WOHA unveils a lush, net-zero Singapore Pavilion for the 2020 World Expo

September 5, 2019 by  
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Singapore-based architecture firm WOHA has unveiled plans to create a net-zero energy green oasis for 2020 World Expo Singapore Pavilion in the Dubai desert. Dubbed “Nature. Nurture. Future.,” the self-sufficient Singapore Pavilion will run entirely on solar energy and solar desalination systems. The temporary structure will symbolize a “forward-looking Singapore” emphasizing livability and sustainability. Appointed to the project by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore’s land use planning and conservation agency, WOHA will integrate the 1,550-square-meter pavilion with greenery, renewable energy systems, a food market, interactive multimedia stations and informative displays on Singaporean culture and industries. Plants will grow on all levels of the multi-story structure: tropical trees, shrubbery and orchids on the ground plane; a hanging garden suspended from the solar canopy; and vertical gardens that grow along the three structural “cones” anchoring the building. Related: New images show greenery engulfing Singapore’s tropical skyscraper Visitors will be guided through the pavilion on a meandering canopy walk that weaves through the cones and leads to the open sky market platform with panoramic views of the surroundings, a gathering area and an eatery serving Singaporean cuisine. A variety of exhibits and programs are embedded into the walk, which concludes at the Ground Galleria with a display on Singapore’s design culture and a retail area. The interior is kept comfortably cool thanks to shade from the solar canopy, fine mist fans and the evapotranspiration from the abundant vegetation. “The uniqueness of the Singapore Pavilion is that despite its location in the desert, it is green, soft and alive, demonstrating the great potential of the respectful, seamless integration and co-existence of nature and architecture,” the architects said. “It represents a captivating and forward-looking Singapore, one that is sociable, sustainable and livable, and shows a way architecture can make a meaningful contribution to the fight against the effects of climate change .” + WOHA Architects Images via WOHA

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WOHA unveils a lush, net-zero Singapore Pavilion for the 2020 World Expo

MVRDV designs a Dutch office building covered in potted plants

August 15, 2019 by  
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MVRDV has unveiled designs for the Green Villa, a striking mixed-use building draped in greenery for the Dutch village of Sint-Michielsgestel. Created in collaboration with Van Boven Architecten , the four-story Green Villa will be located on the town’s southern edge and will use a grid “rack” system to host a wide variety of potted plants, bushes and trees, including the likes of forsythia, jasmine, pine and birch. The project will be a landmark project for the village and will promote sustainability with improved biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Located on a corner lot next to the Dommel River, the 1,400-square-meter Green Villa will house a new ground-floor office space for real estate developer and client, Stein, as well as five apartments on the three floors above in addition to underground parking. The building shape relates to the existing urban fabric with its adoption of the mansard roof shape used on the neighboring buildings. A new architectural typology is also put forth with the use of a strikingly lush facade that will help the structure blend in with the nearby river, fields and trees. Related: MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam “This design is a continuation of our research into ‘facade-less’ buildings and radical greening,” explained Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “The idea from the nineties of city parks as an oasis in the city is too limited. We need a radical ‘green dip’: as will be shown soon in a book by The Why Factory with the same title, we should also cover roofs and high-rise facades with greenery. Plants and trees can help us to offset CO2 emissions , cool our cities and promote biodiversity.” The Green Villa will be defined by a square grid four bays wide and three bays deep, in which modules for bedrooms and living spaces will slot inside. The facade will be made up of a “rack” of shelves of varying depths to support a “three-dimensional arboretum,” and each plant will have its own nameplate with additional information. The plants will be watered year-round with a sensor-controlled irrigation system that uses recycled rainwater . Construction is scheduled to start in 2020. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV designs a Dutch office building covered in potted plants

