Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center blends into the landscape

September 25, 2020 by  
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Prague-based architecture firm Petr Janda / brainwork studio has won an international competition with its design of the Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center, a proposed center that would service the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve located southeast of central Abu Dhabi. Dubbed “To See and Not to be Seen,” the winning proposal blends in with the landscape with an organically shaped building made of a pink concrete material that mimics rock formations in the Arabian desert . To mitigate the region’s intense heat, the proposed visitor center would feature liquid coolant integrated into both the inner and outer building shells as well as lichens that cover the surface of the building to significantly reduce operational costs. Organized by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency in partnership with Bee Breeders, the Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center competition sought building designs that could accommodate a wide range of programming — including an information center, cafe, terrace, souvenir shop, display area for specimens, training center, bathrooms and a car park — and complement the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. The reserve is a 5,000-square-kilometer protected area that is home to around 260 species of birds and other wildlife. Every autumn through spring, the reserve welcomes 4,000 pink flamingos. Related: Touring restored wetlands at a Wisconsin nature conservancy The architects’ winning proposal envisions a visitor center with a circular floor plan that eschews the traditional layout of individual rooms boxed in by orthogonal walls. Instead, the barrier-free interior emphasizes the building’s dynamic rounded shape with curved walls throughout the three floors, from the basement level to the roof, where a “pink lake” biotope is located. The unusual design encourages visitors to explore the building much like they would the reserve. “The main idea is to connect the visitor centre with the reserve’s nature at all levels of the project,” the architects explained. “To create an autonomous environment with the distinct genius loci. Using material and shape mimicry, the building organically connects its appearance with the environment of the reserve. It looks very old and, at the same time, contemporary or even futuristic. It works with the natural connection between the organic and inorganic components of nature, which permeates not only the technical part of the building (cooling and condensation system) but also all exhibition and didactic strategies (living parts of the facades, water elements and indoor life organisms).” The jury has praised the project for its site-sensitive design; however, it did note that the complexity of the building may prove to be prohibitively expensive to build in its current form. + Petr Janda / brainwork studio Images via Petr Janda / brainwork studio

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Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center blends into the landscape

Ennead designs a striking nature preserve to protect Chinas most important river

March 25, 2019 by  
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Ennead Architects and Andropogon Landscape Architects have won an international competition for the Shanghai Yangtze River Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Nature Preserve. The proposed design takes the shape of an undulating sculpture mimicking the curves of Asia’s longest river while referencing “biomorphic anatomy.” The building will be clad in translucent PTFE panels and engineered with sustainable, energy-efficient technologies such as geothermal heating and cooling loops. The purpose of the Shanghai Yangtze River Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Nature Preserve is to rescue critically endangered species and to restore the natural ecology of Yangtze River, which has been plagued by pollution and construction. The project also aims to engage the public and raise environmental awareness with immersive exhibit experiences. To achieve these goals, the 427,000-square-foot nature reserve building, which will sit on a 17.5-hectare site on an island at the mouth of the Yangtze River, will consist of a dual-function aquarium and research facility, bringing together efforts to repopulate the endangered Chinese Sturgeon and Finless Porpoise. Ennead Architects and Andropogon Landscape Architects proposed a dramatic design for the building that takes cues from nature. Split into three wings united around a central spine, the structure will be built with a cross-laminated timber structural system wrapped in a lightweight PTFE skin, which will fill the interior with daylight. Inside, constructed wetlands landscaped with local flora and aquatic plants provide a beautiful connection with the outdoors, sequester carbon and serve as a biofiltration system for aquarium water, “resulting in a new paradigm of environmental equilibrium,” the designers said in their press release. Related: Ennead Architects break ground on celestial Shanghai Planetarium The landscape design in and around the buildings mimics the natural shoreline ecosystems found throughout the Yangtze River basin and provides opportunities for breeding and raising Chinese Sturgeons and Finless Porpoises. Visitors will be able to view these pools from suspended walkways that weave throughout the campus grounds. + Ennead Architects Images via Ennead Architects

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An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

