marco hemmerling: lighttube

from Designboom – Weblog

illuminated by night in geneva’s city square

lighttube is an outdoor installation by architect marco hemmerling which is currently being
exhibited as part of the 9th annual festival ‘arbres et lumières’ in geneva, switzerland
which runs until january 3rd, 2010.

located in the city’s centre square pierre fatio, the concept behind the lighting installation
is based on two aspects of spatial perception. the first is to amplify the relationship between
the structure’s central column and its surrounding trees. by reinforcing the correlation of the trees
with the centre of the square, the light structure focuses on the connection of the vertical elements
of the site. the second aspect of design is that though being a connector, the lighttube manages to
establish its own presence, derived from the evolutionary principle of growth. the abstract idea
transforms into a shape that puts the trees as well as the column and space in between into a new light,
incorporating a constant change of color for the illuminated trees and the membrane structure
to support the idea of evolutionary transformation, while at the same time generating an
ever-changing perception of the scenery.

lighttube is constantly changing color

aerial view

Follow The Plaza Del Torico’s LED Lamp Road

from Gizmodo Australia by Sean Fallon

The Plaza del Torico in Teruel, Spain was renovated with something even better than yellow bricks—over 1230 colour-changing LED lamps embedded in the pavement. (more…)

Seeing the forest through the cloud

from The Official Google Blog by A Googler

Today, at the International Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, we demonstrated a new technology prototype that enables online, global-scale observation and measurement of changes in the earth’s forests. We hope this technology will help stop the destruction of the world’s rapidly-disappearing forests. Emissions from tropical deforestation are comparable to the emissions of all of the European Union, and are greater than those of all cars, trucks, planes, ships and trains worldwide. According to the Stern Review, protecting the world’s standing forests is a highly cost-effective way to cut carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. The United Nations has proposed a framework known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) that would provide financial incentives to rainforest nations to protect their forests, in an effort to make forests worth “more alive than dead.” Implementing a global REDD system will require that each nation have the ability to accurately monitor and report the state of their forests over time, in a manner that is independently verifiable. However, many of these tropical nations of the world lack the technological resources to do this, so we’re working with scientists, governments and non-profits to change this. Here’s what we’ve done with this prototype to help nations monitor their forests:

Start with satellite imagery
Satellite imagery data can provide the foundation for measurement and monitoring of the world’s forests. For example, in Google Earth today, you can fly to Rondonia, Brazil and easily observe the advancement of deforestation over time, from 1975 to 2001:
(Landsat images courtesy USGS)

This type of imagery data — past, present and future — is available all over the globe. Even so, while today you can view deforestation in Google Earth, until now there hasn’t been a way to measure it.

Then add science
With this technology, it’s now possible for scientists to analyze raw satellite imagery data and extract meaningful information about the world’s forests, such as locations and measurements of deforestation or even regeneration of a forest. In developing this prototype, we’ve collaborated with Greg Asner of Carnegie Institution for Science, and Carlos Souza of Imazon. Greg and Carlos are both at the cutting edge of forest science and have developed software that creates forest cover and deforestation maps from satellite imagery. Organizations across Latin America use Greg’s program, Carnegie Landsat Analysis System (CLASlite), and Carlos’ program, Sistema de Alerta de Deforestation (SAD), to analyze forest cover change. However, widespread use of this analysis has been hampered by lack of access to satellite imagery data and computational resources for processing.

Handle computation in the cloud
What if we could offer scientists and tropical nations access to a high-performance satellite imagery-processing engine running online, in the “Google cloud”? And what if we could gather together all of the earth’s raw satellite imagery data — petabytes of historical, present and future data — and make it easily available on this platform? We decided to find out, by working with Greg and Carlos to re-implement their software online, on top of a prototype platform we’ve built that gives them easy access to terabytes of satellite imagery and thousands of computers in our data centers.

Here are the results of running CLASlite on the satellite imagery sequence shown above:

CLASlite online: This shows deforestation and degradation in Rondonia, Brazil
from 1986-2008, with the red indicating recent activity

Here’s the result of running SAD in a region of recent deforestation pressure in Mato Grosso, Brazil:

SAD online: The red “hotspots” indicate deforestation
that has happened within the last 30 days

Combining science with massive data and technology resources in this way offers the following advantages:

