New Cable Cars to Cross the Thames, By Mace Group

2,500 people every hour. It’s the capacity of London’s shiny new transportation wonder: the cable car system that will connect the two shores of the east Thames. The fascinating landmark was designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre and will be realised by the Mace Group. The Group already has a portfolio of iconic London schemes including the London Eye, the British Museum Great Court and a good deal of commercial developments, like City Hall. At The Think Tank, we were happy to spot this latest beauty.

50-millimetre steel cables will be stretched over one kilometre across the Thames. Reaching from the Greenwich Peninsula at The O2 up to the Royal Docks at ExCeL, the 34 cars involved will do the hourly work of 40 buses. No wonder that Mark Reynolds, Mace’s deputy chief executive, called it “an incredibly exciting new river crossing for London”. Transport for London has approved, and the £40 million project could well be up and running for next summer’s 2012 Olympic Games.

Click here to read more.

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The Guest House in a Container

Shipping containers are not one of the first places you would normally call homey. Yet, award winning Poteet Architects is best known for their creative reuse of existing building facilities, with a fresh touch of modern interior design. A client wished to experiment with shipping containers and the built project now lives just south of downtown San Antonio, Texas. We at the Think Tank find the result charming – the finished project is adapted to a guesthouse and is fitted with services as shower/WC and a stainless sink. The very broad steel and glass lift/slide together with the end wall-window open the whole interior to the landscape.

In the perspective of re-using unwanted materials, the emphasis was on sustainable strategies. The shipping container itself was originally “one-way” and has been adapted to a permanent use. Held off the container top, is a planted roof, which provides shade and air-flow to reduce heat gain. The roof is irrigated using the captured grey water from sink and bathroom. Surprisingly, the whole structure “floats” on a foundation of recycled telephone poles. Charming… and fascinating. Great to make an original guest house at the other side of the garden.

To read smart features of this guest house and see more images click here.

Image © Chris Cooper

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Solar Powered Teaching Hospital in Haiti

Sustainable does not only mean supportive for the environment, sometimes it supports an entire population. It is the case of the Mirebalais Hospital in Haiti, a state of the art 320 bed teaching facility powered by solar panels. After the devastating earthquake of January 2010, this ecofriendly jewel has been redesigned and donated by Nicholas Clark Architects. The structure’s energy supply will be supplemented by the solar panels on the roof, ensuring that the facility is never without power – especially during the frequent outages. Natural ventilation is used for the cooling as well as to prevent the trasmission of airborne diseases, like tuberculosis, and is encouraged through the design of the integrated garden and courtyards. Lighting will engage with the hot tropical sun, with natural daylighting used to spare energy for hospital equipment.
All of these features maximise the efficiency of the hospital, providing a fundamental service without digging into the area’s energy supplies. What is even more amazing is that all of the funds for the hospital have come from direct donations from individuals and firms through Partners In Health. 
Construction is expected to be complete in January 2012. Click here to read more.

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