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Sustainability

In Architecture, Sustainability on
23rd May 2017

MVRDV Transforms Old Highway Into A Plant Village

MRDV has transformed an old 1970’s highway in Seoul into a beautiful Plant Village. This highway was initially set out to be demolished until the practice took on this project to instead, turn this into a natural walkway that follows a long route above traffic.

This is a creative opportunity, instead of just knocking down and creating even more land waste, they have provided an opportunity to put more green back in the city. The overall project contains 24,000 trees, shrubs and plants which would counter a great percentage of pollution within the city.

Swell as helping the environment, this walkway provides a scenic pedestrian pathway through the main part of the city. During night, the plants are lit up with a blue light to counteract the yellow traffic, which creates a beautiful artwork.

In Interior Design, Reviews, Sustainability on
17th April 2017

Genbyg’s Recycled Design for Nordic Restaurant Väkst

I am a big fan of Danish Studio Genbyg, this is because they have a long history with using recycled materials in their design. They not only design heavily using sustainable resources, they also sell on recycled building materials to other studios to create an easy access to sustainable design.

A recent project by this studio was a design for a new plant based restaurant in Copenhagen called Väkstis.

The word Väkst is Danish for growth and the owner wanted this to be represented in not only the menu, but also the restaurant aesthetics swell. So it made clear sense for these two to join forces and the overall creation is an indoor greenhouse style restaurant that is stunning.

The Space reflects the Nordic Kitchen, whilst also combining the atmosphere of a city and a garden. “The idea was to create a vivid and organs space, like a garden party.” explained designer Rasmus Fex.

A lot of the refurbishment of this design has a lot of history. The main framed structure is built from repurposed windows and follows the pattern of traditional Nordic greenhouse’s. The counter is salvaged from old factory floorboards, while the shelving is taken from file drawers from the National Museum of Denmark’s Archive. The glass shelving has even been reused from a palace in Copenhagen, each part of this restaurant has such a diverse and interesting story.

Every bit of this place is recycled, from the cabinets made from wooden planks, the lamps being created using old milk cans to even the ceiling coverings that had once been table cloths.

This restaurant shows a strong example on why recycling has so much more depth than just creating new. The end result is not only a beautiful design, but is rich with so much history and authenticity, its hard not too love.

The Sustainable Trend Of Cork.

Cork has been everywhere nowadays, with its lightweight and flexibility, its becoming a strong material within design. Not to mention the overall soft and lovely look. This is brilliant news for our society, because Cork is cheap to manufacture, easy to recycle and is completely sustainable.

So what makes Cork so sustainable?

It all starts where its grown. Cork grows on trees in mediterranean climates (such as Spain, Portugal, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France) and the trees grow without any extra pesticides, pruning or irrigation. Instead of the whole tree being cut, the bark is harvested. This lets the tree live on to a ripe age of 250. During the Harvesting, trained workers who are paid a good living wage, strip the outer layer that does not harm the tree in any way. A good thing to know is that, even with the demand for cork nowadays, we are still very far from exceeded the amount of cork trees available.

After Harvesting, the Cork is taken to factories, where it will be dried, boiled and turned into different products. An amazing fact about these factories is that 90% of the energy used in processing cork is made from burning cork dust, absolutely nothing gets wasted from the bark from the tree.

 

The Benefits of Cork as a Material

Corks antistatic surface makes it a great resister to toxins and dust, making this perfect for people with allergies.

It’s soft cushion touch, creates a great floor or decor and it’s antimicrobial and water-resistant abilities also help combat mildew and old.

Cork is also a great material at blocking noise. Because of this, its very popular within commercial spaces or exterior walls to diminish outside noise. It’s also a great material to retain heat, making it an easy solution for homes to cut down gas prices.

It’s being used in day to day lives, from small decor details, to full on cladding. But below are a few ways it has been used in a truly magnificent way:

Surman Westman Cork Covered Studio.

This cork covered studio, provides a workspace for sewing and music-making in the back garden of a client. The cork cladding provides weather resistance to the structure, as well as acoustic and thermal insulation.

The Architects Tom Surman and Percy Weston described “The natural earthy quality of the thick cork, combined with the wild-flows rood, helps nestle the building into its organic green surroundings. ”

It’s easy to see how this was achieved, with this cork outhouse, providing the perfect space for an at home work environment.

 

Selencky Parsons Cork Lined Pod within it’s office.

