OMA/ole scheeren: mahanakhon, bangkok

mahanakhon by ole scheeren / OMA

ole scheeren of OMA has unveiled plans for maha nakhon, a 77 storey skyscraper
that will be the tallest building in bangkok.

the complex at 150,000 square meters (approximately 1,6 million square feet) is a series
of components that comprise mahanakhon square, a landscaped outdoor public plaza
intended as a new public destination within the city; maha nakhon terraces, 10,000 square
meters (nearly 110,000 square feet) of luxury retail space with lush gardens and terraces
spread over multiple levels for restaurants, cafes and a 24 hour marketplace. also included
is the ritz-carlton residences, bangkok with 200 highly-customized single-level and duplex homes,
each offering the atmosphere of a skybox penthouse and the bangkok edition, a signature boutique
hotel with 150 hotel rooms, a collaboration between marriott international and renowned
hotelier ian schrager; and a multi-level roof-top sky bar and restaurant.


with its distinctive sculptural appearance, mahanakhon has been carefully carved
to introduce a three dimensional ribbon of architectural ‘pixels’ that circle the tower’s
full height, as if excavating portions of the elegant glass curtain wall to reveal
the inner life of the building metaphorically and actually an architecture that encloses
and protects its inhabitants while revealing the inner life of their city.

mahanakhon – top view

mahanakhon- structure

mahanakhon – detail

mahanakhon – base

the 7-storey area of the tower’s base houses luxury retail and dining areas. here
mahanakhon’s architecture is articulated to evoke the shifting protrusions of a mountain
landscape. the building also features an adjacent freestanding 7-storey building known
as the cube, with multi-level indoor/outdoor terraces offering a network of social spaces
with an extensive and carefully selected mix of dining and leisure facilities that serve
the general public will have acces to via a direct above-ground pedestrian link to
the main cbd skytrain station and plaza-level access.

the building is due to be completed by 2012.


mahanakhon at night

Green Jobs and Clean Energy: #1 Way to Lead the World

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan

How long did the idea that green issues and the economy were in competition proliferate the US? For decades. Now, top-of-the-world entrepeneurs, the President of the United States, leading representatives in Congress, and research institutes are saying that green jobs and a green economy are the way to a healthy economy. Recent statements by Barbara Boxer (Senator from California), John Doerr (venture capitalist who helped to launch Google and, Obama, and a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts state that the only way to lead the world in the 21st century is to lead in green energy and green jobs.

In reference to Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, Boxer said yesterday: “The nation that aggressively addresses the issue of climate change will be the nation that will thrive, the nation that will lead, and the nation that will prosper.”

Read more of this story »

Nike Stops Use of Amazon Leather After Damning Greenpeace Report

from Green Options by Andrew Williams

Nike has stopped all imports of leather from the Amazon region of Brazil, after a Greenpeace report claimed that its shoes and trainers could be speeding up the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest and contributing to global warming.

The report, published last month, revealed how cattle hides from deforested areas were entering the supply chains of global brands including Nike, Clarks, Adidas and Reebok.

According to the NGO, deforestation for cattle ranching in Brazil alone is now the biggest driver of deforestation anywhere in the world.

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Fiat and Tata Will Sell the Ultra-Cheap Nano in South America

from Green Options by Nick Chambers

The Tata Nano has been making a splash recently as one of the world’s cheapest and most fuel efficient cars marketed towards developing economies where cars are generally considered a luxury. Now Fiat and Tata have announced plans to market the car in South America.

Behind Italy, Brazil is already Fiat’s second largest market so it only makes sense that Fiat would want to grab more market share in the ultra low-end category.

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Tradition, Biofuel and Famine in Uganda

from Green Options by Kay Sexton

coffee bean sorting

Traditional farming is about to make a come-back across Uganda, according the country’s Agriculture Minister, Hope Mwesigye. Traditionally, Ugandan’s rich soil and fairly abundant rainfall allowed farmers to grow a range of staple foods, from plantains, cassava and sweet potatoes through to grains like millet, sorghum and corn as well as beans, and groundnuts.

Since the 1980s, the major cash crop in Uganda has been coffee, closely followed by tobacco, and then tea and cotton, although the ‘70s and ‘80s saw collapses in the infrastructure which meant that cotton and tea in particular lost their markets and farmers started to sell their staple crops for cash in regional and local markets instead.

Diversification was the message of the 1990s and many non-traditional exports were attempted, supported by the World Bank and the Ugandan Development Bank. So why now does the government want to return to traditional farming practices?