March 12, 2019 by  
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An open plaza in Bogota’s northeastern business district has been radically transformed from a place of pure pavement to a vibrant urban wetland . Colombian architecture firm Obraestudio completed the project in 2016 in the Santa Barbara business center to revitalize the outdoor common space shared by the Torres Unidas Building, Scotia Bank, Samsung, AR and W Hotel towers. Covering an area of over two acres, the architects injected a lush aquatic landscape into the public-facing plaza, creating a striking contrast between wild nature and the sharp geometry of the surrounding high-rises. Winner of an open national design competition sponsored by The Colombian Architects Society, the Usaquén Urban Wetland has become an iconic, privately-owned public space in northeast Bogota . The design draws inspiration from the wetlands of the Bogota Savannah, a rich, biodiverse area located in the southwestern part of the larger Andean plateau, the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. To recreate the wetland appearance, a large recycled rainwater-fed pool was carved out from the heart of the plaza and planted with native aquatic vegetation. “A natural ecosystem — half aquatic, half terrestrial — is recreated by the geometry, colors and textures of the overall design,” Obraestudio explained in a project statement. “Existing buildings and the exterior common areas are a provocative, clear contrast to the wild, free-growing landscape elements. A recycled rainwater garden over the main square creates a native urban wetland that blends harmoniously with the surrounding Andean hills backdrop and preserves the native vegetation in its natural habitat.” Related: Triangular windows bring light and drama to a stunning Bogota bakery Moreover, the parking area was replaced with a linear park that has also been lushly planted and designed to “inspire slow and meditative walks.” Pre-existing green roofs were preserved while the old elevator and stairs structures have been re-engineered so as not to visually detract from the new landscape design. + Obraestudio Via ArchDaily Photography by Daniel Segura and Andres Valbuena via Obraestudio

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An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

Fighting Climate Change Through Wetlands Protection

January 29, 2019 by  
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February 2 is World Wetlands Day, and if an environmental … The post Fighting Climate Change Through Wetlands Protection appeared first on Earth911.com.

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This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

October 16, 2018 by  
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Compact, energy-efficient and built with locally sourced materials, this hillside home takes a low-impact approach to its wetland surroundings in the city of Valparaiso in northern Indiana. Local design firm Bamesberger Architecture completed the home for a client who wanted a relatively small dwelling overlooking a pristine 400,000-square-foot wetland site. Named The Box after its boxy appearance, the home boasts low-energy needs and does not rely on air conditioning, even in the summer Completed in 2013, The Box spans an area of 960 square feet and consists of a main house, a screened porch and a small storage building. All three structures are slightly offset from one another to offer varied views of the landscape and are connected with two square timber decks. In response to the client’s wishes for a “very affordable” house with wetland views, the architects selected a budget-friendly yet attractive natural materials palette — including blackened steel, stone, concrete and birch plywood — to complement the property’s native trees and grasslands. “To set the house into the site, the main living space was built into the hillside,” the architecture firm explained. “Excavated rocks were reused as a base for the steel encased fireplace as well as a stepping stone inside the front door. The front door was built from a walnut tree found dead on the site.” Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree The main dwelling includes an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living area on the ground floor. Above, a small loft offers space for sleeping and a home office. A two-story shower takes advantage of the double-height volume, adding what the architects call “a spatial surprise in the otherwise small space.” To minimize energy needs, The Box is wrapped in high-performance insulation and built into the side of the north-facing hill. Radiant underfloor heating and natural ventilation also help keep the home at comfortable temperatures year-round with minimal utility bills. + Bamesberger Architecture Images via Fred Bamesberger

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Valuable wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests, new study warns

September 28, 2018 by  
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Wetlands around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate. New research shows that these valuable ecosystems are vanishing at a rate three times that of forests . Unless significant changes are made, the disappearance of wetlands could cause severe damage around the globe. The Global Wetland Outlook , which was completed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, found that more than a third of the wetlands on Earth have disappeared over a 45-year period. The pace that wetlands are vanishing jumped significantly after the year 2000, and regions all over the planet were impacted equally. Unfortunately, there is a handful of reasons why wetlands are diminishing around the world. This includes climate change , urbanization, human population growth and variable consumption patterns, all of which have contributed to the way land is used. Related: Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals There are several different types of wetlands found on Earth, including marshes, lakes, peatlands and rivers. Lagoons, coral reefs , mangroves and estuaries also fall into the wetland category. In total, wetlands take up more than 12.1 million square kilometers, an area larger than Greenland. Wetlands are crucial, because they provide almost all of the world’s access to freshwater — something that is key to survival. Humans also use wetlands for hydropower and medicines. From an environmental perspective, wetlands help retain carbon and regulate global warming . They also serve as the ecosystems for 40 percent of living species on Earth, providing food, water, breeding spaces and raw materials for these animals to live. If the wetlands keep vanishing at the current rate, many species will go as well. “The Global Wetland Outlook is a wake-up call — not only on the steep rate of loss of the world’s wetlands but also on the critical services they provide. Without them, the global agenda on sustainable development will not be achieved,” said Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “We need urgent collective action to reverse trends on wetland loss and degradation and secure both the future of wetlands and our own survival at the same time.” With wetlands in danger of disappearing, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has pledged to make saving these regions a top priority. The parties involved with the group have targeted 2,300 sites for protection and hope to expand that to include more wetlands around the globe. + Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Image via Jeanethe Falvey / EPA

