Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future?

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The days where plastic straws and their wrappers litter the countertops of restaurants, coffee shops and fast food joints are nearing the end. With several governments, like Australia and the U.K., banning and taxing single-use plastic items and companies like Starbucks, Disney and Hyatt taking their own environmental stand by rejecting plastic straws, sustainable and reusable varieties of the pipettes have been growing in popularity.

Nowadays, it’s no longer about what color straw you’re sporting, but which reusable material you’ll choose. According to the research firm Freedonia Group, Americans reduced their previous consumption of plastic straws by 110 million units in the last year alone. As momentum gains, consumers may now be getting purchase paralysis because of the sheer number of options. Metal, bamboo, silicone, glass — there are many options available when selecting an alternative to single-use plastic straws. The question is, which one is the best?

Related: Starbucks ditches plastic straws for the environment

There are several factors to consider when selecting a more sustainable option for sipping energizing morning smoothies and indulgent midnight milkshakes. Between lifespan and durability, width and length, taste, feel, shape and cleanliness, there are many variables to reusable straws that could make the leap to convert challenging.

Are straws necessary?

Before even delving into these seemingly negligible details some may ask, “Are the liquid chutes superfluous altogether? Do I even need straws at all?”

Considering the widespread pollution that has been caused by disposable straws, eliminating the meal accessories seems like the best overall option. According to a report by 4Ocean, an organization dedicated to repurposing marine plastics to clear the ocean of pollution, a plastic straw can take up to 200 years to decompose. In the meantime, the harmful microplastics eventually disintegrate and contaminate our planet’s air, water and soil, poisoning wildlife and finding their way into our food. As a result, many people are now swearing by a straw-free lifestyle. But there are many reasons, such as dietary restrictions and health issues, that still call for the existence of straws.

Related: UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

Factors to consider when purchasing reusable straws

It’s no surprise that size tops the list of considerations when purchasing reusable straws. Both length and width are important depending on what type of liquid one intends to drink and from which assortment of container. Standard straws measure approximately 7.5-8 inches in length. Those who prefer to drink out of small glasses and coffee mugs are better suited with cocktail-sized straws. The miniature varieties span between 5 and 6 inches, while the longest options settle around 10 inches, although more extensive models can be found for tumbler and thermos users.

A stress of function over form has become the sustainable-straw-purchasing mantra. Smoothies, bubble teas and shakes warrant straws with wider diameters, while less viscous beverages like water, juice and soda that are not semi-solid or thick can be easily consumed through thinner straws. Popular diameters range from around 7mm to 15mm (between 1/4 and 1/2 inches). Shape also comes into play: straight, bent, retractable, flexible — all of these have become important in the straw trade.

Ultimately, most individuals would see these factors as a matter of personal preference. Given that straight straws, short straws and wide-rimmed straws are much easier to clean than their counterparts, they are the most hygienic options for users. It is this quality that makes them the most sustainable choices for new consumers, simply because they have a longer lifespan. Otherwise, unkempt straws get thrown out, and a long-term solution to plastic pollution could turn into another mass consumption (and pollution) trend.

Steel straws

When considering materials, stainless steel has become the most popular go-to material for reusable straw fans. The metal has odor-resisting properties and is the most durable material available for straws. Steel options are also the most widely available on the market because of their heat conducting properties. A cold drink is best enjoyed through a metal straw, because it maintains a crisp and refreshing temperature for the drinker.

Unless consumers are turned off by the metallic flavor that steel can sometimes add to beverages, have sensitive teeth that are disturbed by the hardness of the straw or drink many hot beverages, metal straws serve as the best possible option.

Silicone straws

Those who prefer softer, more flexible straws may turn to silicone. But according to Life Without Plastic, this material, which is generally categorized as a rubber, is actually similar to a hybrid between synthetic rubber and synthetic plastic polymer. The organization cites Beth Terry, author of Plastic Free, who said, “First of all, silicone is no more ‘natural’ than fossil-based plastic. It is a man-made polymer, but instead of a carbon backbone like plastic, it has a backbone of silicon and oxygen … the hydrocarbons in silicone come from fossil sources like petroleum and natural gas.” If this isn’t enough of a deterrent, the same silky texture that makes many people gravitate toward the silicone models is also to blame for its difficulty to wash. Silicone can harbor mold-forming bacteria, and it takes on unpleasant odors after continuous use.