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Researchers Use Wood Fibers to Make Tires Greener and Cheaper

from Green Options by Nick Chambers

Oregon State University Researcher Kaichang Li is already well-known in the research world fordeveloping a non-toxic, soy-based adhesive to make greener plywood for cabinets, so it’s almost no surprise that his next research discovery is along the same lines.

Turning his attention to the materials commonly used as reinforcing fillers in tires — carbon black and silica — Li has figured out a way to use plant products to substitute for these toxic and energy intensive conventional materials.

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Got Chicken Parts? Make Biodiesel

from Green Options by Derek Markham

11 billion pounds of chicken feather meal are accumulated annually by the poultry industry in the U.S., and if a process developed by scientists in Nevada moves forward, those chicken parts could be used to produce 153 million gallons of biodiesel a year, and 593 million gallons worldwide.

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Is there Really Plenty of Fish in the Sea?

from Green Options by Daniel Hohler

Kuroshio Sea - 2nd largest aquarium tank in the world

In 2003 “Nature” published a study showing that 90% of the large fish living in our oceans were fished out of existence. A group of scientists recently predicted, major seafood stocks will collapse by 2048. This is a staggering number, considering the technology and amount of people needed to cause overfishing is a relatively new phenomenon, starting really only in the late 19th century.

Most governments have shrugged these claims off, and continued their fishing practices. Alaska has shown to be the only sovereign state willing to self-police their fishing practices. Sarah Palin jokes aside… Threatened with the loss of one of its top industries, Alaska began limiting the number of fishing vessels, restricting the size of their catches; and perhaps most importantly, giving incentives to fishermen. Alaska currently gives fishermen a stake in the long-term viability of salmon and other fish.

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What is 18% of the globe’s freshwater worth?

from Green Options by Dave Dempsey

In the Obama Administration’s proposed 2010 budget, it’s $475 million in new money in the first year for Great Lakes restoration. The five lakes hold about 6 quadrillion gallons of water and provide drinking water for 40 million North Americans but are afflicted with aquatic invasive species, habitat destruction, lingering and new chemicals, and animal and human waste.

Long sought by the region’s advocates, the money would be divided up in more than 100 separate initiatives among federal agencies. The U.S. EPA is on the road with public meetings taking comments on the plan.  A meeting in Milwaukee Tuesday night was the first; the final meeting takes place August 4 in Duluth. Citizens can also comment on line.

The Great Lakes restoration campaign was born after Congress approved billions in 2000 to restore the Florida Everglades.  The feds have also directed considerable funding at Chesapeake Bay cleanup, with at best mixed results after a quarter century.

3LHD architects: polyclinic

this medical centre is located in the firule area of split, croatia near the existing hospital complex.
the building is designed with the public facilities in the basement, ground and first floor and a patient
clinic and administration offices on the upper floors. the façade of the building is made from an envelope
of horizontal bands, designed to mimic bandages. the envelope acts as a sun shade, regulating the light
and concealing the interior. atriums are located throughout the building, connecting the many areas of
the polyclinic with relaxing greenery filled spaces.

Seven district heating schemes get funding – Green Building Press

Green Building Press

Seven district heating schemes get funding
Green Building Press
The lessons we will learn from seeing these ground-breaking schemes in action will make it easier to achieve the zero carbon homes by 2016 and to upgrade 

UNStudio: dance palace, st. petersburg

UNStudio‘s design has won a competition to build a 21,000 square meter dance theatre in the historic centre of st. petersburg. the new complex houses the eifman ballet of st. petersburg, headed by choreographer boris eifman. from the four projects presented (jean nouvel, UNStudio, snøhetta & zao), UNStudio’s design was yesterday unanimously chosen by the jury for realisation.

following text from UNStudio / ben van berkel:

the dance palace forms an integrated part of the european embankment city quarter masterplan for a new urban square in the historic centre of st. petersburg.

the urban context of the building is essential to the design. the dance palace is positioned on the square in such a way as to allow for unrestricted visibility towards the nearby prince vladimir and peter and paul cathedrals, thereby framing some of the most exceptional buildings in st. petersburg. the sculptural qualities of the dance palace reflect those of the surrounding buildings in the masterplan, providing a connection to its surroundings yet still retaining saliency. a central main entrance is incorporated into the façade design in order to fully integrate the building into this lively public square.

