Landscape Architect's Office Fits In A Trailer, Follows His Work

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Image: XS/LA
mobile office design xs/la photoDesign used to take up a lot of space, with big draughting boards, huge drawings and interns to do all the repetitive and boring stuff. The computer changed everything and reduced the space and staff required to almost nothing. Andreas Stavropoulos of XS/LA tells Alex at Shedworking about his mobile office, built into a 2003 cargo trailer.
mobile office design xs/la photo interior
Image: XS/LA
The landscape architect writes:
The mobile studio is designed to unite the designer with the site. Equipped with a drafting table, small library, solar power, and wifi, the mobile studio doesn't just sit pretty, but it works hard. This original design and fabrication features an translucent skylight, which allows diffuse light to fully and shadowlessly illuminate the interior. The studio is particularly useful during the concept design stages, when clients are invited inside to provide initial feedback on conceptual design sketches.
It is a wonderful idea for a design professional, being up close and personal with the site and the trades. According to Sunset Magazine,
This isn't exactly the norm in the modern, virtual reality-driven world of landscape architecture. But Stavropoulos​--who earned his MLA from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2007--is a back-to-the-land kind of guy. He wants to ground his garden plans in the realities of the site, and he retrofitted the 6- by 10-foot cargo trailer to help him do that.
Oh, and did I mention that he lives in an Airstream trailer.
Image: Lloyd Alter
It is a lot smaller than Robert Boltman and Alex Bartlett's BSQ shipping container office, but the principle is the same: Your office is where your work is. The trailer is also more mobile; the Bsq. Container is languishing on a dead construction site right now, while Andreas can tow his office behind his Honda. It is smaller, lighter and ultimately more flexible. More at Bsq. Office in a Shipping Container
nissan van photo
Too bad Nissan never produced their NV200; It really made the office mobile.

ZenithSolar Creates Solar Generator with Incredible 72% Efficiency

zenithsolar, 3rd generation CHP solar energy generator, solar z20 
zenithsolar, zenithsolar solar generator, israel solar energy, Ezri 
Tarazi zenithsolar, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design,
Israel-based energy company ZenithSolar has broken records with its 3rd generation CHP solar energy generator (Solar Z20) that combines heat and power systems to create an incredible 72% solar conversion efficiency. According to Ezri Tarazi at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and Head of Tarazi Studio, the generator has reached record levels by using a “semi-parabolic optical mirror for collecting solar energy” to power the local community’s electric and hot water use.
zenithsolar, 3rd generation CHP solar energy generator, solar z20 
zenithsolar, zenithsolar solar generator, israel solar energy, Ezri 
Tarazi zenithsolar, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design,
The generators are installed in Kibbutz Yavne in Central Israel and provide hot water and power for the local community while also putting power back in to the back to the national grid. The system the most efficent in the world, and also produces the lowest cost per watt and best potential for energy system cost reduction as well as the highest efficiency in the field (+72%)

LEED Platinum Boulder House First in US to Use German System

LEED Platinum Boulder House First in US to Use German System

Weberhaus, Studio HT, Studio H:T, Bouldger green building, boulder
 green house, boulder prefab, Leed homes platinum, green house design, 
modular wall, solar electric, solar hot water, grey water
While a relatively new concept in the US, the German company Weberhaus has long been developing prefab house construction technology for 50 years. Designed by Studio H:T Architects the 2002 Alpine House in Boulder CO, is the first to use the state-of-the-art German system in the US. This new LEED Platinum home shows how high-scale design, sustainable principles and prefab can come together to create an attractive home. Additionally, some of the home’s most impressive features include a super-low energy requirement, a 9kW solar array and a host of other low impact features able to assuage the environmentally aware owners who were looking for the perfect $3.5 million pad built to last a hundred years.

The upscale residence is two stories of modular walls and ceilings, complete with windows doors, and electrical and plumbing set on an ICF base. Overall construction reported only 5% in waste materials, compared to the national average of 17%. The shell of the home has reduced the energy demand by 1/5th of the average home, but air quality is improved by low toxic material and fresh air exchange.

The 4,340 square feet interior is heated with a high efficiency boiler, lit with LED lighting, and finished in Earth Clay plaster. Water is heated through a solar thermal system and reclaimed as grey water. Outdoor and indoor spaces blend together beautifully, and the overall effect is a clean, highly refined modernist feel with a naturalist bent.

