Appropriately titled “SticKs”, this modern wooden modular structure is French architectural design firm Djuric Tardio’s vision of a miniature kindergarten. Shaped like a modern rendition of the tipi, the designs are meant to be installed in parks throughout the Parisian metropolis. “Why build kindergartens in city parks?”, you might ask. Djuric Tardio created the design in response to a lack of quality kindergartens in Paris, a problem compounded by the city’s prohibitive permitting requirements. Djuric Tardio have proposed building a series of similar three-story low-impact “nurseries,” as the studio refers to them, that will each support the care of up to twelve children.
Each SticK will be built in a park, taking advantage of a public space that is generally unused during the weekday, when the rest of the city is at work. According to the studio’s design, each nursery will include bio-climatic technologies to promote energy efficient climate control. The large windows and spacious rooms will take advantage of natural lighting. The first story of each structure is primarily a reception and kitchen area. The second is used for teaching and play-space. The top of the structure is an open-air terrace for people to enjoy. The simple, low-impact design is intended for easy, low-cost mass-production, and you can certainly argue that the structure would be quite interesting to see tucked away in a city park. On a more poetic note, urban children will be given the opportunity to make some of their earliest memories among these pockets of nature.
Djuric Tardio via Inhabitat
This design, known as the Greencycle 2 or G2, was featured in the top 20 picks from the 2011 International Bicycle Design Competition. The Greencycle 2 boasts some creative features that allow the tricycle to serve a variety of functions above and beyond moving from one point to another. The key to the Greencycle’s sustainable character is environmentally friendly composite bamboo that composes the frame. Bamboo is a renewable resource that is available all across Asia.
The designer utilized research to determine how to best address the needs of potential users. The intent of this effort was to create a design that would be practical and culturally relevant. Such design features include:
1. Turning a bicycle into a tricycle. The extra wheel offers stability for the user and the capacity to carry greater loads than the average bicycle. The base created by the two rear wheels is also ideal for handling larger loads which would inevitably topple a conventional bicycle.
2. The capability to convert the vehicle into a two wheel configuration style when the surrounding environment demands greater agility and careful negotiation. The two wheel configuration is better suited for avoiding rocks and holes and for navigating crowded streets than the three wheel configuration.
3. The splayed rear design offers the option of additional attachments. The user can customize the G2 to fit his/her unique needs without significantly rebuilding the vehicle. Such attachments include a detachable passenger seat to allow for additional cargo space and a wheel barrow for loading goods that doubles as a trailer for carrying goods.
4. The S-frame shape, in lieu of the traditional diamond frame shape, makes it possible to free up space for loading and unloading.
5. Extra strength to handle demanding use. The G2 includes a strong central frame that functions as a base for attachments, such as a people carrier. The wheels are reinforced and include double front spokes to slow down wear. The front end of the G2 includes a reinforced steel fork that is made to withstand heavy use.
When the minds from Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos imagined the landscape of the Lugo History Museum in Spain, they did not want to see a sprawling parking lot. In fact, they did not want to see a behemoth building either. The designers wanted to achieve a unique and energy efficient structure that would celebrate the landscape while still functioning as a museum. The solution was to go underground.
The museum’s parking lot, along with most of the museum itself, is buried beneath the grassy landscape. According to the architects themselves, “It may well seem awkward to assimilate architecture into landscape, but this is one of the cases in which we would like to think that the relationship between the two is more than a set phrase. We propose a museum-park or a park-museum, which will be linked to the sequence of green areas in the city, hiding the parking areas underground and emerging in a constellation of cylindrical lanterns scattered throughout a continuous green field.” This approach prevents cars from littering the surrounding views and greatly improves the energy efficiency of the Lugo Museum.
And just because much of the building is underground does not mean the designers are going to let you forget that it is even there: weathered steel structures cylinders contrast the rolling green to create a dramatic site. The steel buildings are reached using a spiral staircase that takes you beneath the ground as far as the subterranean parking lot.
The museum’s Visitor Center is situated on a single floor that is illuminated by the large circular courtyards into which it looks. The museum’s outdoor exhibits are wrapped in a thin metal mesh that can be fashion with solar panels and nighttime lighting. The potential for renewable energy along with the energy efficient construction makes the Lugo Museum a model for green design. It is hard to imaging that the site was one a bustling industrial zone.
