Quirky youth hostel in Taiwan is made from reclaimed materials

March 14, 2019 by  
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Young wanderers traveling to the city of Hualian in Eastern Taiwan can now book a stay in a fun, quirky youth hostel made almost entirely out of recycled materials. To create the Wow Hostel, designer ChengWei Chiang  from PL Interior Design breathed new life into an existing nine-level property by using a vibrant collection of concrete, stone, wood, greenery and reclaimed materials , such as old window frames and timber. From the moment you enter the hostel, the interesting collection of building materials is clearly visible. From stone walls and a reception made out of reclaimed wood, the nine-story hostel has a energetic, youthful aesthetic. Related: Nha Trang’s first hostel built from recycled shipping containers pops up in Vietnam The ground floor welcomes visitors with a cafe and bar area that is open to everyone, from paying guests to passersby. From the first floor leading up to the second floor reception is a large vertical living wall. The reception also features a check-in desk made out of reclaimed wood paneling. The rest of the floors are split between the dorm rooms and communal places. According to the designer, the hostel layout was strategically designed to provide plenty of space to allow people to meet each other and socialize or simply hang out in the lounge area with a good book. In the main communal space, there is a large table with family-style seating. Around this area are several lounges with big, comfy reading chairs. In one of the lounge areas, a custom-made cabinet stands against the wall. Made out of reused window frames, this is used to showcase art works by local artists as well as knickknacks left by travelers that have passed through the hostel. For outdoor space, one of the floors has an open-air terrace, which features a discarded shipping container door. For lodging, the Wow Hostel offers a number of options, from an eight-person dorm with four double beds to private suites. The guest rooms’ interior design boasts an industrial vibe with exposed concrete block walls and pressed board accents. + PL Interior Design Studio + ChengWei Chiang Images via ChengWei Chiang and PL Interior Design Studio

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Quirky youth hostel in Taiwan is made from reclaimed materials

Transparent bubble domes in China allow guests to immerse themselves in nature

March 13, 2019 by  
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For those who need a little respite from the hustle and bustle of life and who may find themselves in the Guangxi region of China, there is an entire glamping site comprised of transparent bubble domes . Created by designer ChengWei Chiang of PL Interior Design Studio, the Wow Bubbles are made of special transparent PVC material to let visitors truly immerse themselves in the idyllic landscape that surrounds the site. Located in the mountainous area of southern China  bordering Vietnam, Guangxi is right on the coast and known as a nature-lover’s paradise. Full of lush green forests, winding rivers and towering karst formations, the area is a popular tourist spot for both adventurers and those who just want to commune with nature. Related: Sleep beneath the northern lights in this unique Iceland bubble Now, visitors to the picturesque area can go one step further by staying in the Wow Bubbles lodgings. Made out of special PVC material, the transparent bubble huts are inflated with air. Waterproof and resistant to wind, they were also designed to withstand the severe humidity that is common in this coastal area. The bubble domes are strategically orientated to provide stunning, unobstructed views of the mountains and forest that surround the site. A wooden walkway on the edge of a small lake leads to the individual domes, which are lifted off the landscape on wooden platforms. Once inside, the interior design is quite contemporary. With a spacious living area, a large bedroom and bath, the huts provide all of the amenities of home. According to the designer of the bubbles, ChengWei Chiang, the unique glamping concept was inspired to provide mesmerizing, panoramic views for guests looking to get away from the stress of their urban lifestyles. “As more and more people move into the cities, making more money, buying more luxuries, owning bigger houses, the nature serves as a pure land that evokes peace of mind,” he explained. “Zen is a lifestyle we need today. Zen style is the key to attract urban people to nature.” + PL Interior Design Studio + Chiange Cheng Wei Via World Architecture Images via Chiange Cheng Wei and PL Interior Design Studio

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Transparent bubble domes in China allow guests to immerse themselves in nature

Zimbabwe hopes to bring attention to trafficking endangered species with the Pangolin Project

