Innovative designs that could change the world

My Sunday was spent at the London Design Museum for the Design award 2015 nominations. There were an array of different design concepts on show, but what really interested me were the ones around environmental sustainability.

There were three design ideas that were of particular interest which i thought i would share:

1)Australia design

This one was an architecture design in Australia (Sydney). The feature of this design which was particularly impressive was the vertical gardens. The greenery which apparently covers 50% of the building creates a nice facade and stands out in a landscape of glass, brick and render. This building uses native plants and foliage, which protects the building from direct sunlight and creates a nice aesthetic appearance, which got me thinking about what the other benefits of have a vertical gardens that are part of new developments. I would suspect it would assist in the air quality of the city and help filter pollutants, although one building would have little impact, a whole city of green facades would surely make some difference. The foliage could also provide habitats and food for birds, bees and other native species, which would be great at supporting biodiversity. It also got me thinking about utilising the same methods to have vertical vegetable patches or even roof gardens that can provide food for the building. I understand that not all food requirements would be met for all residents, but there could be enough to provide significant amounts of vegetables and herbs. The waste from these organic products would be composted on site (eg rooftops) and the soil distributed amongst residents. This system would reduce amount of carbon used to produce the food, reduce the plastic used to package food, and reduce landfill. Although i believe the current vertical garner used n this building is hydroponic, if soil could be utilised, it would also provide insulations of the building, reducing costs and energy use further. I see this becoming a future form of sustainable development in all major cities in the future.
2)House tree

Another notable architectural design that i liked was the ‘House of Trees’ which was built in Vietnam. With the expansion of the urban landscape in Ho Chi Min City there is now less that 0.25 of the landscape covered in greenery. The aim of this project is to reintroduce the native tropical trees back into the landscape by planting them on the roof tops of buildings. The benefits of this are clearly the increase of native vegetation leaving to greater amounts of CO2 storage, building insulation, and increasing biodiversity.
3)theoceancleanup

The third design i liked was particularly inspiring- It was called the clean up the oceans project.
Essentially it was developed by a young engineer student who has developed a tool in order to clean the oceans

The Basic Principles of the project as taken from the website-(http://www.theoceancleanup.com/blog/show/item/the-ocean-cleanup-starts-phase-2.htmlPassive collection)

– Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? Attaching an array of floating barriers and platforms to the sea bed enables us to concentrate the plastic before extracting it from the ocean —a collection process 100% driven by the natural winds and currents.

– Capturing plastics, not sea life
Instead of nets, we make use of solid floating barriers, making entanglement of wildlife impossible. Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all (neutrally buoyant) organisms, and preventing by-catch, while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier.

– Highly scalable
The scalable array of moorings and booms is designed for large-magnitude deployment, covering millions of square kilometers without moving a centimeter.
Thanks to its projected high capture and field efficiency, a single gyre can be covered in just 5-10 years (or longer, depending on the chosen deployment strategy).

What this visit did for me, was remind me of the potential that we all have to change the world. The world is full of people that are attempting to make the world in which we live more sustainable and in better harmony with our environment. IN a time when our impact on the world and our destruction upon it are unprecedented, its comforting to know that there is a way back from it.

Peace and happy innovations

Recycled furniture is Free furniture! My attempt at building recycled furniture.

So I’m actually quite chuffed. Ive had a project in mind for  while now and finally this long weekend i have managed to mostly complete it. So what was this project? …. making recycled furniture.

Basically I needed a new outdoor table and chairs as its coming up to summer in good old England. I was loath to buy one new due to the environmental impact of new furniture (particularly as our budget would  mean i would be shopping at IKEA, and where they source their wood is somewhat questionable). I had been thinking about this for a while and i have read and watched some videos online about making furniture out of pallets. Pallets are great because they are often easy to obtain, found everywhere, and mostly free. Once i started keeping my eye out for pallets i noticed them everywhere, construction sites, commercial shops, pubs, and just sometimes lying randomly in the street. Now as i don’t have a car it was difficult to find them close enough to home, but on Saturday night (2 days ago) i found some up a few streets away. I picked them up and brought them home and thus began my two day journey into the world of homemade pallet furniture.

Now bear in mind i have no carpentry skills, and the last thing i made was a door stopper about 15 years ago at high school. This does not mean I’m some furniture making genius.. it just means it was easy and that anybody can do it… that rights ANYBODY!.. all you need are some basic tools and patience!

The tools i used for this project were:

Hammer, Nails, Drill, saw, and a sander (although you could do it by hand to save costs). As the hammer, Drill and nails were already in the shed.. my only cost was the sander which was about 30 pounds.

If you don’t feel up to making your own recycled furniture you can always just reclaim furniture that people how out and leave on the streets. Initially i felt uncomfortable about picking up ‘rubbish’ and taking it home, but when you think about the benefits on the environment by using recycled materials and reducing waste, suddenly it didn’t become important whether someone  looked at me funny while i walked down the street with a couple of chairs or some pallets…. coincidently the chairs you see next to the table were reclaimed on Saturday night when i was out getting the pallets…

Anyway here are some picture of the making of the table. Yes it needs to be painted ( don’t worry I’m using eco paint) and some minor alterations need to be made, but all in all its ready to use right now, just in time for our first bit of warmth.

P1020511

As you can see, i have started to dismantle the pallets.. i have chose one pallet frame which i will keep as is, but everything else comes apart.

P1020514

Here i have started to assemble the planks on the frame.. you can see the table top starting to take shape. Not all the planks of wood were in good condition so you need to choose the best ones.

P1020516

I have trimmed the edges of the planks. From here i bring out the sander and smooth the top.

iP1020518

Im now attaching the legs. I was kind of making it up as i went along at this point….

P1020520

 

Putting the finishing touches to the legs.. it stands, and is stable so I’m pretty happy at this stage.

P1020524

Almost finished… and these are the reclaimed chairs. Just needs a nice coat of paint, and some edge smoothing.

 

So next time before you think about going to IKEA to buy a new piece of furniture, think about the packaging, where the wood was sourced, and the carbon used to ship it to your store. Then look around you and see if you can pick up something in the streets that is being thrown away-it might need some refurbishment but there is nothing wrong with a little project:) or you could find some old pallets and create what you want! Just remember …new isn’t always better!

Peace and happy building/reclaiming.