In it’s own studio, Selencky Parsons has added a cork pod into its working office. The use of the cork pod, was to create a warmer atmosphere within the space, as well as creating more storage and use.

The Architects said “We wanted to create a comfortable working zone within the space, while maximising the benefits afforded by the highly visible site”. As you can see this was well achieved, as the cork pod offers so many more uses for the office, as well as bringing an edgy charm to the place.

Ikea’s Cork Furniture Collection

Ikea collaborated with London Designer Ilse Crawford, a launch of cork and natural homeware products. The Sinnerlig collection mainly features natural materials and neutral colours that would fit into any home.

The overall shapes, focus mainly on material combinations rather than statement shapes, which makes these pieces truly adaptable.

The predominant material is Cork, used in thin layers to cover table tops, to creating lampshades. Crawford explained that “Cork is very much a part of our range, because of its acoustic properties and it works great with glass”, she believes that it is an important repurposing for the material because “no one wants wine corks any more!”

There are so many new and innovative ways coming out for using cork, I hope we can carry on using this amazing product. We’ll be able to limit damages to the rainforest as well as keeping up with the new trends.

Getting Rid Of Down

One of the centres of peoples homes is the bed, there’s nothing that beats coming home and jumping into your fluffy clean bed sheets to cure the stress of the day…. I always look forward to this moment, of curling into my soft duvet, snuggled up with a good book. I would never imagine this to be tainted with anything but tranquility and peace. Well sadly due to the Down Feather Industry, for a lot of people this usually comes with a lot of hidden pain and suffering.

In most stores, the moment you splash out on a ‘fancier’ duvet set, it’ll be made out of down, it’s seen as a luxury item that we all need in our lives. But the procedure behind getting Down feathers is largely unheard of but so awful that it needs to be put out there so it can be avoided.

Down feathers are taken from the soft layers of feathers closest to the birds skin, generally around the neck and chest, this is due to the fact that this feathers do not have quills and provide a more luxurious feel.

They are generally taken from duck and geese during slaughter. Plucking begins when a bird is just 10 weeks old, the feathers are ripped from their skin swiftly, bringing tremendous pain and a lot of the time causing the skin to rip. This is then stitched up quickly using needle and thread (all of this under no anaesthetic of any sort), to be repeated every 6 weeks until the birds are sent to slaughter.

Another way this is achieved is from foie gras, so not only are these birds being stuffed with copious amounts of fat, they are also enduring a life full of pain.

I could keep going on about the horrors of this industry, but it’ll just make me angry. Instead here’s a link to PETA’s video, if you would like to know more:

So now we know the facts, what can we to replace this?

Theres so many different synthetic versions of bedding, mattresses and pillows that replicate the lightweight and softness of down whilst also being a hell of a lot cheaper and more hygienic too!

The materials used for these are: Ingeo (corn fibre), Tencel (eucalyptus fibre), bamboo, cotton, modal, microfibre, microclowd and primalift. So there can’t be an argument of choice. They are generally able to go through a washing machine aswell, which means that all the dust mites and bacteria that tend to collect in between down feathers would be a thing of the past.

If we all switch to these great alternatives, the demand would end, which would mean this dirty business would disappear. We all claim to love these animals, why would we want their pain in our homes?

In Interior Design, Sustainability on
28th March 2017

Why We Should Boycott Leather.

Animal Skin still has a large part in interior design, having animal products in the home is still seen as a luxury rather than cruel and leather can almost always be found in everyday lives. Being a vegan and animal enthusiast, I want to embrace a total vegan lifestyle, not just diet. To do this I am searching for cruelty free designs and I am starting with the biggest industry: Leather.

Leather look items don’t have to come with this tag of suffering, nowadays there are so many more sustainable options that do the same job. Cows have been proven to be extremely intelligent, they develop complex relationships and they even mourn their loved ones, why cause these animals pain for style?

Whenever I get into a conversation with someone who supports leather, a lot of the time its because they’re misinformed. “But don’t they use the skin of the meat industry cows, at least its not being wasted?” is one I hear often. The truth is leather isn’t a meat byproduct, the cows bred for this are ONLY used for their skin as the leather industry is such a high profile market. People also assume that it would be done in a humane way. But in most of the leather industry, the animals are skinned alive and cut to pieces until they bleed to death. Not very humane.

