Paris is Getting a Vertical Forest Tower

Towers covered with greenery are not a new idea and the first ones are already getting built around the globe in an effort to fight the alarming pollution present in some cities. Now the Paris suburb of Villiers sur Marne is getting its own such tower. The so-called Forêt Blanche (which translates to White Forest) was designed by the famous architect Stefano Boeri, who is no stranger to proposing such vertical forest buildings. Towers based on his designs are already getting built in Switzerland and Milan, while a whole city of such towers is being planned in southern China.

Forêt Blanche will be made entirely of wood will stand 177 ft (54 m) tall. The exterior will be covered in 2,000 trees, shrubs and plants. It will feature apartment units at the top, while the lower floors will be taken up by offices and retail spaces.

The fours sides of the tower will be covered by a mix of balconies and terraces on which various plants and trees will be planted. According to the architects, this green covered area will be equivalent to one hectare of forest, which is 10 times larger than the actual footprint of the building itself. The project is still very much in the early stages, so a timeline for its construction and completion has not yet been decided upon.

However, it is a great idea, and one which more large cities should start entertaining. We must embrace nature and help it heal if we are to build a more sustainable future for our world. We will follow this project closely as new developments arise and keep you informed. Let’s hope it is just one of many such projects that we will get to report on in the next year.

Super-Thin Solar Cell

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Solar energy will very likely be the main source of power as the world continues to strive toward greater sustainability. But it won’t be just the large panels that get the job done. In fact, I’m willing to bet that ultra thin and flexible solar cells that can be attached to virtually any surface will be the future. Which is why breakthroughs in this area are so important. And now a team of South Korea scientists has successfully created a super thin solar cell, which is so flexible it can be wrapped around a pencil without causing damage or too much strain to it.

The solar PV cell that they created is one micrometer thick (which is even thinner than a human hair) and it is this thinness that gives it the extreme flexibility it boasts of. It is made from a semiconductor gallium arsenide, which is stamped onto a flexible metal substrate. No adhesive is used in this process, instead it is fused with the electrode on the substrate with a cold welding process that involves applying pressure at 170 degrees Celsius. And the metal layer also acts as a reflector that directs light back onto the cell.

Testing the limits of the cell’s flexibility they found that it can be bent around an object with a radius of 1.4 millimeters. Despite their thinness, the solar cells have an energy conversion efficiency comparable to thicker ones. They also exhibited only one quarter of the strain from the bending compared to a 3.5 micrometers thick cell.

The real-world application of this type of cell would be far-ranging. It could be used on smartphones, fabric, and smart glasses, while it could also easily be integrated into self-powered devices, such as, for example, environmental sensors located in hard to reach places.

There is no definitive word yet on when and if they plan to bring this cell to market.

Super-Thin Solar Cell

thincell

Solar energy will very likely be the main source of power as the world continues to strive toward greater sustainability. But it won’t be just the large panels that get the job done. In fact, I’m willing to bet that ultra thin and flexible solar cells that can be attached to virtually any surface will be the future. Which is why breakthroughs in this area are so important. And now a team of South Korea scientists has successfully created a super thin solar cell, which is so flexible it can be wrapped around a pencil without causing damage or too much strain to it.

The solar PV cell that they created is one micrometer thick (which is even thinner than a human hair) and it is this thinness that gives it the extreme flexibility it boasts of. It is made from a semiconductor gallium arsenide, which is stamped onto a flexible metal substrate. No adhesive is used in this process, instead it is fused with the electrode on the substrate with a cold welding process that involves applying pressure at 170 degrees Celsius. And the metal layer also acts as a reflector that directs light back onto the cell.

Testing the limits of the cell’s flexibility they found that it can be bent around an object with a radius of 1.4 millimeters. Despite their thinness, the solar cells have an energy conversion efficiency comparable to thicker ones. They also exhibited only one quarter of the strain from the bending compared to a 3.5 micrometers thick cell.

The real-world application of this type of cell would be far-ranging. It could be used on smartphones, fabric, and smart glasses, while it could also easily be integrated into self-powered devices, such as, for example, environmental sensors located in hard to reach places.

There is no definitive word yet on when and if they plan to bring this cell to market.

Unusual Stackable Cabin That Can be Used as Disaster Relief Housing

The Ljubljana, Slovenia-based OFIS Architects recently completed a unique cabin, which could serve as a tiny dwelling, a vacation home, housing for researchers, or even a shelter. It’s located near Ljubljana Castle, which is on a hill overlooking the city. It is the result of a joint effort between the companies Permiz, C+C, C28 and AKT Living Unit.

The project is aptly named Living Unit on Ljubljana Castle and features a flexible wooden shell that makes it easy to install it on nearly any kind of terrain. It’s also easy to transport pretty much anywhere. The basic version of the cabin is made up of three wooden volumes, which are designed to be stacked on top of each other. The cabin measures 14.7 by 8.2 by 8.8 ft (4.5 by 2.5 by 2.7 m), but since it is modular it can be expanded in size both vertically and horizontally. No foundation is required, but it does need to be anchored into place.

The volumes seem to be quite tiny, and the home features a kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, a sleeping area on the first floor and a lounge on the top floor, which is accessible by a ladder. The kitchen features a sink and stove, and a storage unit, which can also be used as a ladder leads up to the next floor. The bathroom is next to the sleeping area, though it is not pictured here.

The volumes are quite tiny, but they are very functional, and solar panels, a composting toilet and a water filtration system would all be easily installed, then this cabin would be completely independent of the grid.

The Living Unit on Ljubljana Castle is currently a temporary library, and is open to the public from 5.30-9.30 PM every day through August 14. There is no word yet on pricing, though this will likely be released soon.

Family Moves to a Tiny Home

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Tiny homes are ideal for singles and couples, but once you bring a small child or two into the mix and things get complicated. Most people opt to move to a bigger home once their family grows, but UK-based architect Tim Francis, his wife, teacher Laura Hubbard-Miles and their three children have chosen to downsize into a very small home.

Their new home is actually a renovated stone building that was used in Victorian times to store fruit. It’s located in the countryside of Gloucestershire, on Francis’ parents’ estate. Their apartment in London was much bigger than this new home, but the nearest park was quite far away, and with today’s prices they were unlikely to be able to afford another home with more of the qualities they sought.

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They call their new tiny home Fruit Store, and it took awhile to get all the permits to turn it into a dwelling. The exact measurements of the home weren’t revealed, but the interior appears quite spacious and cozy, probably due to its open, minimalist design. The home features a loft, which houses the children’s bedroom and playroom. The lounge downstairs features built-in benches, which can either be used as a sofa or transformed into a bed for the parents.

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There is also a well-sized kitchen, and a bathroom, though an indoor toilet seems to be missing. The house does have running water and electricity though. the family spends a lot of time together outdoors, gardening and exploring the countryside, which is a definite plus in their new living arrangement. The downsizing has also given Tim a chance to get his design firm, Rural Workshop, off the ground.

plans

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A family of three living together in such a small home certainly challenges a whole host of preconceived notions about what a family home should be like. However, what a child really needs is a roof over their heads and a family that loves and protects them. So bedroom size is a secondary consideration.