Greenery-filled renovation rethinks Indonesian colonial architecture

August 14, 2019 by  
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Indonesian architecture firm Kantor Gunawan Gunawan has transformed a century-old Dutch Colonial house into the PB House, a modern home with a strengthened connection to nature. The house, which has been handed down for three generations, has been updated to meet the needs of the new family while paying homage to historical elements. Indonesia’s lush tropical greenery has also been brought indoors with full-height glazing that pulls in garden views and frames a massive green wall . Following the typical Dutch Colonial style, the house was originally designed in quarters, with many rooms arranged along a main axis and joined together by a long hallway. To modernize the space, the architects knocked down most of the walls and created a large open-plan living area, dining space and kitchen that measures 10 meters by 6 meters. The ceilings were also raised to create a more airy feel. Related: Cooling breezes blow straight through a low-energy brick house in Indonesia To bring greenery into the 300-square-meter house, the architects had to grapple with the challenging narrow site, which only allowed for a small sliver of landscaping along the house. Making the most of a constrained footprint, the architects added a huge green wall on the west side that is framed through tall glass sliding doors in the living room. The walls of glass have also been installed throughout the house to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. The exterior of the building was given a fresh coat of paint, a black door and new window seals. It was also spruced up with original mosaic glass but has otherwise been kept the same. In contrast, the interior of the home has been completely transformed. “Using white, gray, orange and dark wood pattern, Kantor Gunawan Gunawan creates a consistent color palette throughout the whole house,” the firm noted. “The furniture is also consistently made of the same walnut material as the door and wall background. The dark wood and gray marble flooring also set the tone of a cozy and welcoming living area, as it also extends to the pantry table and to the wooden decking at the terrace.” + Kantor Gunawan Gunawan Photography by Mario Wibowo Photography via Kantor Gunawan Gunawan

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Greenery-filled renovation rethinks Indonesian colonial architecture

Coca-Cola to offer Dasani water in aluminum cans and bottles to reduce plastic waste

August 14, 2019 by  
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Could green be the new blue? The Dasani bottled water brand hopes so. Owned by The Coca-Cola Co., Dasani wants to up the ante for more sustainable packaging with a product lineup including aluminum bottles and cans — available as early as this fall. The new changes are part of Coca-Cola’s Global World Without Waste efforts to make 100 percent of its packaging completely recyclable by 2025. It also plans to manufacture its bottles and cans with an average of 50 percent recycled material by 2030. Related: San Francisco airport bans all plastic water bottles “While there is no single solution to the problem of plastic waste , the additional package and package-less options we are rolling out today mark an important next step in our effort to provide even more sustainable solutions at scale,” said Lauren King, brand director of Dasani, in a news release Tuesday. Come fall, the company is releasing aluminum can options to the northeastern U.S. The canned water will expand to other areas in 2020 and will be joined by the addition of new aluminum bottles of water in mid-2020. The new HybridBottle, also released in 2020, will be made with a mixture of up to 50 percent of a renewable, plant-based material and recycled PET. Other innovations in the lineup include “lightweighting” across the Dasani package portfolio to help reduce the amount of virgin PET plastic acquired by the Coca-Cola system. Labels are also changing and will read “ How2Recycle ” on all Dasani packages in an effort to educate and encourage consumers to recycle after use. As mainstream consumers continue to focus on reducing plastic pollution , large companies like Coca-Cola say they want to reduce their waste. Incidentally, Coca-Cola produced 3.3 million tons of plastic in 2017, according to a recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Plenty of environmental activists have pointed the finger at companies such as Coca-Cola, too. For instance, a study published by Greenpeace referred to Coca-Cola as “the most prolific polluter” compared to other top brands. Why? During several beach clean-ups held around the world, Coca-Cola products were among the most collected. + The Coca-Cola Co. Via CNN Image via Coca-Cola Co.

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Coca-Cola to offer Dasani water in aluminum cans and bottles to reduce plastic waste

Kids are hungry for books about eco-activists, in what publishers call ‘the Greta effect’