UNStudio’s design for the dance palace presents an open and inviting theatre building with provision for 1300 guests (large auditorium 1000, small auditorium 300). programmatic considerations focus on the spacious circulation of the public foyer and the transparent relationship to the surrounding public square and the city. integration with the existing neighbouring buildings is achieved by both the scale of the building – which in elevation follows and respects st. petersburg’s typical 28m roofline and the transformative transparency which is introduced by a facade system of triangular cladding panels. the variation between opaque and perforated panels creates a controlled openness, depending on programme, views and orientation.

‘the vertical foyer provides a high level of transparency from inside to outside, whilst also presenting a kind of stage for visitors to the theatre; a place to see and be seen. the open arrangement and balcony structure in the foyer provides plateaus for its own choreography of both intimacy and exposure.

Study: Airlines Should Aim to Use 80% Biofuels by 2050

from Green Options by Andrew Williams

A far reaching report has called on the aviation industry to drastically increase the use of biofuels, to make a 60% reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The study, called ‘Green Skies Thinking‘, was published today by right wing think-tank Policy Exchange, and advocates the phase-in of an EU Sustainable Bio-Jet Fuel Blending Mandate by 2020, which would force aviation companies to commit to a rising proportion of jet fuel from sustainable bio-jet fuels.

Crucially, the report also reckons that growing the feedstock needed for advanced biofuels would require significantly less land and be more sustainable than first generation biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel, generally used by road transport.

Read more of this story »

EPA to Reconsider Monitoring Requirements for Airborne Lead

from Green Options by Ruedigar Matthes

Lead is a metal found in the earth’s crust. However, due to human activity such as mining, burning fossil fuels and manufacturing, it has become more widespread. Lead is also toxic. Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body over time. At very high levels lead can be fatal; but even in small amounts it can cause serious health problems, particularly in children under the age of 6 who can develop mental and physical impairments.

Lead emitted into the air can be inhaled or can be ingested after it settles out of the air. Lead particles that settle in soil can last for years, which continues to be a major problem, particularly around highways and urban settings. Because they are more likely to ingest lead and their bodies are developing rapidly, children are most susceptible to lead exposure. There is no known safe level of lead in the body.

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Meat Eaters Get Dose of Fire Retardants With Their Grub

from Green Options by Cate Nelson

People are exposed to the fire retardantsPBDEs from their furniture, electronics, and most plastic-containing household products.

But now, a new study shows that we’re getting them in our food, too. And meat-eaters are especially susceptible.

Environmental health researcher Alicia Fraser, of Boston University’s School of Public Health, warns us,

The more meat you eat, the more PBDEs you have in your serum.

If you’re not familiar with PBDEs, chances are you know of their chemical cousins: PCBs, the now-banned carcinogenic chemicals.

Read more of this story »

Walmart Supplier Seeks Carbon Accountant

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Let’s say you have a clothing company that supplies Walmart.

They’ve hinted for years that they are about to demand sustainably produced merchandiseAnd last week they announced it: Walmart’s new Sustainability Index.

Governments have been unable to change the world. But the planet’s shopkeeper is just so much more powerful.

Oh dear, you say. We can’t lose Walmart. Let’s answer the first question. 1. What is your carbon footprint?

Well, um…gee.

Let’s start with that one handbag we sell to Walmart: We make the handbag parts in 3 factories in 2 continents and an island. We receive the raw materials for the handbag…

1. by camel to that little handbag clasp factory outside Calcutta (5 miles X 120 days per year;camel eats 356,794 pounds of grain shipped by diesel ship 254,998 miles = carbon cost of 2 tons per year for inbound shipping costs),
2. by UPS to a factory in a business park in Seattle (2,900 miles X 340 days per year; using 57% diesel-hybrid trucks =  inbound shipping carbon cost of 34 tons per year )
3. by airfreight to a little factory on Tuvalu (whatever…you get the idea)

and then we ship the finished product 3,900,798 miles by ship powered by… (and so on…)

…to say nothing of figuring out the carbon footprint at each of the factories:

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Chinese Select Solar Wafer Recycler for 500 MW Project

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

The Chinese government in Jiangsu province has signed a letter of intent with the fast growing solar cell manufacturer ReneSolar to supply the cells for a 500 MW solar project which will be one of the largest of its kind so far in China.

China produces about half of the world solar cell supply, but till now it has exported most of it. While the country uses more solar hot water than any other nation – solar PV installed in the country so far represents a mere 0.01% of the nation’s power generation capacity.

