This striking concrete home uses mesh walls to connect with nature

May 24, 2018 by  
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When it comes to home design, architects around the world are forgoing the conventional for the experimental – all in the name of passive design . For a brilliant example, look no further than Ma of Wind, a unique concrete home from Japanese firm  Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects  with north and south facades made out of steel mesh. Over time, the mesh will be covered with plants to help shade the interior during the hot summer months. Located on Japan’s Okinawa Island, the Ma of Wind home is a daring attempt to bring outdoor elements into the interior as much as possible. Using the island’s traditional vernacular for inspiration, the architects explain that the design concept was “characterized by a respect towards the natural environment, and maintaining harmony between man and nature.” Related: A Minimalist Steel “Green Box” Home that Puts Nature First in Vietnam The structure is made out of a reinforced concrete shell chosen for its resilience against typhoons, a fairly common occurrence in the area. Additionally, the home uses several passive design features to cool the interior during the hot and humid summer months. The open walls on either side of the home open the space to optimal ventilation and natural lighting on the interior. Additionally, extra-large eaves were placed over the terraces to provide extra shade during the summer months. Without a doubt, however, the home’s most striking feature is its steel mesh facade . The architects hung two mesh walls on the north and south facades of the home; these walls will serve as trellises for climbing plants over the years, providing a natural shade system for the building. During the winter when some of the plants lose their leaves, daylight will stream through the interior. “Depending on the season, vegetation engulfs the house, fusing architecture with nature,” the studio explained. The architects based the interior layout on that of traditional Japanese homes . An open living space and kitchen make up the heart of the house, which is flanked by large terraces on either side. The bedrooms are laid out perpendicular to the main living area and have sliding glass doors that open up the rooms to the exterior. The home creates as much of a connection with the island’s natural climate as possible, no matter how harsh. “Sun, wind, water, and the unique climatic features of Okinawa Island together modeled the design as a space exposed to the prevailing winds, looking to south and north for enhancing natural ventilation,” the architects said. + Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects Via Dezeen Images via Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects

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This striking concrete home uses mesh walls to connect with nature

MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center

May 24, 2018 by  
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Albania’s controversial Tirana Pyramid—a former monument to the country’s communist leader—will finally be repurposed after years of decay. MVRDV  has officially unveiled designs to transform the pyramidal structure into a large green technology education center. The pyramid will be opened up to the surroundings and filled with natural light and greenery, ultimately making the interior more welcoming to the public. Set in the center of the city, the Tirana Pyramid originally served as a museum honoring the legacy of Enver Hoxha, the long-time leader of communist Albania. Following the collapse of Communism in 1991, the concrete communist monument was repurposed for a variety of uses, from a nightclub to a NATO base, during the Kosovo War. In recent years, developers have called for the Tirana Pyramid’s demolition, which stirred controversy among its architects and the greater populace, many of whom had developed an attachment to the monument despite its increasingly decrepit and vandalized appearance. Rather than demolish the unique structure, MVRDV aims to preserve the silhouette while making the 127,000-square-foot building more accessible. “Though in the past, there were plans to transform this monumental building into a national theatre, this never materialised which left this fantastic building in ruin for more than a decade,” says Winy Maas , co-founder of MVRDV. “It is a symbol for many Albanians. For the older generation, it is a memory to the cultural events during communist times, for the recent generation it became the place to celebrate the new era. We will open it up to its surroundings as a structure in the park, that can be populated by people, trees, and containers for co-working. We will make the beams accessible and safe so that we can all climb to the top and celebrate the structure, with views of the city of Tirana. We create an inhabited monument.” Related: BIG unveils designs for bow tie-shaped National Theater of Albania In addition to natural light , the architects will introduce greenery to the building atrium. The team will also make the facade roof—a popular hangout spot for young people—officially available to all visitors, populating it with pavilions and other pop-up structures conducive to temporary events and sightseeing. The project is slated for completion in 2019. + MVRDV Renderings by MVRDV, Exterior image by Gent Onuzi and Wikimedia

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MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center

