Bringing Light to Impoverished Underdeveloped areas of the World

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It’s always great to see green tech used to better the world. The so-called Dominican Light Project has set out to provide a source of light in the form of solar power lanterns to the poor in the Dominican Republic for only $5 per person.

The area where they intend to launch these lanterns is prone to frequent blackouts, so people are forced to burn harmful kerosene, and inhale candle smoke to be able to see. Even a single solar lantern can light up an entire home, giving children more time to do schoolwork, and extend the time in which adults can perform the necessary domestic tasks. Charging the lamp for 6-8 hours will provide about 12 hours of bright, LED light. The lamp itself also has a very robust design, which means it should last for quite a while.

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Candles and kerosene lanterns are the main source of lighting in this area, which leads to a lot of fires, and creates a lot of indoor air pollution. They also cost about 25% of an average working class person’s wage. Which is why the Dominican Light Project was started. They are currently trying to raise funds through crowdfunding campaign, to be able to provide solar lanterns to the community.

They have set quite a high goal, since an estimate $25 million would be needed to light up the entire Dominican Republic with solar lanterns. However, they have set their Indiegogo campaign goal much lower at $10,000, which will cover the costs of providing the lanterns to about 2500 families. There are no perks for backers, except the knowledge that they are doing something good for humanity, so I hope they meet their goal. The donations start at $25, which I think is a bit too high, but they are currently quite close to the goal.

Tiny House that Overlooks a Volcano

How would you like to wake up with the view of an active volcano out your bedroom window? Residents of the so-called Phoenix House in Hawaii can. The home was designed by the firm ArtisTree and can operate off the grid. It’s also available for rent.

Phoenix House is located on a lava field Kalapana, which is near the base of the active Mauna Loa volcano. There are other homes in this area, so it is considered a safe place to live. But the tiny home is very close to red hot flowing lava, while there is also a 100 ft (30 m)-high lava waterfall which crashes directly into the sea nearby.

Phoenix House has a total floorspace of 450 sq ft (41 sq m) and is not towable, as most tiny homes we see are. The home is clad in wood, which was preserved using the traditional Japanese method called Sho Sugi Ban, and recycled corrugated iron. The home is raised off the ground by stilts and has ample glazing, which lets the residents enjoy the spectacular view.

The home’s layout makes the most of the available space inside, so the tiny house appears quite spacious and comfortable. There is a reasonably large living area, with a sofa and a small desk. Next to it is a kitchenette which features a propane-powered stove, fridge, a fairly large counter and a sink. Further down from the kitchenette is the bathroom, which is fitted with a sink, shower and what is most likely a composting toilet, since the home operates independently of the grid. The bedroom is located in a loft which is accessible via a wooden ladder. There is space enough for a queen sized bed, the amount of headroom is very generous.

Electricity for the home is provided via a roof-top mounted solar power array, while there is also a rainwater collection system. Hot water is provided via an on-demand propane water heater.

Phoenix House is available for rent via AirBnb.

China Soon to Get a Forest City

The mountainous Liuzhou region in Southern China will soon be home to a whole city of vertical forest towers, which were originally the brainchild of Italian architect Stefano Boeri. This so-called Forest City will no doubt offset some of the alarming air pollution the country is facing.

The city will create homes for 30,000 people and was commissioned by the Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning department. Apart from apartments, it will also feature all the amenities normally found in cities, such as hotels, hospitals, schools, offices and so on. These towers and other structures that will make up this city will be powered by solar panels and geothermal energy.

The facades of the buildings will be covered in plants and trees, as will the parks and gardens between them. There will be a total of 40,000 trees and roughly a million plants, representing 100 different species. According to the designers, Forest City will absorb around 10,000 tons of C02 and 57 tons of pollutants, as well as produce 900 tons of oxygen every year.

Forest City will be located just to the north of the city of Liuzhou, which has about a million and a half inhabitants. A rail line of electric cars will connect these two cities. China is the third country to begin construction of such a vertical forest city, with similar projects already underway in Italy and Switzerland. More countries around the world should consider commissioning such greenery-clad cities, or at least building some vertical forest towers, in an effort to offset pollution and bring some nature back into cities.

Construction of the Chinese Forest City is already underway and will be completed by 2020.

Solar Carve Tower Gets Underway in NYC

A few new details have come to light regarding the skyscraper Solar Carve Tower designed by Studio Gang planned in New York City. Plans for the tower were first revealed back in 2012. This unique tower was designed in a way that doesn’t obstruct the view of the adjacent buildings, or cast shade on its surrounding area. Construction will begin soon.

The Solar Carve Tower will be a mixed-use building that will be 213 ft (65 m) high and have a total floorspace of 166,750 sq ft (15,491 sq m). The building will also have a huge rooftop garden, while most of the floors will also have private terraces. They are aiming to achieve the LEED Gold certification, though they have not announced how they plan to get it. It will most likely be though sustainable features such as water efficiency, solar power, use of recycled materials and others.

The building will be constructed in NYC’s meatpacking district directly over the High Line. To achieve the no-shade casting objective, as well as not to obstruct anyone’s view, the building looks like it had chunks of its façade carved out, though the end result is a very interesting addition to the NYC skyline. Airflow and ventilation were also a consideration in the design.

The fact that skyscrapers are casting too much shadow is a real concern in NYC and something that has led to residents protesting in the past. Many projects do not get the go-ahead precisely because of this. And it is certainly nice to see architects starting to work around this problem, as they did in the case of the Solar Carve Tower. Bringing sustainable tech and more greenery to the city is also a bonus.

They estimate that the Solar Carve tower will be completed and in use by early 2019.

Another Superbly Designed Tiny Home Big Enough to Fit a Family

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The tiny house maker Tiny Heirloom recently completed another unique and luxury tiny home. This one is called Rocky Mountain Tiny Home and is used as a vacation cabin by a family of four in Colorado. The home features some clever design solutions, which make the family’s stay there as cozy and comfortable as possible.

The Rocky Mountain Tiny Home was built atop a 28 ft (8.5 m)-long triple-axle trailer, but since it features overhanging lofts the total length of it is 32 ft (9.7 m). the exterior is clad in wood and metal, which gives it a rustic yet modern aesthetic. The home features a lounge area, a kitchen, a bathroom, and two bedrooms. There is also a home office, which is separated from the rest of the home by a sliding door.

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The kitchen is quite spacious and features a mini-dishwasher, a range cooker, and a fridge. It is fitted with a copper sink. There is also a skylight in this area of the home, which is operated by a touchscreen display that’s mounted on the wall. The lounge is at one end of the home, and is equipped with a dining table on wheels, which allows it to be moved to where it’s needed.

The bedrooms are located in the two lofts and each is accessible via a storage stair. The master bedroom is quite spacious, while the children’s bedroom is big enough to fit two twin beds, which are separated by a bookcase to give each of the kids some privacy. There are skylights in both the bedrooms too.

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The Rocky Mountain Tiny Home also features a rooftop-mounted solar panel array, which is connected to batteries and an inverter. A propane-powered mini-split system takes care of the heating and cooling needs, while they use a tankless gas water heater for getting hot water. The home is also fitted with LED lighting throughout. It cost about $125,000 to build.