Surround yourself with Californias wildlife and flora at Oakland Zoos eco-minded California Trail

July 17, 2019 by  
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If you’re looking for a unique, family-friendly activity in the Bay Area, look no further than the California Trail at the Oakland Zoo . Now celebrating its one-year anniversary, the eco-friendly exhibit offers gondola rides, an immersive experience in nature and up-close encounters with native California species. Designed by Berkeley-based architectural firm Noll & Tam Architects , the $72 million California Trail project is a triumph in environmental conservation, education and research. When the California Trail project was completed last July after 20-plus years in the making, the project doubled the size of the Oakland Zoo and added several new native California animal species including American buffalo, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, jaguars, California condors and gray wolves. The 56-acre exhibit includes 26 structures and was carefully designed and constructed for minimal site impact. To further reduce landscape impact, Noll & Tam Architects decided against developing roads and parking lots in favor of an aerial gondola that whisks visitors over the landscape to the start of the trail. “We worked closely with the zoo to minimize impact to the natural landscape, from the placement of the gondola that eliminates auto traffic to the careful siting of the boardwalk that preserves oak trees,” noted Janet Tam, principal in charge of the project. “The design intertwines animal habitats with human habitats; animals have their feeding grounds and night houses to retreat to, much like visitors enjoy the Landing Cafe for refreshment then stroll over to the Interpretive Center for quiet reflection.” Related: Newly opened Los Gatos Library by Noll & Tam Architects pursuing LEED Gold Visitors journey to different exhibitions via an 800-foot-long elevated boardwalk , which loops back around to the 20,150-square-foot Visitor and Interpretative complex that offers information about the history of the animals and the state of California. The California Trail also includes The Landing Cafe, an overnight campground and a playground designed to reflect the ecological zones of California. The buildings’ environmental impact is reduced even more with the use of solar power and rainwater harvesting. + Noll & Tam Architects Photography by Eric Dugan Photography via Noll & Tam Architects

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Surround yourself with Californias wildlife and flora at Oakland Zoos eco-minded California Trail

How to pull off a tech-free family vacation the whole family will enjoy

May 1, 2019 by  
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It’s a full-blown modern challenge to get through even an hour of the day without using technology. So considering a tech-free trip for the entire family may seem insurmountable. While we acknowledge that there will likely be some discomfort at times, we’re happy to report that it’s certainly attainable. Here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction towards a tech-free family vacation. Preparations We are so accustomed to having technology at our fingertips that you might have to remind the people in your life that you will be checking out. Provide an alternate phone number, like that of the hotel, if necessary. Also let family and friends know you’ll be off-grid so they don’t wonder why you haven’t responded to their text. If you plan to cheat with an occasional phone-on check in, at least remove email push from your phone so you’re not tempted to scroll through. Create a meeting point Not all things about technology are bad, but you might not realize how much you rely on it so it’s important to think ahead. You won’t be able to simply throw out the, “Where are you?” text. If your group is going to be separated for any reason, make sure you have a plan for meeting up again. Divide and conquer in the grocery store and meet by the checkout, for example. If you’re at an amusement park, zoo or museum, pick a time and place to meet. Paper maps Nope, we’re not kidding. Generations of successful roadtrips have spawned from the use of paper maps so there’s no reason not to make them your go-to navigation guide. Plus, map reading is always a good skill to brush up on and is something you’ve likely never taught your kids how to do. Grab road maps for any area you’ll be traveling and pick up city maps and attraction maps when you reach your destination. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and that at the destination for information that you’re otherwise tempted to find on your phone. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Road games If you’re older than twenty, you likely remember playing games with your family on road trips that didn’t require a board, dice or cards. Contrary to current norms, family trips without DVD players, phones or iPads can still equal a good time. Teach your kids the art of identifying each letter of the alphabet on road signs. Play 20 questions or engage in Ispy. It’s also a good time to list those items for your next trip using the alphabet (I’m going on a camping trip and I’m taking…). For older children, start a story and pass the storyline along with each person contributing to the plot. For younger children, create a bag of surprises before your trip. Each 100 miles or when you cross state lines or once an hour, introduce a new activity. This can include small containers of finger dough, jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles or toys (non-electronic of course!) Board games Often times, voids in activity lead to mindless swiping of the cell phones. Instead of engaging in online game play, engage with each other. Be sure to bring along board games for in-between activities at the hotel and smaller versions for the car rides. Handheld card games work well for this. Ask a local In the old days, mom and dad had to stop and ask for directions when they couldn’t find their way. The waitress at the diner and the clerk at the store are still strong resources for this information when you decide to go tech-free. Plus, you can ask about the best place to pick up a pizza without relying on Yelp. Wear a watch Speaking of time, it’s likely that you also rely on your phone to know what time it is. Plan ahead by wearing a watch or identify clocks in the space you’re to help keep you manage your time. Go remote If you don’t trust your ability to to go tech-free, plan a vacation that takes the decision out of your hands. Head into remote areas where you don’t receive cell service and enjoy the solitude of nature . Once the kids stop whining that their phone’s don’t work, they’ll discover the simple pleasures of stacking rocks and skipping rocks. Teach them fire building, take them on a hike or take them backpacking where they can learn map and compass, fishing and how to filter water. Take an alarm clock Hopefully your vacation doesn’t require you to rise early or be anywhere at a specific time, but it’s a good idea to throw in a small alarm clock, both so that you know the time and so you don’t need to rely on a phone for your alarm. Use long math Education never ends, and not toting a phone means not having a calculator at your disposal. That makes for a good opportunity to calculate tips, percentage off deals and admission totals the old fashioned way. It will feel strange at first to eliminate the technology in your life for a few valuable days, but in the end you will achieve more quality time and true engagement without electronic distraction. After all, isn’t that what a vacation should be about? Via Matador Network Images via t_watanabe , Shutterstock

