Archive for March 12, 2009

eggtower-ed02

I wasn’t really sure whether I should post any info on this project: I attempted to get information from the architect’s website using both a .net and .com URL extension as well as Firefox and IE, but I had no luck. So I’m not sure how real this thing is but it does look and sound good. So I’m totally relying on what Inhabitat‘s <!––> Haily Zaki has reported on this giant egg:

From the unseen, unsung files of design competitions past comes the Envision Green Hotel proposed by Miami-based Michael Rosenthal Associates for Hospitality Design’s Radical Innovation design competition. Part wind tower, part urban eco-resort, and all egg, this “lobular” structure is touted as one of the most recognizable landmarks for the city in which it would ultimately be…laid. Inhabitat leaves it up to you to decide whether this is an egg-cellent idea or something not quite fully hatched.

eggtower-ed01

Operating like a living organism, the Envision literally breathes through its wind and atmospheric conversion systems, which allow natural air into the interior of the building without mechanical intervention. Photovoltaic exterior sheathing provides the building’s energy, while indoor gardens at various levels of the structure act as upward extensions of the earth, creating mini-microclimates that filter the air and act as added insulation. Recycled pools of water around the structure serve as catch basins, water reservoirs, fire barriers, and indispensable decorative aquatic features. Power from the wind turbine heats the boiler and creates steam for the chiller water plant beneath the structure to cool and heat the hotel.

Within the hotel, rooms would be designed on a 4 foot multiple to conform to standard-sized materials and reduce construction waste. A high-efficiency LED system would illuminate the interiors, and non-toxic, non-off-gassing finishes would be employed. Besides the typical water-efficient fixtures, this eco resort would use recovered rainwater for flushing and irrigation. The rooms would also include a mood pad control unit that would allow each guest to control the lighting and choose groovy digital images that would reflect behind glass walls and ceilings.

eggtower-ed04

To help this giant eco-egg blend even more subtly into the surrounding urban context, exterior LED curtain walls would change color throughout the night to indicate the progression of time, making the Envision glow in the night like a giant, moody Fabergé egg.

+ Michael Rosenthal Associates

charles_brazil

Prince Charles started three days his first full day of a Latin America tour Monday, visiting Chile’s capital and preparing a speech set to highlight his concern over climate change. The prince’s speech on climate change in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday is being presented as one of his keynote presentations. Climate change “is one of the UK government’s highest foreign policy priorities in 2009,” the British embassy in Brazil said in a statement announcing Prince Charles’s visit – meaning the British taxpayer most likely finances the trip.

And besides the perennial question of how much celebrities can really achieve in terms of paradigm shifts, one needs to wonder about their true agendas – in this case for example about the Prince’s  commitment to sustainability. Apart from using the trip for visiting one of his earliest girlfriends, Lucia Santa Cruz (who was the daughter of the Chilean ambassador to London 40 years ago) and staying at her place (with Camilla of course 😉 ), he also hired a private Airbus jet to fly just 14 people for the duration of his visits, leaving a 322-tonne carbon footprint from the voyage. What does that do to the credibility of his mission and the impression people get about the authenticity of the “green prince”?

I don’t think this is a shining example of walking the talk – instead of demonstrating a serious concern about climate change, Charles’ actions smack of self-promotion and wanting to have tax payer funded fun. So, once again: nothing new to report from the life of the royal family.

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Jake Richardson
Eco Worldly

A large network of Brazilians illegally trafficking in wild animals has been arrested. The network included smugglers, hunters, sellers, and middle men.

macawThough 72 have been arrested, 102 arrest warrants were issued and the investigation is ongoing. Federal police in Brazil used 450 agents in a coordinated sting operation. Several suspects may currently be in Europe. The police raid was the largest anti-animal trafficking effort in ten years there.

Up to 500,000 animals may have been sold by the illegal network each year. Some of the animals sold are endangered. Parrots, jaguars, snakes, deer, and monkeys were sold illegally. One thousand birds were confiscated from the traffickers. (Most were jungle birds).

Alexandre Saraiva, head of the police anti-wildlife smuggling unit in Rio described the situation: “Usually the animals sold were those that are most rare and in danger of extinction, like species of macaws and parrots.” Wild animals captured for sale and transportation usually die shortly afterwards. Police hope to reduce profits made by the traffickers to discourage their activities.

The South American nation is home to almost two thirds of the Amazon, which is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the entire world. Brazil has over 500 mammals, and over 600 endangered animals. Hunting is illegal there.

eco-bedAllison Boyer from EcoScraps writes that, “according to Furniture Today, the Specialty Sleep Association wants to set guidelines for how manufacturers market “green” mattresses and other natural sleep products.

The SSA said its ultimate goal is to create a certification program based on “existing legitimate standards” and programs as well as sleep industry-specific terms and standards for mattresses and bedding. Among other challenges, the SSA will define terms such as “green,” “natural,” “all-natural” and “organic,” it said.

An upcoming conference in Florida is planned to help define green rules for the sleep industry”.

In one way it’s great that everyone jumps on the bandwagon of green living (and of course this one starts in California); it’s certainly a sign of an urgently needed ec0logical awakening. The blessing and curse of the sources of such initiatives though is that belong to world of business, and we know how popular green washing is in that sector. So let’s hope that some standards will emerge that are actually driven by a deep commitment to sustainability – rather than by profit, lies and a fad mentality.

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gmail-importable-filters

A new Google Labs feature now allows to import Gmail filters and Lifehacker shows you how to do it AND offers a handy package of useful filters (see examples above).

music-downloader

A while ago I tried Last Sharp, a German downloader for Last.fm music; here’s another option according to gHacks, one which doesn’t require .Net runtimes.

Last.fm Downloader (via Life Rocks) is a free portable software program for Windows. To download your favorite music from Last.fm (and also Aupeo), just enter the Last.fm/Aupeo url and press ‘Start’. No user account or login is required.

You can download music from similar Last.fm artists by using for example an url like “www.last.fm/listen/artist/Nas/similarartists” or music with the same tag (something like “www.last.fm/listen/globaltags/rap“).

All downloaded files are named “Artist – Title.mp3” and saved in the “Downloaded Files” subfolder. If you check the ‘Deep folder layout’ option, the files are stored as “\Artist\Album\Artist – Title.mp3”. ID3 tags are automatically generated. Even the cover images can be downloaded.

Settings make it possible to change the download location of the music files, to define a maximum size limit or download file count limit, to start an external application if a limit is reached and whether to download cover art and make use of a deep folder layout while downloading.

Downloads are not always smooth though – which has to be accepted given that website databases like the Last.fm one are not created for music downloads.

periodic_table_of_typefaces_large

Finally a visually more exciting alternative to the forever boring (though) clickable list of fonts: the Periodic Table of Typefaces. It covers a number of major fonts and includes information about the family and classification of each, the designer, the year the font was designed, and a ranking as cribbed from a number of internet sources. Pity though it’s only informative rather than interactive; maybe one day some design inspired hacker might find some spare time to make the visual stimulation functionally exciting.

[Via Download Squad]