Arplan envisions a new, green City Oasis for Latvia

November 25, 2020 by  
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The new City Oasis is a planned residential area in Riga, Latvia that has been designed for optimal efficiency. The project includes hundreds of homes in a highly functional district that is safe and green. City Oasis is expected to serve as an example of sustainable urban planning for the future. The plan was created by Arplan, an architectural firm based in Riga. It worked with B&R Progetti, architect Paolo Bodega and engineer Giussepie M. Rustignoli. The design won an architectural competition in 2011. It took 10 years to set a construction date for the project, which is officially expected to break ground in 2021. Related: SOM designs a low-carbon waterfront community for China’s “most livable city” The City Oasis is planned to sit next to a UNESCO World Heritage site. This made the development of the project challenging, as several approval processes had to be completed first. The building permits have now been issued and City Oasis is starting to look like a reality. Structural engineer Finmap Latvia worked on the project, using design technologies to create an optimal construction plan for City Oasis. “It will be an inclusive residential quarter, with well-thought-out planning and landscaping , aesthetic architecture, and high-quality materials for both the interiors and exteriors,” said Rolands Bruzgulis, founder and lead architect of Arplan. City Oasis is located on the site of a former textile factory that was founded in 1866. It was the largest factory of its kind in the Russian empire by 1913 and stayed in operation until 1989. While some of the old buildings onsite were destroyed, several historic elements were preserved, including a water tower and a locally famous chimney. These elements will be integrated into the masterplan. City Oasis will blend new buildings with preserved and restored historic buildings in a model that proves the past and the future can be blended together beautifully. The plan includes three buildings with six to seven stories each. Commercial space will be available on the ground floors. The new buildings will feature renovated, historic facades, which will maintain the character of the location. Several types of housing units will be available, including lofts and mezzanine-style apartments with their own private entrances. Premium apartments will be located in the restored, 19th-century villa. The residences’ heating and ventilation systems will recuperate residual heat to save energy . Developers also plan to preserve the site’s existing trees, some of which are more than 100 years old. A car-free zone will be included in the plan along with an underground parking area; a public courtyard will sit on top of the parking structure. City Oasis will be surrounded by schools, a public swimming pool, a large playground, a sports center and multiple cafes and restaurants. + Arplan Images via Yellow Stuudio

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Arplan envisions a new, green City Oasis for Latvia

