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Dymaxion Sleep is a hammock-like structure created by designers Jane Hutton and Adrian Blackwell. Part of the International Garden Festival at Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens in Quebec, the installation invites visitors to relax while lying above beds of aromatic plants – e.g., lemon geraniums, lavenders, and peppermint. Smile when you breathe in. Smile when you breathe out.
Hat Tip: treehugger.com Photo by the artists.
A man in Wales has built a wonderful, “hobbit”-like house that shows “maximum regard for the environment” by using completely natural materials and sustainable building techniques. Bilbo would certainly be impressed. More info at simondale.
Next time you’re in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, check out the world’s only, LEED-certified bowling alley. Brooklyn Bowl uses 100% wind power and energy-saving LED stage lights, provides huge-capacity bike racks, and has spruced up the neighborhood by planting 16 trees. If you can’t make it to Brooklyn Bowl in person, you can visit their website at brooklynbowl.com.
HAT TIP: inhabitat.com.
We missed a rather significant bit of architectural news in our green building posts last week. The “largest solar-powered office building in the world“ was recently completed in Dezhou, China. The design of the Sun-Moon Mansion is based on the sun dial and “underlines the urgency of seeking renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels.” Aside from the obvious sustainable nature of the solar panel-clad exterior, other green features include advanced roof and wall insulation practices resulting in an energy savings of 30% more than the national standard.
Las Vegas is far from being America’s greenest city, but if its latest destination is any indication of those yet to come, there’s hope. CityCenter is not just an $8.5 billion shopping/resort/entertainment hub, it’s the largest LEED-certified development ever built. LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability and was designed to promote design and construction practices that reduces the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improves occupant health and well-being. CityCenter achieved LEED® certification for its innovative approach to site development, preserving indoor environmental quality, water savings, energy efficiency, and materials selection.
Big Ass Fans certainly qualify as green products (they enhance cooling by up to 25% at about the same rate of energy consumption as a single refrigerator light bulb). But their facility is also a green marvel. Recently awarded a LEED Gold plaque, their testing facility in Lexington, Kentucky, uses 35% less energy and 60% less water than a standard commercial building.
Photo: a Big Ass Fan in a Cincinnati Segue Store.
Despite the tension this week in Copenhagen over China’s carbon emission controls, it is clear that a great deal of sustainable progress is being made in the country. Some very exciting green architecture is being proposed for the country’s growing urban communities, including a towering vertical Urban Forest.
Designed for Chongqing, the project consists of a stacked vertical forest designed to bring more nature and open space to very densely populated area. HAT TIP: inhabitat.com.
The roof of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is comprised of two and a half acres of undulating hillocks that help regulate the building’s temperature and filter water runoff. It’s also a habitat for a wide variety of indigenous plants, flowers, butterflies, and birds.
Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the Academy is “the largest public Platinum-rated building in the world (according to LEED standards) and also the world’s greenest museum. To see more, visit calacademy.org.
For years now if you’ve wanted to live in a pre-fab green home you’ve need a lot of, uh, green. Now Clayton Homes is launching a simpler, more affordable line of energy-efficient prefabricated homes that cost a mere $45 to $49 per square foot (un-constructed), meaning you can get an average-sized environmentally sound home for around $45,000.
Designed by Dutch design wizards, Group N55, The Walking House is a nomad’s dream and features solar panels and micro-windmills to generate energy as it walks the green walk. Oh yeah, and it’s also amphibious. Here are a few words from the designers: “The Walking House requires no permanent use of land and thereby challenges ownership of land and suggests that all land should be accessible for all persons. Society could administrate rights to use land for various forms of production of food for example, but ownership of land should be abolished.” Tell that to the tea-baggers.
For those without a roof above their heads, the power of architecture holds less significance than the idea of basic shelter. Recognizing this truth, the 2010 Natural Design Competition, in partnership with Salvation Army’s EnviRenew Initiative, will focus its sights on the rebuilding effort in New Orleans, Louisiana. Competitors will be divided into students and young professionals groups with the challenge of designing design a LEED® project that is priced affordably and is functional for elderly occupants. Finalists will actually get to see their projects built in New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood. Once the homes are built, they will be graded on energy efficiency, water reuse, and indoor air quality among other categories. The design team whose home performs best will be awarded the grand prize. But in this competition, everybody (students, occupants, and environmentalists) wins.
The Waterpod is a dwelling that’ll come in handy if the Copenhagen Accord (assuming there is a Copenhagen Accord) fails to solve the Climate Crisis (assuming there is a Climate Crisis). The home produces its own energy via solar and wind generation, and is built from recycled materials. Needless to say, it floats.
