Vincent Callebaut Proposes “Wooden Orchids” Green Shopping Center for China

Aerial perspective. Image Courtesy of

Vincent Callebaut Architectures have received honorary mention for their “Wooden Orchids” proposal in the International Union of Architects’ (UIA) Mount Lu Estate of World Architecture Competition. Based in Ruichang, China, the competition tasked participants with designing several cultural and commercial complexes near one of the world’s largest flower theme parks. Wooden Orchids consolidates these functions in a green shopping hub that speaks to the area’s demographic and climatic influences.

Bamboom: Elora Hardy’s TED Talk on Bamboo’s Exploding Popularity

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Perhaps the most surprising thing about bamboo - besides being an entirely natural, sustainable material with the tensile strength of steel that can grow up to 900 millimeters (3 feet) in just 24 hours – is that it’s not more widely recognized as a fantastic construction material. Like many traditional building materials, bamboo no longer has the architectural currency that it once did across Asia and the pacific, but the efforts of may help put it back into the vernacular. Heading up Ibuku, a design firm that uses bamboo almost exclusively, Hardy’s recent TED Talk is an excellent run through of bamboo’s graces and virtues in construction, showing off sinuous private homes and handbuilt school buildings.

Michael Reynolds to Build a Sustainable Public School in Uruguay

© ‘Garbage Warrior’ Documentary

Michael Reynolds, a well-known proponent of sustainable building and the creator of the Earthship house, will construct a self-sufficient public school in Jaureguiberry, Uruguay, reports local newspaper El País.

Reynolds’ design contemplates a 270-square-meter building with solar panels and a water-collection system that will supply water for the bathrooms and kitchens. In the architect’s usual style, recycled materials such as tires and bottles will be used for construction.

Learn more about the project after the break.

Video: How Tesla’s Powerwall Will Provide Energy to the World

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The world’s infrastructure may soon undergo significant change; recently unveiled the Powerwall, a compact, lithium-ion battery pack that will allow residents to autonomously consume energy by drawing from their own sun-powered reserve. For just $3,500, you can purchase an attractive, wall-mounted battery capable of storing up to 10 kilowatt-hours of energy – about a third of what the average US household uses daily. Beyond this, the company will also be offering scalable Powerpacks to businesses and utility companies that will allow limitless storage. Powerwalls will go out for delivery this summer.

Open Call: ITAD Competition Seeks Student Proposals for “Urban Smart Green Office”

Singapore. Image © Flickr CC User Leonid Yaitskiy

The (BCA), together with Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) and (SGBC) are jointly organizing the International Tropical Architecture Design Competition 2015 for Institutes of Higher Learning (ITAD Competition) for the fifth run this year. Themed “Urban Smart Green Office,” this year’s competition seeks for innovative and sustainable design entries that demonstrates the essentials and key constituents of a Smart Green Office Building in an urban city of participant’s choice. The competition is open to tertiary students worldwide. Read on to learn more.

3 Projects Win 2015 Global Holcim Awards for Sustainability

Courtesy of Holcim Foundation

Emerging from over 6,000 entries, three winners of the fourth Global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction have been selected. The international competition, occurring every three years, recognizes designs that provide sustainable solutions to local issues faced by communities throughout the world. This year’s winning projects addressed sites in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and the United States and will receive monetary prizes ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.

The winning entries were selected from last year’s top-prize recipients in the five regional competitions, a total of 15 proposals (see our previous coverage here). An international jury of industry leaders, led by Mohsen Mostafavi (Dean of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design), determined the winners of the 2015 Global Holcim Awards.

See the winners after the break.

Ball-Nogues Compostable “Pulp Pavilion” Brings Shade to Coachella

© Joshua White

To demonstrate the structural potential of “pulp,” Ball-Nogues Studio built an experimental reclaimed paper pavilion this year at Coachella. The lightweight, self-supported structure, known as the ”Pulp Pavilion,” was made from a low-cost blend of , water and pigment sprayed onto lattices of organic rope. After its use as a place of refuge for festival goers, it will be either composted or recycled. See the pavilion illuminated at night, after the break.

Leonardo DiCaprio Taps Jason McLennan to Design “Restorative” Eco-Resort in Belize

Rending of one of 48 private houses planned to be sold on the island. Image © via The New York Times

Founder of the Living Building Challenge,  aficionado and architect Jason McLennan has been commissioned by famed actor Leonardo DiCaprio to design a 68-vila eco-resort on a private island in Belize. As The New York Times reports, the ambitious 42 hectare (104 acres) “Blackadore Caye, a Restorative Island” will be carried out by New York developer Delos by 2018. 

The resort will feature an arc of floating suites built over the water and a network of artificial reefs and fish shelters, along with 48 millionaire villas and an indigenous plant nursery focused on manatee conservation.