Summer gardening tips for a great harvest

June 19, 2020 by  
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When the much-anticipated summer season finally arrives, make the most of your garden time with a checklist of ongoing tasks that will keep your plants healthy year-round. Clean up Much of your clean up might have taken place in the spring. However, if winter rolls straight into summer in your part of the country, or you haven’t had the time or motivation to tackle the task, get busy pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and cleaning the patio furniture. Avoid harsh chemicals and instead borrow a pressure washer to blast the deck, fencing, porch and paver stones. Also, tidy up any concrete blocks along your raised beds. Related: Where to order vegetable seeds online Continue to plant Again, your garden is probably well underway from your spring plantings. But in addition to monitoring the growth of your current plants, continue planting for late summer and fall crops. Plan to keep your garden producing by planting fall crops such as pumpkins and squash. Create a calendar for planting based on where you live and how long crops need until harvest. Use mulch Summer heat zaps moisture out of the soil, and many plants suffer without mulch to help them retain much-needed water. Check your trees, shrubs and flowering bulbs a few times each month and supplement the mulch as needed.  Plant bulbs Although spring and summer steal the show for flowering bulbs, the fall months can dazzle too if you think ahead. Use the warm days of late summer to plant bulbs such as autumn crocus, winter daffodil and Guernsey lily that will burst to life in the fall. Be sure to mark where you placed them, so you don’t plant over them. Install a timer Using water efficiently not only benefits your pocketbook and the planet’s resources, but it also results in better plant production. The best way to water where you need when you need is to use timers that automatically turn the system on and off. Timers can be used for complex underground sprinkler systems with several zones and also for simple drip systems for hanging baskets or berry patches.  Water  in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cool and evaporation is less likely. Make sure to turn the timers off when rain is in the forecast. Prune and deadhead As plants continue to thrive throughout the season, they’ll benefit from a trim here and there. Identify plants that bloom early winter to late spring and prune them back during the summer. Deadhead current blooming plants as blossoms die off; this diverts the energy away from spent blooms and towards active ones.  Support your plants Early in the season, get cages around your brambling plants, such as raspberries and tomatoes . Other plants also need support as they grow, including bush beans, snap peas and flowers like delphinium. Check on your plants at least every other day to keep them in line.  Train them to climb Summer is also a productive season for your climbers, and without training, they may grow to undesirable places within or even outside your yard. Keep up with your hops, grapes, clematis and wisteria, guiding them up trellises or along wires as they reach new heights. Close the buffet for animals Your garden full of flowers or fruits is a tempting invitation for the neighborhood  animals . Summer is the time to protect your plants against critters large and small. Put up fencing around your food garden and make sure it is tall enough that deer can’t jump over it. Inside your garden, further protect plants from smaller animals that may squeeze in, such as rabbits and chipmunks. To protect against the smallest of hungry animals, keep ladybugs around to feed on aphids, move old plants to another area of the yard, use natural insecticides and place short, open cans or cups of beer nearby to draw in slugs. You can also use netting over the top of your crops to keep birds from having a free meal at the plant buffet. Feed your plants Even after your plants are well established, most need a little boost now and then to keep up energy for production. Around midseason, provide your plants with some fertilizer to help them out.  Turn your harvest into a meal plan Growing a garden can take a lot of work and money, so you don’t want your resulting harvest to go to waste. The best way to use up fresh vegetables is to plan for their arrival. You can add the tops of radishes, beets and carrots to pesto, which can be eaten fresh or frozen/canned for later. Plan to use your lettuce promptly after harvest with myriad salad options that can incorporate your carrots, beets, snow peas, broccoli, strawberries and more. The point is, as your garden produces various foods , create an upcoming meal plan to match.  Protect wood products Summer is also the time to restain fencing and decking. Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to furniture and the garden bench. Invite pollinators to the party Pollinators such as  bees, butterflies, birds  and bats can really benefit your yard, so as summer progresses, cater to their needs. Build and install bat, butterfly, bird and bee houses. Keep the bird feeders and baths clean and supplied. Finally, plan your seasonal garden flowers around those that attract your feathered and winged friends to the party.  Start a compost pile Anytime is a great time to start a compost pile. Still, the heat of summer can help the stratified material break down faster than it would during other seasons.  Set up rain barrels Even if you have rare summer rains, getting rain barrels set up now will give you ample water when the rains return. You can then use this to water plants, the lawn or even the animals. Check your state’s rainwater harvesting laws before getting started, though. Preserve your harvest Finally, preserving food is a quintessential part of summer. Rows of canning jars, a freezer full of fresh crops and the dehydrator working overtime all represent the fruits of your labor. Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Summer gardening tips for a great harvest

Goodyear reCharge tire concept targets sustainability

March 20, 2020 by  
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Goodyear tire company has a history of innovation with products like the  living moss tire that cleans the air as you drive  and  crazy spherical tires . Their newest concept could see a self-regenerating tire with customized capsules that renew your tire and allow it to adapt to varying mobility needs. “Goodyear wants the tire to be an even more powerful contributor to answering consumers’ specific mobility needs,” said Mike Rytokoski, Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer of Goodyear Europe. “It was with that ambition that we set out to create a concept tire primed for the future of personalized and convenient electric mobility.” Related: These stylish, work-appropriate loafers are made with recycled tires The concept incorporates three main goals: provide a personalized experience,  manufacture the tires sustainably  and make the tires hassle-free for the consumer. To reach these goals, the concept tire offers a reloadable and biodegradable tread compound. This means each tire tread can be recharged with individual capsules. With the ability to regrow tire tread, the Goodyear reCharge can adapt to changing road conditions and your driving style. That might include extra cornering strength, protection on gravel, or variances in surface moisture such as rain and snow. The concept personalizes even further with the use of artificial intelligence that creates a driver profile and a customized liquid compound tailored to each individual’s driving style. For the sustainability portion, the tire will be made from biological material and reinforced by one of the strongest naturally-occurring fibers in  nature — spider silk. Not only is spider silk durable, but since it is a natural fiber, it is also 100% biodegradable. The liquid-capsule concept was created to provide hassle-free tire replacements. The frame has a “tall-and-narrow” shape and is lightweight so pressure maintenance or downtime related to punctures is less of a concern. “The Goodyear reCharge is a concept tire without compromise, supporting personalized, sustainable and hassle-free electric mobility,” said Sebastien Fontaine, Lead Designer at the Goodyear Innovation Centre in Luxembourg. + Goodyear  Images via Goodyear 

