Posted in design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays, engineering, museum, Solar and Alternative Energy

A Metallic Solar Powered Cloud Museum for Xiamen China | Inhabitat

China has been producing some cool architecture the last couple of years, from the Beijing stadiums to this:

“Floating” above the city of Xiamen, China like a cloud, this lofty museum takes art and culture to new heights. The brainchild of MAD Architects, the structure’s organic, molten metal shape is mirrored, reflecting the beauty of the surrounding environment right onto its walls. The museum will make good use of the city’s sunny climate by placing solar panels on its roof, and because it rests upon 5 relatively slender “legs,” residents of the city still have space to enjoy the natural landscape of the park-like site.

more photos via A Metallic Solar Powered Cloud Museum for Xiamen China | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

Posted in design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays, Solar and Alternative Energy

high voltage fashion

It seems like I report on this same story at least four times a year, but at least this time they talk a little bit more about the technology. As reported in Technology Review (okay, actually it’s from a piece by Ada Brunstein in the latest issue of the Atlantic (“The Little Black Piezoelectric Dress“)). From the story:

According to the designer Amanda Parkes, among the most important functions of technologically enhanced designer wear are power generation and storage. Parkes designed the Piezing, a dress that uses piezoelectric discs and film to harness the body’s movement for electrical power, which is stored in a battery near the belly button. (Piezoelectric materials use vibrations from movement to generate electricity.) The battery can then be used to charge a favorite device. Elena Corchero’s exquisite parasols and fans are adorned with intricate embroidery. But solar cells, conductive thread, and batteries give her old-school style a modern twist: Corchero’s Light Gown is a sexy nightie that turns into a night-light when hung on its charger-hook.

Read the full story

Posted in design and architecture, engineering, Solar and Alternative Energy

Plastic Pavilion

Bottling it up: Taipei's plastic brick pavilion A construction worker walks past the EcoArk building made with plastic bottles during a media preview in Taipei April 9, 2010. REUTERS/Nicky Loh

From Scientific American (and Reuters):

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A Taiwan company has built a three-storey exhibition hall using 1.5 million plastic bottles instead of bricks to raise interest in recycling, creating what the builder described as a world-first.

Far Eastern Group, a Taiwan-based conglomerate known for construction and financial services, commissioned the 130 meter (426 ft) long, 26 meter (85 ft) high structure almost three years ago and will donate it next month to the city government.

Builders took bottles from Taiwan’s waste stream for reprocessing into plastic containers that interlock strongly enough to block the elements and withstand storms or earthquakes, said Arthur Huang, managing director of the contractor Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development Ltd.

No one else in the world had built an exhibition hall with walls made entirely of bottles, he said.

“The chairman of Far Eastern is very gung-ho on the sustainability thing,” Huang said. “He always says sustainability can’t wait. He’s looking five to 10 years ahead.”

The pavilion, dubbed the EcoARK, includes an amphitheatre, museum space and a screen of falling water collected during rainy periods for air conditioning. The clear plastic containers in the wall allow natural light to flood the cavernous interior.

Far Eastern will donate the T$133 million ($4.22 million) building to the city next month for use as a fashion pavilion during a flora exhibition in November, Huang said.

After the show, the wall panels will be packed up and reassembled elsewhere, he said.

Outside Taiwan, builders have used recycled bottles to make igloos, greenhouses and even a floating tropical island. Recycled bottles are normally reprocessed into new consumer goods.


Posted in music, Solar and Alternative Energy

Solar-powered SXSW

As discussed at MIT Technology Review

[SXSW] conference organizers have collaborated with Austin-based Sol Design Lab to make the firm’s SolarPumps available at locations around downtown Austin.

The SolarPump is a free, solar-powered charging station for electric bikes, scooters, cell phones, and laptops–basically anything that uses a standard electric cord to charge. Beth Ferguson created the pump in February 2009 as her project for her MFA at the University of Texas at Austin. Ferguson combined the reclaimed body of a 1950’s gas station pump with solar panels to get people thinking about solar energy.

“We’ve used kind of a fun combination of 1950’s gas pumps with solar panels for people to really start questioning and seeing the humor and really start thinking about a new form of transportation and energy for the city,” she told Austin’s KVUE News.

The SolarPump combines 1950s vintage gas pumps with solar panels to create an electronics-charging station. © Sol Design Lab

This is an awesome idea and a great way to promote awareness of solar power, from its ease to its efficieny. I hope Sol Design Labs and its concept takes off, and I hope to see more of these solar kiosks pop up around sunny parts of the U.S. like California and Arizona.

Posted in biology, chemistry, engineering, Nanotechnology

Hamster fashion also functional

I don’t know why, but I read this story yesterday and found it hilarious:

ZL Wand and other dudes at the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering wanted to test whether it would work to incorporate piezo-electric nanowires —  wires 1/15th the width of a human hair that can produce energy —  into clothing in order to power devices like ipods and blackberries. But because these wires are so small, they wanted to try it out first on a smaller scale. So they did, by making a teeny, tiny jacket…for a hamster.

They then stuck the hamster onto his wheel, and awaaaayyy he went, producing 0.5 nanoamps.

The findings were “reported February 11 in the online version of the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. The study demonstrates that nanogenerators – which Wang’s team has been developing since 2005 – can be driven by irregular mechanical motion, such as the vibration of vocal cords, flapping of a flag in the breeze, tapping of fingers or hamsters running on exercise wheels.”

This barely ties into art, but I’m throwing it in ONLY because there’s clothing design involved. It’s actually quite a nice looking jacket…for a hamster.

Just think, in the future we’ll see hamsters running on their wheels in fashion-forward jackets and little mini-ipods.

The future of furry fashion
The future of furry fashion