Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

March 20, 2017 by  
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The far reaches of northern Vietnam are beautiful but heartbreakingly poor. Children of the Hmong ethnic minority who live in the villages routinely suffer from lack of access to healthcare and education. Vietnamese architecture firm 1+1> 2 has provided a ray of hope for those in Lung Luong village in the remote Thai Nguyen Province with the construction of a beautiful new school made from local materials including rammed earth and bamboo. The school’s beautiful swooping and colorful form is an inspiration to the village and serves as a welcoming haven protected from the harsh elements. The Lung Luong elementary school is sited on a mountain peak and constructed to replace a poorly insulated structure that was piercingly cold in days of heavy rain and draught. Under the leadership of architect Hoang Thuc Hao, the villagers excavated part of the peak to create an even foundation. The excavated soil was recycled into rammed earth bricks used to build the school’s structure. The soil bricks’ thermal properties help maintain a temperate indoor climate year round. Locally sourced timber and bamboo were also used in construction and existing trees were protected during the building process. The elementary school is spread out across the mountaintop, covering an area of over 1,400 square meters. The orientation and placement of the buildings and the swooping colorful bamboo canopy above optimize natural lighting, ventilation, and sound insulation. The school comprises classrooms, playgrounds, gardens, multipurpose rooms, a medical room, library, kitchen, toilets, and dormitory. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier “The goal of this project is to create a school with conveniences striving against the harsh nature,” write the architects. “The classrooms are compatible with the mountain, spaces between them are slots which makes everything appears like an architectural picture pasted on the terrain. The corridor connects all functional areas. The foundation of the buildings respects the natural terrain which means that they wind up and down as the mountain path.” + 1+1> 2 Via ArchDaily Images © Son Vu

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Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

March 20, 2017 by  
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A waste-management company has developed a new, patented process that turns sanitary products, baby diapers, incontinence pads, and other so-called “absorbent hygiene products” into power. PHS Group , which serves 90,000 households, schools, offices, and retirement homes across the United Kingdom and Ireland, says that it handles about 45,000 tons of the stuff a year. A plant in the Midlands is currently converting 15 percent of that waste into compressed bales that can be burned to provide fuel for power stations. Refuse-derived fuel is neither an untested concept in Europe, where the practice is par for the course, nor in the U.K., where it’s gaining ground. But diapers, tampons, and their ilk have proved trickier because their dampness makes incineration most costly. But neither is dumping them in the landfill, where they’ll take decades to degrade, a sustainable solution. “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue,” Justin Tydeman, CEO of the PHS Group, told Guardian . PHS Group’s system, which is being evaluated by the University of Birmingham for its effectiveness, not to mention its impact on the environment, sounds simple in principle. Related: How Sweden diverts 99 percent of its waste from the landfill The company begins by shredding and squeezing the material, then disposing of any waste liquid as sewage. The remaining dry material is packed into bales, ripe for tossing into the fire. “Whether or not it turns out to be a major source of energy in itself, the key thing is we find a good way to handle what is a complex and growing waste stream,” Tydeman said. “We don’t want this stuff just going into the ground.” An aging population makes PHS Group’s tack even more vital than ever, Tydeman added. “The great thing about life today is people are living longer, but what comes with that is often incontinence issues,” he said. We want this to be a growing issue, because we want people to live longer.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash , Pixabay

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A lush curtain of greenery provides privacy for this sprawling home in Vietnam

January 4, 2017 by  
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A curtain of lush greenery  flows along the main hallway of this gorgeous residence in Vietnam. MIA Design Studio designed the Drawer House for a family of nature lovers looking for a home that would integrate nature with the interior, all while providing privacy. The architects came up with a solution which protects the residents from noise, maintains privacy, and creates a harmonious environment dominated by greenery. The main concept behind the design of the Drawer House is rooted in the need for individual privacy and direct contact with nature. In order to reconcile all the requirements, the design team created a layout that divides all the functional spaces into “drawers” separated by courtyards . These patches of greenery, conceived as “drawers of landscape”, are connected by an elongated hallway running the entire length of the building and lined with a layer of Bridal Veil Creepers. Related: Solar-powered Elevate Structure is wrapped in a living, breathing wall of green In-between gardens offer privacy while creating a smooth transition to the next space. By opening and closing parts of the partitions, users can ensure better natural ventilation which helps cool down the entire residence. The presence of natural light , breeze and greenery maximize the connection between interior and exterior spaces while preserving privacy for each individual room. + MIA Design Studio Via Archdaily Photos by Hirouyki Oki

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Sustainability reporting in stock exchanges ‘comes of age’

December 7, 2016 by  
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Soon 38 exchanges in London, Qatar, Vietnam and beyond will offer companies environmental and social guidance. Guess who’s missing?

