UNStudio unveils twisting Green Spine high-rise proposal for Melbourne

August 14, 2018 by  
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Dutch architecture practice UNStudio and Australian firm Cox Architecture have unveiled “Green Spine,” their proposal for the $2-billion Southbank Precinct overhaul in Melbourne, Australia. Selected as part of a shortlist that includes the likes of BIG and OMA, UNStudio and Cox Architecture have envisioned a twisting, greenery-covered high-rise for the 6,191-square-meter Southbank by Beulah site. The mixed-use development will be integrated into the urban fabric with a wide array of programmatic features and indoor-outdoor spaces. The twisting “Green Spine” refers to the landscaped space on the street level that appears to seamlessly flow upward to wrap around the two towers and culminates in the “Future Gardens” at the top of the residential tower. The low podium will comprise the majority of the mixed-use spaces and be open to both residents and the wider community. The podium will include a marketplace, retail, entertainment areas and a BMW experience center. The development’s various podiums will cater to the city’s temporary exhibitions and are flexible enough to accommodate different uses from art shows to festivals. “This multifaceted spine is created by the splitting open of the potential single mass at its core, thereby forming two separate high rise structures and causing them to reveal the almost geological strata of their core layers as they rise above a light-filled canyon,” explains UNStudio. “As a result of this design intervention, the towers that result on either side can enjoy porous city views and vastly improved contextual links. The orientation of the Green Spine enables an extension of the public realm on the podium, the continuation of green onto the towers and facilitates orientation to the CBD and the Botanical Garden at the top of the towers.” Related: UNStudio designs cocoon-like pavilion made of 100% recyclable materials The landscaped buildings are expected to mitigate the urban heat island effect, absorb noise and fight against air pollution . The “Green Spine” will be constructed with materials and textures local and native to Australia. The buildings’ high-performance glass facade follows passive design strategies, while external shading fins control solar gain. Energy and water usage will also be minimized wherever possible. + UNStudio + Cox Architecture Images via UNStudio

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UNStudio unveils twisting Green Spine high-rise proposal for Melbourne

Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal

August 6, 2018 by  
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Giant twisting tree-like sculptures have sprouted in downtown Montreal—and passersby are welcome to climb to the top of its gnarled canopy. The striking art installation is the latest work of local artist Michel de Broin , who was invited by the City of Montreal to help activate the recently developed International Civil Aviation Organization Plaza (ICAO). Dubbed Dendrites after the branched projections of a neuron, the large-scale artworks are clad in weathering steel and are equipped with metal stairs with platforms for an interactive element. Spanning both sides of Notre-Dame Street in downtown Montreal , Dendrites comprises two sculptural stairways that mimic the form of trees and neuron structures. The reddish hue of its weathering steel cladding is a reference to ochre tree trunks as well as the urban site’s industrial past and iron infrastructure. “Dendrites encourages climbing through a network of alternate possible routes,” explains the project press release. “When a passer-by ascends the stairs they consistently face a bifurcation, and a decision must ensue. An apt metaphor is found in the way thoughts are formed in the human brain through the transmission of electrical impulses within a larger network of neuronal dendrites; much like the climber in the sculpture discovering the structures of his surrounding environment. From one end of the work to the other — like a neural impulse traveling across the brain — the walker climbs the stairs and ventures into the sculpture, emerging on the other side with a new perspective.” Related: Whimsically windswept cabin-like kiosks are designed to soothe urban stress The emphasis of walking ties into the redevelopment of site, which was formerly a car-centric area that was displaced as a new pedestrian-friendly and cyclist-friendly space. Dendrites’ twisting branches culminate in a series of independent viewing platforms of varying heights, allowing multiple visitors to climb and enjoy the sculpture simultaneously. + Michel de Broin Images by Michel de Broin and Jules Beauchamp Desbiens

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Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal

This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

Transportation’s incredible shrinking infrastructure

July 6, 2018 by  
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And what Lyft’s acquisition of Motivate means for the urban dockless bikes movement.