August 14, 2019 by  
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The soaring popularity of the feisty, outspoken environmental advocate – who is only 16 – has caused a rise in young people seeking stories about saving the planet. Publishers coin the new trend the “Greta Thunberg Effect” and are publishing children’s book about climate change in record time. Publishers have pumped out books across a range of topics related to the environment, from endangered species to climate change, and sales have doubled in the last year, according to Nielsen Book Research. Related: Greta Thunberg will sail across Atlantic to attend the UN climate summit “I absolutely would say there has been a Greta Thunberg effect. She has galvanized the appetite of young people for change, and that has galvanized our appetite, as publishers, for stories that empower our readers to make those changes,” said Rachel Kellehar, who heads nonfiction for Nosy Crow, a publishing company working on a collection of stories about environmental advocates and featuring Greta on the cover. Authors, too, are noticing the change in interest among young people, and seizing the opportunity to write stories that motivate and inspire them. “I want not only to educate but to inspire a new wave of eco-warriors. Kids are the future. Hopefully if they have been educated about environmental issues from a young age they will go on – and go further – than we are right now,” said author James Sellick, who wrote a story about orangutans and deforestation . Because of the popularity, and uncertainty around its longevity, publishers like Nosy Crow are turning topical children’s books around at fast speeds, such as with the new collection of short stories the company will publish that will be cranked out in four months— something unheard of for children’s genres. Part of the rush is also riding Greta’s wave of popularity to October, when she will find out if she wins the Novel Peace Prize. “Whether or not she wins the Nobel peace prize, October will be a key moment to reach out and say Greta’s doing this amazing thing, but also lots of other people you’ve never heard of all around the world are doing amazing things. From young girls in Indonesia who have got plastic bags banned, to an engineer in India who is creating artificial glaciers” said Kellehar. Via The Guardian Image via Flickr

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Kids are hungry for books about eco-activists, in what publishers call ‘the Greta effect’

Sunflower-inspired tower design envelopes urban residents in mini forests

May 7, 2019 by  
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Concerned by the rampant growth of cities across Latin America and the loss of endemic species, Ecuadorian design studio oficina de Diseño (odD+) has proposed the Sunflower Tower, a conceptual residential building inspired by the seeds and petals of a sunflower. Proposed for Quito , the Sunflower Tower has been envisioned as a “vertical ecosystem” with lush, self-sustaining planters located on every floor of the high-rise. As a result, the building would offer year-round interest and natural air purification as well as food and habitat for local birds and insects. Currently in the design development phase, the Sunflower Tower was created as a residential high-rise spanning a little over 77,000 square feet. The multifaceted facade is defined by a series of arches backed by floor-to-ceiling glazing for panoramic views of the city. The balconies directly in front of the arches support lush gardens, while the facade’s protruding opaque elements provide protection from the sun. “Sunflower Tower utilizes its equatorial context to become a depository of plant and animal life in the city,” the architects explained. “With the ability to thrive all year round, incorporating a self-sustaining ecosystem into the built environment reduces the tower’s carbon footprint  and creates a constant and direct connection with nature, as every apartment is surrounded by its own mini forest in the midst of a dense urban setting. This creates a unique user experience, and changes the typical urban backdrop by adding a layer of nature to the lens.” Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito The interiors have been envisioned with a minimalist and contemporary aesthetic where even the private rooms, such as the bedroom and bathroom, look out across views of the gardens and city. The material palette’s muted colors keep the focus on the outdoors. The building is topped with a landscaped terrace and lounge space. + oficina de Diseño (odD+) Photography by Julia Bogdan via oficina de Diseño (odD+)

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A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

September 26, 2018 by  
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Taipei-based design practice BIAS Architects recently completed “Greenhouse as a Home,” an experimental installation that reinterprets the living areas of a traditional house as five climatic zones. Created for the 2018 Taoyuan Green Expo, the project invited the public to experience the buildings with all five senses, from feeling the climatic differences to eating fresh vegetables hydroponically grown in the installation. Greenhouse as a Home consists of five independent yet interconnected steel grid structures with varying heights and climates ranging from 16 to 29 degrees Celsius (61 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit). Greenhouse as a Home was developed to promote a “culture of sustainability” with its interactive programmatic zones conducive to education. “Here, the human living space is intertwined with that of the plants and organized according to climatic zones, rather than traditional architectural areas,” the architects explained. “ Greenhouses building materials and structures are arranged to separate climatic areas, while the distribution of water and energy flows is technologically managed. The roof is covered with various combinations of agricultural gauzes and plastic films to control lighting and solar radiation.” The experimental project is divided into five structures: the Fern Living Room, Farm Dining, Photosynthesis Kitchen, Sun Garden and Theater of Mushroom. A defined walking path links the different volumes. The first zone visitors experience is the Fern Living Room, a shadowy and humid space dressed with potted ferns hung from the ceiling. The next room, Farm Dining, is slightly hotter and less humid and serves as the main activity zone organized around a large table. Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food A vertical hydroponic farm is located in the Photosynthesis Kitchen, the middle zone where fresh vegetables are picked daily and cooked in the demonstration kitchen. The fourth zone, the Sun Garden, is the hottest and driest room of all and is used to desiccate vegetables. The fifth and final zone, the Theater of Mushroom, immerses visitors into a dark, highly humid environment with the coolest temperatures in the entire installation; the multisensory space is complemented by light and sound performances. + BIAS Architects Images by Rockburger