Bamboo straws

With bamboo, consumers may see a reduction in availability. While bamboo straws might not be breakable, they ultimately do not hold up to long-term wear and tear. In addition, bamboo straws are the most difficult to clean of all the materials. Being naturally made from bamboo shoots, there is not a lot of precision in the shape and width to which they are constructed, making it hard to find the right kind of brush to use on them. Sadly enough, because of the chalky texture they leave in the mouth, bamboo straws inevitably fall lower on the enjoyment scale — despite the tropical taste they can generously impart to beverages.

Glass straws

In the end, there is only one other material that can compete with stainless steel in terms of sustainability: glass.

Layered and tempered, glass straws are surprisingly durable and will not break easily if dropped or accidentally mishandled. Glass is a close runner-up to metal’s conductivity, and interestingly enough, it is capable of transferring hot liquids without burning the user. Because the glass is clear, making sure the straw is well-cleaned between uses is as simple as it gets. With no odor and no funny tastes imparted to the drinker, glass straws are a viable alternative to metal straws for the socially-conscious sipper.

In the end, whether plastic straws are replaced with metal, glass or any other alternative, this trendsetting movement is turning a new leaf for the environment on a historical scale.

Via Time, Going Zero Waste, Get Green Now4Ocean and Life Without Plastic

Images via Osha Key, Mark Pazolli, Glass Dharma and Shutterstock

A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers

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The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute in Thailand is taking its own teachings to heart with the an eco-friendly campus crafted from 22 recycled shipping containers. Now, the institute has a clear example when teaching students about the importance of upcycling and sustainability, plus plenty of space for educating on tree conservation, urban farming, waste management and more.

As an institution aimed at teaching others about sustainability, the ISDSI made every effort to minimize any impact throughout the building process. Starting with a bare lot full of trees, the final design saved all but two of the acacia wood grove by using a skilled crane operator to maneuver the shipping containers into place around the existing landscape. They also scrutinized the amount of concrete that was necessary and took steps to avoid greenhouse gas emissions.

Related: 13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island

The shipping containers were hand-selected with the end design in mind, so when each showed up on site, it had a specific purpose. Once the containers were properly stacked, builders began to cut out portions of the massive metal boxes in order to create windows, doors, decks and connecting open-air walkways. To take the sustainable design one step further, none of the cut metal went to waste, as it was turned into interior walls, doors, sinks, bathroom stalls and a kiosk and welcome counter in the cafe and gym. The complex also includes classrooms, conference rooms, a kitchen and plenty of outdoor spaces. The entire project took about nine months to complete.

In addition to reusing containers slotted for melt-down recycling on the front end of the project, careful thought went into long-term energy savings from daily operations. For example, the entire campus uses low-energy LED lighting for areas not already lit through copious natural lighting. Proper insulation keeps the campus temperate, but when air conditioning is necessary, each pod has its own unit for efficiency, and most of the units were recycled from old buildings.

Outside areas also received a sustainability upgrade with the use of composting, an on-campus garden, plants and green spaces, all intended to help support the soil and provide fresh air.

+ The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute

Images via ISDSI

Worlds largest Victorian glasshouse receives a glorious restoration

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After five years of restoration work, the iconic Temperate House recently reopened to the public, bringing with it an astounding 10,000 plants — many of which are rare and threatened. Designed by Decimus Burton and completed in 1899, the Temperate House is the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse and the iconic landmark of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. To restore the building back to its full glory, Donald Insall Associates was called upon to sensitively renovate the greenhouse and insert modern technology for improved plant cultivation and care.

Appointed as the conservation architects in 2012, Donald Insall Associates was tasked with improving the Temperate House for the enjoyment of the public and creating the “best possible conditions for plants.” This included optimizing air flow standards and lighting levels. During the renovation process — the largest in Kew’s history — all botanical specimens were removed save for nine trees considered too significant to risk moving. The structure was then thoroughly cleaned and then fastidiously repainted, while advancements such as new glazing and mechanical ventilation systems were put in place.

close up of porcelain statues

The Temperate House reopened to the public on May 5, 2018. The massive greenhouse consists of 1,500 species spanning different temperate regions around the world from the Mediterranean and Africa to Asia and island floras. Meanwhile, both the internal and external landscaping have been improved with interpretation facilities and a new dedicated education space on site.

tower under contruction

close of of ornamental entrance with statues

Related: Wolfgang Buttress’ Hive is brought back to life in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

“The restoration of the Temperate House has been a complex and immensely rewarding project, recalibrating contemporary understanding of Victorian architecture and the development of past innovations,” said Aimée Felton, lead architect on the project. “New glazing, mechanical ventilation systems, path and bedding arrangements all took their founding principles from Decimus Burton’s own drawings, held within Kew’s archives.”