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Valuable wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests, new study warns

Earth911 Podcast, Sep. 3, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Land Restoration with Adam Sachs

September 3, 2018 by  
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Adam Sachs, Executive Director of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, … The post Earth911 Podcast, Sep. 3, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Land Restoration with Adam Sachs appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Sep. 3, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Land Restoration with Adam Sachs

9 Environmentally Friendly Dog Foods

September 3, 2018 by  
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It’s bad enough that man’s best friend is exposed to … The post 9 Environmentally Friendly Dog Foods appeared first on Earth911.com.

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New resilient waterfront park helps protect NYC from storm surges

June 28, 2018 by  
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Waterfront parks have been springing up all over New York City, including in Long Island City, where Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park just completed its second phase this week. Designed by SWA/Balsley in collaboration with Weiss/Manfredi , this resilient stretch of parkland replaces 11 acres of abandoned industrial sites and boasts spectacular views of Manhattan’s skyline. In addition to a wide array of recreational facilities and equipment, the park was also integrated with salt marshes and native plantings that serve as a natural line of defense against extreme weather and storm surges. As New York City moves full-speed ahead on reclaiming the waterfront for the public, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park joins an impressive lineup of post-industrial parks including the recently completed Domino Park in Brooklyn . Crafted to feel like New York City’s newest “island,” the new park features lush habitat as well as recreational and cultural features, like New York-based artist Nobuho Nagasawa’s ‘Luminescence’ land art installation. The landscape was sculpted in response to projected flooding patterns and rising water levels of the East River. “It’s a new kind of park,” said lead landscape architect Tom Balsley of SWA/Balsley, for whom the $100 million park project has been 25 years in the making. “Hunter’s Point South is at once resilient infrastructure and contemplative retreat — a dynamic, living platform with extraordinary power to touch the daily lives of so many people.” Related: 10 landscape design projects that turned neglected spaces into incredible parks The first phase, located closer to the ferry terminal, was completed in 2013 and serves as the more active half of the park with bicycle pathways, basketball courts, a playground, fitness equipment and a turf field. The second 5.5-acre phase added more walking trails, a kayak launch, picnicking areas and a  promenade that leads to the Overlook, a 30-foot-tall cantilevered platform with sweeping views of Manhattan skyline and East River. The park officially opened to the public this week. + SWA/Balsley + Weiss/Manfredi Images by Albert Vecerka Esto and Bill Tatham

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Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

March 6, 2018 by  
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The East Kolkata Wetlands in India processes almost 198 million gallons of wastewater and sewage produced by the region’s population everyday, relying on nothing but nature. What was once a mix of lowland salt marshes and silted rivers is now a sprawling complex of man-made wetlands framed by green space. With the help of local farmers and fishers, the wetlands are maintained in good health to organically clean sewage using sunlight, oxygen, and beneficial microbes. This process, known as bio-remediation, cleans wastewater within three weeks, a remarkably quick turnaround that highlights the great power of natural solutions. Wastewater from the city is directed into small inlets, each one controlled by a local fishery cooperative. The cooperative then separates the dense polluted water from clearer surface water, which flows into the large wetland while the wastewater decomposes and becomes fish food through organic processes. This water is then used to raise fish in ponds known as bheries or grow crops on the banks of the wetlands. In addition to its wastewater and agriculture services, the East Kolkata Wetlands also act as a flood control system, absorbing excess water from the nearby city. Related: Dakshineswar Skywalk could greatly improve pedestrian safety in Kolkata Former city sanitation engineer Dhrubajyoti Ghosh has served as the Wetland’s guardian for several decades. After realizing the enormous value of the wetland’s environmental services, he defined the formal limits of the area and successfully protected it from real estate developers. Today, Ghosh recognizes the challenges and opportunities facing the wetlands and others like it. “I am still learning how this delicate ecosystem works, how to further refine it, and why some places are better suited than others,” he told The Better India . “I am happy to give any advice or help absolutely free, this is the best system of its kind in the world and could be helping millions of people. If I have failed in one thing it is this; not enough people know about it or are benefiting from it.” Via The Better India Images via East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority and  The Better India

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