Tag Archives: Inhabitat

Dozens of Japanese cities and towns quietly go off-grid

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Dozens of cities and towns in Japan have quietly shifted from traditional utility-based grid power system to a more local, resilient model of generating and storing energy where it is used. After significant damage caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, many Japanese municipalities rebuilt to be more equipped for the 21st century through the country’s National Resilience Program. The Program offers 3.72 trillion yen ($33.32 billion) in funding each fiscal year to be distributed to local communities seeking to become more self-reliant and locally empowered.

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“Since Fukushima, there has been a gradual elaboration of policies to realize that kind of local autonomy, local consumption paradigm,” said Andrew Dewit, a professor of energy policy at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. Although the Resilience Program was designed for recovering from and adapting to natural disasters, it has blossomed into a powerful tool in the fight against climate change. “At the time of the Great East Japan earthquake, we couldn’t secure power and had to go through incredible hardships,” said Yusuke Atsumi, a manager at HOPE, a utility created to service this new localized energy model. Under the old system, a “blackout at one area would lead to wide-scale power outages. But the independent distributed micro-grid can sustain power even if the surrounding area is having a blackout.”

Related: Japan’s new mushroom solar farms produce sustainable energy and food

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In its recovery from the earthquake, which destroyed 75 percent of its homes and killed 1,100 of its residents, the city of Higashi Matsushima constructed micro-grids and decentralized renewable power generation that currently allows the city to produce 25 percent of its power needs without tapping into the main grid. Additionally, the city has installed batteries capable of storing enough energy to run the city for three days without access to the grid.

“We are moving towards a day when we won’t be building large-scale power plants,” said Takao Kashiwagi, renewable energy luminary who serves as head of the New Energy Promotion Council and designed Japan’s first smart city. “Instead, we will have distributed power systems, where small power supply systems are in place near the consumption areas.” In light of the program’s success, the Japanese government seeks to increase funding for the Resilience Program by 24 percent in the next fiscal year.

Via Reuters

Images via Save the Children Canada/WikimediaDepositPhotos, and Pavel Ahmed/Flickr

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Unique temporary shelter in Greece offers an elevated camping experience

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Well, this is different. Studio Genua and hiboux  ARCHITECTURE designed this contemporary wooden shelter, which acts as a short-term residence for farmers and harvesters—or a summer beach lodge. Called Tragata, the elevated lodgings provide a place for people to relax and enjoy panoramic views of the natural surroundings.

Tragata shelter, temporary structure, wooden shelter, Greece, hiboux ARCHITECTURE, Studio Genua, green architecture, timber, storage space, hammock, panoramic viewsPhoto by Marianna Xyntaraki

Located in Cephalonia, Greece, the structure functions as a transformable space raised from the ground. Its permanent timber frame and detachable panels are made from locally-sourced materials and were assembled on site.

Related: Temporary Wooden ‘Hangout’ Provides Shelter for Festival-goers in Eindhoven

Tragata shelter, temporary structure, wooden shelter, Greece, hiboux ARCHITECTURE, Studio Genua, green architecture, timber, storage space, hammock, panoramic viewsPhoto by Marianna Xyntaraki

Parts of the roof can be folded open to offer views of the night sky and provide shading during the day. A hidden storage space sits underneath the floor plane and can be used to store mattresses and other equipment that is not easy to transport. A hammock is placed between the ground and the deck.

Tragata shelter, temporary structure, wooden shelter, Greece, hiboux ARCHITECTURE, Studio Genua, green architecture, timber, storage space, hammock, panoramic viewsPhoto by Marianna Xyntaraki

Related: 14 amazing timber structures explore the future of wood as a building material

The modular structure is easy to construct, opening up the opportunity to build similar structures that offer such elevated camping experiences. Tragatas are designed to combine the feeling of isolation and openness while adapting to the needs of their temporary inhabitants.

+ hiboux ARCHITECTURE

+ Studio Genua

Via Archdaily

Lead photo by Marianna Xyntaraki

Tragata shelter, temporary structure, wooden shelter, Greece, hiboux ARCHITECTURE, Studio Genua, green architecture, timber, storage space, hammock, panoramic viewsPhoto by Merle Sudbrock
Tragata shelter, temporary structure, wooden shelter, Greece, hiboux ARCHITECTURE, Studio Genua, green architecture, timber, storage space, hammock, panoramic viewsPhoto by Marianna Xyntaraki
Tragata shelter, temporary structure, wooden shelter, Greece, hiboux ARCHITECTURE, Studio Genua, green architecture, timber, storage space, hammock, panoramic viewsPhoto by Marianna Xyntaraki

Tragata shelter, temporary structure, wooden shelter, Greece, hiboux ARCHITECTURE, Studio Genua, green architecture, timber, storage space, hammock, panoramic viewsPhoto by Marianna Xyntaraki

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Surf artist battles massive tides to paint powerful mural in the Bay of Fundy

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Sean Yoro has a passion for creating art on precarious surfaces, but this time the intrepid street artist – who paints on a surfboard in the water – had to contend with 28-foot tide changes to create his latest piece. Yoro (known as Hula) has just unveiled a mural of a woman that disappears underwater when the tide rises (about one foot every 15 minutes) in the Bay of Fundy.