+ Donald Insall Associates

Via ArchDaily

Images by Gareth Gardner, Thomas Erskine

Harvest your own produce at this solar-powered wellness retreat

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The Inn at Moonlight Beach, located near San Diego, puts a fresh spin on wellness retreats. The inn was built with the WELL Building Standards in mind, a practice that focuses on improving the well-being of guests. Here’s a look at how the inn, redesigned and renovated by architect Shangwen Kennedy and husband Mike, is the perfect destination for your next vacation.

The Inn at Moonlight Beach was constructed from reclaimed lumber and other recycled building materials. The inn is powered by solar panels, which output 90 percent of the building’s electricity. The owners also installed high-quality air and water filtration systems, as well as other environmentally conscious features, without sacrificing the comfort and well-being of guests.

Related: Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat

The inn has a few gorgeous shared spaces located in the main building. This includes a common room that features a book wall and dining area. Guests can enjoy bountiful fruits and vegetables in the common room, as well as ready-made breakfast baskets. After enjoying a fresh meal, guests can spend some time at the inn’s yoga studio, which offers lush garden views. Of course, they can also take a short walk to the nearby beach or explore the shops and cafes in the local town of Encinitas.

The guestrooms are just as bright and inviting as the common areas. Each room features open spaces with fresh-cut flowers to make every guest feel at home. The rooms are also equipped with sitting areas, baths, modern amenities and decks that overlook the gardens below.

The biodynamic gardens do more than just grace the perimeter of the inn. In addition to lending a vibrant area to view the ocean, the garden’s plants provide fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables for the establishment. The flowers are used to welcome guests in every room. The herbs are used for hot teas, and guests have full access to fruits and veggies whenever they need nourishment.

+ Inn at Moonlight Beach

Images via Inn at Moonlight Beach

LEED-targeted condos bring Scandinavian design to a Quebec forest

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Montreal-based real estate developer KnightsBridge has recently unveiled Arborescence, an eco-friendly condominium project on Quebec’s Bromont Mountain that will likely be the latest addition to its line of LEED-certified properties. Quebec design practice ABCP Architecture designed the residential development, which will comprise approximately 260 units, all for four-season use. The gabled structures are inspired heavily by Scandinavian design both inside and out and will embrace the outdoors with a natural materials palette and full-height glazing.

Located just an hour from Montreal and a mere 40 minutes from the U.S. border, Arborescence will be sited in an area of natural beauty that’s also close to local services and attractions. The development was conceived as a “retreat in the heart of the forest.” Residents will have easy access to year-round outdoor activities, from ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes, snowshoeing, mountain biking, hiking and swimming at the nearby water park. Even at home, the residents will take in nature through expansive glass windows that offer unobstructed views of the Eastern Townships.

In addition to ample glazing, each unit will be built using natural materials and outfitted with a gas fireplace. Tall ceilings from nine to 15 feet in height give the homes an airy feel, while superior soundproofing and insulation ensure peace and comfort. Residents will also have access to a heated outdoor pool, pond with a dock, tennis and beach volleyball courts and an outdoor fireplace.

Related: Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal

“If Quebec and Scandinavia were neighbors, Arborescence would be located right at the border,” said Simon Boyer, co-founder of KnightsBridge. “The development offers the best of both worlds, with sleek, modern architecture that integrates the warm feel of wood. The development is renewed with every season and is sure to please any epicurean!” The first phase of the $100 million project is slated to launch September 19 with 48 units to be delivered toward the end of 2019.

