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.

Light-filled Tiny House Made of Reclaimed Materials

I prefer rustic style tiny homes over the more modern, minimalist ones, and the new creation by tiny house maker Wood & Heart, based in New Hampshire, is a prime example of everything done right. The tiny house is called Legacy and is made of mostly reclaimed materials, which only adds to its rustic charm. This is the first tiny home built by the company and they’ve entered the market in a big way with it, as far as I’m concerned.

The Legacy tiny home is 26 ft (7.9 m) long and appears more spacious than it actually is thanks to the large windows, which flood the interior with natural light. The exterior cladding is cedar and features Shou Sugi Ban-style charred cedar trimming for contrast. The interior walls are also clad in wood, while they used closed-cell spray foam insulation to insulate the home. There is an exterior utility closet where they stored a tankless water heater, a propane tank and the 50-amp electrical panel with an RV outlet.

The counters are made of black walnut and African mahogany, while the flooring is solid hardwood oak. The home also features floating black walnut shelves and dining table. The kitchen is fitted with a four-burner stovetop with a beveled marble splashback and a 24-inch ceramic farmhouse sink. The split system AC unit is also installed here.

The living area is well-spaced for a tiny home, and features a pull-out sofa as well as plenty of storage space. The bedroom is located in a loft. The bathroom features honeycomb-patterned tiling on the floor and an an accent wall made from reclaimed timber. It is also spacious enough to fit a full-size tub and shower.

The ceiling is clad in rough-sawn planks of reclaimed timber and they placed three large skylights here, which together with the 13 Andersen windows elsewhere in the home lets in ample amounts of natural daylight.

The Legacy is set atop a trailer and can be purchased for $85,000. This price includes all the furniture, appliances and decor.

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.

Recycled Tile Used to Reduce Solar Heat Gain

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Poor insulation is one of the main problems when renovating old homes into modern residences. It results in excessive heat gain during the summer, and heat loss in the winter. Architect Drtan Lm from Malaysia recently completed a renovation of a home where they took an interesting approach to combating heat gain. The house they worked on was quite dilapidated, but it did contain a lot of intact terracotta tiles, which they decided to recycle into a sunshade for the home.

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The home got its name from this too and is called Clay Roof House. It is located in Petaling Jaya, Selango, Malaysia, and faces west, meaning that lots of sunlight enters it both in the mornings and afternoons. Since the terracotta tiles found in the home were of a very high-quality, the architects used them to create a terracotta brise soleil, as well as a second brick lattice brise soleil, which work to minimize the home’s solar heat gain, as well as reduce much of the glare.

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They also made the terracotta tile shading mechanism fully operable, so it can be opened and closed in order to let it air and lights. The added bonus is that the tiles create a beautiful lighting effect inside the home. The terracotta also glows a warm orange in the sun.

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They also left exposed brick, concrete and wood in the interior of the home, which blends perfectly with the lovely terracotta brise soleil. The interior of the home features a large living area, several bedrooms, as well as a piano room, study, two kitchens, and a maid’s quarters. For a home this size, preventing heat gain was of the utmost importance, especially given Malaysia’s climate, and the architects did a great job of offsetting some of the cooling costs with this clay tile shading system.

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