February 20, 2019 by  
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Zimbabwe is raising awareness about animal trafficking with the annual World Pangolin Day. The pangolin is the most often trafficked mammal in the entire world, with an estimated one million of the scaly mammals being sold in the black market over the past 10 years alone. The pangolin project hopes to curb those numbers and raise awareness about the growing problem of animal trafficking around the globe. Behind drugs, weapons and humans, animal trafficking is the fourth highest illegal trade in the world. “It breaks my heart to know how the greed of mankind is pushing this animal to the brink of extinction,” the head of the Tikki Hywood Foundation, Lisa Hywood, explained. “Time is running out for the pangolin, so we all need to take action.” The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) outlawed the trade of pangolin in Asia and Africa, two regions of the world that contain all eight of the endangered species. The ban has given the pangolin protective status, but officials are still dealing with large scale poaching. Related: 60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction In honor of Pangolin Day, several groups are using the occasion to raise awareness about other trafficked animals throughout the world. This includes the Tikki Hywood Foundation, which produced a documentary in 2016 about saving pangolins from poachers and the black market. While efforts like Pangolin Day are doing a great job at raising awareness, environmentalists and conservationists face an uphill battle ahead of them. In fact, animal trafficking numbers have steadily grown over the past few years, despite bans against trading endangered species like pangolins. Last week, for example, authorities in Hong Kong uncovered nine tons of pangolin scales in a shipyard, along with over 1,000 elephant tusks. The shipment was headed to Vietnam by way of Nigeria, and officials believe the cargo would have sold on the market for as much as $8 million. Sadly, experts believe around 13,000 pangolins were killed to account for the nine tons of scales seized in Hong Kong The incident in Hong Kong is one of many examples of the growing problem of animal trafficking around the world. Fortunately, initiatives like World Pangolin Day is helping raise awareness about animal trafficking and making it harder for illegal traders to operate. Via UN Environment Images via David Brossard 

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Zimbabwe hopes to bring attention to trafficking endangered species with the Pangolin Project

A green veil of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat

February 20, 2019 by  
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In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s concrete jungle, a compact family home has been infused with greenery thanks to the work of Vietnamese architecture firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects . Dubbed the Breathing House, the property is located in an extremely dense neighborhood on a plot measuring just 12.8 feet in width and 58.4 feet in length. To provide a connection to nature despite the constrained urban conditions, the architects wrapped three sides of the home in a “green veil” made of creeper plants that grow on steel mesh. Edged in by buildings and accessible only via a tiny alleyway, the Breathing House makes the most of its small footprint with a staggered floor plan arranged around light wells that let natural light and ventilation deep inside the home. To open three sides of the house to the outdoors without compromising privacy, the architects wrapped the facade in a vertical green screen that not only protects against prying views, but also helps mitigate solar heat gain and improve air quality. This “green veil” was constructed using a modularized galvanized steel mesh and planter boxes installed at every floor. “Inside the ‘green veil’, the building consists of five tower-like volumes that are staggered and connected to each other, arranged in between the two boundary walls,” the architects said of the interior layout. “The external spaces created by the staggered arrangement of the volumes, which we call ‘micro voids’, play a role in providing myriad indirect lighting and ventilation routes throughout the building. In the narrow and deep plot shuttered by neighbors on both sides, it is more environmentally effective to promote ventilation for each corner of the house, by multiple ‘micro voids’, rather than having a singular large courtyard.” Related: Fruit trees grow on the roofs of this rammed earth home in Hanoi The “porous” arrangement of spaces helps create a sense of spaciousness in the home while reducing dependence on air conditioning . The “green veil”, which is visible to passersby, continues up to the roof terrace, creating what the architects said is a much-needed green space in a city that’s been losing green spaces at an alarming rate. + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Images by Hiroyuki Oki via Vo Trong Nghia Architects

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A green veil of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat

VEJA unveils vegan sneakers made from corn waste

February 20, 2019 by  
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Ethical sneaker brand VEJA has unveiled its newest and arguably most impressive eco-friendly kicks yet — the Campo, a chic sneaker made with a new vegan and biodegradable fabric. The revolutionary material, called C.W.L., is made from a waxed canvas with 50 percent corn waste from the food industry. The Campo marks the first time C.W.L. has been used in the fashion industry. Developed by an Italian company, C.W.L. is organic cotton coated with PU and resin from the corn waste industry. With a look and touch comparable to leather, the bio-sourced material is VEJA’s ecological substitute for leather. “Since we started VEJA in 2005, we are always looking for new sustainable and more ecological raw materials,” VEJA said in a press release. “After five years of R&D and many failures to find an ecological substitute for leather, we finally found a revolutionary fabric.” The Campo, which is available in a variety of colors, uses C.W.L. for the upper and panels, recycled polyester — a B-Mesh (bottle-mesh) fabric created from recycled plastic bottles  — for the jersey lining and wild rubber sustainably sourced from the Amazonian forest for the insole and sole. As with all of VEJA’s shoes, the Campo sneakers are ethically made in Brazil in the region of Porto Alegre. Related: nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee Launched this year, the new Campo model is an alternative to VEJA’s leather models. Forty percent of VEJA models are vegan for its spring/summer 2019 collection, which also includes the alternative-leather models Rio Branco and Nova. The Campo sneakers are now available for purchase online in six different varieties and start at 125 euros. + VEJA Images by Mario Simon Lafleur via VEJA