+ ABCP Architecture

Images via KnightsBridge

ourtoodr stone patio with wood chairs and firepit in front of human-made pond

Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada

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Las Vegas-based Hoogland Architecture designed the Arroyo House, a forever home for a couple with a penchant for the outdoors and sustainable design. Located in the tiny town of Blue Diamond just outside Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert, the Arroyo House enjoys panoramic views of the landscape with nary a neighbor in sight. The 3,875-square-foot dwelling takes advantage of the views with full-height glazing that’s protected from the sun by large overhangs, while the water conservation and recycling system helps keep water usage to a minimum.

Two tan couches and two tan chairs in a U-shape around a leaf-printed rug with a dog walking across

Designed for a Las Vegas couple nearing retirement age, the Arroyo House was conceived as a forever home with a design conducive to aging in place. Examples include an ADA compliant roll-in shower and a single-story layout for the main living spaces. Currently, the house is used as a launch pad for hiking and exploring the desert landscape as well as nearby Red Rock Canyon.

Wood dining table in front of tan couches and chairs in room with glass walls

To ensure the longevity of the building, the architects relied on low-maintenance concrete and weathering steel for the external walls. Large roof overhangs protect full-height, low-E glazing and sliding doors that flood the modern interiors with natural light while framing views of the outdoors. Inside, the rooms are minimally dressed with polished concrete floors, white walls and light timber furnishings. The living room, dining area and kitchen are located in an open-plan, L-shaped layout next to the deck on one side of the home. The master suite is located on the opposite side of the entry and connects to a guesthouse via a shaded outdoor walkway.

white bed facing glass walls with views of donkeys in a desert

Two women standing on a concrete deck on the concrete and weathered steel home

Related: Geothermal-powered forever home targets environmental and social sustainability

In addition to ample daylighting and passive cooling measures, energy efficiency was reinforced with radiant in-slab heating and low-flow fixtures. The drought-tolerant landscape is irrigated with recycled gray water, while black water is treated on site with a septic system. The house has also been engineered to accommodate the photovoltaic solar array that the homeowners plan to install in the future.

+ Hoogland Architecture

Via Dezeen

Images via Stephen Morgan

Donkeys in front of concrete and weathered steel home in the desert

Frank Gehry tops Facebook HQ expansion with a 3.6-acre rooftop park

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Facebook recently unveiled a peek inside MPK 21, its newest campus building designed by Frank Gehry and built in less than 18 months. Created as an extension to its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, this striking addition blurs the distinction between the indoors and outdoors with its massive walls of glass, sheltered courtyard and expansive 3.6-acre rooftop garden — named The Town Square — planted with 40-foot-tall redwood trees. In addition to its abundance of plant life, the building is also designed to meet green standards and is expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

Located on a formerly unoccupied industrial site, MPK 21 connects to MPK 20 — another Facebook building also designed by Frank Gehry that opened in 2015 — via an amphitheater-style courtyard called The Bowl. The building houses offices with open workspaces, designed to promote collaboration between teams, as well as quiet areas for focused work. Employees traverse the length of the building with a single walkway, which also connects to five dining areas and a 2,000-person event and meeting space with state-of-the-art A/V technology. Artists from Facebook’s Artist in Residence Program were commissioned to create 15 art installations for MPK 21.

“The building was designed to promote teamwork and allow our people to do their best work,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of Global Facilities and Real Estate, in a press release. “MPK 21 is designed to reduce impact on the environment and enhance employee well-being. The building encourages active engagement inside and outside of the building with pedestrian walkways, access to various outdoor areas, visible stairways and flexible work stations. The physical infrastructure is designed to reduce water, energy and waste as well.”

Related: Facebook signs Frank Gehry to design two more buildings for their California campus

The LEED Platinum-targeted building is powered by 1.4 MW of photovoltaic solar roof tiles, which can generate nearly 2 million kWH of electricity a year. Approximately 17 million gallons of water will be saved annually thanks to a reclaimed water system, while the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours is minimized with an abundance of bird-friendly glazing. Facebook also enrolled in Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECO100 energy option to further reduce its carbon footprint.

+ Frank Gehry

Via Dezeen

Images via Facebook

Coop launches fragrance that smells of old milk to combat food waste

https://inhabitat.com/coop-launches-fragrance-that-smells-of-old-milk-to-fight-food-waste

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perfume bottle that reads old milk with splash of milk above it

Food waste is a major issue all around the world, but one Swedish company is doing something about it. Coop has officially launched an ‘Old Milk’ fragrance — which, yes, smells like spoiled milk — to urge citizens to rely on their sense of taste and smell rather than expiration dates when deciding whether to throw away outdated food.