However, the Chinese government has put in place a renewable energy requirement to get 1,800 megawatts from solar by 2020, per their NDRC.

The Chinese solar company ReneSola is a global manufacturer; producing roughly 7 million wafers a month and supplying a number of leading solar manufacturers like BP and SunPower.

ReneSolar has a highly efficient and sustainable business model – – recycling:

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Rising Tide

from Design Under Sky by Adam E. Anderson

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Evolutionary {Recovery, by Yumi Lee + Yeon Tae Kim, of LANDplus Design, click for large PDF}

Despite what might potentially become our best efforts to reverse climatic change it is widely suggested that sea-levels will inevitably rise displacing the millions of residents inhabiting coastal lands.  But it seems its our human nature not to address the issue until we’re swimming in it, so solutions at this point are relatively minimal.

Concepts will and should come from designers, and I would hope during this downturn that perhaps Landscape Architects volunteer our time to offer solutions. In that spirit, the Bay Conversation and Development Commission out in San Francisco recently announced winners of the Rising Tides Competition. The competition, which drew 130 entries from 18 countries, challenged designers to create waterfront strategies that envisioned a 55-inch rise in sea level over the next century.

Instead of awarding the $25,000 grand prize to one winner, the impressive jury (Michael SorkinWalter Hood, the landscape architect; Marcel Stive, scientific director of the Water Research Centre in Holland; Denise Reed, a professor and water researcher at the University of New Orleans; and Tracy Metz, an American-born Dutch architecture critic) decided to split the prize six ways. Below is at the winners’ ideas:

{Topographical Shifts at the Urban Waterfront, by Wright Huaiche Yang and J. Lee Stickles, click for large PDF}{100 Year Plan, by Derek James Hoeferlin, Ian Caine, and Michael Heller, click for larger PDF}{RAYdike, by Thom Faulders, click for larger PDF}{BAYARC, by a team of designers and engineers from SOM, click for larger PDF}{Folding Water, by Liz Ranieri and Byron Kuth, of Kuth Ranieri Architects, click for larger PDF}+Found at Metropolis Mag

Families down on high rise

Families down on high rise July 20, Gold Coast

A huge cultural shift will be required before Aussie families embrace high rises in outer suburban areas, according to leading demographer Bernard Salt. Mr Salt said he was unaware of any cities in Australia with high-rise residential buildings away from the coastline in otherwise traditional suburbia. Gold Coast City Council plans to allow multi-storey dwellings, potentially up to 15 storeys, in the east Coomera area in order to cram in more people as the population grows…more.

from Green Options by Dave Harcourt

German University Constructs Giant Planet-Saving Spherical Building

from Gizmodo Australia by Dan Nosowitz

The Bibliosphere, an administration and student services buiding at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, is both an ecological and architectural achievement. It’s incredibly environmentally-friendly, and did we mention it’s a giant sphere? (more…)

The Great Barrier Reef Could be the First World Ecosystem to Disappear

from Green Options by Dave Harcourt

“There is no way out, no loopholes. The Great Barrier Reef will be over within 20 years or so.”, Charlie Veron, former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, told The Times.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system comprising over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching more than 3,000 kilometres (1,600 miles) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 square miles).

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Clean, White OLED Light Coming To An Office Park Near You

from Gizmodo Australia by Jack Loftus

White, environmentally sound and cool to the touch OLED lights could very well be the future of mundane office environment lighting, but for now they’re just meant to be man handled by four geeks at a table. (more…)

Do Strange Glowing Cloud Sightings Indicate Climate Change?

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

My boss was in France on Bastille Day last week where the big event of the night actually became the sight of these strange glowing clouds – – like polar noctilucent clouds except they were not over the North Pole – but over Paris.

But Bastille Day celebrants were not the only ones to grab pictures of these strange new clouds.

Over the last week, photographers in many places around the world outside the Arctic regions, have run outside to get photos of these strange Noctilucent (Night Glowing) clouds showing up this week from Poland to North Dakota:

Formed by ice literally at the boundary where the earth’s atmosphere meets space 50 miles up, they shine because they are so high that they remain lit by the sun even after our star is below the horizon.

Noctilucent clouds are a fundamentally new phenomenon in the temperate mid-latitude sky, and it’s not clear why they’ve migrated down from the poles. Or why, over the last 25 years, more of them are appearing in the polar regions, too, and shining more brightly.

