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.

A Super Green Building Planned for Brussels

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Architect Vincent Callebaut is well-known for his ambitious sustainable architecture project proposals, and this latest one that he’s proposing for the EU city of Brussels is no exception. His plans call for turning the city’s industrial area of Brussels into a sustainable community. They plan to renovate existing buildings, as well as build new high-rises, which would be equipped with a wide array of sustainable features.

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Callebaut’s plans call for the building of three high-rises, which would have a total floorspace of 915,000 sq ft (85,000 sq m). These buildings would feature a slide-like shape and rise to a max height of 328 ft (100 m). The roof would be clad in solar panels, while the balconies could be used to grow fruits and vegetables.

The plans also include the renovation of the old Marine Terminal, which measures 538,000 sq ft (50,000 sq m) to serve the communities needs. It would be divided up into different areas, and would feature several geodesic domes that would house restaurants, bars and other structures. There would also be raised pods made from CLTs that would serve as meeting spaces. Retail and office spaces would be housed in another set of CLT structures. It would also be possible to attach small greenhouses to the exterior of the buildings.

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Among the green tech planned for this project are the already mentioned large solar power arrays, wind turbines, airtight building envelopes, natural ventilation, and rainwater collection systems. They calculated that the complex would generate 186 percent of its annual electricity requirements, and this surplus would then me used to power the historic buildings in the area, as well as any planned future developments.

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We will, however have to wait and see whether this project gets picked up by the city’s planning commission.

Eco-Resorts Going up in the Azores

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The Azores, a group of gorgeous islands just off the coast of Portugal, has seen increased tourism in recent years. However fortunate that maybe, it also presents a problem for the environment, so in a bid to retain the unspoiled state of the landscape, the local Tourism and Agribusiness Development Company of the Azores (TADA) has come up with a way to preserve it. They will be developing eco-resorts across the islands, which will be sustainable and have a minimal footprint.

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The resorts will basically be made up of solar powered cabins, which they are calling the Eco Pods. They are currently planning to build six of these eco-resorts and the first is already under construction in the Vila Franca Do Campo Region of São Miguel Island. It’s set to open in the summer of 2017.

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The resort will feature an as yet undisclosed number of Eco Pods. The smallest of these will measure 161 sq ft (15 sq m) and will feature a sleeping area and a sitting area, along with a small food preparation space. The pod will be equipped with a fridge, a coffee machine and a TV. The bathroom will be located outside and will be heated by an external wood burner.

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There will also be a few 215 sq ft (20 sq m) Eco Pods. These will have all of the above, but the bathroom will be an inside one. The largest of the Eco-Pods making up the resort will measure 322 sq ft (30 sq m) and will feature all of the above as well as a small kitchenette.

All the EcoPods are prefabricated and raised off the ground on stilts that are made from recycled electricity poles. Among the other materials used for the construction are locally-sourced pumice stone, windows made from recycled plastic bottles, and timber that is grown locally. The cabins will be powered by a solar panel array. The Eco-Pods currently have normal toilets with septic tanks installed, though the plan was to equip them with composting toilets, which sadly fell through.

The Eco-Pods are built to withstand high-winds and earthquakes, while TADA also plans to put the designs to use for other purposes, such as disaster relief housing, or garden pavilions.

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An Awesome Towable Tiny Office

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Perhaps living in a tiny home isn’t quite feasible for most people, but I’m sure many entrepreneurs would appreciate their own tiny mobile office. And this one fits the bill perfectly. It was designed by the creators of the Minim House and is called the Minim Workspace. It’s towable and can even run off-the-grid. And it’s certainly a great alternative to working in a coffee shop and offers a way to enjoy nature while working.

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The Minim Workspace measures 80 sq ft (7.4 sq m), which is enough room for a sizable working surface as well as a comfy lounge area. They also managed to incorporate a sink, a tiny fridge and a microwave. There is no toilet or shower though, which is a shame. The reason for this is that they envisioned it as being parked near a home or business, where these facilities would be accessible.

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According to the company, it can be parked anywhere legally and renters require no permits to do so. They are advertising it as the perfect mobile office for startups or even as a portable music studio. Heating and cooling is provided via a noiseless air-conditioning and heating system, while the office also features LED lighting throughout.

The basic version is designed to be hooked up to the grid, but there is the option to install a solar power array on the roof, which would make it independent of the grid. It also doesn’t come with mobile Wi-Fi included, so occupants would need to have their own personal hotspot.

It seems they plan to only rent these offices out and not sell them. The on-grid version of the Minim Workspace can be rented for $775 per month, while the off-grid version costs $925 per month. They can be booked within a 75 mile (120 km) radius around Washington DC, and they will be available by March 2017. Once the mobile office is delivered, the person renting it can’t tow it to another location.

Geodesic Biodomes are Sustainable and Very Cool

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The company Biodomes of Romania recently unveiled their lineup of dome homes, which can function completely independently of the grid, and can withstand high winds and severe earthquakes. There are many possible uses for these domes, such as serving as a full time home, cabin, greenhouse, garden shed, guesthouse and more.

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The Biodomes are built out of metal and single, double, or triple-glazed glass. They offer a turnkey option that comes pre-installed with all that’s needed for comfortable living, while, on the other end of the extreme, they can also supply just the shell of the dome, with which the customer can then do as they wish.

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The only version of the Biodome that they’ve built so far is the so-called Pollux model. It measures just 204 sq ft (19 sq m), though the company says they can build them as large as 3,379 sq ft (314 sq m). To create a full time living solution one of the larger domes can either be partitioned into different rooms, or one can install several smaller domes and link them via tunnels. It is also possible to build these domes on top of a stone wall, which is useful for gaining more usable height. They do require a foundation and cannot be moved easily once installed. According to the company, the homes can withstand earthquakes up to 8.5 on the Richter scale and winds blowing up to 198 mph (320 km/h).

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The basic version must be hooked up to the grid, but they offer a variety of optional off-grid addons, such as custom made triangular solar panels and solar hot water heaters. Magnetic blinds can also be installed to offer more privacy and shield the interior from the sun, while the domes can also be partly buried to create a thermally efficient earth-sheltered home. The prices for the domes start at $1060 per 10 sq ft (€1,000 per sq m).