Most of Yoro’s work is usually done in undisclosed locations for legal reasons, but this time, the artist was invited by the team behind Discover Saint John to create the mural on Minas Basin, an inlet in the Bay of Fundy. The task was not easy, however, considering the area can have 28-foot tide changes in a single day.

Related: Andreco paints climate change mural ahead of COP21 in Paris

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Needless to say, even though he didn’t have to skirt authorities this time around, it wasn’t easy painting the 30 by 45 feet mural. “It was really challenging to adapt to the tide changes, from the dangerous rip currents to the quick rate of rising and dropping water levels, averaging 1 foot every 15 minutes,” Yoro told CNN. “I had to use several calculated formulas to know the rate of the tides coming in or out every day, and use this information to know what speed I could paint for that tide change, which helped (me) pace myself in order to get the proper details finished in the figure.”

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Another major challenge was finding paint that would adhere to the concrete wall in such damp conditions. He was determined to use nontoxic paint for environmental reasons, but had to experiment with various types mixed with sealers to come up with a special formula that would dry quickly and withstand the water levels as he worked.

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Unfortunately, Yoro’s beautiful artwork is sure wash away. The mix of sun, saltwater, and algae will most likely eat away at the paint over time, but Yoro hopes his work will last at least two or three months.

+ Sean Yoro

Via CNN

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Sean Yoro, street mural, underwater art, underwater streetmural, surf artists, Bay of Fundy, tide art, Hula mural, nontoxic paint, Minas Basin mural, bay of fundy artwork, street art, public art, water art, surf art,

Sean Yoro, street mural, underwater art, underwater streetmural, surf artists, Bay of Fundy, tide art, Hula mural, nontoxic paint, Minas Basin mural, bay of fundy artwork, street art, public art, water art, surf art,

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Dubai to expand massive solar park to include world’s tallest solar tower

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There are 2.3 million photovoltaic panels at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park near Dubai. And now the massive solar farm is about to get a 700 megawatt (MW) extension, which will include the addition of an 853-foot solar tower, the world’s tallest.

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The first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park became operational in 2013 with 13 MW. It now has a capacity of 200 MW, after the second phase was launched in March this year. But the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has big plans for the solar park: by 2020, they plan to increase capacity to 1,000 MW, with the aim to increase that number to 5,000 MW by 2030. The solar park is the world’s biggest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) project.

Related: Phase 3 of world’s largest solar park slated to begin this month

DEWA recently awarded the 14.2 billion AED fourth phase of the solar park to a consortium including ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia and Shanghai Electric in China. They won the contract with a bid of 7.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour.

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DEWA CEO HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer said in a statement, “Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East. This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world.”

CSP has been more expensive than traditional solar power in the past, which is one of its downsides. But CSP projects also have the ability to store some of the power as heat for later use.

In 2030, the solar park could cover 83 square miles, and slash carbon emissions by 6.5 million metric tons a year.

Via New Atlas and Business Wire

Images via AETOS Wire and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – DEWA Facebook

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Raindrop makes rainwater harvesting at home beautiful and easy

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Traditional rain barrels are often clunky eyesores, which is why Studio Bas van der Veer designed a beautiful modern alternative that we love. Meet Raindrop, a stylish drop-shaped rain barrel with a built-in watering can. The award-winning design was recently unveiled during the three-day spoga+gafa 2017 fair in Cologne and will be ready for sale by 2018.

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Eight years ago, Van der Veer introduced his stylish drop-shaped design as ‘A Drop of Water’ as part of his thesis for the Design Academy Eindhoven. Several iterations and awards later, Raindrop was created. This sleek and polished design complements a wide variety of homes and comes in a variety of sizes and functionalities. His current collection includes the Raindrop Mini, a smaller rain barrel for limited spaces like balconies, as well as the larger Pure Rain model that even includes a birdbath. Raindrop is expected to be available for sale early next year and will be produced by pottery label Elho.