A study by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency shows that 30 percent of food waste in Sweden is still edible. It is estimated that most food waste in the world is from dairy products, tea and coffee. To combat wasting this amount of food, Coop, a popular grocery chain in the country, developed a spray that smells like spoiled milk. The hope is that the fragrance will encourage people to smell and taste food before tossing it out.

Related: Mobile app Karma tackles food waste with discounted meals

“With the fragrance Old Milk, we want to make people decrease their food waste at home by helping them understand the difference between drinkable and undrinkable milk,”  Anneli Bylund, the head of Coop’s sustainability division, explained. “Don’t be afraid to smell, taste and look at the food before you throw it out.”

Another goal of the new fragrance is to teach Swedes not to rely solely on expiration dates. Coop hopes its product will educate citizens on how spoiled milk actually smells and encourage them to test all of the food in their households before tossing it in the bin.

This is not the first time Coop has combated food waste. In previous years, the company has collaborated with organizations to extend food past the manufacturer’s recommended date. This includes working with organizations like Allwin and Whywaste to help distribute old food to nonprofits. Coop is also working with celebrity chef Paul Svensson to create better-tasting recipes for leftovers.

Coop has taken home several awards for its contribution to sustainability in Sweden. This includes being named the most sustainable brand and the greenest company in 2018. The company is releasing free samples of the Old Milk fragrance on its official website.

+ Coop

Images via Coop

Fight food waste with these 11 ways to use leftover greens before they spoil

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While they are chock-full of nutrients, greens such as spinach, kale, chard and romaine typically do not make for good leftovers. Luckily, there are plenty of uses for this tasty produce — even if it is soggy and nearly bad — that won’t make you feel like you’ve wasted money or contributed to the growing food waste crisis. Here are 11 different ways you can use leftover greens before they spoil.

Sautéed Greens

Certain types of greens, like arugula, kale, chard and spinach, are ideal for adding to a stir-fry or sautéing. Add these greens with shallots, peppers and garlic, and sauté them with a bit of olive oil. If you are making a traditional stir-fry, the ribs of romaine and iceberg lettuce are great for adding a crispy element to the dish.

Kale Pesto

Who knew kale could be incorporated into a spaghetti dish? Start by making a pesto with kale with a food processor. Then, boil some spaghetti noodles and combine them with the pesto. Add a few sun-dried tomatoes to the mix and top everything off with some goat or vegan cheese. Once you have mastered making kale pesto, you can use it in a number of different dishes, including raviolis and fish, such as tilapia.

Lettuce Soup

It might not sound good, but leftover greens actually make a great soup. You can make a delicious soup out of an assortment of leftover greens, including Boston, romaine, butter, Bibb and iceberg lettuces. You can also play with a variety of spices, like thyme, garlic and tarragon, until you find a flavor combination you like. Add in potato for a heartier meal.

Lettuce Cups and Wraps

You can put just about anything that you would put on a sandwich in a lettuce wrap, and it will taste good. If you are looking for something new, try wrapping a mixture of rice, spicy peppers and other veggies and proteins of your choice. Like wraps, lettuce cups are a great way to use leftover greens before they spoil. Romaine lettuce and iceberg are better for cups, because they have large leaves and are a little sturdier than their counterparts. There is an assortment of lettuce cup recipes on the internet, but our favorite combines pine nuts, tofu (or chicken, if you prefer) and peppers to create a tasty treat.

Green Smoothies

One of the quickest ways to use leftover greens is to incorporate them into a smoothie. Greens make excellent smoothies that are both tasty and nutritious. Add a bit of fruit plus ginger for extra flavor. You can also try your hand at making a detox smoothie. For this drink, use leftover kale, apples, ginger and lemon. Start by slicing six apples. Juice three of them, and add the juice to your blender. Then toss in the chopped kale, lemon and ginger. Once everything is mixed in, add the rest of the apple slices and blend. One tip for this recipe is to use apples that are crisp, which will help give the smoothie a good consistency. But if you are trying to use up nearly-expired apples, those will work fine, too.