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How to pull off a tech-free family vacation the whole family will enjoy

Worlds first upcycled high-rise is proposed for Copenhagen

May 1, 2019 by  
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Danish architecture firms Lendager Group and TREDJE NATUR want to prove that building tall doesn’t need to come at the cost of the environment or human comfort. That’s why the two firms teamed up to design CPH Common House, a proposal for the world’s first upcycled high-rise in the Ørestad area of Copenhagen. Draped in greenery, the stepped building would be built from upcycled materials “to an unprecedented extent” for an estimated 1,174 tons of carbon emission savings in the building phase. Designed to raise the bar for sustainable high-rises in the future, the CPH Common House is a proposal commissioned by SOLSTRA Development – Bellakvarter A/S, but it was not chosen for construction. The conceptual project serves as a springboard for eco-friendly developments in the future. “With CPH Common House, we propose the world’s first upcycled high-rise building,” the architects explained. “We show how to build high and dense without losing the connection to the history, context and human scale. Strategies on sustainability and circularity are incorporated in the project from the first sketch.” The CPH Common House puts a new sustainable spin on the classic Copenhagen courtyard building by introducing a larger courtyard and a dramatically staggered design that lets greater amounts of natural light into the apartments and creates room for terraced green spaces. The architects proposed using 17,577 tons of upcycled waste to create a resource-efficient building that includes recycled tiles and concrete with brick fractures, recycled window frames reused as wood paneling and recycled wood floors. Related: Ecovillage in Copenhagen strives to meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals To create connection with the existing urban fabric, the CPH Common House draws elements from the traditional perimeter block and activates the streetscape with 30,000 square meters of commercial space located at the building’s base. The landscaped terraces and the expansive courtyard near the base of the building create communal meeting spaces for the community, while residents would also enjoy access to private roof terraces from their apartments. Rainwater would be harvested and reused for irrigation. + Lendager Group + TREDJE NATUR Via ArchDaily Images via TREDJE NATUR

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Worlds first upcycled high-rise is proposed for Copenhagen