All images credited to Fernando Alda. More photographs of this project can be found on his website.
All images credited to Fernando Alda. More photographs of this project can be found on his website.
This table lamp concept by Miriam Aust beautifully joins the functionality of a lamp and a vase. Known as the “Vase & Leuchte” (which translated from German to Vase and Lamp), the design is an eye-catching yet simple centerpiece. Composed of a clear glass vase, the lamp is filled with water, aquatic plants, and a waterproof light bulb. The effect of the aquatic plants being lit up from below the water’s surface has a curious appeal. I would not be too surprised if the light is intense enough to damage the plant roots, but perhaps they are hardy enough to handle the exposure.
Miriam Aust and fellow designer Hanna Krüger work together at Wird-Etwas, a group that follows a motto that reminds me a lot of my high school physics classes:“Something emerges from something” or in German: “Aus etwas wird etwas“. The designers write: “Everything new that we create as acting people in a certain social context refers to existing materials, objects, and ideas of this world….The emerging is always reference to the existing.”
The next question is naturally, how does the “Vase and Leuchte” relate to the Wird-Etwas motto. Well, the aquatic plants growing inside the vase are warmed by the lamp’s light while still allowing some of the light to disperse into the surroundings. The contrast of the light with the shadow of the roots acts to highlight the plant’s appearance. The form and fragility of the plant is clear to the viewer. I believe the lamp asks passers by to look at the plant and its slow growth. The plant becomes the center of attention rather than a decoration in the corner. Then again, my affinity for plants makes me a pretty biased observer.
There is more to this ultra-modern home than first meets the eye. Named the Villa Welpeloo, this eco-home is located in Enschede, The Netherlands. The home’s creators went to great lengths to assure that the project made a clear statement of utility and sustainability. While the beautiful design and natural look are sure to catch the eye of passersby, the most significant characteristic of this home is that it is constructed from almost entirely salvaged materials. To decrease the carbon footprint even more, all the materials were sourced within a nine mile radius of where the home now stands. Through a process the architects call recyclicity (rather than the more commonly used term of salvaging), 60% of the exterior and nearly 90% of the interior are composed of reused and repurposed materials. For the construction industry, that is an incredible accomplishment made possible only by the environmentally conscious minds of its creators.
In many ways, the designing and building of Villa Welpeloo was done backwards. The architects started off with a giant heap of scrap materials from local factories and warehouses and then went about building a structure that best utilized the resources. The team also used maps from Google Earth to locate any abandoned lots or building near the build site in the hopes of finding reusable materials. The efforts paid off and Villa Welpeloo’s exterior is covered with wooden boards salvaged from 600 cable reels that were heat-treated to better weatherize them and maintain their integrity. The home’s framing is comprised of steel taken from abandoned machinery in an old textile mill; turning old into new again.
The interior design certainly lives up to the goal of sustainability and repurposing by turning old advertising signs into cabinets and broken umbrella spokes into low-voltage lighting. Sunlight provides most of the buildings lighting and walkout decks invite occupants to live both inside and outside of the home. The villa is a beautiful achievement and a perfect example of how reusing building materials can reduce the waste in landfills and our demand for natural resources. Personality and creativity can turn the abandoned buildings of the past into the structures of the future.
2012Architects via Inhabitat
The “IVy,” the fourth solar car built by the Sunswift team from the University of New South Wales in Australia, has beaten the world record for the fastest solar car in the world with a speed of over 88km/h (about 55 miles per hour). Solar cars fit into a special niche of transportation technology that, rather than finding an energy source that can force a one ton vehicle down the road, is determined to redesign the automobile to run on incredibly low amounts of energy.
The IVy is more likely to be considered a solar panel on wheels than a car, but there is no denying that this thing moves. And most amazingly, this solar electric car runs at 1200 watts, about the same energy demand of the average toaster, microwave, or hair dryer. Imagine your morning commute consuming the same amount of electricity as preparing a couple Pop Tarts. Then again, can anyone tell how you get in this thing?