Hat Tip: ecofriend.org
A revolving door in the Netherlands is being used to produce electricity for a train station coffee shop. When the door revolvdes, a generator collects its kinetic energy and stores it in a supercapacitor. The energy is used to power the cafe’s LED lights.
Hat Tip: cleantechnica.com
The Aqualta Project – a spectacular series of images depicting a hydrologically transformed metropolis – is a product of Studio Lindfors, a design-oriented, full service architectural firm. To see more, visit their site at studiolindfors.tumblr.com.
Meanwhile, one to grow on:
MyAbodo is an interactive eco-game designed primarily for kids that lets you build your own home and see how your choices impact the environment. To play, just click on the image above. You can also see houses created by others. The Tools section targets adults and includes project guides and a project planner.
We’ve been featuring a lot of high-concept, renewable building ideas lately but the idea of repurposing materials for building is hardly a new one. In fact, one of the most interesting examples of resourceful construction has been around for over a century. Given the lack of lumber in Death Valley, a Rhyolite, Nevada resident named Tom Kelly used over 40,000 bottles to construct his home in 1906. It still stands today – a monument to environmental ingenuity. Learn about other bottle houses at agilitynut.com.
Eco-pods-by-Howeler-+-Yoon-Architecture-and-Squared-Design-sq1, originally uploaded by Fast Company
No doubt there has been some slimy business conducted in downtown Boston, but nothing quite like one budding architect has imagined. In response to a Boston Globe request for imaginative redesigns for stalled building projects, nearly twenty forward thinking designers responded with a range of solutions, including a futuristic stack of pods to grow algae for use in alternative fuels.
Hat Tip: www.asylum.co.uk.
PHOTO: Team Germany, winner of the 2007 Solar Decathon, has entered this year’s competition with a cube-shaped dwelling that has a unique solar skin.
The U.S. Department of Energy is hosting the 2009 Solar Decathlon – a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete “to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house.” You can follow the action at solardecathlon.org.
Patrick Blanc is a Parisian botanist and inventor of the Vertical Garden which relies on a new way to grow plants without any soil. Vertical gardens can be created on virtually any wall, indoors or outdoors. Watering and fertilization are automatic. Blanc’s gardens can now be found all over the world. A list of his projects (with photographs) can be found on his website, verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com/.
Hat Tip: www.thegrowspot.com
In the not-too-distant future, “vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.”
Some of the advantages of vertical farming:
* Year-round crop production
* 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
* No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
* All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
* VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
* VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
Hat Tip & More Info: verticalfarm.com/
Lily, a 5th-grader at Montgomery County, Md., Public Schools’ Great Seneca Creek Elementary School, talks about attending a LEED-Gold school.* For more information, visit www.buildgreenschools.org.
*The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.
Biomimicry is a new science that “studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems.” Here’s an example of biomimicry in action: the air conditioning system at the Eastgate Building in Zimbabwe, is modeled after self-cooling mounds created by termites. The termite structure maintains a constant “indoor” temperature 24 hours a day even though the outside temperature can vary up to 40 degrees centrigrade. Eastgate’s architects mimicked the termites so well that the building uses 90% less energy for ventilation than other buildings its size (saving the owners over $3.5 million in air conditioning costs. For more information, visit biomimicryinstitute.org.
How do you design a home that can survive rising sea levels? You build it on a buoyant foundation (e.g., the basement doubles as a life raft). Architects from Dura Vermeer in the Netherlands believe the concept can work for entire blocks of cities. For more information, visit floatinghouses.
Using soft rubber from recycled flip flops, Karin Wittmann Wilsmann’s MISS RIO OTTOMAN was a finalist in the 2003/2004 Ecodesign Award competition for environmentally responsible products.
Hat Tip: www.dwr.com
The city of Masdar – a planned community near Abu Dhabi that’s due to be completed by 2016 – is slated to become the world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city powered entirely by renewable energy sources.
The city center (which includes a plaza, retail shops, entertainment complex, convention center, and two hotels) will be covered by giant “sunflower umbrellas” which will provide shade, store heat during the day, and warm the area by night.
Hat Tip: designboom.com
In anticipation of World Environment Day 2005, a rockstar team of San Francisco architects, artists, contractors, city officials, and engineers was challenged to construct a house using only scrap and salvaged materials.
You’re looking at the result.