MIT- solar cells and solar powered water desalination system

MIT Unveils Portable Solar-Powered Water Desalination System

MIT, Field and Space Robotic Laboratory (FSRL), MIT solar power 
water desalination system, solar power water desalination, Massachusetts
 Institute of Technology solar power water desalination, MIT's 
Department of Mechanical Engineering
A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Field and Space Robotic Laboratory (FSRL) has designed a new solar-powered water desalination system to provide drinking water to disaster zones and disadvantaged parts of the planet. The water desalination system can be easily packed up for delivery to emergency areas and is completely powered by solar energy, so it is able to function in arid and remote off-grid regions.
MIT, Field and Space Robotic Laboratory (FSRL), MIT solar power 
water desalination system, solar power water desalination, Massachusetts
 Institute of Technology solar power water desalination, MIT's 
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Desalination systems often require a lot of energy, as well as a large infrastructure, to support them but MIT’s compact system is able to cope due to its ingenious design. The system’s photovoltaic panel is able to generate power for the pump, which in turn pushes undrinkable seawater through a permeable membrane. Once the salt and other minerals are removed, the water can then be drunk. The system even has sensors that enable water purification even without high levels of sunlight.
MIT’s prototype can reportedly produce 80 gallons of drinking water per day, depending on weather conditions. A larger version is also being designed, which will cost $8,000 and will be able to provide 1,000 gallons of water daily. The design team also claim that two dozen desalination units could be transported in a single C-130 cargo airplane, providing water for more than 10,000 people.

MIT Introduces Paper-Thin Solar Cells

mit, eni, solar power, solar energy, solar cell, green energy, 
green design
Solar cells keep getting thinner and tinier, and thanks to MIT and their research sponsor Eni, we are already seeing cells that can be folded up into paper airplanes! Recently revealed, MIT’s paper solar cells feature five layers of solid material layered on a paper substrate. When combined, the materials and paper form a solar cell. Albeit weak – each cell has an efficiency level of of just 1%, while most commercial silicon solar cells maintain at least 15% efficiency – the potential for commercial application is incredible.

While still on the low end researchers are hoping to get the paper solar cells up to 4% efficiency. Once this happens, the cheap, flexible cells could be used in all sorts of applications, such as laptop covers, attached to shades or blinds, and even laminated onto roofs by non-professionals.
Although they won’t be hitting shelves tomorrow, certainly stay tuned – these cells could be ready for commercialization within the next five years.

water and water filtration

The six ideas below my signature are all important and worth your additional research ... unclean water kills more people worldwide than anything else! Rotary International has made this a priority to provide clean water sources worldwide and save lives. Any ideas that can be implemented to provide healthy water are very worthwhile.
A few months ago I sent out a concept for water purification worth repeating:
"New Nanotech Purifier Filters Water 80,000 Times Faster
by Cameron Scott
nanotechnology, water, drinking water, yi cui, sarah heilshorn, 
stanford university, sustainable design, global development, health
A new water filter that employs cotton dipped in nano-sized silver wires and copper tubes works 80,000 times faster than filters that simply block bacteria from getting through. The filter, developed by Stanford University researchers for use in developing countries, efficiently conducts a tiny charge of electricity, zapping 98 percent of all bacteria.
Millions of people die in rural and undeveloped areas every year from exposure to contaminated drinking water. The challenge is to create processes that work cheaply and reliably and uses materials that are light enough to transport. The pass-through filter is less likely to fail due to clogging or becoming infested with the bacteria it’s intended to kill: if bacteria cling to it, the silver kills them. And because its nano-materials are especially efficient conductors of electricity, the filter can get the jolt it needs from a small solar panel, a hand crank or 12-volt car batteries.
Unfortunately, when it comes to drinking water, 98 percent isn’t an adequate kill rate, so water would have to be filtered more than once. But since the filter works 80,000 times faster, there’s plenty of time for that."
Thanks and pass it on,
Mike Fowler
P.O. Box 400
108 West Live Oak Street
Hutto, Texas 78634
512-736-2000 cell
512-759-2000 home

Top 6 Life-Saving Designs for Clean Drinking Water

Water has been prevailing theme this last year, especially in the wake of multiple natural disasters that involved polluting our oceans, flooding and access to clean water. Not only is it the stuff that makes the world go round, but every person needs access to clean drinking water and a number of designers around the world have been working to produce life-saving devices and designs that can filter or provide clean water for the world.
Architectural projects like this community toilet facility for India would go a long way to improving local water quality, sanitation and reducing disease. NGOs and governments should help invest in water filtration devices to disperse among families in third world countries. And we also need to crack down on business and factories polluting our rivers, lakes and oceans.

LifeStraw Water Purifier

The LifeStraw is a plastic cigar-sized water filter that purifies water by removing potential pathogens like typhoid, cholera, dysentery as well as the parasites. It works as soon as you suck up water from a source, rendering up to 1,000 liters of water fit to drink without electricity or additional attachments.

Play Pump Merry Go-Round Water Pump

Since kids always seem to be bustling with extra energy, why not put that energy to good use. The Play Pump Merry Go-Round was designed as a fun water pump for rural villages and schools in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kids can have fun while providing water for use in cooking, sanitation, drinking, and even growing food. So far over 1,000 pumps have been installed, and PlayPumps International hopes to increase that number to 4,000 by the end of 2010.

LifeSaver Water Filter

The LifeSaver bottle is a personal water filtration device that uses various filters to screen out even the smallest viruses as well as bacteria, contaminants, and pathogens. Over the course of the filter's life it can clean 4,000 liters of water, and it can filter 750 mL of water in less than a minute. The filter isn't cheap, however hopefully economies of scale and research and design will produce more affordable options in the future.

