Retractable restaurant addition provides flexible space that adapts to any weather

August 10, 2017 by  
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Could this be the end of waiting outside a restaurant in crappy weather? Turkish company Libart  installed an innovative retractable wall system for a restaurant in Istanbul that can help the establishment accommodate plenty of diners year-round. The sliding aluminum and glass structure in the Babylon Beach Club extends outward to provide cozy, covered seating during wintertime or completely retracts into the building to make room for open outdoor space during the summer months. The flexible architectural system gives the restaurant optimal flexibility to increase or decrease capacity as the weather conditions change. The glass paneled structure retracts into the building during the summer months, virtually hidden from site. Alternatively, the structure can be expanded during inclement weather. Thanks to the extra space and additional sitting, the establishment can accommodate their client base year-round without having to turn away customers due to lack of space. Related: Sliding Walls Transform This Tokyo House Into an Office For the Babylon Club, Libart installed a high-walled, 4-piece sectional design called Evolution Freestanding. The glass panels not only provide a sense of openness when extended, but also flood the interior with natural light . The system uses few components, making assembly quick and efficient. Referred to as “modern architecture in motion” by the company, the sliding system can be used in a number of situations such as providing flexible cover for outdoor pools, hotel and commercial spaces, and even industrial warehouses loooking to create healthy working spaces. + Libart

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Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

July 21, 2017 by  
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Scientists have been stumped for years over why the southern Amazon rainforest ‘s rainy season begins two to three months earlier than they’d expect. But now an international team that includes researchers from NASA and Google has discovered the forest actually triggers its own rainy season, thanks to water vapor off plant leaves. The finding points to one disastrous consequence of deforestation in this part of the world: as trees are cut down, it appears there’s actually less rainfall. Monsoon winds and the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which NASA describes as a belt of converging trade winds that shifts depending on the seasons, control when the rainy season begins in many tropical locations, and the southern Amazon experiences both factors. But they don’t kick in until December or January, while the southern Amazon’s rainy season typically begins in the middle of October. Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral” To try and find out why, the team of scientists led by Jonathon Wright of Tsinghua University scrutinized data on water vapor from NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, aboard the agency’s Aura satellite , together with other satellite measurements, to discover clouds in the southern Amazon at the dry season’s close form via water rising from the rainforest. But the southern Amazon’s rainy season already begins nearly a month later than it did back in the 1970’s. Evidence indicates if the region’s dry season stretches longer than five to seven months, there won’t be enough rain for the rainforest to remain a rainforest – it could transition to grassy plains. But the dry season is already a few weeks shorter on average than that benchmark in parts of the southern Amazon. The new study, published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , bolsters the idea that deforestation is partly to blame for the delayed start of the rainy season. The rainforest’s capacity to develop clouds dwindles as trees are chopped down. And if deforestation harms the forest to the point where it can’t trigger its own rainy season, the southern Amazon’s rainy season likely wouldn’t commence until December or January. Such changes could have far-reaching impacts. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “The loss of a major Amazonian forest ecosystem could increase Brazilian droughts and potentially disrupt rainfall patterns as far away as Texas.” Via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Images via Center for International Forestry Research and Jay on Flickr

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Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

Climate change could transform one of Africa’s driest regions into a wet one

July 18, 2017 by  
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Climate change is often connected to heat waves and hot temperatures. But researchers recently found very different weather patterns could arise in a dry region of Africa : the Sahel. The area sprawls across multiple countries and is considered a transitional zone between the Sahara Desert and more humid regions to the south, and itself is prone to extreme dryness. But climate change here could trigger a monsoon circulation. The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward into Sudan. According to Encyclopædia Britannica , eight months of the year at minimum are dry, and the wet season only sees around four to eight inches of rain . But all that could change if temperatures raise past 1.5 to two degrees Celsius , according to Jacob Schewe of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Anders Levermann of Potsdam University and Columbia University . Related: The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than “normal” Dozens of computer simulations show this region of the world could get wetter under climate change, and the scientists scrutinized the simulations showing the greatest increase. They identified a self-amplifying mechanism that could intensify what Schewe called the Sahel monsoon as more water evaporates from hotter oceans and then falls on land. Regions which are nearly part of the Sahara Desert in Mali, Chad, and Niger could see as much rain as central Nigeria or northern Cameroon receive today. Rainfall could offer benefits for the Sahel, but the two researchers say adapting to the altered weather could be difficult for the region, some areas of which have been grappling with instability and war. In a statement, Levermann said, “…the Sahel might experience years of hard-to-handle variability between drought and flood . Obviously, agriculture and infrastructure will have to meet this challenge. As great as it hopefully were for the dry Sahel to have so much more rain, the dimension of the change calls for urgent attention.” The journal Earth System Dynamics published the research online earlier this month. Via the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Images via Ammar Hassan on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Climate change could transform one of Africa’s driest regions into a wet one

