8/20/2013

New York to L.A. in 45 Minutes?


Billionaire and entrepreneur Elon Musk, of pay-pal, Tesla motors and SpaceX, envisions a future where we can travel around the world in 6 hours.  The vision involves a massive Hyperloop system, similar to the old-school pneumatic tube systems used by banks to suck your deposit to the teller at the drive-through.  A massive vacuum tube, mounted either above ground or under water would be combined with a magnetic levitation system, providing a friction free zone with no wind resistance, no chance of collisions, and insanely high speeds.

One company out of Colorado has already been working on the technology.  ET3 or Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies has created a new transportation idea that is cheaper and quieter than planes and trains.  ET3 capsules weigh 400 pounds, can carry up to 800 pounds and are capable of speeds up to 4,000 mph.  With those speeds the capsules can travel from New York City to Los Angeles in just 45 minutes, from Washington D.C. to Beijing in 2 hours and to the other side of Earth in 6 hours.  The idea uses magnetic levitation or maglev technology, which is used in some high-speed trains today, removing air in the tubes would eliminate drag and allow for the capsule to travel at a high rate of speed.  this technology could be built for 1/10th the cost of high-speed rail or 1/4th the cost of freeway.

8/19/2013

Engineers Capture Drinking Water from Humidity With a Billboard in Lima, Peru


The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru and an ad agency called Mayo DraftFCBand created a new water-creating billboard in Lima, Peru to help tackle the serious problem in an area that has long been threatened with water insecurity issues.


The billboard is the first ever to capture air humidity and turn it into potable drinking water.  Many residents of Lima, the second largest desert capital in the world, face the harsh reality of being forced to draw polluted water from wells.  Peru gets less than two inches of rain a year and has an atmospheric humidity of about 98 percent, one the highest in the world.

According to the UN, about 60% of the world's population will be living in cities within the next 8 years – a human migration that adds more and more strain on cities' sanitation and resources.  Un Deputy Chief Jan Eliasson says improving access to water can reduce maternal health issues, child mortality and overall poverty.  With the implementation of more billboards like this one, Lima will not only be solving its water scarcity problem but many others that go hand-in-hand with it.



The billboard system uses reverse osmosis, a water purifying process, and then stores the water in tanks that hold 20 liters each.  The water is dispensed at the bottom of the structure, which has provided 9,450 liters in three months.  As water supplies dwindle amid climate change, growing populations and food insecurity issues, the billboard in Lima is one of a host of many innovative solutions that have been developed.

8/16/2013

Lee House


Located in porto Feliz, Brazil, Lee House is organized in a single volume ground-floor site.  Every room therefore establishes a strong relationship with the external, opening out to the garden.  dies to the warm temperatures of Såo Paulo traditional Vernacular Brazilian architectural elements were used throughout the home.


In the living room, all windows are recessed creating an extension of the external space, with a large veranda.  The room then prolongs the pool deck and crosses to the other side of the lot.  The front veranda is delimited by a foyer in the facade revealing two wooden boxes divided by the social area.  The kitchen opens to the living room, encrusted in one of the boxes that holds the utility areas.  The bar opens out to the social area and is contained in the box that holds the bedroom as well.


At the end of the bedroom corridor, which can also be accessed from the outside of the house, there is a spa delimited by external walls and composed by a gym room, a sauna and a small outdoor pool encircled by the deck.  the house is clad in white mortar and the internal patio of the spa is encircled by stones.  The few materials used by the Lee house and the simple organization of the program create a minimal atmosphere that extends from the outer to the inner areas of the house.