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This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

April 18, 2019 by  
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In the Chilean city of Pucón, Santiago architect Alejandro Soffia has recently completed a prefab home that visually pops against its wooded surroundings. Fittingly named the Yellow House after its bright yellow facade, the modular residence is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact and to create a treehouse-like feel. The home’s modules were strategically connected with wooden joints and punctuated by full-height glazing to frame views of Lake Villarrica on one side and the Villarrica volcano on the other. Built from a series of SIP modules that Soffia designed himself, the prefabricated Yellow House spans just under 1,100 square feet and consists of a long hallway that connects an open-plan living room, kitchen, library and dining area on one end of the house to the two bedrooms on the other side. The house also opens up to an outdoor terrace built from wood. “The hypothesis is, that if you create a prefabricated system which has a good architectural design, then you can reproduce this quality as much as you need it, within the laws of short/long production series,” explains Soffia, who adds that he prefers prefabrication due to its reduced site impact and speed of construction without compromising quality. “And if in the serial industrial production of buildings you get bored, you can also customize form and function through the system. More benefits when you fasten the building process and have more control over quality and cost.” Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park Full-height glazing fills the interior with light and creates an indoor/ outdoor living experience that immerses the owner in the forest. In contrast to the bright yellow corrugated facade, the interiors are lined in wood, with some sections left unpainted and others painted black. Minimalist decor keeps the focus on the outdoors. + Alejandro Soffia Via ArchDaily Images by Juan Durán Sierralta, Mathias Jacobs

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This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

A guide to the different types of plastic

April 18, 2019 by  
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BPA, PET, HDPE. You’re trying to do the right thing by recycling, following health alerts and shopping wisely, but you’re not fluent in molecular chemistry. So how do you decipher exactly what it all means and how to stay green? We’re here to help with a handy guide on different types of plastic and how they impact the planet and your health. Fast facts about our plastic problem According to Earth Day , here are some stats that give you an idea of the scale of our plastic addiction. • Since its invention in the 1950s, over 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced. • Ninety-one percent of all plastics are not recycled, meaning almost all plastic ever produced is piled up in our landfills and oceans . • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year. If you tie all these bags together, they reach around the Earth 773 times. • By 2050, there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish. • There are more microplastics in the ocean than stars in the Milk Way. What are microplastics? Keep reading! Types of plastic: what the terms mean, where you find them and how they impact health Courtesy of National Geographic and  Waste4Change , below are terms commonly used by manufacturers and health advisers. Additives Additives are chemicals added to plastic to enhance certain qualities. For example, they might make the material stronger, more flexible, fire-resistant or UV inhibitive. Depending on what is added to the plastic, these substances can be toxic to your health. Biodegradable This term means that a material can break down into natural substances through decomposition within a reasonable amount of time. Plastic does not biodegrade , so the term is misleading and still means that the substance may leave toxic residue behind. In fact, some states are now banning this term in relation to plastic. Bioplastic Bioplastic is a broad term for all types of plastic, including both petroleum and biological-based products. It does not mean that a plastic is non-toxic, made from safe or natural sources or non-fossil-fuel-based. This term can be misleading, because many consumers assume “bio” means natural and therefore healthy. Related: Shellworks upcycled leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics Bisphenol-A (BPA) BPA is a toxic industrial chemical that can be found in plastic containers and in the coating of cans, among other uses. It can leach into foods and liquids. BPA-free products have merely replaced the substance with less-toxic bisphenol-S or bisphenol-F, both of which still pose health concerns. Compostable This term means something can break down or degrade into natural materials within a composting system, typically through decomposition by microorganisms. Some new plastics are labeled as compostable; however, this certification mostly requires industrial composting systems, not your garden compost pile. Compostable plastics do not leave behind toxic residue after they decompose, but they must be separated out for industrial composting and not put in recycle or landfill bins. Some major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis have industrial composting programs, but many do not. Ghost nets/fishing gear Approximately 640,000 tons of fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in the ocean every year. Most of this equipment is made from plastic, including nets, buoys, traps and lines, and all of it endangers marine life . Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE is thick plastic used in bags, containers and bottles. It is safer and more stable that other plastics for food and drinks and can be recycled . Microplastics Microplastics are particles less than 5 millimeters long. There are two types: Primary: resin pellets melted down to make plastic or microbeads used in cosmetics and soaps Secondary : particles that result from larger pieces of plastic (such as fabrics and bottles) breaking down into millions of tiny particles that can enter air and water Ocean garbage patches Specific ocean currents carry litter thousands of miles and cause it to collect in certain areas known as garbage patches . The largest patch in the world spans a million square miles of ocean and is mostly made up of plastics. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE) Polyethylene terephthalate is a widely used plastic that is clear, strong and lightweight. It does not wrinkle and is typically used in food containers and fabrics. It is the most likely to be recycled, but it is a known carcinogen, meaning it can be absorbed into liquids over time and cause cancer . Polypropylene (PP) PP is stiffer and more heat-resistant than other types of plastic. It is often used for hot food containers, diapers, sanitary pads and car parts. It is safer than PVC and PET but still linked to asthma and hormone issues. Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Typically used in food containers and helmets, this material does not recycle well and can leach styrene that is toxic for the brain and nervous system. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC is considered the most hazardous plastic, because it can leach chemicals like BPA, lead, mercury and cadmium that may cause cancer and disrupt hormones. It is often used in toys, cling wrap, detergent bottles, pipes and medical tubes. It usually has to be recycled into separate and more rare recycling programs. Single-use plastic Single-use plastic is designed to be used only once and then disposed of, such as grocery bags and packaging. Environmentalists encourage reducing your single-use plastic consumption, because after their short lifespan, these plastics pile up and pollute the Earth for centuries. Via National Geographic ,  Earth Day , Waste4Change and The Dodo Images via Shutterstock

