The concept of Ecobricks has been around for a while, but hey, this blog has been silent for sometime, so we simply have to talk about it now. I’m hearing about a lot more people joining in and making their own Ecobricks at home nowadays, which is great. If you haven’t heard about them yet, simply put, they’re plastic bottles stuffed with non-biological waste, and they can be used to make modular furniture and even buildings. Last year, the #StuffItChallenge was launched in the Philippines to encourage more people to make Ecobricks, setting designated dropoff points for the bricks, which will be used for low-cost housing in various communities.
Ecobricks can be connected using silicone, cement, and other materials, and they’ve been used to build or fortify various structures throughout the world already, such as a clay bottle house owned by Jane Liwan, a utility worker at the Besao District Hospital, in Besao in the Northern Philippines, and a classroom in South Africa. Currently, the Ocean Ecobrick is being developed, which can be used for outdoor and even floating constructions on the water.
Making an Ecobrick is extremely simple, and it’s definitely a good way to eliminate plastic waste and encourage creativity when it comes to building structures, too.
Photo from the Ecobricks website
In 2011, plans for a vertical forest in Milan were announced. Stefano Boeri Architetti was the brains behind the project, and Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) was formally opened in October 2014, featuring a pair of residential towers in the Porta Nuova district of Milan. Bosco Verticale has since won quite a few awards; the jury of International Highrise Award (IHP) 2014 considered the project the world’s most innovative highrise, and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat promoted by the Illinois Institute of Technology of Chicago has recognized Bosco Verticale as the Best Tall Building of 2015.
The second vertical forest by the same company is set to rise in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the project features apartments, a gym, offices, and a restaurant on the top floor. Construction is set to begin this year on the 117-meter-tall building, which will be called “La Tour des Cedres” or “The Cedar Trees Tower.”
Now the vertical forest concept is being brought to Asia for the first time with the Nanjing Towers, which will rise in Pukou District of Nanjing, China, and is expected to feature 1,100 flourishing trees from 23 local species, as well as 2,500 cascading shrubs and plants. Overall, the buildings are expected to produce 132 pounds of oxygen every day. The taller tower (200 meters tall) will house offices, a museum, a green architecture school, and a private club on the rooftop. The smaller tower (108 meters tall) will house a Hyatt hotel and a rooftop swimming pool, and the podium will contain restaurants, a conference hall, and shops, among others.
Photo: Stefano Boeri Architetti
Eco-friendly buildings these days are setting themselves apart not only With their environmentally responsible materials, mode of construction, and facilities, but also with their unique looks. Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore is no exception. Completed in April 2016, Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore was designed by WOHA, an architecture firm in Singapore, and described as a “living tower.” In fact, WOHA says that the building “combines innovative ways to intensify land use with a tropical approach that showcases a perforated, permeable, furry, verdant tower of green in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD).”
Furry, verdant tower. Who wouldn’t be interested in that kind of building?
The open areas of the building are cooled through cross ventilation. Each floor of the hotel has sky gardens, and the plants in each floor are planted in a way that makes them fairly low maintenance, and they help to cool the building as well. If the plants continue to grow well, then the building could be covered in them in about a year. According to Richard Hassell, cofounder of WOHA, in an interview with Curbed, “Examining the central business districts of so many cities is like looking at the moon from the Earth; one is filled with life, the other is just this collection of dead stone. With Oasia, we’ve seen so many birds and insects flying around the building. People respond so well to seeing a hummingbird flying right outside their office window.”
Preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are underway, and such preparations include the construction of accommodations for guests to the county of Pyeongchang in the province of Gangwon, South Korea. The Plus Partners and DNC Architects have worked together to create a tiny house in the city of Gangneung, where the indoor events will be held. Such a tiny house will serve as a home to visitors who will be attending the Olympic events.
The tiny house is made of environmentally friendly materials, which complement the beauty of the local area, and it features a windowed living room, a bathroom, a kitchenette, and a loft that functions as a bedroom. More of such tiny houses are going to be built to accommodate more visitors and address the shortage of lodging in the province.
Photos by Moobum Jang
Tony Wrench and Jane Faith are living lives that many of us won’t be able to survive, but which a number of us most likely dream about. For starters, they don’t own a car, and they earn a living from their music and their homemade crafts. And of course, they live in the house shown in the picture above.
The house is called The Roundhouse and is located in Brithir Mawr, Wales. The house is made with wood frame, cobwood, recycled window walls, and a straw-insulated turf roof, and is powered by solar panels on the roof and by a wind turbine located 70 yards away. They have to be pretty careful about using power during winter, however, because, for example, using a laptop too much uses up a lot of electricity and when that happens, the house has to go without power for a while. The house is fitted with a compost toilet. A woodstove is used to generate heat and the owners get their water from a well.
The Asian Development Bank has been hard at work making sure that its headquarters is more energy-efficient. A lot of changes have already been implemented, starting with its Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Plant Project which generates 613 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year. More than 2,000 PV modules were installed on its roof area, and 50 solar panels were installed on the rooftop of the ADB’s parking garage. Lights around the building have also been replaced with LED lamps. Hybrid cars have been added to its fleet as well. Anidolic mirrors are interesting additions to the building, because they work to “scoop” daylight and direct it into the building, thus reducing the need for and use of artificial light.
Photos and information from the ADB Facebook page.
So this post is severely late, because my sister Lani and I were in Massachusetts for a quick holiday in October last year. Still, I figured any green news is good to hear. We hung around the Berkshires on our trip, spending a day at the Kripalu Center where we went on a two-hour hike around the area, had some pretty good meals, attended two yoga classes, and in the evening, attended a sort of concert featuring Danya and Eyal. When we had some free time, we walked around Kripalu’s grounds and saw the Annex.
The building was designed by Peter Rose of Boston’s Rose+Partners Studio. It uses a radiant heating and cooling system, and also uses “raw wood salvaged from the Hurricane Katrina tidal surge”, according to The Berkshire Eagle (PDF). It also has linoleum floors made from linseed oil. Check out more info on the Kripalu Annex here (PDF).
As part of our trip, we visited the Hancock Shaker Village. We walked around after the tour and came upon solar panels used to power the village.
Spoon in Lenox gave us a taste of some yummy, organic food when we were in town. I did a review of the place in my food blog. The restaurant pledges to stay local by getting their ingredients from local farmers.
Overall, it was a very good holiday, and it really was very nice to see so many places that operate with the environment and sustainability in mind.
In El Salvador, a couple, Prudencio Amaya, 102, and Maria Ponce, 78, decided that not having enough money to build a home won’t stop them from having their dream house. Their home, called “La Casita Encantada” or “The Enchanted Cottage,” has drawn attention for its clever use of recycled bottles as building material. Prudencio and Maria are reaping the benefits of their innovation as well–tourists have been stopping by to see the house and leaving donations for the couple.