A heritage industrial site becomes a dreamy wilderness retreat in Australia

April 6, 2020 by  
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In the middle of Australia’s deepest lake, a historic industrial site has been reborn as Pumphouse Point, a charming getaway perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Designed by architecture firm Cumulus Studio , the boutique accommodation is the realization of tourism developer Simon Currant’s 18-year vision to thoughtfully and sustainably make a portion of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area more accessible to travelers. The grounds comprise a collection of buildings, two of which were renovated from heritage-listed Art Deco buildings, originally part of the Hydro Electric scheme. Originally constructed in 1940, the five-story pump house that was built as part of the state’s Hydro Electricity Scheme had been used to pump water from Lake St. Clair to the nearby St. Lake Lagoon. The building was decommissioned in the early ’90s and sat unused for decades. Today, the site has become home to a unique, 18-room boutique property that is housed in three buildings: the new-build “Retreat”, “The Pumphouse” and “The Shorehouse.” The latter two are refurbished historic buildings. The Shorehouse, which was the original Hydro substation, also includes a new dining and lounge extension. Related: 1850s barn in Italy becomes a modern, sustainable family home In keeping with the values of the World Heritage Site, in which the property is located, the Cumulus team retained the existing buildings’ footprints and minimally modified the exteriors. In contrast, the interiors are strikingly contemporary yet still minimalist to keep focus on the outdoors. A neutral palette of timber and metal imparts a “rugged simplicity” that also alludes to the site’s history. Due to Pumphouse Point’s remote location and the tight project budget, the architects turned to prefabrication and simple construction techniques to streamline the building process. In addition to spectacular views, Pumphouse Point guests can also enjoy nature walks, lake excursions, biking trails and more. Other than newborns and infants, the boutique property does not accommodate anyone under the age of 18. + Cumulus Studio Photography by Adam Gibson via Cumulus Studio

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A heritage industrial site becomes a dreamy wilderness retreat in Australia

1850s barn in Italy becomes a modern, sustainable family home

March 4, 2020 by  
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Located at the foot of UNESCO World Heritage site Alpe di Siusi in the Italian province of South Tyrol, Messner House represents adaptive reuse at its finest. The project was organized by Italian architecture firm noa* (Network of Architecture), who was adamant about respecting the surrounding area as well as the essence of the original structure that dated back to 1850. From the exterior of the structure, Messner House appears to mimic the outline of the original barn with a framework supported by high wooden columns. The architects mirrored the traditional building style of the surrounding village, using a stone foundation with a wooden gable roof and wooden trellis. To accommodate more natural light, the entire southern facade is made of glass, with light filtered by an external wooden grid positioned several yards away. The project focuses on minimizing energy consumption and its footprint with Klimahaus B certification and certified timber construction. Related: A midcentury barn is thoughtfully reclaimed for a family retreat in California The interior design strives to keep local architectural traditions alive by using materials such as wood and stone, while at the same time introducing a contemporary style. Organic colors such as clay and sea-blue are utilized in the floor tiles, and furniture details incorporate brass and steel. The ground floor spreads out into a common area meant for social and family interaction, while the rest of the house works upward in a vertical fashion, with rooms positioned at different heights in a “hanging boxes” style. This contemporary room division was inspired by the nearby alpine environment, with the interconnecting stairs and hallways of the house working as an artificial mountain path. As one continues higher toward the top floor of the house, the level of privacy increases. A reading lounge rests just under the highest floor and features an antique majolica stove taken from the original barn structure. The top floor includes a private glass sauna with panoramic views of the Santner Mountains to the south. + noa* Photography by Alex Filz via noa*

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Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