The solar car was designed and built entirely by students, is powered only by the silicon solar cells, and produces about 1200 watts under sunny conditions. The IVy is Sunswift’s fourth solar car project (hence the play on Roman numerals) and though Sunswift’s cars are usually driven by students during competitions, a professional race car driver took control for the team’s world record attempt. Judges from the Guinness Book of World Records were present at the moment the solar car speed record was beaten and have awarded the Sunswift team their official certificate. Even if this car wasn’t a record beater, the compact and futuristic design is cool enough for me.
Check our Sunswift’s website for more details about this and past projects.
Sunswift IVy via Physorg
The use of plastic bottles, containers, and utensils has become a serious pet-peeve of mine because these products perpetuate the clearly flawed idea that we have an unlimited supply of plastics. The concept of disposable products, which is incredibly popular in the United States, is the absolute antithesis of sustainability. While SOME plastics CAN be recycled, as discuses in The Thing About Plastics…, the vast majority of plastic food products are used one time before ending up in landfills. Even when plastics are recycled, the chemical breakdown in the material means that every subsequent reuse produces a material of poorer quality. Our careless use and waste of plastics is a hallmark of the unsustainable lifestyle we have created for ourselves.
A product design student by the name of Andrew Kim came up with the redesigned plastic bottles shown here, called the Eco Coke Bottle. It would be foolishly Utopian of me to even hope that people will stop using disposable plastics before the end of the cheap energy age. So instead, it would be cool to see companies redesign the way they package and transport their products in order to reduce the carbon footprint (by that I mean the amount of fossil fuel used to get the product from the production location to the consumer).
The key features of Kim’s square bottle design are that the flattened sides should improve the efficiency of transport and the collapsible bottle, the efficiency of recycling. By making the bottles easier to stack, Kim believes he can decrease the carbon footprint of the plastic bottles. The square bottle design would require a massive redesigning of bottling and distribution centers. Also, the reason that bottles are cylindrically shaped is to allow for the even distribution of internal pressure (caused by the carbonation) and thus the least amount of material is needed. On top of that, the soda bottle is as iconic as it is functional. Basically what I am saying is that neither Coca-Cola nor Pepsi plans on changing the shape of their bottles any time soon. Nonetheless, Kim certainly did an impressive job in completing his product design, taking full advantage of Adobe Photoshop’s capabilities. I thought his design was the real deal when I first saw the square bottles.
Source Design Fabulous
A lot of environmentally conscious architects and designers find inspiration in the pursuit to repurpose and recycle old ideas. The Colombian firm Jaramillo-Azuero Architects (J-A) has come up with a concept design that could repurpose a series of archaic Italian viaducts into a series of beautiful parks all linked together. The particular stretch of highway, known as the Autostrada del Sole, is set to be decommissioned once a new modern route has been built. The design and layout of these parks will allow them to serve as educational models of sustainable energy as well as a location for research into future sustainable systems.
The design was featured (and won 3rd place) in an international design competition known as “Solar Park South”, a completion which sought to find a new use for the obsolete viaducts. The cost to demolish and remove the viaduct system would be nearly 40 million euros and the competition’s organizers asked designs to rethink the aging structure. The rules of the competition emphasized “ the creation of a space for testing the production of energy using renewable sources, the search for and successive application of new sustainable technologies, and the implementation of measures focused on integrating the Park within the surrounding territory through the upgrading, fruition and valorization of landscape.”
J-A’s proposal includes a wave-powered rail line, sustainable energy research facilities, and beautifully landscaped parks. The driving principle behind J-A’s design is the importance of public education in the formation and implementation of sustainable energy systems. Technology can reach greater and greater heights, but it won’t matter if people do not understand the importance of changing their lifestyles so that they respect and maintain the natural environment around them.
The Autostrada del Sole (A3 Salerno – Reggio Calabria Highway) is a relatively remote section of highway between Scilla and Bagnara and skirts along Italy’s Sicilian coast. The stretch of road consists of several remarkable viaducts built during the 60s and 70s and has been slated for decommission for over a decade now (of course the roadway will continue to be used until the new highway, composed largely of tunnels and designed to improve the safety of travel, has been completed). Until that time, designers have the opportunity to explore ways to repurpose the viaducts. The amazing views of the countryside and the dramatic Sicilian coast should make the viaducts a perfect destination for travelers.