New genetically engineered yeast that could clean up heavy metal pollution

July 18, 2017 by  
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A genetically engineered version of the fungus in your bread and beer could help clean up the environment . A team of seven scientists at institutions in Romania and Norway developed yeast that could clean up heavy metal pollution – and their research revealed the most effective strains are able to soak up 80 percent of metal ions. Bioremediation , or using plants , microbes, or fungi to remove pollutants, is one ideal way of cleaning the environment, but there’s a few issues with the method when heavy metals are involved. Some plants just don’t grow big enough to do the job, and they can’t clean contaminated water. But heavy metal contamination poses a threat to wildlife and humans. So a team of scientists led by Lavinia Liliana Ruta at the University of Bucharest genetically engineered yeast to mop up toxic metals. Related: 7 Species That Eat Pollution for Breakfast The genes the researchers created are comprised of a cell membrane anchor, green fluorescent protein, and a metal-binding peptide. Different types of peptides aided the yeast in cleaning up different types of heavy metals; for example, cysteine peptides best scooped up cadmium and silver. Histidine peptides were up to the task for nickel and cobalt. But it could still be several years before yeast is deployed as a cleanup tool. According to the American Council on Science and Health, the next step would be to take the genetically engineered yeast from the laboratory to the real world, like in a water treatment plant. Another obstacle to yeast clean-up becoming more common is how to dispose of that yeast once a site is restored. The journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology recently published the team’s research online . Ruta was joined by colleagues at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy . Via Engadget and American Council on Science and Health Images via David Burn on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Dibdo Francis Kr’s rainwater-harvesting 2017 Serpentine Pavilion unveiled in London today

June 20, 2017 by  
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Today marks the official debut of Diébédo Francis Kéré’s spectacular rainwater-harvesting Serpentine Pavilion . The 2017 pavilion was unveiled on a perfectly sunny day – but when it rains the roof will protect protect visitors from drizzle while funneling precipitation it into a central waterfall and storing it for irrigation in the surrounding park. The pavilion is inspired by the culture of Kéré’s home village of Gando in Burkina Faso even as it plays with experimental construction techniques and embraces the climate in Britain. Diébédo Francis Kéré, who runs Berlin-based Kéré Architecture , is the first African architect to construct a Serpentine Pavilion . Kéré cited trees as his design inspiration. The pavilion is topped by a massive canopy – visitors can walk underneath and be safe from the rain while at the same time experiencing the weather through a transparent roof and wall openings that allow the wind to blow through. Related: Diébédo Francis Kéré unveils 2017 Serpentine Pavilion with rain-gathering roof The roof is made of wood , supported by a hidden steel frame. Raindrops that fall on the pavilion are funneled into an oculus, creating a waterfall. Then the water enters a drainage system on the floor for use in irrigation later. The walls are made from prefabricated wooden blocks. At night the blocks create an intricate play of shadow and light as the gaps twinkle from movement inside the pavilion. Trees offer a place to gather in Burkina Faso, and Kéré hopes his Serpentine Pavilion in London will also offer a space for people to visit and share their experiences. In his design statement he spoke of his aim for the Pavilion to “become a beacon of light, a symbol of storytelling and togetherness.” And in his video on the pavilion’s design, he spoke of his desire for the pavilion to be inclusive and offer a space for all. + Kéré Architecture + Serpentine Galleries Via ArchDaily Images © Kéré Architecture, Photography © 2017 Iwan Baan ; © Erik Jan Ouwerkerk; © Enrico Cano; and © Simeon Duchoud

