our most vulnerable human experiences – and what makes you feel more vulnerable than looking for a job? INHABITAT: There is the perception that a GFJ job applicant likely exhibits a certain set of qualities and values. Can you speak more about your mission and your definition of a “good food job” – “a pursuit involving the efforts to nourish one’s own life, and the lives of others?” DOROTHY: Our tag line really says it all: satisfying the hunger for meaningful work. When you feel compelled to align your daily life with your deepest need for connection and fulfillment, it’s either because you are personally craving that change, or you experienced an event or situation or interaction outside of yourself that prompted the craving. Either way, doing work that is helpful to your own mind and body and spirit is inherently helpful to the mind and body and spirit of others, and vice versa. GFJ recognizes and acknowledges that need, and hopefully provides some possible avenues for meeting it. Good Food Jobs features weekly “Words of Wisdom” in its newsletters, which are downloadable via the Good Food Jobs site. INHABITAT: GFJ posts jobs from around the country and even international postings. How do you work with employers that are looking to find, via GFJ, talent with not only specific skills but maybe also a certain mindset or approach? DOROTHY: Our job posting form has built-in advice for crafting a job description that will help you to reach the kind of folks that are truly passionate and love – or want to love – what they do for a living. We offer free trials and discounted job packages, as well as standard discounts for nonprofits, small farms, and other budget-challenged businesses. We’re constantly striving to bridge the employer/employee divide by offering honest, supportive advice. INHABITAT: In recent years, in the United States there has been a huge interest in how things are made, by who, where, and by what standards-whether it be what we eat, or the textiles that we wear against our skin. Magazines like Kinfolk, Good Food Jobs, “artisanal” shops, the campaign Small Business Saturday-all seem to speak to this growing nationwide interest. What is your take on this, and how do you see this evolving, not only in places like Brooklyn, but in small towns and cities across the country? DOROTHY: I think it’s fantastic. It comes from a real place. Many businesses will jump on the marketing bandwagon, and try to ‘identify the trends’ and adjust their ‘branding’, and that can feel false at times. But regardless of the motive for increasing the sustainability of the products that affect our daily lives, the end result is positive change. I don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s my hope that establishing these kinds of practices will become habitual, and create a new standard of quality that we all strive for and come to expect. INHABITAT: What are some recent trends you see in the fields of agriculture and the service industry? DOROTHY: There’s an increasing need that we continue to encounter, and that is for respect and courtesy on all sides of the hiring process, in spite of the shortcuts that technology affords. I also see a tremendous opportunity to create healthier, more supportive work environments, especially with service-oriented positions that have traditionally been viewed as entry level or low/no-skill. Educating our employees through their daily work, and recognizing that we can learn from them, as well, is the key to continued growth. Agricultural work continues to be a growing field, and there are now so many more ways to get involved in fresh, local food – from urban farms to grocery delivery services to creating links between farms and restaurants, it hasn’t even begun to answer the demand that exists. INHABITAT: At a time of rapid change in the country, how do you think this will impact how we grow, market and enjoy our food? DOROTHY: It’s really hard to say, but I can tell you that in spite of the change swirling around us, our focus at GFJ remains the same: bringing people together around the shared hunger for meaningful work. I think that what we all hold constant in uncertain times is what will ultimately make the biggest personal and professional impact. + Dorothy Neagle + Good Food Jobs Photos courtesy of Good Food Jobs This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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INTERVIEW: Dorothy Neagle of the Good Food Jobs "gastro-job" search tool