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

This French art collective is building the world’s largest hanging garden

March 15, 2018 by  
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French art collective Les Machines de L’ile is embarking on plans to build the world’s largest hanging garden – which will be on the scale of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Nantes-based design team is currently working on what they are calling The Heron’s Tree – a massive interactive garden that will span more than 160 feet in diameter and 114 feet high. The “mechanical menagerie” will invite guests to climb the labyrinth-like branches and ride one of two mechanical herons on flights that provide a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding Loire Valley. The Heron’s Tree, which is currently under construction on the banks of the Loire Valley, is actually the third part of a massive artistic endeavor called the Island’s Machines, which the artists began back in 2007. Inspired by the works of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, the artistic project includes The Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery, as well as the Carousel of Sea Worlds. The concept revolves around a mechanical collection of giant wild animals that roam around the world’s landscape. The project will include a large steel tree, weighing about 1,500 tons and spanning 165 feet wide. Twenty-two wide branches will be built as walkways that will be accessible from a helix staircase inside the tree trunk. Jutting out from the trunk at various heights, visitors can explore the tree’s many greenery-lined paths, which create a lush ecosystem of hanging vegetation . Related: Calatrava’s Dubai observation tower resembles the Hanging Gardens of Babylon About 115 feet above the tree top, there will be two platforms where visitors can climb aboard two massive herons. The herons will take the passengers on a circular ride soaring over of the large tree, providing a stunning 360-degree view of the Loire Valley. Created by artists Francois Delaroziere and Piere Orefice, the interactive art installation will be located on the banks of the Loire River – a significant location for the artists. “Inspired by the worlds of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, it is an unprecedented artistic project. After the Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery in 2007, the Carousel of the Sea Worlds in 2012, the Heron’s Tree is the third phase of the Island’s Machines. Coming out of the minds of François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, it will be located along the banks of the Loire River, a few meters away from the house Jules Verne spent his teenage years in and where Jean-Jacques Audubon grew up and drew his first herons.” The Heron’s Tree is the latest phase in the art ambitious project, which is scheduled for completion in 2022. The 35 million euro project is being funding partially by public funds, but the artistic team behind the project is seeking additional funding through a Kickstarter campaign . + Les Machines de L’ile Via This is Colossal Images via Les Machines de L’ile

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This French art collective is building the world’s largest hanging garden

90% of bottled water contains microplastics, according to a new study

March 15, 2018 by  
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If you thought you were safe drinking bottled water, think again. The Guardian reports that a new study commissioned by Orb Media has found microplastics in 90 percent of 259 bottles of water tested. Surveying several brands in nine different countries, scientists from the State University of New York in Fredonia told the paper some of the bottles contained twice as many plastic particles as tap water they had previously studied . To highlight the particles in any given sample, the scientists used Nile red dye that sticks to plastic, though The Guardian makes a point of noting that the study has not been published in a peer reviewed journal. That said, the technique’s developer, University of East Anglia scientist Dr Andrew Mayes, told the paper that he was satisfied the study had been conducted carefully, in the way he would have done in his own lab. Here is a list of all the brands Orb Media said were tested in the study: Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestle? Pure Life (Nestle?), San Pellegrino (Nestle?) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group). Of the 259 bottles of water tested, only 17 were plastic-free. The rest contained bits of polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Related: Plastic fibers found in 80 percent of tap water samples from five continents Nestle? was not satisfied with the method used to test the water, telling CBC News using Nile red dye could “generate false positives”. How ingesting plastics affects humans is still not 100 percent certain as this is an emergent field of study, according to the National Institutes of Health. Still, they note in a 2017 report , “If inhaled or ingested, microplastics may accumulate and exert localized particle toxicity by inducing or enhancing an immune response. Chemical toxicity could occur due to the localized leaching of component monomers, endogenous additives, and adsorbed environmental pollutants. Chronic exposure is anticipated to be of greater concern due to the accumulative effect that could occur.” + Orb Media Report Via The Guardian , CBC News Images via DepositPhotos 1 , 2

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90% of bottled water contains microplastics, according to a new study

BIG unveils designs for bow tie-shaped National Theater of Albania

March 15, 2018 by  
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Albania’s capital of Tirana is undergoing exciting changes—including a new National Theater of Albania designed by Bjarke Ingels Group . The proposed bow tie-shaped theater is an extension of the government’s ongoing efforts for turning the city into a greener, more pedestrian-friendly place to live, work, and travel. Designed to replace the existing theater, the 9,300-square-meter contemporary complex will be located in downtown Tirana and host local and touring theater companies within a 3-in-1 cultural venue. Located on Tirana’s cultural axis in a mostly pedestrian area, the new National Theater of Albania is envisioned by Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj as the “crown-jewel” in the capital’s urban revitalization plans that include the addition of 2 million trees, increased pedestrian-friendly areas, and more playgrounds . “The “bow tie” will tie together artists, dreamers, talents and the aspirations of a city going on fifth gear yearning for constant change and place-making,” said the Mayor. The theater’s bow tie shape is informed by the program organization, which sandwiches the main auditorium in the middle between the south-facing front-of-house activities, like the foyer and restaurant, and the back-of-house activities in the north. By compressing and lifting the building’s middle, the architects create opportunities for passersby to enjoy glimpses of the theater at all hours. In addition to an upgraded theater space, the new cultural center will include three new indoor performance spaces, a rooftop theater with amphitheater-style seating, and a covered public space in the building arch. Related: Mosque for All: BIG Wins Competition To Design Inside-Out Albanian Cultural Center “Our design for the new National Theatre of Albania will continue the city’s efforts for making Tirana’s public spaces more inviting and its public institutions more transparent,” said Bjarke Ingels. “The theater is conceived as two buildings connected by the main auditorium: one for the audience and one for the performers. Underneath, the theatre arches up from the ground creating an entrance canopy for the audience as well as for the performers, while opening a gateway to the new urban arcade beyond. Above, the roof mirrors the archway, forming an open-air amphitheater with a backdrop to the city’s skyline.“ + Bjarke Ingels Group Images via Bjarke Ingels Group