“That’s a real concern and question,” said James Russell, an atmospheric scientist at Hampton University and the principal investigator of an ongoing NASA satellite mission to study the clouds. “Why are they getting more numerous? Why are they getting brighter? Why are they appearing at lower latitudes?”

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U.S. Wind Power Growth, Visualized [map]

from Green Options by Timothy B. Hurst

I like maps. They can be a such a great tool for visually representing the scope of change.

In late 2008, just a few months after the United States’ installed wind energy capacity topped 20,000 MW, the U.S. became the largest wind power producer in the world. And in 2008, thanks to a (mostly) robust economy and a healthy tax benefit for the utility-scale generation of renewable energy, the U.S. added more new wind energy to the grid than did any other source. Here’s a nice visual representation of that growth:

map of installed wind capacity in the United States

When the final map for 2009 is made, however, the sagging economy and the frozen credit markets will likely have slowed the meteoric rise in wind energy capacity we saw in 2007 and 2008.

Image: U.S. Department of Energy
Follow Tim Hurst on twitter

Inverted Infrastructural Monuments, pt.1

from InfraNet Lab by neeraj

[Chand Baori Stepwell in Abhaneri, Rajasthan, India via Creative Commons]

As the looming threat of global warming persists, one of the most prominent effects has been the erratic nature of weather patterns with pronounced emphasis on weather extremes. Some areas of the world are accustomed to such polarity. In Western India, for instance, three months of a healthy monsoon is followed by nine continuous months of arid weather. The polarization of weather promotes renewed interest in ancient infrastructures that could mitigate these extremes through sustainable means. In the case of the dry weather in Western India, this was done with Stepwells

UNstudio: raffles city, hangzhou, china

raffles city, hangzhou, china by UNstudio
image courtesy UNstudio

UNstudio‘s design for the mixed-use raffles city development is located near the
qiangtan river in hangzhou, the capital of zhejiang province, china. the project
incorporates retail, offices, housing and hotel facilities and marks the site of a cultural
landscape within the quianjiang new town area.

after four years of planning and construction, it will reach a height of 60 stories,
presenting views both to and from the qiantang river and west lake areas. raffles city
hangzhou will provide a total floor area of almost 300,000 square metres.

raffles city hangzhou is due for realisation in 2012.

enewable Energy Accounts for 13% of U.S. Electricity by April 2009

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Renewable sources of energy are beginning to replace coal power in the U.S.:

Every year the percentage of U.S. electricity generated from renewables has been increasing, according to the latest figures released by the Energy Information Administration in its Electric Power Monthly report.

As a result, by April of 2009, the total was 12.97 percent, with hydropower accounting for 8.73 percent and other renewables like solar and wind 4.24 percent of all U.S. electricity on average among all the states.  Higher wind generation totals in just 4 states accounted for 62.2 percentof the national increase in wind powered generation: Texas, Iowa, New York, and Indiana.

By contrast the percentage of electricity from fossil power is now actually decreasing.

Comparing April 2008 to April 2009, coal-fired generation fell by 20,551 thousand megawatt-hoursor 13.9 percent. Declines in 7 states accounted for 52.3 percent of the national decrease in coal-fired generation: they were Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Texas.

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toyo ito: world games stadium in kaohsiung taiwan opens

world games stadium in kaohsiung taiwan by toyo ito
getty images

designed by japanese architect toyo ito, the world games’ main stadium was unveiled
yesterday at an opening ceremony.

the stadium consists of approximately 8 844 solar panels on a surface area of 14 155m2
intergrated into the roof construction. the form which emulates that of a flowing river,
depending on the sunshine, can cover 75 % of the energy needs. on days when no
competitions will take place, the electricity generated is fed into the grid. with more
than 40 000 seats it is surrounded by a vast new public park including palm trees
and tropical plants.

visitors arriving from downtown via public transportation walk down a broad boulevarde
before turning into the plaza. at the stadium’s narrowest section ticket windows and restaurants
are housed. concourses and upper level seating are supported by a ring of concrete structures.

world games stadium in kaohsiung taiwan by toyo ito
photo marc bibo

world games stadium – construction
© fu tsu construction co. ltd
image courtesy toyo ito architect

world games stadium – construction
© fu tsu construction co. ltd
image courtesy toyo ito architect

World’s First International Commission on Ecosystem Loss Launched in Nairobi

You are invited to attend the launch of the world’s first international commission on the catastrophic loss of the world’s ecosystems. Legislators will argue that Governments are failing to stop the destruction of the world’s ecosystems at a summit in Nairobi on the 18/19 July.