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Sustainability reporting in stock exchanges ‘comes of age’

Green-roofed gallery in Hanoi lights up like a lantern at night

November 29, 2016 by  
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This green-roofed gallery and lighting showroom in Hanoi is wrapped in a layer of perforated terracotta that filters sunlight into the narrow, tall volume of the building. Natural materials and different patterns and textures, trademarks of Vo Trong Nghia Architects , turn the building into a beautiful combination of traditional Vietnamese architecture and contemporary design. The building is located within Dong Da district in Hanoi. Its interior spaces are organized around a central void that houses a staircase which provides glances of the exhibitions. The terracotta blocks, traditionally used in Vietnamese architecture , facilitate natural ventilation and provide shade from harsh sunlight. These affordable building elements are coupled with a bespoke fixing system, enabling quick and simple assembly. Related: Lush green rooftop terrace invites homeowners outdoors in the foothills of Vietnam The top floor, where the gallery is located, overlooks a large neighboring tree and receives additional lighting through skylights that expose the roof garden above. While the building is in shade during the day, its internal nighttime illumination makes it look like a beautiful lantern. + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Hiroyuki Oki , Trieu Chien

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Green-roofed gallery in Hanoi lights up like a lantern at night

7 ecological charities to support on Giving Tuesday and beyond

November 29, 2016 by  
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‘Tis the season of giving and all through the town, pocketbooks are jingling with the sound of spending. Hang the stockings with care, wrap up the last of the holiday gifts , and pour yourself a glass of cruelty-free vegan nog. With just a few days left on the calendar, it’s time to squeeze in a little more giving before the year is over. Charitable donations are a great opportunity to give back, helping organizations do good deeds around the globe and offering a little boost come tax time. But with thousands of nonprofit organizations asking for contributions, it can be challenging to figure out where best to send your money. To reduce your load during this already stressful time of year, we put together this charitable giving guide so you can rest assured your hard-earned cashola will help high-impact organizations that make the most of every dollar they raise. In order to make this list, organizations had to meet a number of criteria. First, we looked for groups focusing their efforts on protecting our Earth and its inhabitants. We also wanted to identify charities that have figured out how to make donations go as far as possible. That’s measured in two ways: the amount of money the organization spends in order to raise money and the percentage of funds raised that go to programs (as opposed to overhead and administrative costs). Monetary donations to each of these nonprofit organizations is tax-deductible in the United States. © Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice 1. Earth Justice Earth Justice was founded in 1971 “because the earth needs a good lawyer.” This non-profit public interest law firm is dedicated to protecting the environment and wildlife, as well as helping build healthy communities. EJ works on nearly every continent, leveraging legal action to garner cooperation from government agencies. © EWG 2. Environmental Working Group EWG is perhaps best known for its “Dirty Dozen” list which reveals the highest (and lowest) pesticide concentrations in conventionally-grown produce. Regular readers of Inhabitat may recognize the organization from a number of past reports, especially related to safety of consumer products like sunscreen and crayons . EWG reports donations received now will be doubled through a matching campaign. Related: The 6 most pressing environmental problems – and what you can do to help solve them https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuaxzgNX1bI&feature=youtu.be 3. Wildlife Conservation Society WCS field scientists working in over 20 countries work to protect wild animals and wild spaces. In particular, WCS researchers have been working to combat elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade with the 96 Elephants campaign. In an effort to stamp out ivory poaching, the organization has even enlisted the help of the Terminator to raise awareness about ongoing legislation in the U.S. that might undermine global efforts to end ivory trading. © Ecotrust 4. Ecotrust Ecotrust’s mission is to inspire innovative ways to create economic opportunity, social equality, and environmental well-being. One of its successful projects is FoodHub, an online marketplace designed to connect wholesale buyers and sellers of regionally grown food. That program is one of many Ecotrust backs that empowers individuals within a system that benefits all parties involved. Via Shutterstock 5. Animal Welfare Institute AWI works on a very specific type of problem – alleviating the suffering of animals caused by people. That ranges from scientific research to agriculture and from wild to domestic life. Most recently, the organization has been working to further legislation in Congress that would phase out orcas in captivity , putting an end to the suffering exposed in the film Blackfish . Via Shutterstock 6. The Conservation Fund The Conservation Fund works hard to protect America’s most important landscapes and waterways. This nonprofit is known for stretching funds far, putting 94 percent of funds towards program costs. In all, the fund reports saving 7.5 million acres of land and water across the United States. Related: Oil-rich Rockefellers divest charitable fund from fossil fuels Via Shutterstock 7. Rainforest Alliance Rainforest Alliance has gained public recognition with their independent certification of common rainforest products, such as chocolate, coffee, bananas, and tea. Producers must meet strict sustainability standards to gain certification. The Alliance also works with foresters and the tourism industry in ecologically vulnerable areas. Their website offers consumer and traveler information, helping us work together to steward some of the most biodiverse, threatened, and globally critical habitats. For information on these and other charitable organizations, check out Charity Watch , an online directory with ratings calculated by the American Institute of Philanthropy. Lead image via Shutterstock (modified)