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BIG unveils designs for bow tie-shaped National Theater of Albania

Greenhouse-like ‘cabin in the woods’ features lush vertical gardens inside

September 1, 2017 by  
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If greenery is essential for creating a healthy home design , the family that moves into this green-filled home will be in really great shape. Designed by Kartick Reddy , the sophisticated design integrates multiple pockets of vibrant greenery inside and outside of the home, including multiple vertical gardens within the living space. The contemporary home design , which was created for a family in Poland, is oozing greenery at every corner. Sitting on a large lot of verdant green forestscape, the home is located next to a calming stream. Wood panels cover the rear facade of the modern A-frame home while the front facade is almost entirely comprised of large glass panels, giving the home a greenhouse-like appearance. Related: Create a vertical garden on your window or wall in minutes with these adorable Livi planters On the interior, two living walls were used to bring a boost of nature into the home environment. Visitors are greeted with a large living wall through the back entrance and another vertical green wall rises up almost two floors in the middle of the home. The greenery, along with the abundance of glass walls blends this modern homeinto its idyllic surroundings. + Kartik Reddy Via Yanko Designs Images by Kartik Reddy

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Greenhouse-like ‘cabin in the woods’ features lush vertical gardens inside

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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China subverts pollution with contained vertical farms – and boosts yield

Shanghai is planning a massive 100-hectare vertical farm to feed 24 million people

April 12, 2017 by  
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International architecture firm Sasaki just unveiled plans for a spectacular 100-hectare urban farm set amidst the soaring skyscapers of Shanghai. The project is a mega farming laboratory that will meet the food needs of almost 24 million people while serving as a center for innovation, interaction, and education within the world of urban agriculture. The Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District is composed of vertical farms that fit in nicely between the city’s many towers, adding a welcomed green counterpart to the shiny metal and glass cityscape. In a city like Shanghai, where real estate prices make vertical building more affordable, the urban farm layout counts on a number of separate buildings that will have various growing platforms such as algae farms , floating greenhouses, vertical walls and even seed libraries. The project incorporates several different farming methods including hydroponic and aquaponic systems. Related:Sasaki Architecture convert a former disco club into an office space with floating walls The masterplan was designed to provide large-scale food production as well as education. Sunqiao will focus on sustainable agriculture as a key component for urban growth. “This approach actively supports a more sustainable food network while increasing the quality of life in the city through a community program of restaurants, markets, a culinary academy, and pick-your-own experience” explained Sasaki. “As cities continue to expand, we must continue to challenge the dichotomy between what is urban and what is rural. Sunqiao seeks to prove that you can have your kale and eat it too.” Visitors to the complex will be able to tour the interactive greenhouses, a science museum, and aquaponics systems, all of which are geared to showcase the various technologies which can help keep a large urban population healthy. Additionally, there will be family-friendly events and workshops to educate children about various agricultural techniques . + Sasaki Via Archdaily

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Shanghai is planning a massive 100-hectare vertical farm to feed 24 million people

Parasitic wooden cubes slash Parisian building’s energy consumption by 75%

March 3, 2017 by  
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Stéphane Malka has designed a clever way of optimizing the energy efficiency of older urban structures while working within the restrictions of Parisian building codes. Malka’s Plug-in City 75 design envisions attaching parasitic wooden cubes to the facade of a 1970s-era building, extending the living space and significantly reducing the building’s annual energy consumption by approximately 75 percent. The innovative design is slated for a 1970s-era building in the French capital’s 16th arrondissement. Like similar buildings in the city, this one is burdened with low energy performance due to thermal bridges, poor insulation, and permeable windows. However, current building laws are quite restrictive and do not allow for the structures to be raised to make way for better, more efficient space. Related: Parasitic prefabs mounted atop buildings create affordable green housing in Paris Malka’s solution is to incorporate a type of parasitic architecture to improve the building’s energy envelope. According to the design, a series of bio-sourced wooden cubes would be mounted onto the facade, extending the apartments horizontally through openings in the exterior. Extending the apartments outwards would divide the total energy consumption of the building by four. This would significantly reduce the rehabilitated building’s annual energy consumption from its current 190KWh per square meter to 45KWh per square meter. The modular boxes , made from wood particles and chips are quite lightweight, which allows for easy transport and on-site assembly. Once mounted onto the building, the cubed extensions would not only add more living space and light to the interior, but would also create an inner garden courtyard on the first floor. The new facade would be draped in hanging greenery, greatly improving the structure’s overall aesthetic. + Malka Architecture

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