Unprecedented speed: On a top-of-the-line desktop computer, it can take days or weeks to analyze deforestation over the Amazon. Using our cloud-based computing power, we can reduce that time to seconds. Being able to detect illegal logging activities faster can help support local law enforcement and prevent further deforestation from happening. Ease of use and lower costs: An online platform that offers easy access to data, scientific algorithms and computation horsepower from any web browser can dramatically lower the cost and complexity for tropical nations to monitor their forests. Security, privacy and transparency: Governments and researchers don’t want to share sensitive data and results before they are ready. Our cloud-based platform allows users to control access to their data and results. At the same time, because the data, analysis and results reside online, they can also be easily shared, made available for collaboration, presented to the public and independently verified — when appropriate. Climate change impact: We think that a suitably scaled-up and enhanced version of this platform could be a promising as a tool for forest monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) in support of efforts such as REDD.As a product, this technology will be provided to the world as a not-for-profit service. This technology prototype is currently available to a small set of partners for testing purposes — it’s not yet available to the general public but we expect to make it more broadly available over the next year. We are grateful to a host of individuals and organizations (find full list here) who have advised us on developing this technology. In particular, we would like to thank the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for their close partnership since the initial inception of this project. We’re also working with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a consortium of national government bodies, inter-governmental organizations, space agencies and research institutions through GEO’s Forest Carbon Tracking (FCT) task force. Last month together we launched the GEO FCT portal and are now exploring how we can also together bring the power of this new technology to tropical nations.

We’re excited to be able to share this early prototype and look forward to seeing what’s possible.

Posted by Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager, and Dr. Amy Luers, Environment Manager,

massimiliano fuksas: the peres peace house now open

from Designboom – Weblog

the exterior of the peres peace house
all images courtesy of fuksas architects

peres peace house designed by architect massimilano fuksas, is finally in use.
yesterday, staff moved into the new building in jaffa, israel along the shores of the
mediterranean sea.

for the building, fuksas imagined a series of layers, representing time and patience.
the outside of the building consists of alternating layers of concrete and trunslucent glass,
which filters sunlight into the interior during the day. the irregularly shaped peres peace house
stands on a monolithic base. the concrete basement of the structure becomes a large plaza,
an empty space dissected lengthwise by two symmetrical ramps which lead inside.
the dark low-ceiling area, leads inside to a well of sunlight – which opens up through the
entire height of the building – where the library is located. here, alternating light and dark layers
are visible, constructed from a mix of concrete, local earth and other materials. the rest of this
floor is meant to be used for the various activities of the peace peres house. the remaining
three floors cover an area of 600 sqm and a heigh of 3.4m, and are accessible with stairs and lifts.
they house an auditorium intended for 200 persons, offices of the peres peace house
and spaces for meetings.

the exterior of the peres peace house

layers of concrete and translucent glass have been used to construct the building

large windows provide views of the mediterranean sea

the well of sunlight which looks up past all floors of the building to the sky

the well of light

foster + partners: panthalassa yacht

from Designboom – Weblog

the norman foster lead architecture firm foster + partners teamed up with the shipbuilder perini navi to
create the 56m long panthalassa yacht. the luxury boat was revealed last month at the perini navi
shipyard in viareggio, italy. the design features six cabins with a capacity for 12 guests and 10 crew
members. the interior is spread over three floors with the fly deck on top, main cabin below and the
guest quarters below that. an oval stairway that is lined with acrylic rods to bring in daylight connects
all the levels together. on the main level, there is a lounge, bar and a board room which has views of the
water. throughout the interior, the designers paid close attention to lighting, keeping the spaces light and
airy. the boat is powered by two 1239 horse power diesel engines, giving it a max speed of 15 knots.

New Bioplastic Material Absorbs Carbon Dioxide

from Green Options by Tina Casey

Myriant Technologies LLC has developed a new biobased process for manufacturing succinic acid, which absorbs more carbon dioxide than it creates.

Greenhouse gas-sucking rubber ducks could be in the future. Myriant Technologies LLC has just won U.S. Department of Energy funding of up to $50 million to construct a new plant that will produce Succinic Acid from sorghum, using a biobased process that is more energy efficient than conventional methods, and also absorbs more carbon dioxide than it produces.

Until now, petroleum has been the feedstock of choice to manufacture Succinic Acid. If commercially successful, a more sustainable biobased process like Myriant’s could have a significant impact on global greenhouse gas emissions, because Succinic Acid is used in a fantastic variety of materials from non-toxic diesel fuel additives, pharmaceuticals and food to plastic car parts, computer casings, and shoe soles.

Read more of this story »

One Ocean – Soma’s Winning Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Yeosu Expo

from News by Vanilla Hustler

Austrian architects soma have recently won the first prize in the international competition for the Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Expo in Yeosu, South Korea.