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VEJA unveils vegan sneakers made from corn waste

Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

February 19, 2019 by  
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From conception, the goal of the Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam has been to encapsulate sustainable practices at every turn. They also carry a heavy burden of social responsibility by focusing on providing local jobs and sourcing materials from the surrounding areas whenever possible. Nestled into a mountainous region in North Vietnam, they aim to assist the five local hill-tribes that remain largely untouched by the modern world. The vast majority of the 100 employees live in surrounding villages or are housed on campus with the supplies to grow and cook their own food . Investing in their employees, Topas offers educational and occupational training, opportunities for advancement and full medical benefits. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture As stewards of the land, Topas Ecolodge also incorporates practices that help the local community as well as the environment . For example, food scraps are sent to local farms for pig feed and aluminum cans are reused by women in a local village. Thinking locally, the food served at Topas is sourced from local farmers, alongside property-raised chickens and a vegetable and herb garden behind the restaurant. Providing adequate energy in a sustainable way has been a challenge for the remote resort. Originally attempting solar energy, they found that inconsistent supply was not accommodating their needs so they switched to hydroelectricity and request that guests conserve wherever possible. Overcoming the struggles of sustainability in a remote mountain resort, Topas has implemented some innovative processes. As a solution for glass recycling , they invested in a glass-crushing machine that breaks it into sand that they then recycle into concrete for construction and maintenance. With no reliable recycling options and an understanding of the problems associated with single use plastic , they have a near zero single-use plastic policy and work to educate staff and guests about the reasons behind it. Inasmuch, they’ve become a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and help promote their “Planet or Plastic?” campaign. For water filtration, the property has a man-made wetland that treats wastewater from kitchen and bath facilities before releasing it into the rice fields. The Topas Ecolodge first opened in 2005 and offers 33 chalet-style stone bungalows built using local white granite from the Hoang Lien Mountains. They’ve since opened a second, more rustic accommodation named Topas Riverside Lodge, a short distance away. + Topas Ecolodge Images via Topas Ecolodge

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Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

Aquaponic gardens bring life to an unused balcony in an architects’ office

February 1, 2019 by  
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When a young architecture start-up in Vietnam went looking for office space, the Farming Architects  team, led by founder An Viet Dung, looked to the local vernacular for inspiration. The result is the Urban Eco Balcony, a 376-square-foot office designed to showcase how it’s possible to bring new life to the empty and unused balconies found throughout Hanoi. The interior space is comprised of a unique steel grid system, which was installed with an aquaponic system to breathe new life and green space into the office. According to Farming Architects founder An Viet Dung, when the budding design practice decided to open its first office in Hanoi, the team realized that the city’s ubiquitous balconies were largely unused, most likely because of urban pollution , noise and even security issues. Related: New library in Hanoi aims to show young children the benefits of aquaponics in an urban setting Using this urban challenge as inspiration, the firm decided to rent a downtown office that would focus on the importance of giving purpose to these “dead spaces.” By using a number of architectural solutions, Farming Architects created an open and vibrant working space , referred to as the Urban Eco Balcony, with various multi-functional features. First, the architects installed a steel girder-tree system that helps create a strong connection between the interior and the balcony areas. Large floor-to-ceiling glass doors lead to the outdoor spaces and welcome  natural light inside. The steel grid formations also provide protection from harsh sun rays and help block the rain from coming into the office. Additionally, the steel frames are modular, meaning they can be rearranged depending on necessity. This feature adds a lot of functionality to the office, as the structures can be used as storage, book cases, mounts for additional lighting and more. Perhaps the steel grid system’s best use, however, is to support the office’s aquaponic system , which fills the balcony. Filling the “dead spaces” with plants would be an obvious choice to liven up the work space, but the architects wanted to take it a bit further by creating a system of aquaculture with plants grown hydroponically. This system requires little-to-no maintenance and creates a fresh, healthy atmosphere for the working space. + Farming Architects Photography by Thai Thach and Viet Dung An via Farming Architects

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Aquaponic gardens bring life to an unused balcony in an architects’ office

