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Innovation

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Club WATT: Power from the Party.

Club WATT has got to be one of the coolest sustainable initiatives out there. The Nightclub is partially powered by its patrons. The Club is home to a dance floor that turns the energy output of dancing clubbers into electricity for its own use. The dance floor uses the piezoelectric effect; there are certain materials that when squeezed become charged and produce energy. When a club patron decides to get out on the floor and bust a move, the up and down action that most dancing produces (from the floors point of view anyway) compresses cells containing piezoelectric material. The individual panels measure 65 X 65cm. The downward pressure powers tiny generators beneath the floor which then sent the electricity to a microchip that controls the LED lights on the surface of the panel. The floor has about one centimeter of give to it, when the cells are compressed, the panels create electricity. The floor measures about 30 square meters.

club_watt02

Club WATT is the product of an environmental research group made up of a group of local architects, academics and engineers convened by Döll Architects and Enviu. Eventually they created the  Sustainable Dance Club company.

Currently the dance floor at WATT is configured to power the light show in and around the dance floor. The floor could be used to power anything, but the owners of Club WATT wanted the patrons to be able to see the results of the energy that they create.

Club WATT also has a number of other sustainable features, such as waterless urinals, and a rainwater collection system which collects water to be used in the toilets. This is also illustrated as the water pipes are clear throughout the club so clubbers can see the rain water being pulled up from the tanks and to the toilets every time one gets flushed. There are also your standard innovations like solar panels and low-waste bars.

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The club spent about $257,000 on the dance floor, an investment that the club’s owner is aware he will not recoup out of energy savings alone, it is afterall a first generation model and not all that efficient. However the floor also attracts attention and thats golden in the world of clubbing.

Club WATT has a number of different services(from the club website):

Stage: The stage will be trendsetting in Rotterdam and the Netherlands. With a healthy ambition to put Rotterdam back on the international scene. A fertile ground for new pop bands as well as established names. A wide range of music styles. It will be a low-threshold and top-class ‘platform’ for anything and everything qualifying as cultural/social, such as film, fashion, literature, art (exhibitions) and music. No obscure joint staging a small band and no inaccessible gallery showing priceless art. The ‘right’ blend of commerce and pure culture. Think of exhibitions, radio and television broadcasts, fashion shows and young persons’ debates.

Modern club: Staging of various club nights from Thurdays to Sundays inclusive. Mainly dance music, wide range.

Café: A bustling and accessible meeting place. Business appointments, a drink with some friends before the start of a concert, coffee with coconut pie with grandma. The menu offers authentic dishes for a get-together or a modest dinner. In the summer of 2009 WATT will have extended the café well outdoors, towards the park. Check here for the menu.

Theater: The name represents the atmosphere of the room. Theater stands for entertainment, culture and artistic productions. It is the perfect space for spontaneous, smaller performances or relaxed get-togethers. It can also be opened up towards the café, which makes having a cup of coffee a unique experience in itself.

Business to Business: WATT’s function rooms are especially suitable for facilitating your business meetings, product presentations as well as staff parties of 20 to 2000 people. Needless to say, WATT’s function rooms are a great profiling opportunity for companies aiming to contribute to a sustainable society.

sdc

WATT Rotterdam

Sustainable Danceclub company

Big Brother Environmentalism

bedzed1

Are you living up to your environmental potential? Residents in a number of British eco towns could see government monitoring to make sure that they are keeping their carbon footprint to the right size. One of the most interesting things about this push is that it isn’t coming from the British Government directly, I suppose it would be a bit of a political hot potato. The  Bioregional firm, which initiated the low energy BedZed housing estate in south London is asking the government to ensure that the carbon footprint of residents in the proposed  eco towns (ten of which are in the works) are no larger then allowed under the principals of “one planet” living.

Some of the ways that it wants residents monitored are tracking of the number of trips residents take by car, Thermographic cameras to check which homes are losing too much heat, and measurement of the types of waste produced, and how much they produce by both residences and businesses.

“If eco towns are to have a fundamental purpose, it must be to show us how we can all achieve one-planet living,” said Richard Simmons, chief executive of Cabe. “Eco towns should show us, in a real and measured way, what our sustainable future will look like.”

Some critics of the towns themselves are against the regulations saying that the government has no business taking this sort of a heavy handed oversight on residents. Suggesting that the eco towns will be giant ‘gulags.’

Of course a simple way to avoid the monitoring would be to not buy a home in an eco town, but it does beg the question of just how much of an active role should the government take in enforcing the low carbon footprint ideal behind these plans?

What do you think?

via Eco town dwellers may be monitored for green habits | Environment | The Guardian

Video Tour of the BedZed Development

Edit,

We received a comment from Tom Chance of Bioregional who had some great things to say about the monitoring. Since he is speaking directly from the company we are going to include them up here with the post.