“My goal was always the fact that I wanted to create something not just environmental, but restorative,” said DiCaprio to the newspaper. “A showcase for what is possible.”

raumspielkunst Envisions Next Generation Gas Station in Chile

Courtesy of raumspielkunst

Where the Panamerican Route passes along Rancagua, Chile, it does so in a seemingly interminable straight line, intersecting with the H-35 toward the Pacific and the Andes. At this junction between two of ’s arterial roads German practice raumspielkunst has envisioned “The Cloud,” a new form of self-sufficient gas station.

Responding to the nature of its site as a meeting point between the industrial and the touristic, the environmentally efficient gas station would cater for thousands of commuters each day.

Mexican Company Develops Wood Substitute from a Tequila Byproduct

A sample of the material. Image © Plastinova via phys.org

Searching for an alternative to costly and resource intensive materials, Mexican company Plastinova has developed a wood substitute from a byproduct of tequila and which it claims is not only renewable, but also stronger than the materials that it hopes to replace.

Video: Jørn Utzon’s Nature-Inspired Sydney Opera House

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Sydney Opera House recently created a video exploring how Jørn Utzon was inspired by the form and function of nature. While Jørn Utzon may not have seen himself as a pioneer of sustainable techniques, was inherent in his design philosophy. Watch the video above to learn more. 

Perkins+Will’s CIRS Building Wins RAIC’s Green Building Award

A pre-existing ‘desire line’ that cuts through the site was retained.. Image © Martin Tessler

Perkins+Will‘s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at the University of British Columbia has been announced as the recipient of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada‘s 2015 Green Building Award. Granted by the RAIC and , the award celebrates stellar architectural designs adhering to responsiveness to occupants’ well-being and environmental responsibility. The CIRS achieved LEED Platinum status and is a regenerative structure, implementing ingenious strategies to sustain net-positive energy, net-zero water, and net-zero carbon in both construction and operation.

Share Your Ideas for a Livable City with the Walking Visionaries Awards

Walk21 Vienna has launched its Walking Visionaries , a challenge that invites people from around the globe to explore the many ways walking can be implemented into our daily lives to support sustainable and livable cities. Submit a solution now through April 30, 2015 for a chance to participate in the Walk21 Conference in Vienna, Austria in October 2015. 30 winners will receive a free ticket to the conference and given the chance to meet leading professionals and share their ideas with other visionaries through mediums such as lectures, round table discussions, and workshops. Additionally, the winners’ solutions will be published in the conference documentation. Selected by both public opinion and a jury vote, winning submissions will be announced in June 2015. For more information or to submit an idea, visit walk21vienna.com.

Città della Scienza Masterplan Predicts Future of Self-Sustaining Cities

Courtesy of Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Developed for an international planning and architectural competition, this proposed masterplan for the Città della Scienza by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, coffice – studio di architettura e urbanistica, and Studio d’Architettura Briguglio Morales fuses with history to propose a self-sufficient urban ecosystem in Italy. Operating on the principle of living facades, the Città della Scienza revitalizes the forgotten military district into a vibrant, continually regenerating living city.

Read on after the break for a closer look at the plan.

Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 7, Sustainable Architecture

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architectureurbanism, social architecture, landscape architecture and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Today, in the last post of the series, we present the female architects who put an emphasis on sustainability.

Vienna to Build World’s Tallest Wooden Skyscraper

© OLN/office le nomade

Rüdiger Lainer and Partner plans to construct the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper next year in Vienna’s Seestadt Aspern area. 76 percent of the 84-meter tower is expected to be made from wood rather than concrete, saving approximately 2,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions (equivalent to driving a car 25 miles a day for 1,300 years).

“I think it is important everyone now in 2014 thinks in different ways. We have , which is a perfect construction material for building,” she said. “It was used 200 years ago and it was perfect then and is perfect now,” says Kerbler project developer Caroline Palfy, commenting on the architects’ decision to use wood due to its environmental benefits.

An interior loft view and more details, after the break. 

Curtin University Masterplan First to Receive 5 Green Star-Communities Rating in Australia

Courtesy of Curtin University

The Curtin University Master Plan has become the first project to receive a 5 Star Green Star-Communities Rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). Helmed by AECOM and Donaldson and Warn architects, the plan sets forth a strategy for the renewal of the University’s main campus in Bentley, Perth, aiming to create a “vibrant urban community” that combines commercial, retail, residential, educational, and transport infrastructure. Sustainability is a cornerstone of the project, which seeks to be adaptable to, and respectful of, its site and heritage. 

The 5-star rating honours Australian Excellence in “innovation, design excellence, environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and liveability”. Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.

ArchiBlox Designs World’s First Prefabricated Carbon Positive House

© Tom Ross

Australian company ArchiBlox has released its design for the world’s first carbon positive prefabricated house. Representing a new movement in houses, the carbon positive house provides the option for a more environmentally-conscious design, through both reducing embodied energy that accompanies new-home construction and maintaining positive-energy production. The groundbreaking product line began its first installation on February 8 at Melbourne’s City Square.