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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Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home

Community hub built of recycled materials spotlights exploitation of nature in Vietnam

December 6, 2018 by  
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In their latest eco-friendly project, Vietnamese design studio H&P Architects completed an inspiring community hub built mainly from recycled waste materials. Located near a large and polluted industrial park in Dong Van town in Ha Nam province, the project aims to draw attention to the exploitation of natural resources in Vietnam  — specifically illegal rock mining — while celebrating the beauty of the nation’s landscapes. Built with thick recycled stone walls, scaffolding and bamboo, the structure has been dubbed S Space (S = Save the Stone & Scaffolding) in reference to the materials used. Open to the community, S Space offers a flexible gathering space for cultural and artistic events and even functions as a daily coffee meeting space. H&P Architects want to shine the light on illegal rock mining  and the environmental problems it has created for Vietnam’s beautiful landscapes, including the area of Kem Trong between the provinces of Ha Nam and Ninh Binh. “From this perspective, the design concept is to make use of waste ( reusing scaffolding steel pipes, collecting rock debris from Kem Trong, discarded rocks from trade villages and construction sites) to express the treasure, nostalgia / regret of local people at the bygones of the landscape,” explain the architects. “The project helps raise alert at unplanned exploitation of natural resources in Vietnam today, which have wiped out many rocks with historical and cultural values, resulting in a serious imbalance between the natural ecosystem and the human one. In this sense, the message S Space conveys is: ‘Architecture bears responsibility for the natural and social-cultural environment.” Related: Eco-friendly AgriNesture buildings promote agriculture and job growth in Vietnam Constructed in the image of two rocky mountains with a river running in between, S Space comprises a series of zigzagging 16-inch-thick stone walls representative of a mountain landscape. The forests and river are symbolized with an abundance of greenery and the outdoor pool, which help create a cooling microclimate . The upper level, dubbed the “Big Cloud”, is built of steel pipe scaffolding combined with bamboo flooring and topped with a roof constructed from thatched bamboo and polycarbonate panels. A sprinkler system mounted on the roof sprays a cooling mist on hot summer days. + H&P Architects Photography by Nguyen Tien Thanh via H&P Architects

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Community hub built of recycled materials spotlights exploitation of nature in Vietnam

Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles

November 12, 2018 by  
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The ReNew outerwear line, launched in late October by Everlane , has yanked three million water bottles out of the waste stream and turned them into fibers for the venture. The new collection offers cleaner fashion in an industry known for heavy pollution and resource consumption. This first round of renewed clothing includes four fleece pullover options, six puffer jackets and three parkas. While other companies have edged toward the trend of incorporating recycled materials into their production, Everlane is taking it a step further. Everlane has vowed to eliminate all virgin plastic from its manufacturing processes by 2021 and instead will rely 100 percent on recycled materials . Furthermore, the company will eliminate all single-use plastics from corporate offices and retail store locations. It has also committed to the use of recycled bags when shipping merchandise. The commitment is a firm one, as evidenced by the process involved to turn plastic into usable fibers. First, the facility receives large bales of compressed plastic bottles that are sorted using a combination of human and machine efforts. After sorting, the bottles are ground down into tiny flakes and subsequently melted into molten plastic. Next, that plastic is sent through a machine that turns it into long strands and then dices the strands into crystals. Once they arrive at the spinning facility, those crystals are melted down once again, turned into thread and spun into yarn for fabrics. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint In addition to the ReNew line aimed at conscientious material sourcing, Everlane offers sustainability with the goal for its products to last for decades. This is in steep contrast to many textile industry business plans that market trendy and disposable clothing to encourage consumers to constantly purchase the newest, flash-in-the-pan item. In addition, the company demands fair trade practices from the factories it works with and believes in ethical treatment of employees. In fact, all Black Friday profits are returned to the employees in some fashion. As a case in point, the 2018 profits are earmarked to build an organic farm on the campus of a facility in Vietnam, a country with otherwise excessive pesticide use that pollutes the food supply. + Everlane Via Treehugger Images via Everlane