“It’s worth noting that the reporting in The Guardian was a bit mischeivous. We haven’t been calling for monitoring of individuals as a means of enforcing particular lifestyles. Rather, our report (if you read it) lays out a number of ways in which eco-towns developers should monitor the success of their plans so that we can better learn from then. Any monitoring would have to be completely voluntary.

We have taken this approach at BedZED, where 75% of residents voluntarily had their meter readings recorded, waste weighed and answered questionnaires. All the results are anonymised, and used to help us learn how to better design sustainable communities.

The alternative – not monitoring at all – would be a complete nonsense, it would mean we’d have no evidence to improve the way we design communities!”

Beyond R-2000

Photo via globeandmail.com

Photo via globeandmail.com

There is a great article in the Globe and Mail today about a guy who built what has got to be a first for Canada, a house without a furnace. Though I think this may be slightly misleading since

“Electricity generated by a wind turbine and solar panels feeds a bank of batteries in the basement. When the batteries are fully charged, excess energy is diverted to a ceramic pad that heats the basement floor”

Either way the house is an example of the slow movement towards super efficient homes that are part of the Canadian Federal Government’s goal of having 40,000 zero-energy homes built between now and 2018.

via globeandmail.com: Just don’t call him an envirofreak

Heliotropic Houses are getting around OR Dubai does it again with the Dynamic Tower

As a young child I used to love lying in the sunbeam on my livingroom floor, but, then the sun would shift and I’d lose my sunbeam. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just swing your house around to follow the sun?

This isn’t a new idea, there have been spinning houses for half a century, built by various inventors and nutjobs around the world

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/01/europe/journal.php

François Massau built his first rotating house, pictured, in 1958 for his sickly wife so that she could enjoy sunshine and warmth any time during daylight hours. (Jock Fistick for The New York Times)

François Massau built his first rotating house, pictured, in 1958 for his sickly wife so that she could enjoy sunshine and warmth any time during daylight hours. (Jock Fistick for The New York Times)

There are other spinning houses around the world, but are remarkably uncommon, and the concept is just not very popular. Who wants the neighbours to see the back of the house that hasn’t been painted yet? How can you buy circular furniture? What if the motor goes crazy and starts spinning the house like a merry-go-round?

But the benefits are unbelievable. The houses are very energy efficient, simply by moving the inhabited room into the sun all day reduces heating costs all year long.

This is great for a house in the suburbs…but isn’t this website called the URBAN Neighbourhood?

Enter Dubai. The city famous for building whatever the hell they feel like. You want new islands in the shape of the Earth? No problem. You want to build the World’s tallest building. Fine. You want an apartment that you can swing around to watch the sunset? Why not?

Enter David Fisher and his brilliant new apartment concept.

Supplementary Home Rotation

Seen over at Deputy Dog, the house that always faces the sun. One of the great things about this building is the period in which it was built. Back between 1929 and 1935 an Italian Engineer named Angelo Invernizzi built a house that would always face the sun.

rotating-house

* So it seems that even though themightyfin and I are on opposite sides of the planet, we have been thinking of similar posts. I had filled away some links on rotating buildings but now we’ll just keep it a quick supporting post.

Seen over at Deputy Dog, the house that always faces the sun. One of the great things about this building is the period in which it was built. Back between 1929 and 1935 an Italian Engineer named Angelo Invernizzi built a house that would always face the sun.

Ithaa, The World's First Undersea Restaurant.

The view from inside Ithaa

The view from inside Ithaa

There are few experiences in dinning that could be considered more unique then this one. Ithaa is the first undersea restaurant in the world. The construction of the restaurant is primarily a T-Cast acrylic roof, which offers a 270 degree panoramic view to its customers The Restaurant has a capacity of fourteen guests, so needless to say it is pretty exclusive. Meals in this fish tank range from 120$ US for hotel guests on a full meal plan, to $250 US for guests who are on a Bed & Breakfast meal plan, whatever that is.

While some may ask what a resort restaurant like this is doing in an urban blog, for me it comes down to the likelihood that another fancy coastal city is going to want one of these soon too. Seattle, Vancouver, LA, Sydney, New York is unlikely as the Hudson is still a little too dark, but my guess is that it is only a matter of time before some other city decides to commission one of these.

The restaurant was conceived by the Crown Company in the Maldives who wanted to make an undersea restaurant which was both unique and the first of its kind. The first vision for the restaurant was of a more rectangular shaped box with glass windows but later came to favor a tunnel design that was originally conceived for the Kuala Lumpur National Science Center.

The restaurant was constructed in Singapore in 2004 and then later transported by barge to the Maldives. After its arrival it was lowered onto four steel piles and secured to them with concrete. The lifespan of the structure is estimated at 20 years.

One has to wonder what the fish who swim by may think. I would however definitely advise resisting the urge to tap on the glass, after all if the dome goes it would make you the main course.