ChimpFace could help fight the illegal trade in chimpanzees

January 28, 2019 by  
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There is now a new tool that can be used to fight the illegal trade in chimpanzees . The same facial recognition software that social media sites use is now being adapted to recognize trafficked animals, and this algorithm will be used to find the faces of these apes online. For an entire year, the BBC investigated the smuggling of chimpanzees and found that they often end up as performers in commercial zoos or as pets to wealthy owners. Baby chimps are so popular, that they can be sold for as much as $12,500. The idea surged after  conservationist Alexandra Russo was investigating online ape trafficking and came across posts on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram where chimpanzees were being offered for purchase. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife “We were spending more and more time looking through the depths of the internet; it’s like a rabbit hole. You don’t know where to look, you click around pretty aimlessly until you start to find things that look suspicious. So, I thought there must be a more efficient way to do this,” she explains. “I began discussing the possibility of using some kind of software that could automatically find ape faces in online searches.” Russo then contacted Conservation X Labs, a non-profit group, and met with Dr. Colin McCormick, who is an expert in computer vision. The two ended up creating “ ChimpFace .” The software works by detecting images that show a chimpanzee, and then it identifies the individual.  They trained the algorithm to recognize different chimps using facial structures. Russo says that it is important to get as many images as possible of different positions, facial expressions and altered lighting. The algorithm uses a database of 3,000 different ape face images, and different chimpanzee conservation groups have contributed photos. Experts say that this new technology could help bring down large-scale criminal networks.  Facebook and Instagram are already starting to shut down wildlife trafficker accounts. Via BBC Image via PublicDomainPictures

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ChimpFace could help fight the illegal trade in chimpanzees

Rainwater-harvesting pavilions mimic a lush rainforest at the Indianapolis Zoo

October 23, 2017 by  
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Artful rainwater design has taken root at the Indianapolis Zoo. RATIO Architects recently completed the Bicentennial Pavilion, an open-air events space modeled after a lush rainforest with 11 steel-framed “tree canopies.” Built primarily from natural materials, the pavilion is a beautiful example of multifunctional and sustainable design that provides 40,000 square feet of weather-protected events space while collecting and filtering 100% of its stormwater runoff. The Indianapolis Zoo Bicentennial Pavilion and Promenade was made possible by a $10 million grant provided by the Lilly Endowment in 2015. The money came with the requirement that the zoo “implement a game-changing initiative that benefits the community institution’s long-term sustainability.” To satisfy the zoo’s needs to expand visitor infrastructure and the Lilly Endowment’s condition, RATIO Architects designed an open-air multifunctional facility that could be used year-round and replace the zoo’s former 400-person events tent tucked into the back-of-house areas. The sustainability angle came from the use of natural materials —each tree-like column is built of 63 individual timber beams, while a hearth of rough-back quarry block limestone rests beneath the canopy—and stormwater management . The pavilion canopy funnels rainwater down the tree-like column’s laser-cut weathered steel rain screens and into planting beds, where it then percolates through a water quality unit and is held in a 14-foot deep water detention bed designed to accommodate 100-year flood events. The angled pavilion canopy is built of translucent roofing materials to let filtered light shine through, just as in a real rainforest canopy. Related: Stunning solar Butterfly House masters resource conservation in California The Bicentennial Pavilion is split up into two main event areas, each of which accommodate up to 400 guests. The pavilion can also be converted into one large event space for up to 800 guests. The pavilion’s north side is designed for the new bird exhibition, Magnificent Macaws, with a custom-designed stage and perch to showcase the birds on their twice-daily flight through the Pavilion. + RATIO Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Susan Fleck

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Rainwater-harvesting pavilions mimic a lush rainforest at the Indianapolis Zoo

Kentucky Noah’s Ark Encounter opens amidst severe flooding

July 8, 2016 by  
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Christian fundamentalist organization Answers in Genesis ‘ (AiG) just opened their  Ark Encounter  in Kentucky , and the event was, ironically, greeted with epic flash floods and heavy rain . Kentucky announced a state of emergency  as severe flooding overwhelmed the area. Though AiG’s Ark seems to have survived the worst of it, others have been evacuated and homes destroyed in the deluge. The new theme park, Ark Encounter , is located near AiG’s Creation Museum . The new full-size ark replica is just a short drive from Cincinnati.  Dezeen reports  that it’s “within a day’s drive for two thirds of the US population,” and, judging by the thousands of visitors who inundated the park on opening day, people are taking advantage of the proximity. Architecture company Troyer Group designed the ark, which was constructed with the help of Amish carpenters. Related: Full-size replica of Noah’s Ark pops up in Kentucky According to the Bible, Noah is instructed to build the ark to save his family and animals from flooding. AiG’s ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, and builders drew on dimensions found in the Bible. According to AiG, it is ” the largest timber-frame structure in the world ” and they built the attraction to provide answers about the story of Noah’s Ark . Founder and CEO Ken Ham told Dezeen, “In a world that is becoming increasingly secularized and biased, it’s time for Christians to do something of this size and magnitude.” The $100 million project was, controversially,  funded partially through sales tax incentives . The seven-story-tall ark features exhibits and a restaurant. In the theme park, visitors can ride a zip line, take a donkey or camel ride, or visit a zoo which houses Tibetan yaks, ostriches, and kangaroos. About 10,000 people can visit the ark every day, but for the first 40 days and nights – the amount of time rain fell while Noah floated in his ark – the park will operate with extended hours. According to the National Weather Service , there are still flood warnings for a few areas in the state, and most are on a severe thunderstorm watch. Via Dezeen Images via Ark Encounter Facebook