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Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles

Freedom for 5 moon bears held captive for 21 years on a bile farm

August 31, 2018 by  
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This Monday, non-profit group Animals Asia saved five moon bears that had been captive for more than two decades on a farm in Vietnam . The animals were held for 21 years, receiving regular bile extractions until their rescue from the southern town of My Tho, according to the group. The NGO transported the “freedom five” 1,050 miles by truck over the course of the week to Vietnam’s Tam Dao National Park. They were eagerly awaited at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre , an expansive and lush sanctuary dedicated to the animals’ conservation since 2006. The #FiveAlive bears have been given names for the very first time in their lives. LeBON, Kim, Mai, Star and Mekong were treated for injuries such as abdominal penetrations as well as dental decay from malnutrition and biting the cages in attempts to free themselves. Related: Montana judge to rule on first grizzly bear hunt in 40 years “We know that in more than 20 years of cruel incarceration, LeBON, Star, Mai, Mekong and Kim have never had proper nutrition or medical care,” Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said. “They have known only rusty cages and a life of suffering. They were viewed as commodities and not treated as individuals. At the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, they will finally experience freedom, play in grassy enclosures, forage for food and have the chance to behave like real bears.” The moon bear, also referred to as the Asiatic Black Bear, as well as sun bears and brown bears are often captured by bile farms who sell the compounds in the practice of traditional medicine. The bears are listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List and endangered by the  CITES list . The global nonprofit Animals Asia was founded by Jill Robinson MBE and is celebrating its 20 year anniversary this month. Since then, Robinson, a medical veterinarian who is recognized as the world’s leading authority on the cruel bear bile industry, has been devoted to ending the longstanding eastern tradition of bile farming. “We eagerly await LeBON, Kim, Mekong, Star and Mai’s arrival at their new home at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre,” Robinson announced shortly before their arrival. “They will never suffer behind bars again. This is an important step in our work to remove all of the bears who remain on farms in Vietnam from their cages and bring them to sanctuary . It is a new day for these innocent bears who will now finally enjoy some of the freedoms they were denied so long ago.” Related: Polar bears could go extinct sooner than scientists previously thought The Vietnamese government has been compliant with the NGO’s efforts, even signing a groundbreaking memorandum in 2017 agreeing to the removal and relocation of approximately 800 bears from bile farms to sanctuaries such as the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre. Social media support of the #FiveAlive mission has been pouring in with growing encouragement to donate to the bears’ care for the remainder of their — now free — lives. + Animals Asia Images via Animals Asia

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Freedom for 5 moon bears held captive for 21 years on a bile farm

Beautiful bamboo arches breathe new life into a bland concrete building

June 27, 2018 by  
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Vietnamese architecture firm Vo Trong Nghia has unveiled their latest example of bamboo brilliance at Nocenco cafe, a renovated rooftop restaurant in the city center of Vinh in central Vietnam . The client asked the firm to insert a unique and eye-catching addition to the top of a seven-story concrete building using local materials. After studying several options, including brick and stone, the architects settled on bamboo to create an airy and lightweight space with dramatic vaulted ceilings. Completed in May of this year, the renovated Nocenco cafe covers an area of 4,700 square feet across two floors; both levels frame vistas over the surrounding low-rise houses, the river, and forest beyond. Most buildings in the area were damaged in the Vietnam War and subsequently renovated with colonial-style concrete facades. Rather than change the building’s existing envelope, Vo Trong Nghia was asked to create an addition that would look iconic and dramatically different from the local building norm. The architects decided to use bamboo and craft a structure that could be easily recognized from the street. “Through our experience, we know bamboo is [easy] to access in this tropical climate which reduces construction time and budget,” says Vo Trong Nghia. “The essence of using bamboo in this project is ‘lightness’…bamboo…can be lifted up by a few workers and easily [transported] to the highest floor by a crane. In addition, it is possible to install the bamboo structure without any additional structural support.” Related: Gorgeous bamboo hall welcomes visitors to a relaxing coastal oasis in Vietnam Bamboo was inserted on the rooftop as well as in the restaurant’s seventh floor. A series of bamboo columns were carefully placed to conceal parts of the existing structure and to divide the restaurant into different programmatic functions. The lower level boasts a curvaceous ceiling, while the L-shaped rooftop features two sweeping bamboo vaults and a soaring domed space for spectacular effect. + Vo Trong Nghia Images by Trieu Chien