Green-roofed home cantilevers over a remote mountainside in Argentina

February 1, 2019 by  
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Córdoba-based firm  Alarcia Ferrer Arquitectos has just unveiled a stunning, green-roofed vacation home in Argentina’s remote Calamuchita Valley. The rocky, sloped landscape drove the inspiration for Casa FM’s design, which is a massive concrete 3,444-square-foot structure with a rectangular shape that juts out over the mountain ledge, offering dreamy views of the valley below. The architects chose to use concrete as the primary building material mainly for its low maintenance properties. Using a simple rectangular shape, a concrete shell adds strength, flexibility and insulating properties to the structure. Its low stature and expansive green roof stretches out over the entirety of the home and also helps blend the structure into its natural surroundings. Related: A striking concrete home in Ontario targets minimal environment impact Casa FM is actually comprised of two autonomous houses, with the lower one-bedroom house embedded into the terrain and the second level housing two bedrooms. Connected via a stone staircase adjacent to the building, each of the two spaces was designed to offer guests an intimate relationship with the surrounding environment. The interior is clad in the same smooth concrete as the exterior. Rectangular skylights flood the living space with natural light , providing a sense of contrast with the concrete walls and flooring. Warm wood furnishings along with leather couches and woven rugs give the space a welcoming, cozy feel. Like most houses that were built around amazing landscape, the interior design of Casa FM was laid out strategically to make the most of its setting. All of the rooms lead toward the open-plan living room, which features one long floor-to-ceiling glass wall. From this main living area, an expansive open patio space offers spectacular, unobstructed views of the valley below and the surrounding mountain range. + Alarcia Ferrer Arquitectos Via Dwell Photography by Federico Cairoli and Federico Ferrer via Alarcia Ferrer Arquitectos

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Green-roofed home cantilevers over a remote mountainside in Argentina

Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

January 8, 2019 by  
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Hanoi-based design studio Nghia Architect has completed Maison A, a beautiful home that brings to life the cherished childhood memories of the client. Located in Nam ??nh, a coastal village southeast of Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, the house was created for the client’s aging mother and is large enough to accommodate her children and grandchildren who visit during the holidays. Inspired by the traditional countryside vernacular, Maison A is built for comfortable modern living and features a triple-skin facade that brings daylight, fresh air and a beautiful floral appearance to the home. Spread over an area of 78 square meters, Maison A catches the eye with its sculptural red exterior constructed of floral ventilation bricks handmade in the Bat Trang Village. The perforated sections let in daylight and ventilation into the house, while the bricks are customized with hollow interiors that trap air to serve as a heat-insulating layer. The second layer of the triple-skin facade is a layer of plants that provides additional privacy and a pleasant microclimate . The third “skin” is operable glass, which the mother can close during large storms. Related: Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home To recall the many banana trees that grew around the client’s childhood home, the architects worked with local craftsmen who used a hand-pressed intaglio method to imprint banana leaves onto parts of the concrete facade. Inside, local stone craftsmen were employed to turn locally sourced laterite stone (called “hive stone”) into the family bedroom wall. “Maison A mixes the countryside traditions with modern comfort in-depth material research to create an ancestral place for the mother and her returning children,” the architects explain. “The brutalist composition of local materials reflects the richness of the surrounding cultures while the design elevates them to higher grounds. From here, the memory of the family is recorded in each brick and passed down through generations.” + Nghia Architect Images by Tuan Nghia Nguyen

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Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home

December 27, 2018 by  
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When a client approached Vietnamese architecture firm Duc Vien LE for the design of their house in Da Nang, Vietnam, the architects knew early on that the region’s intense summers would prove a major challenge. Rather than rely on energy-intensive air conditioning, the architects mitigated the region’s extreme solar radiation with the addition of a west-facing solar screen that not only brings in cooling breezes, but also adds visual interest to the front of the house. Named the Filtered Wall House after the decorative screen, the dwelling also follows passive solar principles to optimize thermal comfort. Located in the central Vietnamese city of Hòa Quý, the Filtered Wall House spans a footprint of 125 square meters on a long and narrow site stretching east to west. Due to the limitations of the shape of the site, the architects made access to natural light and ventilation—particularly in the middle of the house—a design priority. To this end, the firm inserted a skylight above the stairwell, as well as a small atrium in the front of the house behind the west-facing “filtered wall”. “Creating a buffer space on the west side of the house is the main means of the design,” explains Duc Vien LE. “The west facade of the building is a wall with filtering function. It can block most of the sunlight while allowing cool wind to enter the inner space. The existence of the filtered wall and the buffer space greatly reduces the influence of solar radiation on the main space. In the facade design, the change from densely to sparely was designed according to different shading requirements. Different brick types, colors and compound mode are integrated to create a transitional and presentable architectural appearance.”   Related: Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade Inside, the contemporary home features crisp white walls and an open-plan floor plan to maximize sight lines and a sense of spaciousness. The communal living areas are located on the ground floor, which comprises a living room in the front of the house that transitions to a reading room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and a rear garden. Two bedrooms, a family room and a prayer room are located upstairs. + Duc Vien LE Via ArchDaily Images via Duc Vien LE

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