Apple Debuts the Greenest Macbooks Ever

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment


Apple Debuts the Greenest Macbooks Ever

The folks at Apple recently debuted their latest line of sleek notebooks, and we were excited to hear that they’re the greenest Macs ever! They’ve removed many of the harmful toxins found in computers including mercury, arsenic and PVC and made the remaining parts nearly all recyclable. The software has also been redesigned to run on 30% less power than previous models, earning them Energy Star certification. And finally, Apple cut out nearly half of the bulky packaging to streamline their distribution and create less trash to bring home.


Varian Designs’ Reclaimed Furniture Fuses Old with New

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment


Varian Designs’ Reclaimed Furniture Fuses Old with New

Old bequeaths new in Varian Designs‘ beautiful reclaimed furniture, which blends found materials and craftsman techniques with a modern aesthetic. Each piece in this sustainably crafted line is finished using all-natural old-world techniques, and extra close attention is paid to the details and joinery. In the Bartizan Desk pictured above, wood and steel are artfully brought together with the addition of a simple box for storage. The overall effect is a modern line of furnishings that celebrates each piece’s unique history, and we were excited to see lead designer Forest Dickey recently debut his latest collection at Dwell on Design.

X-Ray Umbrella Keeps You Dry as a Bone

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment


X-Ray Umbrella Keeps You Dry as a Bone

Have you ever thought to yourself, “you know, I really dig x-rays from an aesthetic standpoint, but I only ever see them at the dentist or after some kind of injurious catastrophe. What a shame.” Perhaps not. But if you’re thinking that now, then check out this cool umbrella concept from Anastacia Spada. Composed of water-repellent sheets of skeletal film, her brilliant diy project is sure to cast rainy nights under a different shade.

Maybe you’re tired of your flimsy nylon umbrella that you bought during an unseasonal summer downpour. Maybe (though I guess it’s unlikely) you’re a radiologist that lives in Seattle, and you have a broken umbrella sitting around. Maybe it’s raining where you live right now, and you just want ideas for a diy project. Or maybe you’re really into dressing up as a skeleton for costume parties, but you hate when the facepaint gets washed off in a storm.

Regardless of the conditions of its construction, we love this novel reuse of a material that most of us rarely consider twice, and it probably looks very cool in use. Whether it’s the muted blue tones of a rainy daytime or the abrupt flash of lightning or a streetlamp coming through the film, you’ll be kept dry by something way more interesting to look at than a sheet of nylon. It’ll take a bit of effort (and maybe a radiologist friend) to make one of your own, and it looks like it might have a hard time closing, but unless you’re Gene Kelly, you probably want to stay dry somehow.

BIG Architects Unveil Massive Mobius Strip Library for Kazakhstan

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment


BIG Architects Unveil Massive Mobius Strip Library for Kazakhstan

BIG Architects have unveiled an incredible new library that will serve as a multifunctional cultural center for Astana, Kazakhstan. Named Nursultan Nazarbayev after the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the new library will encompass not just books, but space and time as well. The design comprises 4 archetypes – the circle, the rotunda, the arch and the yurt – which all merge into the form of a Möbius strip. In designing the structure BIG also used high-tech modeling to calculate the thermal exposure of the building envelope and maximize shading.


BIG Architects Unveil Massive Mobius Strip Library for Kazakhstan

The building itself is a complicated juxtaposition of different ideas and concepts. It forms a spiraling circle around a strong vertical core that allows visitors to the library to move between floors. The museum’s curves form a möbius strip, so the interior becomes the exterior and back again; likewise the walls become the roof and the roof transforms back into the walls. The interior corridors are naturally daylit through geometric openings in the exterior shell, creating beautifully lit spaces perfect for reading.

To minimize cooling loads on the library, BIG Architects employed some advanced computer modeling to calculate the thermal exposure on the building envelope. Because of the warping and twisting of the exterior, some parts of the building receive more light than others. By taking that information, BIG was able to create a geometric pattern or “ecological ornament” to regulate the solar impact.

The new library will be located in the center of Astana with views of the entire city. All segments of the community will be served by the library, which is open for meetings, cultural events, and historical record keeping in hopes of further developing the country. Outside a park showcases the native plants and geology of the country. Visitors will be able to experience various trees, plants, rocks and minerals taken from all over the country, so they can see how diverse their native landscape is.

Solar Shanghai Pavilion Made From Used CD Cases

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment


Solar Shanghai Pavilion Made From Used CD Cases

Preparations for the Shanghai World Expo 2010 are heating up and many countries are getting in on the action by designing structures for the space. We couldn’t help but be dazzled by the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion by Atelier Feichang Jianzhu, but we were even more impressed to learn that the fascinating building is composed of thousands of plastic tubes made from used CD cases! Read on to find out what other green features the pavilion is incorporating besides the extensive use of recycled materials.


Solar Shanghai Pavilion Made From Used CD Cases

The impressive exterior structure is composed of hundreds of polycarbonate transparent recycled plastic tubes formed into a grid-like matrix. Recycled from used CD cases, the polycarbonate tubes will be able to be recycled again at the end of the building’s life. Multi-colored LED lights will be built into the exterior structure and be computer controlled to change the appearance of the exterior on a whim or based on a computer program.