Mac & Cheese

Leftover kale actually makes great mac and cheese and can help infuse nutrients into the dish. Just cook the dish as you normally would (we recommend homemade, not boxed!), and combine the chopped kale at the very end as you are mixing everything together. Place in the oven to soften the kale and you are good to go. If you prefer spinach, it also makes a great addition to this classic comfort dish.

Rice With Greens

Mixing rice, including fried rice, with greens is a great way to make a traditional dish healthier. Start by cooking the rice as you normally would. Mix in a cup or more of chopped greens and your preferred spices. Cook until the kale is soft and serve hot.

Coleslaw

Leftover greens are great for making a quick coleslaw. Hardier greens, such as kale, mustard, chard or turnip tops, are more ideal for coleslaw, because they generally stay fresher longer. If you notice some yellowing leaves, simply cut off these portions and cut the rest into small strips. Add a vinaigrette to the mixture and the result is a fresh slaw that is sure to please.

Grilled Lettuce

Grilling lettuce is a great way to use it up before it wilts away. Start by cutting lettuce into wedges and coat with olive oil, salt and garlic. The sugars in the lettuce, especially if you use iceberg or romaine, will caramelize in the cooking process. Once the greens are fully cooked, sprinkle them with some cheese of your choice and enjoy.

Spinach Yogurt Dip

Spinach and kale can be combined to create an amazing yogurt dip. Gather Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, kale, spinach, green onions, red pepper, carrots, garlic and some paprika. The key to this dish is to make sure all of the ingredients are finely chopped so that they combine well with the yogurt. You can also add artichoke hearts or water chestnuts for a little more variety. Serve this dish with veggies or chips.

Braised Lettuce

Did you know that you can braise lettuce? Well, you can, and it is pretty delicious to boot. You can try different recipes with this dish, but braising lettuce in coconut milk and then adding some ginger, black pepper and garlic makes for an amazing appetizer. To braise lettuce, start by chopping it up and sauté it until the leaves are slightly brown. Then add some vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil. Cover and heat for around 15 minutes to finish the braise.

Images via Chiara Conti, Tim Sackton, Alice Pasqual, Stu Spivack, Vegan Feast Catering, Kimberly Nanney, Jodi Michelle, Zachary Collier, Gloria Cabada-Leman and Shutterstock

Stefano Boeri Architettis iridescent tower breaks ground in Tirana

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Stefano Boeri Architetti, the Italian architecture firm behind the vertical forest towers, has unveiled designs for the Blloku Cube, a mixed-use high-rise marked by its distinctive energy-efficient cladding. Located in the heart of Albania’s capital of Tirana, the Blloku Cube is a multifunctional center instrumental in the Tirana 2030 master plan — also designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti — that aims to breathe new life into one of the most prestigious districts in the city. Construction on the Blloku Cube recently broke ground in July 2018.

Covering a project area of approximately 12,000 square feet (1,117 square meters), the Blloku Cube is currently being constructed on the intersection between the streets of Pjeter Bogdani and Vaso Pasha. The eye-catching cuboid structure was designed to enhance the vibrant district, which was reborn from a former military zone with restricted access into a major city hub flush with shops, bars and restaurants. Blloku Cube will comprise office space stacked atop multiple levels of retail. A Roof Garden Restaurant will occupy the seventh floor.

large white desks and chairs with a wall of glass featuring aluminum triangle patterns

people sitting on wood stair-like benches inside room with glass walls covered partially by aluminum triangles

“The identity of the building is strongly characterized by a special cladding, a standout feature that makes it recognizable and unique in the city skyline and, at the same time, highly performing in terms of thermal efficiency, thanks to a ‘double skin’ technological system,” the firm said in a project statement. Energy-efficient glass curtain walls are considered the first “skin,” and the second “skin” consists of a shimmering “sophisticated technological shielding system” made up of anodized aluminum modules carefully angled to filter the sunlight and optimize natural light indoors.

people shopping for shoes and purses inside bright white room

aluminum cube building rendering

Related: The world’s first vertical forest for low-income housing is coming to the Netherlands

Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Stefano Boeri Architetti project director, added, “This particular cladding solution, specifically designed for our first Albanian project, plays an essential role in defining the uniqueness of the building and contributes to underlining its importance as a new landmark of this urban district.”

+ Stefano Boeri Architetti

Images by Stefano Boeri Architetti