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A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

This tiny home is afforded extra space thanks to a large deck

September 25, 2018 by  
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Barlo Smith and Shona Macpherson are putting a unique twist on the tiny house revolution. The Australian couple has spent the last 20 years in the carpentry world and recently put their expertise to the test building the first  tiny home for their company, Sowelo Tiny Houses. Smith and Macpherson’s new tiny house, called Sowelo, accommodates six people and features dual loft rooms (complete with skylights), a downstairs lounge and 26 square feet of outdoor deck space. According to New Atlas , the structure meets every legal housing standard in Australia . The tiny home is only 26 feet long, 8 feet wide and 14 feet high, but it feels quite spacious. Related: This gorgeous tiny home is perfect for entertaining guests For the couple, maximizing the amount of space and keeping everything environmentally friendly was the top goal in the design. The Sowelo tiny home is powered by solar energy and is made from FSC-certified plywood. The insulation is made out of recycled polyester, and the house is completely free of any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in building materials such as glues and paints. The couple tested the model in a range of climates in Australia, including the sweltering heat and bitter cold. So far, the home has stood up to whatever Mother Nature can throw its way. It also features an outdoor deck that substantially increases the size of the home. Not only does the deck provide more space for entertaining guests, but it also boasts a grow-wall feature complete with its own watering setup. Inside, the Sowelo house includes a living room, two sleeping lofts , a kitchen and a sweet little reading nook. The kitchen has a stainless steel oven, gas stove, fridge and sink. The home also features a pull-out dining table and plenty of storage space. Following the success of this first model, the couple are selling the Sowelo units for about $87,000. If you need a little more space, additional modules are available starting at $22,000 apiece. + Sowelo Tiny Houses Images via Sowelo Tiny Houses

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This tiny home is afforded extra space thanks to a large deck

Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry?