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This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

September 18, 2017 by  
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Zhou Yusong is a dog’s best friend. Over the last eight years, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs and given them homes at his animal protection center China’s Henan Province. Though he didn’t intend on becoming the “Guardian of Dogs,” this is what he is called in his home city of Zhengzhou. It all started in 2008, when Zhou Yusong was walking down a road in Zhengzhou and noticed a stray dog that had clearly been hit by a car. It was fighting for its life, yet was ignored by those who passed by. Yusong was unable to ignore the frightened animal, so he picked it up and took it to a nearby dog shelter as he could never care for it in his tiny apartment. When the man reached the shelter, he was overwhelmed by the large number of stray dogs that had already been collected. To ease the shelter’s burden, he began donating 200 yuan ($30) every month to support the dogs’ food and medical treatments. Inspired to do more, Yusong later convinced his friend to invest 800,000 yuan ($122,000 USD) in a new animal shelter . It would be located on the banks of the Yellow River and care for the abundance of stray dogs. His friend agreed and allowed Yusong to be in charge of the facility. Within a short period of time, the animal lover quit his job and began managing the rescue center full-time. Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade To date, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs, as well as a number of other small and medium-sized animals. Over the past eight years, he hasn’t taken a single vacation, as he is dedicated to ensuring all of the dogs are well taken care of. To reduce the shelter’s costs, Yusong also manages maintenance work, which includes fixing fences and trimming the bushes. He spends the remainder of his time feeding the dogs, cleaning up their kennels, and administering various medical treatments . Though Yusong wasn’t seeking recognition for his work, the world couldn’t help but give it to him after photographs of him and hundreds of dogs went viral on social media. Via Oddity Central ,  Xwtuotiao Images via  Xwtuotiao

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This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

Peru is releasing half a million baby turtles to save species from extinction

November 3, 2016 by  
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When it comes to things in this world that make us smile, baby turtles rank quite high on the list, so the news that Peru is releasing 500,000 yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle tots into the wild is really something to celebrate. The National Service of Protected Natural Areas by the State (SERNANP), a government-run conservation group, has been setting the babies free in batches, with the first waddling into the wild in October and more to be freed in mid-November. The Amazon River turtle is a threatened species, and wildlife conservationists hope this massive baby turtle reintroduction project will give the turtles a stronger chance at survival in the long run. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM-SgOjtzks When full-grown, the yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle (P. unifilis) is one of the largest turtles in South America, and locals call them Taricaya turtles. They can measure up to 18 inches long and weigh as much as 17 lbs and, in ideal conditions, live up to 70 years. Protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) appendix as well as the US Endangered Species Act, populations of the yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle have been in decline for years. Conservationists hope this massive release will change all that. Related: 3,800 critically endangered turtles found stacked in a shipping crate headed for China The baby turtles were conceived in the wild and, in order to give them a better chance at survival, volunteers and employees from SERNANP collected the eggs in August. They were then incubated in man-made habitats for 70 days, the same amount of time they would remain in their underground nests in the wild. Turtle eggs are a target for hungry predators desperate for an easy meal, so nests are often raided leaving few, if any, eggs to reach maturity. So far, around 17,000 turtles have been released. Two more phases will bring the grand total to around 500,000 baby turtles, who will live out the rest of their natural lives in the wild and hopefully reproduce successfully, securing a stronger future for the at-risk species. Via Treehugger Images via Harvey Barrison/Flickr and Wikipedia