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Kentucky Noah’s Ark Encounter opens amidst severe flooding

Criminal charges possible in Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe’s death

June 1, 2016 by  
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Criminal charges may be possible after the death of Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo . This past weekend, a four-year-old boy climbed a barrier and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure. The gorilla appeared to behave in a threatening manner, precipitating the decision of a zoo response team to shoot Harambe in order to rescue the child. In a statement released on their Facebook page, the zoo said they were ” devastated ” by Harambe’s death. Director Thane Maynard said, “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team. Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not. It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get worse.” Related: Polar bears are getting dosed with Prozac to keep them calm in captivity Angered, some members of the public are calling for justice for Harambe. A Change.org petition casting blame on the child’s parents has garnered around 349,400 supporters. The petition says the “negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation” and calls for an investigation. In addition, activist organization Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which monitors zoos as part of the Animal Welfare Act . The group cast blame on the zoo and said the enclosure was not properly constructed. If the USDA finds the zoo has violated the Animal Welfare Act, the zoo could owe the government $10,000. According to USDA reports, a polar bear escape incident and deteriorating enclosures for horses and monkeys resulted in prior citations. The zoo said in their statement that Gorilla World, where Harambe resided, has been “inspected regularly” by the USDA. According to Maynard, the barrier around Harambe’s enclosure had worked “for 38 years.” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters confirmed the Cincinnati Police Department is investigating the death of Harambe. He said , “Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges.” Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Facebook

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Criminal charges possible in Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe’s death

LEGO Music lets you turn bricks into tunes

June 1, 2016 by  
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The maker movement is king. To bring LEGO into the maker conversation, we introduce LEGO Music. With the idea, LEGO stores will carry Beatboards, a modified LEGO baseplate. By using capacitive sensing, kids are able to build their own interactive music pad using LEGO bricks. The bricks and baseplate are coated in conductive ink, making it possible to change the resistance in a circuit by simply adding and removing LEGO bricks. It’s simple: change the shape, change the sound. The Beatboard’s underlying technology is simple, consisting of a basic circuit board, a speaker , and enough wires for each note. So, the Beatboard can be adapted to any size from individual platforms to large-scale installations. ‘LEGO music’, invented by Esteban Cardona, along with Benson Rong and Andrew Kim, was awarded winner of the silver pencil at The One Show’s advertising competition and was shortlisted for Future Lions 2016 (part of the Cannes Lion Festival). + Esteban Cardona

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Polar bears are getting dosed with Prozac to keep them calm in captivity

January 13, 2016 by  
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A visit to the zoo wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the polar bear enclosure. Seeing the majestic creatures padding about and docilely swimming up to kids as they peer through the glass may seem like a wonderful experience for a paying guest – yet these behaviors go against everything polar bears are programmed to do. Social isolation, boredom, and living in an enclosure that’s a fraction of what their normal habitat range would be in the Arctic causes bears and other captive animals to quite literally become mentally ill . So prescribing antidepressants and other medications to zoo animals has become a common practice. One that some zoos don’t want the public to know about. Read the rest of Polar bears are getting dosed with Prozac to keep them calm in captivity

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Bureau A creates transparent birdhouses meant to remind us of the omnipresence of nature

July 10, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Bureau A creates transparent birdhouses meant to remind us of the omnipresence of nature Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bird nest , Bureau A , green design , Green Exhibition , italy , Migrant Garden , Politecnico di Milano , transparent structure , zoo , Zoo design

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Bureau A creates transparent birdhouses meant to remind us of the omnipresence of nature

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