The Thematic Pavilion will be one of the major facilities of the Yeosu Expo. Its exhibitions will give the visitors overview and introduction to the Expo’s theme, “The Living Ocean and Coast”. The aim of soma’s design titled “One Ocean” is to create an iconic landmark that embodies the theme of the Expo in multiple ways and is integrated into its urban context and the surrounding nature.

Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Yeosu Expo by soma

Click above image to enlarge
Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Yeosu Expo by soma

Here is how the architects explain their concept:

Our experience of the Ocean as an endless surface and – in an immersed position – as depth inspires the main concept for the Thematic Pavilion. Continuous surfaces twist from vertical to horizontal orientation and create two exhibition spaces with contrasting spatial qualities.

The striking vertical height of the exhibition cones let the visitors immerse into a sensuous experience while in the unfolded state they produce a flexible daylight space for the Best Practice Area.

Continuous transitions between contrasting experiences also form the outer appearance of the Pavilion. Towards the sea the conglomeration of solid vertical cones defines a new meandering coast line, a soft edge that is in constant negotiation between water and land. Opposite side the pavilion develops out of the ground into an artificial roof–landscape with gardens and scenic paths. The topographic lines of the roof turn into lamellas of the kinetic media façade that faces the Expo’s entrance and the “Digital Gallery”.

Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Yeosu Expo by soma

Click above image to enlarge

The Ocean appears to us as an endless surface, whose depth we can explore with technical devices. The vertical and the horizontal experience of the ocean inspire the main concept for the Thematic Pavilion – continuous surfaces that twist from vertical to horizontal orientation and create two exhibition spaces with contrasting spatial qualities. The exhibition cones are generated by vertical surfaces that invite the visitor to immerse into the Thematic Exhibition. The upright surfaces join into a horizontally orientated platform that becomes a flexible stage for the Best Practice Area. As an agglomeration the exhibition cones define a new meandering coast line, a soft edge that is in constant negotiation between water and land.

Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Yeosu Expo by soma

Click above image to enlarge

The vertical cones are initially organized within a triangular grid along the existing linear breakwater. The grid is influenced by antagonistic forces – land and water – and functional and spatial requirements. The loose array of the vessels turns into a compact agglomeration that creates varied open spaces for the foyer. The interstitial niches frame the ocean view and are used as waiting and resting areas within the exhibition.

Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Yeosu Expo by soma

Click above image to enlarge

The Ocean is a “continuous body of water encircling the earth, divided into principal areas” (Wikipedia). This understanding of the Ocean as one whole and individual areas is the main concept for the Thematic Exhibition space. The warped walls establish a heterogeneous space with diverse qualities and spatial situations – from dark exhibition areas with striking vertical heights for immersive exhibition set ups, to day-light zones with framed ocean views to relax and rest. Through the configuration of the walls, successive displays can be experienced as a continuous narration. Chapters, like “Origin of Life” or “Conflict and Crises” can be orchestrated in contrasting ways without disturbing each other visually or acoustically. The Best Practice Area on the upper level is a very flexible day-light space with three separate galleries for multi-media displays and lectures. The continuous surfaces of the pavilion creates an open “fluid” space, that represents the theme of the exhibition throughout the building.

Thematic Pavilion for the 2012 Yeosu Expo by soma

Click above image to enlarge

The proposal integrates the Thematic Pavilion as an iconic landmark into its urban context and the surrounding nature. Like a Janus Head it shows distinctive faces that seamlessly merge into each other. Towards the sea it appears as a conglomeration of solid vertical cones. Opposite the Ocean Tower the pavilion canopies the Ocean Plaza. Along the promenade it develops out of the ground into a walkable roof–landscape. The roof is an artificial landscape with scenic routes, green gardens and topographic lines. It is a combination of natural and artificial elements, like plants or fields of solar collectors and piezoelectric halms, which produce light when moved by the wind. The topographic lines of the roof turn into lamellas of the kinetic media façade that faces the Big O, the Expo’s entrance and the Digital Gallery. During daytime the lamellas can be moved to change the light condition in the Best Practice Area. The analog visual effect of the kinetic elements is complemented by digital media (LEDs). The kinetic media façade visualizes the production of energy out of renewable resources happening on the pavilion’s skin, driven by the input of sun, water and wind.