Ceramic Water Filters

This simple yet ingenious design for providing Cambodia with ceramic water filters won the 2008 Project Innovation Award Grand Prize. The design consists of a porous ceramic and fired clay pot that sits inside a barrel, collecting water and then relying on gravity filtration to remove microbes and other contaminants. Since 2002, when these filters were first distributed, the regions with the filters are reporting a 50% drop in diarrheal illnesses.

Life Sack

The Life Sack is a double-duty design that first is used as a grain sack for food transport, and once delivered it can be used to store and filter water. The Life Sack uses SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection Process) technology to purify contaminated water using UV-A radiation. On top of that, the sack can be worn as a backpack for easy transport.


Pitch: Africa is a creative idea that use a soccer field (or pitch) to collect and filter rainwater. The field and accompanying stands, which seat up to 1,000, are permeable and collect rainwater in cisterns, estimated to be 1.8 million liters for many parts of Africa. That water can then be purified for drinking or used to irrigate nearby crops.

Ford Developing Biofuel From Algae for Use in Vehicles

Ford Developing Biofuel From Algae for Use in Vehicles

algae biofuel, ford algae biofuel, wayne university algae biofuel,
 ford algae biofuel, vehicle algae biofuel
When one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world invests their capital into algae biofuel research, you know that renewable energy will soon play a major role in the global economy. Ford Motor Company has recently hired scientists to look into algae as the major ingredient in their efforts towards bio-fuel production. The company has quickly realized that if their cars are to be relevant in the future, then they will need to find alternatives to gasoline and oil. The company has also been looking at ethanol and butanol biofuels, but at the moment, believe that algae may hold the greatest potential.

Working with scientists at Wayne State University’s National Biofuels Energy Laboratory, Ford has been researching the potential of algae as a major biomass ingredient in the production of fuel. To aid in their research, the team of scientists have been conducting assorted experiments on algae oil and its potential to power vehicles.
And this may come as a shock to many, but this isn’t Ford’s first attempt at using alternative fuels to run their products. According to Tim Wallington, technical leader with the Ford Systems Analytics and Environmental Sciences Department, “Ford has a long history of developing vehicles that run on renewable fuels; and the increased use of biofuels is an important element of our sustainability strategy now and moving forward.”
Sherry Mueller, Research Scientist, Ford Motor Company added, “Algae have some very desirable characteristics as a potential biofuel feedstock and Ford wants to show its support for any efforts that could lead to a viable, commercial-scale application of this technology.” Furthermore stating, “At this point, algae researchers are still challenged to find economical and sustainable ways for commercial-scale controlled production and culturing of high oil-producing algae.”

SolarPrint Develops Ready-To-Print Solar Cells

SolarPrint Develops Ready-To-Print Solar Cells

dye sensitized solar cell (DSSC), dssc, dye solar cells, 
solarprint, solarprint bari, ready to print solar cells, solar cells
Irish company SolarPrint has developed a new type of printable solar cells that can be produced quickly and easily and can even generate energy from fading sunlight. Since the dye-sensitized cells use less raw materials than traditional solar cells, costs can be kept down, and it is hoped that the simple-to-produce solar cells will transform how the world uses energy.
dye sensitized solar cell (DSSC), dssc, dye solar cells, 
solarprint, solarprint bari, ready to print solar cells, solar cells
Speaking to GreenTechMedia, SolarPrint co-founder and CEO Mazhar Bari said, “When you are travelling around the world you suddenly realize, ‘Where are the bloody solar panels?’” With that in mind Bari, an Irish citizen with Pakistani roots and a physics degree from Cambridge, sent out to explore dye sensitized solar cell (DSSC) technology, that is “part printable, part liquid.”
SolarPrint effectively has eliminated the liquid part of DSSC and replaced it with nanomaterials, so that all of the active elements of SolarPrint’s cells can be applied in the printing process. The SolarPrint cells are also more efficient because they are based on a rounded nanotech structure instead of the traditional angular crystalline structure of silicon materials. Electrons have to hit the crystalline structures “at the right angle” to generate electricity, however in nanostructure cells a curved surface makes the angle of absorption much larger.
“There are many components in the cell. One layer is called the electrolyte layer.” As a liquid, that layer is “terrible,” Bari said, who is not one to mince his words. The efficiencies are adequate, he said, but “lab time is crap and it cannibalizes the materials in the cell.” The SolarPrint process replaces that liquid with a printable electrolyte paste made of smart nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes, graphene and ionic salts. “And it’s a fully printable device.”
However there is a drawback with the mass manufacturing of dye-sensitized solar cells. More and more consumers demand reliability from solar cells, with lifespans of up to 30 years, so there is concern when the cells can be produced cheaply and easily, especially as many seem to break down in due course.
However Bari believes that SolarPrint’s ability to capture low and overcast light levels both indoors and outside will give his company an edge in the market. “Dye solar cells work very well indoors,” Bari said. “The voltage doesn’t drop like crazy (like silicon) and it is able to produce reasonable power in indoor light — four or five times higher than silicon.” “One day, the whole world will be covered in dye solar cells. That’s our vision,” said B

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