A large chunk comes from India, where the cows are abused and beaten to horrific states. Because of India’s laws that say you can’t harm a cow, the animals are forced to take gruelling long journeys by train, where roughly 900 cows are crammed into a wagon that should hold 100. These poor innocent animals are put through these inhumane conditions, with no food or water. Roughly 400-500 cows die each journey.

Its not just cows that are suffering for fashion. Goats, sheep, horses, alligators, deers, kangaroos, elephants are other victims of the meat industry. But the worst contributor to this is China, they are the leader of exporting leather and annually skin 2 million cats and dogs for the industry…. Because of ‘mislabeling’, most people would not know that their leather sofa might be made from dogs rather than cows. Ironically if this was more known there would be uproar, but why is a dog any different from a cow?

One truly horrifically prized style of leather is ‘Slink’, which is the skin of an unborn baby calf.

Below is a PETA video, showing more information on the leather industry, I’ll warn you that the footage is deeply upsetting. But it’s important that we know exactly whats going on behind these power corporations, otherwise the cruelty won’t end.

If getting a leather sofa in your home comes with these cruel backstories, why wouldn’t you want a cruelty free alternative? Nowadays there are so many alternatives but the one I want to talk about is Microfibre.

This material was invented in 1970 and is made from polyester, nylon, rayon and acetates. It creates a soft durable leather that is stain resistant and affordable, whilst also looking and feeling exactly like suede leather. If this was seen as the new way in design, for your home down to your handbag, we can pave a way to a cruelty free world where animals aren’t put through abuse for no reason at all. Below is an example of the Microfibre leather made into a rustic ‘pleather’ sofa, the results are so lifelike why wouldn’t you go for this cruelty free alternative?

 

 

In Architecture, Sustainability on
10th March 2017

Vertical Forest Towers by Stefano Boeri

 

Stefano Boeri has a history with creating ‘Vertical Forest’s’ within cities, having created the 2 towered forest in Milan and revealed the plans for the forest in Switzerland. His designs change a typical skyescraper that is seen all around the world into an explosion of flora and fauna. It’s easy to see how these trends are catching on.

Most recently, Boeri has tackled Nanjing, China. It has a crazy 1,000 trees and 2,500 cascading plants implanted into its design. This isn’t only for aesthetics, Boeri described it as:

“a real vertical forest that will help to regenerate local biodiversity, will provide a 25 tons of CO2 absorption each year and will produce about 60 kilograms of oxygen per day”

With the deforestation being an ever-growing issue, this type of design creates new possibilities for air pollution. By changing skyscrapers to follow this technique, the end result would be our concrete jungles, resembling just that.

 

Image of ‘Vertical Forest’ in Nanjing:

 

Image of ‘Vertical Forest’ in Milan:

 

Images of ‘Vertical Forest’ in Switzerland:

 

In Architecture, Sustainability on
7th March 2017

How A ‘Green Roof’ Is A Sustainable Design.

 

Green Roof gardens have been popping up here and there within all of the main city’s. It cant be argued that it is definitely a pretty attribute in Design. With the population ever growing and our cities becoming more crowded by the day, the lack of fauna surrounding us can a little bit depressing. By changing unused roofs into beautiful gardens, we can reconnect to nature, even while still enjoying our city lifestyle!

It is such a simple way of creating a beautiful sustainable building. One that isn’t salvaged enough within London, New York or most main cities.

Paris can be seen as a leader with this initiative. Recently in
March 2015, a law has been passed that requires any new commercial build to provide renewable energy or plants in the design. Because of this, green roofs have been sprouting up all across France.

 

 

 

But the question is, what makes this a Sustainable Design?

  • Absorbs Sunlight: A green roof is brilliant at keeping your home cool. By soaking up the suns rays, on average it can chill your house by 6-8 degrees as well as lowering utility bills.
  • Extends Roof Life: It protects the roof material, which would grow brittle and crack due too extensive sunlight damage.
  •  Absorbs Rainwater: As well as sunlight, the extra layer of earth will take on up to 80% of rainwater which will reduce chances off over-run.
  • Clean the air: It will improve the air quality by cleaning the air of pollutions. Which, lets face it, is a big must in the cities!
  • Act as a sound barrier: The layers of grass and dirt will act as a barrier to reduce exterior noises.
  • Lastly, it’ll help feed wildlife by providing natural meals for fuzzy friends!

After listing all of these reasons, it really seems like such a brilliant idea that we need to take advantage of.