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Dibdo Francis Kr’s rainwater-harvesting 2017 Serpentine Pavilion unveiled in London today

IKEA is launching its virtual reality app this fall

June 20, 2017 by  
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Ikea’s been playing with augmented reality (AR) for a few years now – in 2014 they released an AR catalog so shoppers could see what furniture would look like in their homes without ever leaving their couch. Now they’re teaming up with technology giant Apple to create an AR app . Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter Ikea Michael Valdsgaard claims this will be the “first augmented reality app that will enable you to make buying decisions.” Using the app, customers could check out how Ikea furniture looks in their home before they buy a thing. If users do want to buy the pieces, it remains unclear whether they will be able to purchase pieces directly through the app – Valdsgaard said that’s the ambition but can’t “promise [the payment facility] will work in the first version.” That first version should be rolling out as soon as fall of this year. Related: IKEA teams up with NASA to design out-of-this-world space saving furniture That first AR app will feature around 500 to 600 products so customers can see how they fit in their homes. And Valdsgaard said in the future when Ikea launches new products, they will show up in the app before stores. Ikea will draw on Apple’s AR expertise to roll out the app. Valdsgaard said it’s not enough to understand sofas to venture into AR – and he said the Ikea app will become the world’s largest AR platform overnight. Although Valdsgaard indicated technology will be an important element of Ikea moving forward, the AR app doesn’t seem to be a move to phase out stores. He told Di Digital, “The stores are our greatest assets. We have almost 400 of them and we want to complement them in as many ways as possible, through mobile, social media , AR, and third-party e-commerce players. One thing will not replace the other, but we’ll try as many things as possible.” Via Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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IKEA is launching its virtual reality app this fall

Only 9% of California is still in drought as Sierra Nevada snowpack hits 185%

March 3, 2017 by  
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A year ago 95 percent of California was in a drought . Today, just 9 percent of the state is still experiencing drought conditions thanks to one of the wettest winters on record. Those are the findings of the United States Drought Monitor, a weekly map of drought conditions produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The percentage of the state currently in drought is the lowest since 2011, when the drought began. Scientists say the Sierra Nevada snowpack measured on March 1 was an astounding 185 percent of average, measuring 45.5 inches. The Sierra Nevada hasn’t had this much snowpack since 1993 when the snowpack was at 205 percent of normal, measuring 51.25 inches. The historical average snowpack is 24.6 inches, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Related: California storms could herald the end of punishing historic drought A series of “atmospheric river” storms flowing east from Hawaii and the tropical Pacific have slammed the state, bringing heavy rain and dumping massive amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. There have been about 30 atmospheric river events since Oct. 1 – well above the yearly average of 12, and the six annually during the last five years of the drought. However, even with record levels of rain filling up reservoirs and snow accumulating in the Sierra Nevada, Gov. Jerry Brown is not about to declare the drought over. The snowpack will be measured again on April 1 when it is considered at its peak and Brown said he will wait until those results are announced before making a call on the drought and associated water conservation measures . + United States Drought Monitor Via Los Angeles Times Images via Pexels and Wikimedia

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Judge throws out request to halt Dakota Access Pipeline construction

February 14, 2017 by  
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a The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux just suffered a major defeat at the hands of a federal judge — the tribes’ request to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was rejected Monday afternoon. The tribe’s lawyers filed the motion arguing that Lake Oahe, which the pipeline would cross, contains sacred water which would be desecrated by the pipeline. This argument was dismissed by Energy Transfer Partners , saying that the company had “the utmost respect for the religious beliefs and traditions” of the tribe and that their efforts did not threaten the traditions of the community. The protesters, who fear the consequences of an oil spill near their main source of water, say they aren’t surprised by the ruling. In a report from the Guardian , many reaffirmed their commitment to the cause, with some stating they would continue to occupy the protest camps near the pipeline’s construction sites. Related: Army approves Dakota Access Pipeline route – and construction could begin immediately Religious beliefs and traditions weren’t only issues at stake in this ruling. The pipeline, which was originally halted by the Obama administration in December, was supposed to undergo a lengthy environmental review process before permits would be issued for the company to begin drilling. Instead, Donald Trump used his first weeks in office to throw out the review and simply push the approval process through. Though many indigenous protesters dispersed during the winter to avoid brutal storms, they are beginning to return as the weather improves. They are vowing to continue to fight the pipeline, both on the ground and in court. Via The Guardian Images via Tony Webster and Lars Plougmann