Energy will be collected through a 1,600 sq meter solar thermal energy system of heat collecting tubes on the roof. This system will heat water up to 95ºF and will be used to generate electricity through ultra-low temperature power generation, which is similar to power generation from low-temperature geothermal reservoirs.  This energy will be used for the both the exposition as well as every day power needs.

A misting system will also add to the structures appearance and help give it a dream like feel. It can be sprayed in various patterns under the entrance ceiling to give the building a fresh and elegant appearance. The mist will also help lower the temperature, purify the air and create a comfortable climate in pavilion. Mist and some water use inside the building will come from collected rainwater, which will be treated for sedimentation and then filtered and stored.

Next year’s World Expo in Shanghai should be an exciting event showcasing many sustainable buildings, technologies and ideas. The Shanghai Corporate Pavilion looks like an intriguing and original addition.

ANIMAL WALL: Deluxe Apartments For Birds and Bats

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment

ANIMAL WALL: Deluxe Apartments For Birds and Bats

You don’t often hear about a wall being an object of desire, but that is exactly what Gitta Gschwendtner’s Animal Wall is for residents of all species in Cardiff Bay, UK. This 50-meter wall includes 1000 houses for birds and bats, and also acts as a textural and geometric sculptural divider between a residential development and a river front. Commissioned by Charles Church Developments, the wall took two-and-a-half years to construct, which is the same length of time it took to complete the housing that the wall shields.


ANIMAL WALL: Deluxe Apartments For Birds and Bats

Now that the wall homes are ready for moving in, why are there no winged creatures settling? It turns out that birds and bats will not be ready to nest until the spring, so it is no worry that they are not inhabiting the Animal Wall just yet. When they are ready to pick their new home, a wide variety of bats, starlings, sparrows and blue and grey tits are expected to inhabit the wall. “But not everyone will come at the same time,” says Gschwendtner. “Instead there will be a constant turn-around of tenants.” The feathered friends will have four different sized woodcrete (a mixture of wood and concrete) homes to choose from.

This ecological project was commissioned by developers of the Century Wharf area of Cardiff Bay due to the increasing concern for the depletion of the natural bird habitat there. We love that these animals will have a posh new home come spring, and that the residents of Century Wharf can enjoy a stunning work of green architecture.


Herzog + de Meuron’s Hamburg Philharmonic Concert Hall Breaks Ground

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment


Herzog + de Meuron’s Hamburg Philharmonic Concert Hall Breaks Ground

The new concert hall will tower 300 feet atop a massive triangular shaped brick warehouse crowned with an undulating, curvaceous, inclined glass structure that evokes alluring nautical imagery not unlike that which surrounds it. The sleek glass façade provides a peek into the multifunctional building which in addition to three concert halls, will contain a 250-room hotel, luxury condominiums, international conference areas, a nightclub, a massive parking garage (occupying the base warehouse) and a public plaza for concert-goers and casual passer-bys alike. The thoughtful preservation of existing materials, and the integration of new ones offers a nod to both contemporary and historic port architecture. With its prime position on the waterfront, the Elbphilharmonie also offers unrivaled panoramic views of the Elbe and the harbor to the south and west, the city centre to the north, and HafenCity to the east.

As a concert hall, music certainly takes precedence in this structure. Acoustics were a major focus with ceiling and building materials specifically chosen to induce the best, fullest possible sound, regardless of style. The largest hall features approximately 2,150 seats, and eschews the typical layout of a shoebox stage. It instead opts for a ’steep cauldron’ shape with the orchestra and conductor positioned in the center and the audience irregularly distributed across rising terraces. To ensure outstanding acoustics, the grand auditorium hall was been designed in collaboration with Yasuhisa Toyota, who has worked on numerous world-renowned concert halls including the Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

architecture, elbphilharmonie, design, herzog and de meuron, germany, daylighting, hamburg

Herzog + de Meuron’s Hamburg Philharmonic Concert Hall Breaks Ground by Diane Pham, 09/22/09

Undoubtedly an eye and ear-catching design in true Herzog + de Mueron form, the project is an undertaking that has proved to be as expensive as it is grand. In just the last few months the projected cost of the Elbphilharmonie has ballooned to 323 million Euros and is predicted to reach a half billion Euros by completion. Critics of the project are contending that the money would be better spent on upgrading the city’s social services and infrastructure. Hamburg in fact hosts the second largest port in Europe and despite its position as a commercial and financial pole, the city is pocketed with numerous poor, run-down neighborhoods with immigrant populations hailing from Eastern Europe, Turkey and Afghanistan – not quite the demographic that spends money on concerts and luxury hotel rooms.

However, officials refute that the new venue will not only give the city a much needed aesthetic and cultural overhaul, but will also help unite what is one of Germany’s most socially divided populations. Christoph Lieben-Suetter, the Elbphilharmonie’s artistic director, stated in favor, “This is a segregated city with completely different worlds from more slum-like parts to more suburban settings. This is exactly what is needed here: a bit of grand craziness.”