  1. Controlled natural ventilation with slightly raised speed of the air flow in the lobby area to reduce the perceived temperature. To generate the air flow the configuration of the building volumes is optimized to the prevailing wind directions and the in-between space of the cones is forming jet nozzles. The air flow can be adjusted by facades with operable lamellas in the gap.
  2. Low-e coated textiles as ceiling materials avoid infrared radiation into the inner volume.
  3. Thermal activation of the building mass by cooling the structural components (concrete slabs and concrete walls). Seawater is used to cool down the cooling medium with a heat exchanger. In summertime the average temperature difference is sufficient to run the cooling process. In wintertime the system is inverted and floors and walls are heated with warm water. The warm surfaces are creating a very comfortable interior climate.
  4. Air-handling unit with solar powered liquid sorption cooling and adiabatic humidifying of exhaust air for additional thermal conditioning of the exhibition areas. In comparison to other solar powered cooling systems the major advantage of the liquid sorption process is the ability of storing solar power via the regenerated sorbent, which can be used when adequate. In this process also the dehumidifying of intake air is run directly with solar power. As summers in Yeosu are hot and humid the proposed system is able to provide a comfortable climate with no use of primary energy during times with mainly overcast skies.
  5. Photovoltaic collectors provide the necessary electric energy to run pumps, fans and other components of the air handling units.
  6. Green roofs on the cones provide additional thermal mass to reduce heat gain and retain water drain during periods of intense rain.

soma: Stefan Rutzinger, Kristina Schinegger, Günther Weber, Martin Oberascher

Structural Engineer: D.I. Christoph Brandstaetter ZT GmbH, Salzburg, Austria
Consultant for Climate Design: Prof. Dr.-Ing Jan Cremers, Stuttgart, Germany

Images: soma

malcolm wells: passively heated underground buildings

from Designboom – Weblog

tree bridges

malcolm wells was a bit of a local architectural hero.
he was considered to be the the pioneer of underground architecture which does not literally mean
building below the ground. rather, he had beliefs that the roofs of all buildings should be made
habitable for both animals and plants. he had ideas about covering buildings with up to 4-feet of earth,
topped by gardens, wild grasses and trees to transform the habitats into passively heated, earth covered
buildings. he worked on the philosophy that architecture should be something that is environmentally
efficient and self-sustainable. ideally, a unit that creates pure water, stores rainwater, uses solar energy,
produces its own food, creates rich soil and serenity.

wells was particularly influenced by the partially buried design of frank lloyd wright’s taliesin west,
along with the works of french architect jacque couelle, who looked at architecture almost as if it
was sculpture, focusing on organic forms and materials.

wells devoted most of his life to finding ways of building without destroying the land,
making it his credo to ‘leave the land no worse than you found it.‘ having never been formally trained
or holding any sort of degree, at the age of 60 he was asked to teach an environmental design course
at harvard. wells tried through writing, illustrations, lectures and personal examples, devoting his life
to convincing his fellow humans that ‘a building should consume its own waste, maintain itself,
match nature’s pace, provide wildlife habitat, moderate climate and weather and be beautiful.

malcolm wells recently passed away at the age of 83 in cape cod, massachusettes.

underground parking lot
image courtesy of malcolm wells

what cape cod homes look like…and should look like…
image courtesy of malcolm wells

explanation of underground architecture
image courtesy of malcolm wells

CO2 cubes, copenhagen

from Designboom – Weblog

CO2 cubes digital media art exhibition
st. jørgens lake, tycho brahe planetarium in copenhagen
on now until 18th december 2009

CO2 cubes, saint jørgen’s lake in front of tycho brahe planetarium, copenhagen

CO2 cubes was revealed on-site in copenhagen, for the beginning of the UN framework
convention on climate change
(UNFCC ), conference of the parties (COP-15), running from
7 – 18 december, 2009.

using shipping containers, artist alfio bonanno and architect christophe cornubert
have created the 27′ x 27′ x 27′ cube which is situated near st. jorgens lake and the
tycho brache planetarium. the cube features an interactive media delivery system with
multiple screens programmed into a 24-hour cycle, providing a visual sense of what one metric
tonne of CO2 looks like in a solid form. developed by obscura digital, the system incorporates
video streams, real-time data, and practical solutions, engaging the public in a virtual
and global dialogue to share ideas and solutions about how to reduce their own individual
impact on climate change.

the structure mirrors the carbon footprint that an average citizen emits during one month;
this same amount is produced by a U.S. citizen in only two weeks.

CO2 cubes

CO2 cubes

CO2 cubes

12 titan shipping containers were craned onto the water and stacked in an interlocking pattern, as a base for the cube.


How Quantum Dots Could Make LEDs As Warm As Candlelight

from Gizmodo Australia by Brian Lam

I’ve had a nit to pick withLED lights and their sterile glow. But quantum dots—tiny crystals that emit a specific color—could be added to LEDs to alter their photonic output. Wee! (more…)