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Damaged Oroville spillway in California prompts mass evacuations

February 13, 2017 by  
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Winter storms continue to drench California , and over the weekend people living near Oroville in Northern California faced a crisis. After officials noticed a hole in the emergency spillway at the United States’ tallest dam , around 180,000 residents were ordered to evacuate , some given just one hour to flee their homes. Flooding in the area had been a threat for around a week as the reservoir behind Oroville Dam reached capacity. When the main spillway started eroding, officials opened an emergency spillway that’s never been used since the dam was built in the 1960’s. But then officials noticed the hole, and ordered evacuations on Sunday. Some residents had just one hour’s notice before officials feared the auxiliary spillway could fail, which could precipitate “an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville,” according to the National Weather Service . Related: Record winter storm pounds California Late Sunday reservoir water levels finally lowered, providing a bit of a respite. But officials said evacuations should continue, and conditions are still perilous. Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency on Sunday for three counties , saying in a statement, “I’ve been in close contact with emergency personnel managing the situation in Oroville throughout the weekend and it’s clear the circumstances are complex and rapidly changing.” During the night evacuation shelters were still being outfitted with blankets and beds, according to NPR. Gizmodo reports residents of Oroville, Wheatland, Marysville, Plumas Lake, Hallwood, and Olivehurst were told to evacuate. According to the Los Angeles Times, if the emergency spillway failed, large amounts of water could gush into the Feather River, which travels through downtown Oroville. Flooding and levee failures would likely follow in the wake of a spillway failure for miles south of the Oroville Dam. Many communities could be flooded if that were to happen. Via NPR , the Los Angeles Times , and Gizmodo Images via California Department of Water Resources Facebook and Wikimedia Commons

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Historic tram depot reborn as chic co-working space and restaurant in Amsterdam

February 13, 2017 by  
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As if charming canals and beautiful bicycle paths weren’t reasons enough to visit Amsterdam, the cosmopolitan city just welcomed another beautiful landmark with a gorgeous multipurpose space for both work and play. Converted from a former tram depot in Amsterdam west by design firm Studio Modijefsky , the cavernous Kanarie Club is a stunning example of adaptive reuse that’s refreshingly modern without compromising the building’s historic integrity. Although Amsterdam is better known for its canals, the city also prides itself on its extensive tram network still in use today. To pay tribute to the old trams, the architects carefully preserved elements of the De Hallen tram depot, formerly used to service broken trams, during the restoration process. The new interior pays homage to the materials and color palette of the 19th century tram depot, from the custom-made furniture that mimics the vintage design of old electric tram seats to the tram signage and language adopted for the restaurant signage. The architects bring greater attention to the old trams with light-integrated arches and enclaves aligned with the tram rails in the ground. Tall vaulted ceilings, skylights, and large windows fill the venue with natural light, while the open layout adds to the sense of spaciousness. Exposed brick, industrial lighting, and multiple references to the tram depot’s history give the space an industrial chic vibe, while the bold colors, strings of light, and tropical plants gives it a playful edge. The centrally located bar placed atop a platform forms the focal point of the venue. Level changes help delineate different spaces. During the day the Kanarie Club functions more as co-working space and is outfitted with lockers, charging points, and built-in USBs. The space also has restaurant amenities and a kitchen. Related: Old potato barns come back to life as a pair of modern and stylish homes The most playful space in the Kanarie Club is the Pool Bar, a lounge area with a blue-painted pool that has no water. Studio Modijefsky writes: “The concept is taken from the squatters who used to live in the old tram depot before its renovation, they used the leaking water from the ceiling to create an inside pool for themselves. The new pool however will not be filled with water. With round comfy cushions and a splash of blue everywhere, it’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a cocktail. Made out of blue rubber with a stroke of matching tiles, the pool is complimented with a typical pool railing and a wavy mirror element on the bar lift. Pool signs and graphics with a direct reference to swimming pool rules have been used in the space to emphasize the identity of this part of the interior.” + Studio Modijefsky Images by Maarten Willemstein

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