According to J-A, “Among all known renewable energies the most efficient and the only one of its kind capable of regenerating infinitely producing “zero environmental harm” is EDUCATION. This type of energy is an inexhaustible supply of knowledge that spreads from person to person covering vast extensions of area resulting in massive social, environmental and economical progress.”
Read the competition’s rules for yourself and you’ll get the gist pretty clearly; be bold and creative, be sustainable and energy conscious, and be beautiful. What truly sets the J-A proposal apart is the importance of education in the pursuit of sustainable living and energy generation. Only through widespread public education can we hope to decrease our impact on the environment. Of course it is science and human development that has so devastated the world’s ecosystems and it will take decade’s worth of re-educating the public before we can hope to start heading in a sustainable direction. With the right focus and support, these old viaducts could become an important location for environmental research and education. I’m sure I’m not alone in believing that would be a far better outcome than watching the structure turn into a giant pile of rubble.
In light of rapid population growth and the inevitable overcrowding of cities, a British company known as WaterSpace has put together a design that turns houseboats into stylish and environmentally conscious studio apartments. Living in a decked out home like this, you might even forget that your home is floating on water.
With WaterSpace’s Floating Studio Flat design, each boat will function as a one bedroom apartment equipped with bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom. The top level of the boat will even be made into a sun deck for those who would like nothing more to sit and relax. The WaterSpace team has created the initial layout of each boat, but they really want to customers to take an active role in the final design of their floating home. Add-on options include solar panels and a wind generator to provide power to all the boat’s electronic energy needs. The creators assert that these renewable energy sources should make the boat energy self-sufficient.
While the Floating Studio Flat is currently little more than a concept design, WaterSpace estimates that each boat would cost around 80,000 UK Pounds (roughly $128,000). Of course the final price would depend on the added features, energy systems, and interior furnishings. Maybe someday soon there will be a real market for these home, but I don’t see many people docking their homes along the Manhattan waterfront just yet.
No one should be too surprised by a architectural concept design that falls outside the realm of practicality. When I first came across Konrad Milton and Carl Jägnefält‘s Rolling Master Plan, my eye was first caught by the beautiful scenery that comprises the backdrop of each photo. The design was inspired by the Norwegian town of Åndalsnes, which is a very popular tourist destination in the beautiful summer months but is otherwise a very quiet and uneventful place. Based on the idea of seasonal tourism, the Rolling Master Plan is designed as a collection of rolling building that travel via existing rail networks all across the countryside.
The design won third place in an open international competition, the proposal of which was to design a new master plan. Judging by a this press release, the creators of the Rolling Master Plan actually seemed quite surprised by the recognition that their entry has received:
“We are really happy that the jury took our proposal seriously, its not only a good proposal which we are very proud of, it ́s also fully doable, says Carl Jägnefält one of the two founders of Jägnefält Milton. The jury was impressed by the Swedes proposals that did not propose new city blocks, public squares, boardwalks etcetera, but instead focused entirely on the existing rail road network and created something unexpected from it.”
Here is an idea for an in-house paper recycling tool. Known as the P&P Office Waste Paper Processor (they could probably work on finding a catchier name), this compact design concept is intended to turn used office paper into a product that is always useful around the office: a pencil. Now all those worthless memos and letters can be put to good use again instead of just crowding your desk.
The act of turning an already processed material or product into a completely new product of better quality or a improved environmental value is refereed to as upcycling. For all intents and purposes, it is a form of recycling, but the distinction of upcycling is the emphasis on the improved quality from initial to final product. Turning tires into rubber mulch for playgrounds or melting varies types of plastic into one blend are easy examples of downcycling because the final products are of lesser longer term quality or value.
The internal functions of the paper to pencil device are kept under raps. While recycled paper composes the largest quantity of material used by the device, graphite, glue, and electricity would also need to be supplied for the pencils to be made.
TreeHugger via YankoDesign