Mark Twains personal library opens to aspiring writers

January 12, 2017 by  
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Mark Twain is one of America’s most revered writers – and his legacy is still influencing literature . Now, aspiring writers will be able to write in the author’s personal library thanks to a new initiative by the Mark Twain Museum . The museum recently announced they will open up a handful of slots this year for wordsmiths to work uninterrupted in Twain’s library for up to three hours at a time. Although writers cottages abound around the world, it’s quite rare for a museum to open historic spaces for public use. However, in this case, the museum is paying homage to Twain’s love for the Hartford house, where he wrote some of his most famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . Slots are limited, with only four nights available throughout 2017. Lest those participants think they can show up with a fifth of whiskey and a quill, those who reserve spaces will be held to some strict rules. The reservations will be for a maximum of three hours and there is no wifi. Plugs are “few and far between,” so laptops should be fully charged before entering. And about that quill? Sorry, no ink allowed, only pencils are permitted in the historic house . Despite the restrictions, the event is geared to the hope of inspiration, “Participants will have the house to yourselves,” a note on the library’s website states. “Feel inspired by the beautiful sounds of the fountain in the family conservatory; rest your eyes upon Twain’s bookshelves as you ponder your next word.” + Mark Twain Museum Via Huffington Post Images via John Groo/The Mark Twain House & Museum 

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Urban farming, food markets and parks replace banks and parking lots in this masterplan for Amsterdam

November 16, 2016 by  
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The project offers a solution to some of the issues plaguing the city center which is crowded with tourists, suffers from dense traffic and high rents. The innovative plan connects the northern district to the rest of the city and creates a circular path through the city, thus restoring Amsterdam’s historic connection to the water and opening up the waterfront . Related: This window transforms into a balcony right before your eyes A natural park would be introduced to areas along the road and canals, while a new food market would occupy the place of the current parking lot. Urban farming spaces would be housed in a former bank building, and various sports facilities would line the new ring and the waterfront. This ambitious plan envisions a future where the city would have air ships, interactive features, holograms, silent floating cars and delivery drones. + HofmanDujardin

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Urban farming, food markets and parks replace banks and parking lots in this masterplan for Amsterdam

Terraces Home combines architecture with urban agriculture in Vietnam

November 11, 2016 by  
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True to its name, the Terraces Home features a terraced rooftop with planting beds and wooden surfaces. The terraces mimic the Vietnamese rice fields and each level is backed by a strip of glazing that lets natural light into the interior and provides framed views of the plants and sky. Irrigation systems fed by recycled rainwater are installed along the length of the roof to ensure constant watering year-round. The plants help protect the home against solar heat gain, dust, and traffic noise. Related: Ziggurat-like roof in London supports 800 sedums, heathers, flowers, and herbs “Terraces home serves as a constant reminder of the origin of paddy rice civilization in a flat world context threatened by various types of pollution currently at an alarming level,” write the architects. “It is, at the same time, expected to promote the expansion of farmland plots in urban areas with a view to securing food supplies for future life.” The home is entered through black perforated folding doors that open up to a large play area with a tall ceiling. The ground floor, which steps up from the play area, includes the living room, dining room, and kitchen, while the upper levels house the bedroom, study, workshop, and additional multifunctional spaces. The home is set back from a perforated wall in the rear that lets in natural light and ventilation. + H&P Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Nguyen Tien Thanh

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Terraces Home combines architecture with urban agriculture in Vietnam

Vertical forest Mountain Hotel will clean the air in Guizhou, China

October 23, 2016 by  
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The Milan-based design firm  made headlines with Bosco Verticale, the world’s first vertical forest built right in the company’s hometown. A few years later, the firm’s design for a second green skyscraper won a competition to add an eco-friendly building in Lausanne, Switzerland, which will break ground next year. The Mountain Hotel will be built in Guizhou, China for the Hong Kong-based Cachet Hotel Group, and the design follows the same principles as their previous projects, with a focus on sustainable architecture and a green facade that can improve the quality of the air around it. Related: World’s second vertical forest will rise in Switzerland SBA will design the building as a vertical ‘forest mountain’ in the Wanfenglin region, which is also known as the Forest of Ten Thousands Peaks. Local artist Simon Ma will provide the interior design for the 250-room hotel which will offer amenities including a gym, lounge, VIP area, bar, restaurant, and conference facilities. The New York Times named China’s Guizhou region on its list of “52 Places to Go in 2016,”  predicting an increase in tourist traffic there. The forested area was largely inaccessible until 2014, when the government opened a $20 billion high-speed railway that cut the travel time from the nearest major city from 20 hours down to four. Tour activities and new hotels are sprouting up throughout the area, but certainly none are as likely to improve the local environment as much as the Mountain Hotel. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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