May 18, 2018 by  
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Year after year, cities expand and pristine natural habitats are turned into farms and pastures to support the world’s growing population . But despite our encroachment into the environment, we still struggle to feed everyone. Vertical farms could offer a solution by producing higher crop yields year-round in less space than conventional agriculture. What is vertical farming? With land for crops and pastures growing scarce — plus the threat of pesticides and herbicides taking a toll on our health and the environment — people are exploring new ways to grow food, such as urban agriculture. In general, this is the process of growing food within city limits – whether on rooftops, in backyards or on balconies. The goal is to provide families with fresh, healthy food that isn’t laced with chemicals — and when you grow your own crops, you can control these elements. Vertical farming is a type of urban agriculture – but vertical farms are often constructed indoors in extremely controlled environments. Crops are grown on shelves that extend upward instead of outward, and the environment is carefully monitored, so crops grow year-round. In addition to growing crops, some vertical farmers have developed ways to grow fish in a self-sustaining system. Water from the plants is recycled into fish tanks, and the waste from the fish becomes fertilizer for the plants. Then, both the plants and fish can be harvested for food. The benefits of vertical farming The benefits of vertical farming are numerous. Farmers can control the crops’ environment in vertical farms, so the plants aren’t subjected to nasty weather conditions or droughts . Humidity, nutrients and water are administered to growing plants to achieve optimum growing conditions. Because of the controlled environment, crops can be harvested more than once a year, resulting in higher yields than traditional farming. Related: The GCC’s first commercial vertical farm launches in Dubai Vertical farms are more sustainable than conventional farms because they use less water (which is often recycled through the system), they take up less space and they use less fossil fuels because they don’t rely on heavy machinery such as tractors and harvesters. Technology helps vertical farmers get the best output from the farm. Tailored lamps help plants get more light exposure, which encourages them to grow faster than crops that rely on the sun. Vertical farms also provide greater protection from insects, thus decreasing the need for harmful chemical products. Downsides to vertical farming While vertical farms can help with local hunger issues and sustainability, there are some barriers that may keep them from gaining worldwide traction. The cost of setting up a vertical farm can be prohibitive. Conservative estimates put the initial start-up cost at around $110,000 , but there are estimates upward of millions of dollars. Finding an abandoned warehouse or building in an urban setting for a reasonable price might be difficult. Since vertical farms rely on electricity for growing lamps and strict environmental controls, the location has to have reliable power — not just any old abandoned building will do. Vertical farms also depend heavily on technology, which can be costly. Keeping the lights on and the environmental controls running will impact energy use — and your budget. Related: The “most technologically-sophisticated commercial indoor farm in the world” will grow 30X more produce Not every crop that is grown traditionally can be raised successfully in a vertical farm. Leafy greens and herbs do the best in an indoor environment, while staple crops like wheat and potatoes are difficult to grow indoors, as are some fruits and vegetables. The crops that can be harvested from a vertical garden are limited. Growing food to feed the hungry is a noble gesture, but it also has to be profitable, especially when the initial cost to set up a vertical farm is so high. If there isn’t a market in your area, it’s a waste of time to grow large amounts of food that you won’t be able to sell. The verdict Despite the downsides, the positives are plentiful. In addition to embracing sustainability and helping combat hunger , vertical farms can also encourage support for local economies. These farms can create jobs, turn a profit and provide a healthy source of food for locals. As technology continues to advance, new approaches will improve the efficiency and productivity of vertical farms. If nothing else, the idea sparks the conversation about changing the agricultural industry and gives us a place to start for finding better, more sustainable ways to grow food. Images via Depositphotos , Aqua Mechanical and Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry?

This hexagonal indoor farm grows more food in less space with 90% less water

March 26, 2018 by  
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Hexagro ‘s Living Farming Tree is a groundbreaking indoor garden that uses technology to grow food faster using less space. The innovative design combines aeroponics with efficient grow lights, full automation, and a modular tiered structure to optimize space, crop yield, and water use – allowing anyone to grow crops in practically any room. Hexagro aims to bring nature indoors and nurture the urban farming movement. This goal led them to create Living Farming Tree, an automated vertical growing system controllable with an app. As seen in the video above, poles and hexagonal connectors pop together to create the tree, providing a structure to support small growing modules. The system, which can be customized and scaled up with more modules, is built entirely with recyclable materials . Related: Build your own indoor garden with modular LEGO-like blocks Living Farming Tree uses aeroponics , a process that enables urban growers to cultivate produce sans soil or pesticides and with around 90 to 98 percent less water. The plants flourish in an inert substrate with roots hanging underneath; well-aerated, their roots absorb nutrients via a nutrient mist and oxygen, causing the plants to grow faster and taste better. According to Hexagro, this system—which boasts low energy consumption—allows for a 150 percent increase in the plants’ nutritional value as well. The tree also lets you sit back and relax, for the most part: LED lights, sensors, and a proprietary monitoring computer keep your maintenance time to a minimum. Leafy greens, sprouts, herbs, air-filtering plants, or small fruits like strawberries will be available for budding urban farmers, and Hexagro hopes to offer spices, edible and non-edible flowers, and even vegetables like eggplants or tomatoes in the future. Sold yet? Their website does not yet say how much the Living Farming Tree will cost, but Hexagro’s first international crowdfunding campaign is in the works, and you can let the sales team know you’re interested via this Google Documents form . In the words of CEO Felipe Hernandez, “With your help, [Hexagro] will transform your house into an indoor farm . Anybody, anywhere, can access healthy food .” + Hexagro Urban Farming Images courtesy of Hexagro Urban Farming

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This hexagonal indoor farm grows more food in less space with 90% less water

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