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Plant-covered bamboo structure in Vietnam offers low-cost sanitation and food

November 25, 2016 by  
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The project is based on the same principle as the firm’s previous project in Son Lap, aiming to provide a low-cost sanitation solution that can be easily and quickly constructed and transported across the country. Toigetation 2 lightly touches the ground with a layer of vegetation on its four sides. This layer of foliage helps regulate indoor temperatures and functions as a food source. Related: Vo Trong Nghia Unveils Lovely Low-Cost Housing Made from Locally Sourced Palm Trees Local craftsmen used locally-sourced materials to construct the building. Solar panels provide energy for the lighting, while rainwater and waste water are used for cleaning and irrigating the adjacent garden. Efficient, low-cost construction methods and the use of local materials make this project replicable in areas experiencing a severe shortage of proper sanitation facilities , including schools in rural Vietnam . + H&P Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Nguyen Tien Thanh

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Terraces Home combines architecture with urban agriculture in Vietnam

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

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Terraces Home combines architecture with urban agriculture in Vietnam

O-House vertical garden doubles as a sun screen in Vietnam

November 1, 2016 by  
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A retired Vietnamese couple commissioned a quiet home with a small garden in which they can spend their free time. The architects responded with a design that prioritizes natural light , introducing a small garden to the back of the house where the couple can grow their own vegetables . This green area includes concrete planters of varying sizes, giving an interesting rhythm to the space. The “green fence” that covers the street-facing facade reduces noise pollution , solar radiation and improves indoor air quality. Related: Striking 13-foot-wide family home in Vietnam looks like a jungle in the city The most attractive area in the house includes the living room, dining room and a large void, the last of which establishes visual connections throughout the interior and facilitates natural ventilation . + LVHQ Via Architizer

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O-House vertical garden doubles as a sun screen in Vietnam

Striking 13-foot-wide family home in Vietnam looks like a jungle in the city

October 27, 2016 by  
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The main challenge for designers Ho Khue Architects was the spatial constraints of the plot. Despite the fact that the house is only four meters (13 feet) wide, the team managed to optimize the design to create a naturally ventilated , light-filled family home that feels spacious and relaxing. They created two separate blocks with a beautiful garden located in the central core. This particular area helps the house “breathe” and allows natural light to reach all the rooms. Trees and planters were introduced to the top floor, creating an open “sky garden”- an unlikely respite in a noisy and cramped area. The rooftop garden reduces heat radiation and significantly lowers the need for heating. Related: Gorgeous Green House is Wrapped in a Lush Vertical Garden in Belgium The rear of the building is most exposed to the elements, which is why it features a wall constructed using the same brickwork present in the interior. The porous dwelling also has small vents that deter rain, enable natural ventilation and draw optimal levels of natural light inside. + Ho Khue Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Hiroyuki Oki

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