The Chanel Mobile Art Gallery

The Gallery Entrance

The Gallery Entrance

The Chanel Mobile Art Gallery could be coming to a city near you. One of the latest creations by Zaha Hadid, an architect who is certainly making a mark on the urban fabric of a great many towns, The Chanel Mobile Art Gallery is traveling the world in a movable building that started its tour on the top floor of a park aid in Hong Kong. There is a video on the site that talks about how this building is revolutionary, how the geometry was solved, and generally just loving on itself, but this gallery does bear special mention.

Its shape reminds me of a shell you might find on the beach, but instead of a shy little crab the inside of this travelling room is full of art pieces inspired by the iconic handbag label. Patrons enter and exit the gallery through the same area and filter into the gallery taking a circuitous route that eventually circles back on itself. The shape is alien enough in its look that it would be impossible to miss in any urban area. Imagine coming upon it parked in the corner of a park or parking lot the simple fact that it is very ‘not square’ would trigger your awareness.

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Interior views

Above: The Interior views      Below: The shell like Shape

The shell like Shape

While it would be easy to write this gallery off as a travelling sales man for a big name company a look at the artists listed as part of the tour makes this gallery more then just display case. One of the artists featured is the Blue Noses. The bio lists them as having been formed at the time of the millennium bug, as a collective of happy imbeciles, they use comedy to make critiques on the stupidity of modern society and its values. Their scenes are often very comedic but with an underlying violence. The Blue Noses are considered the rascals of contemporary Russian art.

On of the Blue Noses' scenes

On of the Blue Noses' scenes

The tour visits following six cities; Hong Kong, Tokyo, New Tork, London, Moscow, or Paris, you can check out the and if you live in New York or one of the latter four you can swing by the site to check out tour dates. If you were not able to catch it in one of the cities that it visited click the link below for a virtual tour, with some pretty creepy sound effects.

Chanel Mobile Art

Article at Pruned on Deep Water Cooling

Toronto's Proposed Deep Lake Water Cooling System

Toronto's Proposed Deep Lake Water Cooling System

There is a great little article over at Pruned about proposals for Deep Water Cooling for the city of Toronto. What some people may not realise is that the city already does this, and has been doing it in a limited fashion for quite a long time, the cities water intake system is designed to use the lake water its pulling in to cool some city structures before sending it out into the city water system. There is some debate over the environmental impact of expanding the system and the impact it would have on lake Ontario. If it became the delfacto air conditioning unit for the city… however I would recommend you click below and read the pruned article for that debate.

Enwave and the City of Toronto have created an innovative cooling system that brings an alternative to conventional air conditioning to cool Toronto’s downtown core — one that is clean, price competitive and energy efficient. A permanent layer of icy-cold (4°C) water 83 meters below the surface of Lake Ontario provides naturally cold water. This water is the renewable source of energy that Enwave’s leading-edge technology uses to cool office towers, sports & entertainment complexes and proposed waterfront developments.

Continue Reading the Pruned Article

Concrete shoes for carbon dioxide

Wet concrete + children handprints = art.

Wet concrete + children handprints = art.

The times online has an interesting article about capturing the carbon dioxide created in cement and concrete production by storing it in the very stuff that produced it. Believe it or not but concrete and cement production is responsible for roughly five percent of the world’s human caused carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon Sense Solutions believes that they have come up with a relatively simple way of storing it back into it during the curing stage of the process. The firm believes that about sixty tons of carbon dioxide can be stored in one thousand tons of concrete. It is possible that this process could reduce emissions by one percent. That may sound small but when you consider that we are talking globally it becomes a much larger impact.

Read the Times Online article.

The Bloomframe

Expanded

Expanded

In Urban areas ,space is often at a premium. Small apartments in urban areas are often short on room, connections with the outdoors, light and air. The debate on whether or not to use valuable square footage for a balcony that reduces your year round space is often faced by developers and urbanites. The Bloomframe designed by Hofman Dujardin Architects is an innovative solution to this urban dilemma.

When Closed Closed

As their website states:

Bloomframe is an innovative window frame which can be transformed into a balcony. Opening the Bloomframe window offers the possibility to step outside and enjoy the outdoor space. With one simple movement, light, air, and space are added to the interior. S

This is what I call smart and innovative design. The website goes on to let us all know that the colour and material of the Bloomframe is customizable so it can fit into new and existing buildings. I have a number of friends here in the city who would love to have one of these attached to their apartment.

Photos on flickr

Digital Rights Management

Please note that many of the images and some of the content used on urban neighbourhood has (in the tradition of blogging) been excerpted from the Internet, if you are the rights holder to any of the images or content we have used and you would prefer that we not use them or that the credit for said content be corrected, please let us know at urbanneighbourhood@yahoo.ca and we would be happy to oblige.