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Bookshelf House fits hundreds of books into multifunctional furnishings

October 17, 2016 by  
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The Bookshelf House was created for a family of five who wanted a dramatic room-length bookshelf. To make the most of the small 160-square-meter interior, Mosca added large multifunctional bookshelves beautiful enough to serve as focal points. The bookcases were constructed from light beech wood and are slightly staggered for visual interest. The largest bookshelf is stepped and doubles as a stair bannister to the mezzanine , while other bookshelves are used as room dividers or morph into storage cabinets. “In this project we tried to create a main thread which draws the principles of internal space of this villa to modulate it,” writes the architect. “This was the key element which now guides the circulations and movements between the various volumes. This carpentered set which acts as a mark in the house allows us to remodel the high volume of the living room, it leads a fluid movement which develops along both levels.so a big bookcase takes shape in the main room to become a functional lifeline which sublimates the existing staircase and finally splits up in isolated elements which bound the office allowing an open intimacy.” Related: Slovenia built a habitable structure with latticed wooden bookshelves White walls, ample glazing , and high ceilings fills the interior with natural light and make the rooms feel airy and spacious. The books on the shelves and the carefully selected furnishings—the chairs with the yellow cushions and the vibrant dressers in the bedrooms—add bright pops of color to the minimally decorated interior. + Andrea Mosca Via Dezeen Images via Andrea Mosca

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Bookshelf House fits hundreds of books into multifunctional furnishings

The world’s tallest tropical "Minecraft" tree found in Malaysia

June 8, 2016 by  
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In Malaysia , scientists from the University of Cambridge discovered what they think could be the tallest recorded tropical tree . Found in the Sabah state’s “Lost World,” the Yellow Meranti tree is endangered, more commonly found in the computer game Minecraft than on Earth. At its tallest point, the tree is nearly 300 feet tall, just a little bit shorter than London’s Big Ben. In collaborTION with the Sabah Forestry Department, the scientists found the tree using a LiDAR scanner carried by an airplane. It’s one thing to track down a tall tree and another entirely to measure just how tall it is. Unding Jami, local expert tree climber, scaled the tree with a tape measure to pin down its height. At the top he texted the scientists to let them know he was unable to take photographs because “there’s an eagle around that keeps trying to attack me and also lots of bees flying around.” Related: China restores swaths of denuded forests with exemplary conservation program The new tree beat out another Malaysian Yellow Meranti for the record. Located on a slope, that tree is about 298 feet tall at its tallest point; higher on the slope it’s about 288 feet tall. It’s not the tallest tree in the world – that record still goes to a staggering 377-foot California redwood – but the scientists think it is ” probably ” the tallest tree in the tropics . According to scientist David Coomes, trees in temperate regions grow taller than tropical trees, but nobody knows why. Yellow Meranti trees are endangered mainly due to logging at the hands of the palm oil industry. The Sabah government recently said it would attempt to restore an area near the newly discovered tree. Coomes said , “Conserving these giants is really important. Some, like the California redwoods, are among the largest and longest-living organisms on earth. Huge trees are crucial for maintaining the health of the forest and its ecology.” Via New Scientist Images courtesy of Stephanie Law and the University of Cambridge

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The world’s tallest tropical "Minecraft" tree found in Malaysia

Ocupe Carrinho Transforms an Abandoned Car into a Yellow Submarine for World Car Free Day

October 2, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Ocupe Carrinho Transforms an Abandoned Car into a Yellow Submarine for World Car Free Day Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Ana Rose neighborhood São Paulo , felipe carrelli , flooding São Paulo , ocupe carrinho , sao Paulo , São Paulo abandoned cars , São Paulo traffic congestion , stormwater management São Paulo , World Car-Free Day , yellow submarine        

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