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Related: 3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that won’t break the bank)

Since Van der Veer traded size for style, Raindrop won’t hold as much as a traditional rain barrel of the same height. The modern drop shape is “a symbolical reference to what the design contains: water,” says Van der Veer. The Raindrop models can be easily attached to drainpipes with diameters up to 50 to 80 millimeters. A convenient watering can integrated into the design collects water directly from the pipe. There is also a faucet at the bottom of the barrel.

+ Studio Bas van der Veer

Via ArchDaily

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modern rain barrels, Raindrop rain barrel, Raindrop by Studio Bas van der Veer, Raindrop by Van der Veer, Raindrop Design Academy Eindhoven, stylish rainwater harvesting, beautiful rainwater harvesting,

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Yves Bhar unveils new Smart Locks that make keyless entry a breeze

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One of the worst feelings is wondering whether or not you left the front door unlocked. With Yves Behar‘s new Smart Locks, you’ll never have to worry about that again. Behar just debuted three new products for August Home Inc. – including a Doorbell Cam and two Smart Locks equipped with the first integrated sensor that tells homeowners if their doors are opened or closed.

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August Home Inc. was co-founded by Yves Béhar and Jason Johnson. The company develops smart home products that use encrypted locking technology. This enables consumers to create virtual keys for their home and grant access to guests, house cleaners, dog walkers, delivery services, and friends and family members from their smartphones and computers.

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The latest August products are the August Smart Lock Pro, which is the most advanced smart lock on the market with support for HomeKit, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Z-Wave Plus ($279); the August Smart Lock, which is newly-designed and is for consumers “exploring the benefits of smart home access” ($149); and the Doorbell Cam Pro, which lets homeowners use a smartphone to see and speak with visitors at the front door.

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An important feature included in the Smart Locks is DoorSense, which the company says is “the first intelligent, integrated sensor that tells users if a door is open or closed.” When a homeowner is wondering if they locked the door, they can check their smartphone and be informed at the touch of a button.

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“Smart locks are playing an important role in the growth of the smart home,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of August Home. “With the Smart Lock Pro, we’ve created a lock that gives people total control over their front door in ways that aren’t possible with a traditional lock. Now people can make sure their door is closed and locked from anywhere. We’re also expanding our offering to include a more affordable lock so everyone can make their door safer and smarter.”

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Related: Yves Béhar’s shapeshifting Ori furniture transforms your home at the touch of a button

Johnson continued, “The front door is the gateway to the home and our mission is to transform every home, by helping people manage access for themselves, guests, home services, and for secure package delivery.”

+ August Home Inc.

Images via August Home Inc.

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Canyon-inspired research center in Phoenix clad in gorgeous recycled copper panels

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Los Angeles-based Co Architects just finished work on the new Biomedical Campus Health Sciences Education Building in Phoenix, Arizona. The massive building – which has already earned a LEED Silver certification – is clad in a perforated skin made up of almost 5,000 recycled copper panels that create a resilient envelope designed to withstand the city’s extreme desert climate.

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Located on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, the massive 10-story building is 245,000 square feet and houses two 80-seat auditoriums, along with eight floors of laboratory space. The design of the building’s innovative cladding system was inspired by the need to create a resilient building that would withstand Arizona’s extreme dry heat while providing comfortable interior space for the large building.

Related: Copper-clad chapel is a beacon of unity in one of Helsinki’s most multicultural districts

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To create the cladding, the architects used almost 300,000 pounds of molded recycled copper panels to create an airy, striated sunscreen that shields the interior from direct solar exposure while providing ventilated air on the inside.

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To create the airy facade, the architects used a Building information modeling (BIM) software to create 3D models of the exterior panels. The team then collaborated with Chandler-based Kovach Building Enclosures to form, bend and perforate some 4,800 panels to create the envelope, which includes 2-inch air space, rigid insulation, and a waterproofing membrane. The integrated system not only allows natural light to enter the building, but was also formed to create dual building wings that mimic the shape of a tall, narrow canyon-esque landscape.

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The copper cladding for the building is made up of 90 to 95 percent recycled material, which helped the design achieve a LEED Silver certification.

+ CO Architects

Via Architizer

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CO Architects, Phoenix Biomedical Sciences building, phoenix architecture, copper cladding, leed certification, leed silver buildings, copper sunscreen, copper buildings, copper facades, resilient architecture, green design, sustainable design, recycled copper,

CO Architects, Phoenix Biomedical Sciences building, phoenix architecture, copper cladding, leed certification, leed silver buildings, copper sunscreen, copper buildings, copper facades, resilient architecture, green design, sustainable design, recycled copper,

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