Category Archives: architecture

Invisible Mirrorcube eco-hotel room available for purchase

Situated in the forest area around Harads, Sweden, Treehotel has now implemented five of the 24 rooms it has planned for the area. Among those are “The Blue Cone,” “The UFO” and “The Bird’s Nest,” all suspended four to six meters above the ground and designed in eco-minded fashion by some of Scandinavia’s leading architects.

Designed to blend into its surroundings so as not to ruin the view, the Mirrorcube is an addition to this collection, featuring mirrored walls that reflect their surroundings and yet are safe for passing birds thanks to a layer of infrared film. Featuring six windows and a panoramic view, the Mirrorcube accommodates two people with a double bed, bathroom, lounge, and rooftop terrace.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, the Mirrorcube is now for sale, with a delivery time of roughly four months. Retail pricing is reportedly about EUR 275,000 excluding transportation costs.

Because of the cube’s ability to blend into its surroundings so well, it may be a perfect choice for those looking to create accommodation in areas of natural beauty. Treehotel is currently looking for suitable resellers for its Mirrorcube.

via Swedish hotel’s nearly invisible glass ‘tree rooms’ | Springwise.

A new sustainable design policy for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is expanding its green commitments through a new sustainable design policy. In addition to promoting the use of recognized green building certification systems such as LEED, the policy includes new environmental criteria and checklists for renovation and retrofit projects, environmental consultation during the design brief and construction process, and the creation of a green-build best practices repository for use by Fairmont’s hotels, engineers, developers, project leads, and architects.

“We literally wrote the book on hotel sustainability and have been focused on making our properties as environmentally sound as possible, says president, Chris Cahill. “Now, we’re instituting formal design and construction guidelines for our pipeline of new hotel projects and ongoing capital agenda. Environmental stewardship is part of Fairmont’s DNA and we want to ensure it’s evident in all phases of our business.”

The program has been implemented at two Fairmont hotels. Fairmont Pittsburgh, the brand’s first LEED-certified hotel, incorporates energy efficient lighting and appliances; enzyme waste systems; furnishings and other guestroom amenities made from recycled, organic, or sustainable material; and the use of paints, adhesives, sealants, carpets, and fabrics with no or low emissions. Meanwhile, the Savoy in London (pictured) has a waste management system, as well as a heat and power plant that reduces the hotel’s reliance on the national grid by approximately 50 percent.

The policy is part of The Fairmont Green Partnership program, allowing the Group to meet and exceed guest expectations of operational sustainability. It focuses on improvements in waste management, sustainability, and energy and water conservation at Fairmont’s properties, and innovative community outreach programs involving local groups and partnership. (Source: Hospitality

What is Masdar and why it is so important for our future?

Masdar is a familiar word to all of us who are concerned about the future of our dear planet Earth. But for the few of you who have never heard of it, please allow us the pleasure to introduce you this incredible project.

Masdar is first of all a company, notably a Mubadala – Abu Dhabi government owned company, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. As stated in the company’s website ” Masdar is a commercially driven enterprise that operates to reach the broad boundaries of the renewable energy and sustainable technologies industry – there by giving it the necessary scope to meet these challenges.  Masdar operates through five integrated units, including an independent, research-driven graduate university (Masdar Institute, other units are Masdar Capital, Masdar Power, Masdar Carbon, Masdar City cfr.) and seeks to become a leader in making renewable energy a real, viable business and Abu Dhabi a global centre of excellence in the renewable energy and clean technology category. The result is an organisation greater than the sum of its parts and one where the synergies of shared knowledge and technological advancement provide this commercial and results-driven company with a competitive advantage that includes an ability to move with agility and intelligence within an industry that is evolving at great speed.
This holistic approach keeps Masdar at the forefront of this important global industry, while ensuring it remains grounded in the pursuit of pioneering technologies and systems that also are feasible. As a result, it delivers innovation to the market while deriving profits for its shareholders.”

This huge project deals with all the aspects of sustainability: research, energy, finance, architecture, urbanism. Last but not least, retail. Because of its importance in the life of all the people who will live in Masdar City and for “its contribution to the city’s appeal as a renewable energy and clean-technology hub“, retail in Masdar “will provide valuable lessons regarding commercial activities (…) increasing our understanding of how retail activities can be conducted in a sustainable manner”. The list of the companies who have already been involved in the Masdar City retail project includes Caribou Coffee, health insurance provider Daman, telecom provider Etisalat, Sumo Sushi, express delivery company Aramex, Omeir Travel, Organic Foods & Cafe and National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The first commercial building, the Courtyard Building,  has been planned to be finished by 2012, therefore there is enough time for this list to become a very long one.