June 28, 2018 by  
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Thanks to a comprehensive conservation effort, the exceptionally diverse Belize Barrier Reef has recovered so much that it has been removed from the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger sites. “At a time when we are seeing numerous threats to World Heritage sites, Belize’s government has taken real action to protect one of the world’s most special places,” World Wildlife Fund International director general Marco Lambertini told EcoWatch . “We have seen an incredible turnaround from when the reef was being threatened by seismic testing for oil just 18 months ago.” The decision to remove the Belize Barrier Reef from the ‘In Danger’ sites list arrives five months after Belize passed legislation banning all oil exploratory activity in its waters. The second largest reef system in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef provides habitat for 1,400 species, including vulnerable species of shark , sea turtle and manatee. The reef also provides food and economic opportunity for almost half of Belize’s population while serving as a natural barrier against extreme weather. First classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, it was later added to the In Danger list in 2009 in response to increased oil exploration activity and damaging coastal construction. Related: Belize votes to indefinitely end all oil exploration in its waters As a result of a coordinated worldwide campaign, Belize, one of only three countries to ban all offshore oil exploration, put its barrier reef under protection. That effort is already bearing fruit. “Belizeans stood up to protect their reef, with hundreds of thousands more globally joining the campaign to save our shared heritage,” Lambertini said. “In taking swift collaborative action, Belize has shown that it is possible to reverse nature loss and create a sustainable future.” Belize is aiming to take its conservation to the next level by considering bans on single-use plastic products that threaten marine life . Via EcoWatch Images via Heath Alseike and Ruth

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Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

June 28, 2018 by  
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In 2019, two beluga whales, named Little Grey and Little White, will be transported from the Changfeng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai to the world’s first whale sanctuary in a protected bay in Iceland . Established by the SEA LIFE Trust in collaboration with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation , the 32,000-square-meter Beluga Whale Sanctuary site was chosen for its sub-arctic climate and seclusion. “It’s really important for Little White and Little Grey, providing them with a more natural home in which to live out the rest of their lives,” head of the SEA LIFE Trust Andy Bool told Reuters . The whales are already being prepped for their journey and the colder waters of their new home through exercises designed to increase their strength and their ability to hold their breath underwater. With its stores of blubber and echolocation refined for finding holes in the sea ice through which to breathe, the beluga whale is well adapted to Arctic waters. The beluga is also a very social animal, typically living in groups of up to 10, though gatherings of hundreds or thousands of whales can occur in summer. While the species as a whole is not considered threatened, populations in certain regions, such as the Cook Inlet in Alaska , are endangered. Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” In addition to their exercise regimen, Little Grey and Little White, both 12-year-old females, will be fed increased calories and gradually eased into using a stretcher, with which they will be restrained for part of their journey to their new home. Those who have made this sanctuary possible hope that it will set an example for other wildlife entertainment parks to release their animals into the wild. Whale and Dolphin Conservation captivity campaign manager Cathy Williamson told Reuters , “We believe this will inspire other facilities to move their belugas and other whales and dolphins to sanctuaries in other parts of the world.” + SEA LIFE Trust + Whale and Dolphin Conservation Via Reuters Images via Salva Barbera and Sheila Sund

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This Taiwan hotel draws inspiration from "glittering sea foam"

June 28, 2018 by  
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Taiwanese firm  Emerge Architects has created a beautiful hotel in a remote coastal area of Yilan in northeastern Taiwan. Built into a large hill that overlooks the harbor, the Onyx Lit House is a contemporary jet-black tower with clusters of round windows that stream light into the interior. The bold tower, which becomes a glowing beacon at night, was inspired by the seaside landscape. Located in the coastal area of Yilan, the Onyx Lit House holds court over the city’s bustling harbor area. According to the architects, the seaside environment served as an inspiration for the design. “Our first impression of Toucheng Village and Wishi Harbour in Yilan was the smell of salty waves, the sound of splashes on the glossy shingle beach and the sight of distant Guishan Island,” the firm said. “The image of dissolving waves and glittering sea foam became the source to the guesthouse’s design element.” Related: Chrome Hotel’s Swiss Cheese Facade Saves Energy The hotel’s dark facade is punctuated with various round windows. During the day, pockets of natural light  filter in through the openings and brighten the interior. At night, the tower becomes a glowing beacon on the outside, while the interior resembles a starry night sky. The nearly 3,000-square-foot guest home spreads out over three floors. A narrow staircase connects the floors, all of which are decorated with a minimalist  design . The common spaces are painted a stark white to contrast the black exterior. Every floor has an open-air balcony that lets visitors sit and enjoy the fresh sea air. The individual guestrooms are arranged to take advantage of  natural light during the day and the starry-like atmosphere at night. The unique windows also provide stunning views of the sea and mountains in the distance. + Emerge Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Lucas K. Doolan via Emerge Architects

