Monday, February 4, 2008

Eco Wonders.. which I wish to see...

Like other wonders of the modern world, these amazing green wonders are places you must see before you die. These structures are unique in the world for their brilliantly creative methods of melding aesthetic beauty, functional design and environmental sustainability.

Built in Darmstadt, Germany, this structure is called Waldspirale or "Forest Spiral." It was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a celebrated Austrian architect and painter. Planted along the 12 floors of the rising roof are beech, maple, and lime trees. The structure even incorporates a running stream. The building comprises 105 apartments. In the tower on the Southeast corner, a restaurant and cocktail bar rises over the entire structure. Source: Wissenschaftsstadt Darmstadt.

Nestled in Pembrokeshire, in Southwest Wales, this structure is truly an eco-dream home. It was built about three years ago by a single family and their friends over the course of four months. The family estimates that it took about 1,000 to 1,500 hours of work and cost only about £ 3,000. It was constructed mostly out of logs, straw and mud, which acts as an effective insulator. According to the house's inhabitants, the home "feels gentle. Feels to me more like being part of the (natural) world, less like a commodity in a box." Source: Simondale.

While the Songjiang Hotel, near Shanghai, China, will not be completed until about May of 2009, it will certainly be a sight to see. The hotel is being built in a 100 meter (330 foot) deep abandoned quarry, preventing further disturbance of the area's ecology by building on an already-disturbed site. The architecture will incorporate a living roof at ground level, on top of the 400-bed hotel. There is also some chance that the structure will be able to make use of geothermal energy to power its facilities. All in all, this promises to be a ridiculously cool eco-wonder of the world. Sources: Greenroofs, Ecogeek.

With about 35,000 plants of 76 different species, this structure in Fukuoka, Japan houses offices, retail shops, a theater and a museum. The building was designed by Emilio Ambasz & Associates, which focuses on green building techniques. It was constructed on one of the city's last open spaces, so the idea of the building is to retain the feature of the open space while providing the city with the facilities needed in this space. Like other green roofs, this one enables the building to use less energy than the surrounding structures. Source: Deputy Dog.

The Altamont Pass Wind Farm in California, United States of America, has been called the largest piece of artwork in this country. Composed of 4,500 wind turbines, it is still the largest wind farm in the world, although a larger one is under construction in the UK. Built in the 1970's, this was one of the earliest wind energy projects in the United States. The windmills are therefore currently being upgraded to more efficient and bird-safe windmills. The windmills are visible from nearby roadways, but it's worth getting out of your car to take in the awesome view they create. Sources: Flickr, Wikimedia.

This green roof houses baths in Vals, Switzerland. The grass roof was designed to make the building look as though it had been built long ago, though the building was built in the early 1990's. Peter Zumthor is the spa's architect. The structure is made of slabs of concrete, a good insulator, which are fitted together in almost a jigsaw pattern. In the spaces between the concrete, glass has been fitted. From the inside, this gives the double impression of a heavy roof that appears almost to float. Sources: Inhabitat, Wikimedia.

The Hearst Building is considered the first green building in New York City, United States of America. It is also the first building in New York City to receive a gold LEED certificate. The most physically apparent environmentally sustainable feature of this building is its shape and glass windows. These triangular windows work in sync with light sensors to maximize natural daylight and minimize electrical light used. The roof itself collects rainwater, which feeds the plants inside and outside the building. For much of the year, cooling is accomplished with a HV AC system, which simply uses fresh air from outside to cool and ventilate the building. The structure itself was also accomplished with 20% less steel than other buildings of its stature and over 90% of the steel used was recycled material. All in all, an office in this building emits about 22% less CO2 than other New York offices. Sources: Ecotourism Blog, Hearst Corporation.

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