A slow raid is raging across the United States, and its targets are not what you’d expect. They’re often tucked into local libraries, stocked in vintage card catalogs, and wear handwritten labels scrawled with names like green zebra tomato, brown speckled tepary, and purple tomatillo. They are locally-adapted seed varieties shared between backyard gardeners and organic farmers in communities from Boston, Massachusetts, to Oakland, California. According to recent rulings in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Illinois, the seed libraries that facilitate the free exchange of these rare legumes, vegetables, and fruits are “illegal seed distribution centers” under state law. In some communities, the libraries have been uprooted before even getting in the ground.
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects just unveiled their competition-winning designs for the New Central Library in Christchurch, New Zealand. Designed to replace the badly damaged old Central Library, this earthquake-resistant and energy-efficient structure is one of the anchor projects for the city’s Recovery Plan created after the devastating 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. The new library will cover an area of 12,000 square meters—nearly double that of the old library.
Standing at a top of a hill, overlooking the Lake Constance and the Swiss mountains in the south, the Vineyard Schmidt doesn't go unnoticed. Designed by Elmar Ludescher Architekt, this architectural masterpiece in Germany shelters a wine cellar and bar with stunning views into centenarian vineyards and orchards. Its glazed skin is wrapped in vertical wooden ribs that passively filter the sun protecting its interiors.
EcoCasa Suyana is a project lead by a couple of young engineers and travelers that is the first ecological, economical and 100% open-source home in Argentina. Suyana means “hope” in Quechua language and idea of EcoCasa Suyana project is to build a green, sustainable, affordable home, that can be a model for the construction of community housing. The concept was created by Noa and Cristian, a couple who decided to change their life nine months ago. They sold their few possessions in Buenos Aires and began a trip in Latin America.
During their trip, they discovered social and environmental problems that appeared to have an easy solution given the right materials and know-how. Noa and Cristian realized that “in order to improve the quality of life and reduce the impact on the environment, we need to bring together various sustainable technologies and practices into one place: in a house that can be visited and serve as an inspiration for better housing.” Each stage will be documented and the project will be 100% open source in order to share the information with people in need. The design can be adapted depending on the climate, population and the materials available in order to adapt the model to other locations.
Designer Anatoliy Omelchenko of Triangle Tree, whose crop circle towels we featured a couple of months ago, has created a new, eco-friendly piece of home decor: the Cedar Aroma Pyramid. When warmed by a simple tea light, the natural oils in the cedar wood are released, filling the space nearby with a relaxing woodland scent. There are no added chemicals or fragrances; just cedar, warmed by flame. Like most of Anatoliy’s other creations, this aromatherapy piece is incredibly elegant in its simplicity—simple, basic shapes that snap together rather than being held by glue or screws. When the oils on one side of the pyramid have been burned off, it can be rotated or flipped to expose new wooden surfaces to the flame.
You wouldn’t think it, but these beautiful colorful flowers of the Scartell flowerbed are made from plastic waste. Italian artist and sustainability enthusiast Francesca De Marinis created this eco-flowerbed using discarded plastic bottles and turning them into a beautiful installation entitled “YES, IN MY BACK YARD!”.
The massive 7.8 earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday, near Kathmandu, has devastated the region and left thousands dead. Rescue and recovery efforts are still underway in Nepal, India, China, and Bangladesh, as many people are missing. A natural disaster like this leaves people, their homes, and cities torn asunder, and tens of thousands of families have been displaced from their homes and have been left out in the cold, as medical facilities and emergency shelters are overwhelmed. Many of us who are safe and far from the quake’s effects wonder how we can help. We’ve compiled a list of organizations you can support to aid the victims of this traumatic event.
Mike Basich was one of the early innovators in professional snowboarding, and now he’s leading the way in stylish off-grid living. On his 40 acres of land near Truckee, California, Basich has built himself an incredible 250-square-foot off-grid cabin – almost exclusively from materials he found on his own property. Check out the video above from “Going Off Grid,” to get the webseries’ visual take on Basich’s unique cabin and way of life.
No sleep 'til Brooklyn! The Beastie Boys probably weren't talking about BKLYN Designs when they wrote those famous lyrics, but they still apply just as well to all of the hard work that's been going into making this year's showcase of the hottest Brooklyn-made home furnishings the most momentous one yet. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has been putting the finishing touches on the "locally grown, internationally known" event, which will take place from May 8-10 at a new location for 2015 - the 28,000-square-foot Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint. This year's show will be breaking boundaries and delving into new territory - from architecture to technology to fashion to food - with exhibitions, seminars, on-site shopping, food trucks, home tours and more, so give into your FOMO already and make plans to attend!
A new report has revealed the underground workings of the Yellowstone National Park volcanic system – and in the process unveiled new details of how one of the world’s largest volcanoes could catastrophically erupt on a scale never-before seen by humanity. According to the Washington Post, an eruption in Yellowstone would eject 1,000 times as much material as Mt. St. Helens did in 1980, creating a disaster of global scale. Needless to say, scientists have been busy studying the inner workings of Yosemite’s volcanic system and a new study from the University of Utah now shows a complete diagram of Yellowstone’s system that reveals some stunning details that show how massive the eruption could actually be.
You’ve all heard the tired mantras about changing your lightbulbs and recycling at home in order to save the planet – are you yawning yet? Many consumers think that going green is a gesture of self-sacrifice that often comes at great expense and inconvenience – but nothing could be further from the truth. What many don’t realize is that going green is not really about doing something good “for the planet” but is instead about improving your own quality of life through making your environment safer and healthier. And one of the easiest places to start leading a greener and healthier life is in the home.
Authorities have intercepted more than three tons of illegal elephant ivory in a Thai port as it was en route to Laos from Kenya. The shipping container, marked as tea leaves, was opened to reveal 511 pieces of ivory, which would fetch millions of dollars on the Laotian black market. The stash comes just days after a shipment of four tons of elephant ivory was discovered at a port in Bangkok, also headed for Laos but shipped from the Congo. Because of these discoveries, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has warned Thailand that it will ban the country’s entire wildlife business if they do not take action. The Thai government has complied, and has vowed to crack down on poached ivory.
One of our favorite Japanese architects, Kengo Kuma, has recently renovated a tiny restaurant called Tetchan. The eatery, famous for their yakitori, is located in a Western Tokyo suburb and is now one of the most popular spots in the area. But this isn't just because the quality of the food is so great, the place also looks amazing inside thanks to the thousands of multicolored LAN cables and acrylic byproducts recycled inside.
Most disposable stuff just sucks. Seriously, it really does. Society’s love of single-use items like disposable coffee pods, diapers, and cutlery has created so much unnecessary waste that our planet can barely keep up with the crap we’re loading into landfills every day. Those Swiffer-type cleaning tools are also on the “worst offenders” list, with their cleaning cloths that that get tossed away after a few minutes’ worth of use. Fortunately, the same folks who bring their own travel mugs to Starbucks can also keep their homes tidy by making their own re-usable covers for their sweepers.
America’s largest design event, Dwell on Design, is celebrating its 10th year at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 29-31, 2015! Curated by the talented editors of Dwell magazine, this inspiring three-day wonderland of modern design will let visitors explore the latest design trends, tour some of L.A.’s most stunning residences, walk through prefab homes and living landscapes, attend thought-provoking conversations, and network face-to-face with industry experts. To secure your spot at the show and save, register here and use promo code INHABITAT15 for $5 off!