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This Taiwan hotel draws inspiration from "glittering sea foam"

Shigeru Bans Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opens in Japan

January 3, 2018 by  
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Japan’s Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, designed by Pritzker winner Shigeru Ban , is officially open to the public at a time when visibility of Japan’s highest peak is at its best. Located 20 miles southwest of Mt. Fuji in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, the sculptural building pays homage to Fuji with its inverted latticed cone that, when seen in the reflecting pool, mimics the shape of the famous dormant volcano. Shigeru Ban’s design for the new Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center was selected from 238 entries in a competition commissioned shortly after Fuji was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The highlight of the 3,400-square-meter facility is the viewing tower and ascent, where visitors walk up a 193-meter spiral slope simulating a climb up the Japan’s highest peak. Full-height glazing at the highest part of the tower frames views of the 3,776-meter-tall mountain. Related: Shigeru Ban uses shipping containers and paper tubes to create a surprising mobile museum Glass walls surround the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, giving it a sense of lightness, while the timber latticed cone is split between the interior and exterior. The facility also includes an exhibition room with a 4K theater and a touch screen with clips explicating the beliefs, culture, and nature of Mount Fuji. The Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opened December 23, 2017. + Shigeru Ban Images via Shigeru Ban

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

M6.8 quake in Myanmar causes historic Bagan monuments to crumble

August 25, 2016 by  
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A magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook central Myanmar on Wednesday, damaging many historic temples dating back to the 11th century. In an ironic twist, much of the damage was actually sustained by modern building materials , which Myanmar ’s former rulers had ordered throughout numerous ‘restoration’ projections that disregarded the original architecture of the monuments in question. The powerful earthquake hit 310 miles from the border of India, and was felt as far away as Kolkata, but no deaths have been reported. Embed from Getty Images Rulers of Bagan, the capital city of the Pagan (pronounced PUH’-gahn) empire, built over 10,000 magnificent religious monuments during their 250-year reign, and around 2,000 were thought to remain prior to this week’s earthquake . Now, scores of stupas, temples, and monasteries may have been destroyed forever by the powerful tremor . Officials have secured the historic sites to prevent further damage or injury, while they devise a plan for how to proceed. Related: Dozens killed by powerful earthquake in picturesque rural region of central Italy Despite the age and historic significance of the Bagan monuments, the ruins were denied the label and privilege of World Heritage Site . UNESCO was not impressed with the restoration attempts, which started in the early 1990s, and the site became even less likely to ever receive the honor after the 2005 unveiling of a nearly 200-foot-tall viewing tower, which UNESCO officials criticized as detracting from the historic monuments. Via Phys.org Lead image via USGS

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M6.8 quake in Myanmar causes historic Bagan monuments to crumble

Amazing floating restaurant in Mexico shaped like a bird’s nest

August 25, 2016 by  
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“Nido”, which translates to “nest” in English, is one of three restaurants at the striking Mar Adentro Hotel in San José del Cabo, Mexico . Mimicking bird nests one might find in nature, the restaurant looks like an otherworldly structure surrounded by water. Related: Floating solar-powered Waternest eco-home is nearly 100% recyclable A network of walkways connect the pool, hotel and restaurant and create a beautiful promenade from which people can take in the architecture. The interior of the nest is surprisingly simple, with chairs, bar tables and lounges designed as minimalist pieces. Visually, the furniture doesn’t compete with the roof structure. Instead, it complements it with subtle textures and patterns. + Miguel Ángel Aragonés Via Contemporist Photos by Joe Fletcher

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Amazing floating restaurant in Mexico shaped like a bird’s nest

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