Hat Tip: www.scraphouse.org
Andrej Blazon’s “Charity Chair,” represents a unique approach for green products: design globally, manufacture locally. A finalist in the One Good Chair competition, it can be cut from a single sheet of recycled material (from hard rubber to plastic or metal sheets), then bent into shape using slits and flaps. Pretty much anyone can make the chair, which means there’s no manufacturing or transport involved.
Hat Tip: Peligro Films & www.fastcompany.com.
Sewer pipes have been recycled for use as hotel rooms at the Das Park Hotel in Ottensheim, Austria. Hat Tip: Superuse.org*
* Superuse.org is an online community of designers, architects and everybody else who is interested in inventive ways of recycling. The site allows you to post items at various scales within the reuse-topic. All examples of small commodities, furniture, interiors, buildings and reuse on urban scale are welcomed.
To help improve the environment, the city of Madrid, Spain is building an “Air Tree.” Created by Urban Ecosystem, the structure is completely self-sufficient, generating all its own power with solar cells. Surplus energy is sold to the electrical grid. Built from recycled materials and filled with plants, the Air Tree will also act as a natural air conditioner as it absorbs solar energy and produces oxygen that cools its surroundings.
Hat Tip: www.inhabitat.com
Headquartered on the island of Maui, Bamboo Living creates prefab bamboo homes starting at $60 per square foot. Their mission is to protect and restore our planet by pioneering with bamboo as a structural building material.
FACTS ABOUT BAMBOO: Bamboo is environmentally friendly. This woody plant (it’s a grass, not a tree) absorbs huge quantities of carbon from the atmosphere and replaces it with life-giving oxygen. It’s also the most renewable green building material on earth and also one of the strongest (it’s tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel). The fastest growing plant in the world, bamboos grow to full height and girth in 3 to 4 months (the growth of some plants has been measured at up to 4 feet in a 24 hour perio
Morris Architects’ visionary Oil Rig Platform Resort & Spa was the grand prize winner in the Radical Innovation in Hospitality design competition. The creators propose transforming an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico by turning it into an eco-haven surrounded by the sea. Hat Tip: www.inhabitat.com
Mudgirls is a network of women on the gulf islands and remote areas of Vancouver Island, Canada, who build natural structures and offer assistance to owner-builders who are “embarking on their own natural building adventure.” They build with cob* as well as other natural material such as strawbale, driftwood, adobe, cordwood and recycled materials like glass, car tires, glass bottles and more.
* Cob is a sculptable mixture of sand, clay, straw and water. It is mixed by hand and by foot, and is applied by hand. Cob construction, also known as earthen building or natural building, is an ancient tradition used by people all over the world. Cob construction creates structures that provide excellent thermal mass and is great in passive solar heating (using the sun’s light to help with heating.)
The Roundhouse is “an eco-home of wood frame, cobwood and recycled window walls, straw-insulated turf roof; with solar power and wind turbine for electricity, compost toilet and reed beds for grey water. “ For over 10 years, it has faced demolition after the Pembrokeshire (UK) Coast National Park Authority claimed it threatened biodiversity. Huge public support, however, helped lead to a 2008 decision to permit several low impact roundhouses and the project continues to survive.
Cabin owner Medura Woods approached Sarah Nettleton with a Cabin owner Medura Woods approached Sarah Nettleton with a challenge in 1997 to transform a 950 sq. ft. 1947 cabin into a model of sustainable design. Completed in 2000, the cabin earned Sarah Nettleton Architects a Top Ten Green Projects Award in 2002 from the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment. The complete story of the cabin’s transformation is told via a beautiful website: tofteproject.info.
The Earthship Internship Program is open to anyone with an interest in sustainability and a willingness to work hard. People of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Accepted interns will have the opportunity to learn Earthship building concepts and techniques while working full time alongside the Earthship contruction crew for approximately one month.
More information about Earthship Internships here.
According to The New York Times, a $350-million renovation of the largest skyscraper in Western Hemisphere will allow the building to generate (almost) all of its own power.
Chicago’s Sear’s Tower will literally take environmental sustainability to new heights with a $350 million retrofit. The green project includes the installation of solar panels on the tower’s 90th floor roof to heat water used in the building. Different types of wind turbines will be positioned on the tower’s tiered roofs and tested for efficiency. And between 30,000 and 35,000 square feet of roof gardens will be planted. Click here for more information.
Behavioral ecologist Elizabeth Derryberry, a behavioral ecologist at Louisiana State University, has discovered evidence that “vegetation density can influence birdsong over time.” Derryberry plans to extend her research to investigate how habitat changes associated with global warming might cause birds to change their tune.