In the meanwhile, many are the people who are praizing the incredible urban project designed by Foster and Partners, but to be fair, there are also critics like New York Times journalist Nicolai Ouroussof  who wrote that “…its design also reflects the gated-community mentality that has been spreading like a cancer around the globe for decades. Its utopian purity, and its isolation from the life of the real city next door, are grounded in the belief — accepted by most people today, it seems — that the only way to create a truly harmonious community, green or otherwise, is to cut it off from the world at large“.

Our point of view and what we are always stressing in our ECOFFEE projects, is that sustainability is too important for our future and each and every project that has a little bit of sustainability in it is important to raise people awareness. To be too critical towards sustainability-related projects, requiring their perfection – which at this stage is quite hard to achieve – postpones any action and creates confusion among people, these two being the worst enemies of sustainability. (Picture credits:

Luxury and sustainability… a trend we will see more of in China

URBN Hotels & Resorts announced plans for URBN Hotel Pudong, a new green hotel that will become the first positive-impact hotel in China. The hotel is slated to open Spring 2012.

In collaboration with Vanke, China’s largest residential real estate developer, URBN’s 20,000 square metre boutique hotel is part of a larger commercial, retail and residential development in the Sanlin district of Pudong in Shanghai. They have tapped Fumihiko Maki, the world-acclaimed Japanese architect whose current works include the United Nations building and World Trade Center Tower 4 in New York City, to design the project.

The development, which is estimated to cost RMB 312 million (US$47 million), will include 55 hotel rooms, 50 URBN serviced residences, and 4,500 square metres of dining, wellness and art spaces.

URBN created China’s first carbon-neutral hotel, the chic and hip URBN Shanghai in the Jingan district. URBN Shanghai is passionately committed to the environment and is at the forefront of the growing consumer eco-movement in China. URBN tracks the hotel’s entire carbon footprint and offsets it by purchasing carbon credits or investing in local “green” energy development and emission reduction projects. The hotel provides guests the option to find out their footprint during their stay and by donating trees to Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots foundation to offset.

For the new URBN Hotel Pudong, Jules Kwan, Managing Director of URBN Hotels indicated that “the aim is to make this hotel go beyond sustainability … the hotel will increase the biodiversity of the site, and will discharge water that is cleaner than the water from the city’s water supply.” The hotel hopes to get LEED and China Green Star certifications. Also, URBN Hotel Pudong aims to surpass the 35% energy savings target hit by URBN Shanghai. (Source: Red-Luxury)

Green roofs and gardens for sustainable shopping malls

I was recently reading about a shopping mall in Toronto that is going to expanSiam Paragon Shopping Mall green interior designd also including a sustainable food court and a green roof and I asked to myself: "Are there many shopping malls using green roof as a sustainable (and I think very stylish) way to control their energy consumption?" I made a quick search and I found that in 2008 in Upper Providence, Pennsylvania, a 400,000-square-foot shopping mall installed a 2.3 acre  green roof to prevent storm water runoff. It seemed to me centuries ago, and a very remote location for something that even in 2011 looks like science fiction.

But the most amazing example of a green shopping mall is the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall in Bangkok, Thailand, designed by the world known Patrick Blanc in 2005. The Siam Paragon shopping center in features a lush, rainforest-like cascade of ferns, vines, sedum and moss in various shades of green, yellow, red and purple. The greenery surrounds the building’s 6-story elevator shaft to dazzling effect, enjoying all the shopping mall visitors for a great sustainable shopping experience. (Image via: Pseangsong + pingmag)

Greencity International Convention welcomes ECOFFEE

DESITA and ECOFFEE have been invited to participate tgreencity_international_conventiono the Greencity International Convention, taking place at Cluster Grenelle (Paris) which aims at becoming a global reference centre for all activities concerning planning, building and managing the new sustainable city. Sustainable Architecture, Urban Quality Management, Renewable energy, New Technologies to create a new sustainable concept of living, working and entertaining in the city.