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Transportation’s incredible shrinking infrastructure

5 reasons companies are collaborating to end deforestation

July 6, 2018 by  
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Working together can help balance the sometimes seemingly conflicting goals of economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

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5 reasons companies are collaborating to end deforestation

New Block design offers a low-cost and sustainable solution to urban infill

June 14, 2018 by  
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Los Angeles-based architecture firm Newman Garrison + Partners has unveiled New Block, a patented “green building solution” for urban developers nationwide. Created with affordability and livability in mind, New Block offers a cost-effective strategy for landowners and developers to maximize density on smaller lots, typically two-acre urban infill sites. Elements such as multi-family housing and an abundance of open space are part of New Block’s long-term sustainable concept. All architectural units in the New Block design concept would be built with Type V wood-frame construction, while 24,000 square feet would be leftover for usable open space — 45 percent of that as park landscape. The design also includes a green roof system. The concept’s licensing structure allows developers to hire Newman Garrison + Partners or a local architect of their choice to execute the development. “The difficulties and challenges we face today are quite different than the ones we faced nine years ago,” explained NG+P Chairman Kevin Newman in a statement. “The continuing rise in land costs, construction and materials have created road blocks within the industry to develop and build a more affordable housing type within our urban neighborhoods. New Block is a bridge between lower density three-story garden walk-up apartments and four-story over podium construction typologies, a design concept that ultimately offers developers construction plans that address the constraints surrounding the maximization of density, while meeting the open space and sustainability requirements of smaller land sites at an affordable rate.” Related: Solar-Powered OnTop House Can be Added to the Top of Almost Any Urban Home New Block is a proven design concept. In 2010, Irvine-based affordable housing developer Jamboree Housing Corporation and the City of Buena Park tapped Newman Garrison + Partners to apply New Block in a project now known as Park Landing. The project has won 10 industry awards for design excellence as well as LEED Gold certification for its homes. + Newman Garrison + Partners Images via Newman Garrison + Partners

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New Block design offers a low-cost and sustainable solution to urban infill

Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires

May 31, 2018 by  
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The elevated summer temperatures in California  are causing decreased levels of the low-atmosphere clouds that were once common throughout the southern coastal regions of the state. A new study has found that because these clouds are dissipating from the increased heat, the region is now facing an increased risk of wildfire . “Clouds that used to burn off by noon or 1 o’clock are now gone by 10 or 11, if they form at all,” bioclimatologist and study lead author Park Williams told Phys.org . Due to a warming climate and an expanding urban heat island, cloud cover is trapped in a positive feedback loop where less clouds mean higher temperatures, and higher temperatures mean less clouds. Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters , the new study concludes that there has been a 25 to 50 percent decrease in low-lying summer clouds since the 1970s. “ Cloud cover is plummeting in southern coastal California,” said Williams, “and as clouds decrease, that increases the chance of bigger and more intense fires.” The low-lying stratus clouds in the area typically form in the early morning in a thin, wet layer of coastal air that exists between land and drier air masses. The increased heat from climate change and the urban heat island effect has caused the clouds to dissolve earlier in the day, leaving little cover during the hottest parts of the afternoon. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley To study the changes in cloud cover, Williams and his team analyzed hour-by-hour cloud data gathered by California airports over the past several decades. The data was then compared with vegetation moisture data from the U.S. Wildland Fire Assessment System. This comparison enabled the team to conclude that the decreased cloud cover has led to an increased wildfire risk. “Even though the danger has increased, people in these areas are very good at putting out fires, so the area burned hasn’t gone up,” Williams explained. “But the dice are now loaded, and in areas where clouds have decreased, the fires should be getting more intense and harder to contain. At some point, we’ll see if people can continue to keep up.” +  Geophysical Research Letters Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires