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Beautiful bamboo arches breathe new life into a bland concrete building

Russia just launched a 70 MW floating nuclear power plant to the Arctic Ocean

May 1, 2018 by  
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Russia recently launched a floating nuclear power station on the Baltic Sea. The 70-megawatt Akademik Lomonosov plant will journey north around Norway to the Arctic town Pevek, and it could ultimately provide power for around 100,000 people . However some fear its environmental impact — Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe nuclear expert Jan Haverkamp referred to the plant as a “nuclear Titanic”. “Nuclear reactors bobbing around the Arctic Ocean will pose a shockingly obvious threat to a fragile environment which is already under enormous pressure from climate change ,” Haverkamp said in a statement . State-owned company Rosatom built the Akademik Lomonosov, which has been in the works for years. The floating nuclear plant has two reactors and is towed by two boats. Akademik Lomonosov will replace the Bilibino nuclear power plant, constructed in 1974, and the 70-year-old Chaunskaya Thermal Power Plant. Ars Technica said Bilibino was once the world’s northernmost nuclear power station, and the Akademik Lomonosov will claim that title when it starts operating. Related: NASA just unveiled a tiny nuclear reactor for future Mars residents In Pevek, construction of onshore infrastructure is underway. The pier, hydraulic engineering structures and other buildings important for mooring will be ready to go when Akademik Lomonosov arrives. The plant will provide electricity for remote industrial plants, port cities and offshore oil and gas platforms. Rosatom said the nuclear processes at the floating plant “meet all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency and do not pose any threat to the environment .” But environmental groups aren’t happy. Haverkamp said, “Contrary to claims regarding safety, the flat-bottomed hull and the floating nuclear power plant’s lack of self-propulsion makes it particularly vulnerable to tsunamis and cyclones .” This isn’t the world’s first floating nuclear power station. The United States had a floating nuclear plant between 1968 and 1975 in Panama that powered nearby communities and the military during the Vietnam War. + Rosatom + Greenpeace Via Ars Technica and Engadget Images © Nicolai Gontar/Greenpeace ( 1 , 2 )

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Russia just launched a 70 MW floating nuclear power plant to the Arctic Ocean

This caf in Vietnam is a modern-day Hanging Gardens of Babylon

March 22, 2018 by  
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This glass and steel building in Vietnam –a present for the owner’s wife- is filled with beautiful hanging plants that bring life into the interior. Architecture studio Le House designed An’garden Café as a mix of industrial design inspired by Vietnam’s traditional coffee shops and a dream-like interior landscape. With its verdant interior, the building reminds of Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Providing a serene environment amidst the noisy streets of Ha Noi, the project is an exclusive space that brings visitors enjoyment from both coffee fragrance and picturesque surroundings. Related: Beijing cafe shaped like a greenhouse is filled with air-purifying plants The glass-and-steel structure, along with simple cement walls, are placed in an almost decorative and seemingly random way. Plants were introduced to soften the rough industrial look of the place and harmonize the indoor environment. An’garden Café has two floors with a mezzanine suitable for those who want to focus on their work. A wooden-framed curtain on the ceiling partly blocks natural light , with the top floor receiving the most sunlight during the day. A small pond with aquatic plants is placed right under the staircase, on the ground floor. + Le House Via Archdaily Photos by Hyroyuki Oki

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This caf in Vietnam is a modern-day Hanging Gardens of Babylon

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