This sustainable district in Sweden features carbon-positive towers

May 29, 2018 by  
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Stockholm-based Kjellander Sjöberg Architects  recently won a competition for Nacka Port, a new district between Nacka and Stockholm . Envisioned as a sustainable destination, the urban block would consist of a rich mix of programmatic functions including residential, retail and public spaces that are easily accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. In addition to new green space, the architects plan to insert “carbon positive” towers constructed from renewable materials that promote a healthy microclimate and sustainable lifestyle. Located between the commercial center of Sickla köpkvarter and the district of Hammarby Sjöstad, Nacka Port is ripe for redevelopment with its turn-of-the-century industrial buildings, such as the Klinten paint factory, and backdrop of greenery. Furthermore, the site is located at the intersection of two main traffic routes. The architects designed the new urban block, named “Klinten,” as a “city within a city” and an attractive destination for both residents and visitors at all hours of the day. Two proposed towers feature terraced levels that step down to a shared podium and anchor the site. The staggered glazed facades face the south and will have communal and private terraces dressed in greenery. In addition to residences, the mixed-use development includes a market, restaurants, a bike-cafe, coworking spaces, a hotel and gym, artist studios, workshops and other communal facilities. “The block is designed to generate local urban life, where one feels at home with the freedom to take personal initiatives, where residents are encouraged to use the outdoor environment for co-creation or just meet and socialize,” the architects said. Related: World’s first electric road that charges moving vehicles debuts in Sweden To engage users from multiple directions, the team surrounded the site with attractive green space and strategically located the buildings to maximize sight lines from the surroundings. “The core of the Nacka Port concept focuses on creating a positive vision of the future needs of both humans and our planet,” the architects said. “Nacka Port will be a place to connect and create an inspiring urban and sustainable lifestyle.” The planning process for the project has already started, and the official binding development plan is expected in 2020. + Kjellander Sjöberg Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Kjellander Sjöberg Architects

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This sustainable district in Sweden features carbon-positive towers

Trump administration prioritizes rural areas over cities in infrastructure spending

April 9, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration has re-prioritized which kinds of communities, and what kinds of projects, receive funding from the popular $500 million transportation grant program known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery). “More than 64 percent of this round of TIGER funding was awarded to rural projects, a historic number that demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting the country’s rural communities,” the Transportation Department said when it announced the grant recipients in March. Democratic strongholds such as New York City , Chicago and Los Angeles received zero funding from these grants, while projects in blue states that were funded focused primarily on those states’ Trump-supporting regions. This means much more money for rural roads and rail projects, and less for bike infrastructure, green-ways, and sustainable urban design projects. The TIGER grant program was first established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus package or economic recovery bill, under President Obama . While the discretionary funds are an important tool for the White House, they represent only a small percentage of the Department of Transportation’s distribution of $50 billion each year through the highway trust fund. After trying to eliminate the program twice, Trump recently signed a massive spending bill into law that tripled the program’s budget. Now, it seems, his administration has found a use for TIGER. Related: 69% of Republicans believe global warming’s seriousness is “generally exaggerated” Trump is not the first president to be accused of using the program to favor his political supporters. In 2013, at the start of President Obama’s second term, two-thirds of the TIGER infrastructure funding went to districts represented by Democrats in Congress. Much of this Obama-era funding went towards projects such as bike and pedestrian infrastructure while sometimes giving only the bare minimum required by law to rural areas. In addition to its shift towards rural communities, the Trump Administration, with its well-publicized focus on trade, is also prioritizing upgrades to port infrastructure in Alabama, Maryland and Louisiana. Via ABC News Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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Michigan Governor declares Flint water safe, ends free bottled water service

April 9, 2018 by  
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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has announced that Flint water is once again safe to drink, and the state will soon cease the free bottled water service it has provided to Flint residents in the wake of the city’s drinking water crisis. “The scientific data now proves the water system is stable and the need for bottled water has ended,” the office of the Republican governor said in a statement. “Since Flint’s water is now well within the standards set by the federal government, we will now focus even more of our efforts on continuing with the health, education and economic development assistance needed to help move Flint forward.” Residents and local representatives are reportedly hesitant to trust assurances from the same administration that was responsible for the water crisis in the first place. Even though officials declared Flint water  safe based on scientific assessments, the multi-faceted damage caused by the water crisis will be hard to repair. “Governor Snyder has failed to address the psychological trauma that his administration put the people of Flint through,” said Michigan State Representative Sheldon Neeley, who represents much of the majority-black city of 100,000. “The fact is, the people of Flint don’t trust the Snyder administration or the science they pay for — science that previously allowed our city to be poisoned.” Related: 11-year old inventor becomes “America’s Top Young Scientist” for creating lead-detecting sensor Although the city switched from Flint River water to Lake Huron water — the original source of clean water for the city — in 2015, the community remains wary. “I don’t trust the water. Period,” Flint resident Debra Coleman told WJRT local news . “It could be five years from now and I’ll still never drink this water.” While trust remains an issue, some of those responsible for the crisis are now being held accountable. In 2017, six current and former state and local officials were charged for actions that contributed to the crisis. Via Ecowatch and Reuters Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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Michigan Governor declares Flint water safe, ends free bottled water service

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