This sustainable apartment uses 90% wood in its construction

SAWA, designed by Mei Architects and Planners, won the Experimental Future Projects category in the World Architecture Festival 2021. The apartment building drips with green roofs and balcony plantings. It is also Rotterdam’s first 50-meter-high residential building. The design beat out seven other nominated projects for the top prize in the category.

The residential building focuses on circular timber construction, biodiversity, and healthy communities with ample planting space. The designers wanted to reduce CO2 emissions and help achieve national and international climate goals.

The building is called the healthiest building in the Netherlands. It is designed to prove that humans can live and build in a sustainable way. The plan for the building intentionally reduced the approved volume of the zoning plan model with a stepped exterior.

SAWA will house about 100 apartments, with a large communal deck on the first floor plus numerous terraces. The column structure within the building allows apartments to be rearranged in the future, which helps future-proof the building for multiple uses.

The apartment building is unique in preserving as much wood surfaces in the apartments as possible. Only hidden walls will be finished with plaster. In fact, SAWA is built 90% out of wood, which sets an example for future apartment building projects looking to use non-traditional materials and construction methods.

In addition, the cross-laminated timber used for SAWA stores CO2 and reduces emissions while creating a warm and comforting living space. In fact, the construction time is also shorter compared to concrete construction. SAWA was built with Open Building Principles in mind. The principles focus on pillar supports, floor beams, and columns to create flexible and open interior spaces.

This is the sixth award for the SAWA building. The building already won first prize at the Green Good Design Awards and was also awarded the ARC20 Innovation Award. SAWA was recognized as highly recommended at the MIPIM/AR Future Project Awards. The design was awarded a Special Mention at the Architizer A+ Awards and was selected for the Iconic Awards for Innovative Architecture.

Designer: Mei Architects

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This 3D printed portable toilet is made from recycled plastic!

This sustainable toilet is designed to compost solid waste while also tackling the sanitation crisis – using design and technology to do good sh*t! It is a solution that eradicates plastic waste and turns it into a construction material that reduces the load on landfills. The portable toilet is also absolutely beautiful with its white aesthetic and cocoon form! The first 3D printed prototype was produced by an advanced seven-axis robotic printer and is being tested on a construction site in the Swiss Alps.

Created by Spanish design studio Nagami and To: it has been dubbed The Throne and it comprises three parts – a teardrop-shaped body, a dramatic, double-curved sliding door, and a bucket for solid waste. All the parts were printed within three days, including the base and some smaller accessories that were either injection-molded or ordered. It also includes an off-the-shelf separation toilet seat to separate urine from solids for composting.

For the prototype, the teams used discarded plastic medical equipment from European hospitals. “Our treatment of waste, both human and artificial, has a profound impact on the future of humanity and our planet. Since the 1950s roughly 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been produced, and only around 9% of this has been recycled; the remainder have been incinerated, piled into landfills, or dumped in our oceans,” said Nachson Mimran, CEO and co-founder of To: Creative Activists.

“The 3D printed Throne has been an incredible challenge for us, working with mechanics, sliding doors, and off-the-shelf products such as a separate toilet. These design components forced us to think in a different, utilitarian way which really makes this proof of concept special,” said Manuel Jiménez García, CEO and co-founder of Nagami.

The Throne goes further in its realization of a circular economy by composting the waste produced by users and using this compost locally. Eventually, the teams want to put the technologies and tools in the hands of local communities. When innovation is shared fairly and the carbon footprint created by logistics and shipping of these products can be greatly reduced. The Throne is just one example of the possibilities of what additive manufacturing can do for scaling sustainable design and development – it’s only waste if you waste it!

Designer: Nagami and To:

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This sustainable packaging for eggs is inspired by stamps & made from paper foam!

Sustainable designs, especially packaging designs, are giving designers food for thought – very literally in some cases – to find solutions that can reduce waste and the burden on the planet! The Stamp Egg packaging stands out from the rest because it is detachable and made of PaperFoam which is sustainable, eco-friendly, low-carbon, highly recyclable, and home compostable material – it is truly egg-cellent!

Think of Stamp Egg as having your eggs individually wrapped but instead of plastic, it is a super sustainable and compostable material. It has all the necessary elements for an egg carton – easy open and close, protective form, and stackability. As the name suggested, it is inspired by a postage stamp that lets you tear out individual pieces from the collection, and now you can do it with your eggs.

This form also helps you save more space in the refrigerator and easily count the eggs without opening the package thus keeping them fresh for longer as they are less affected by temperature changes. Also, the separately packaged eggs can be easily packed for a picnic or in a lunch box without compromising on protectiveness or playing Jenga with the other items.

PaperFoam is a studio based in the Netherlands that specializes in making environmentally friendly packaging material widely used in electronics, cosmetics, medical devices, and food applications. The bio-based product is made out of starch, cellulose fibers, and water all with a very low carbon footprint. It can be composted or recycled at home with paper. Curious to learn more about this innovative material? Read about the manufacturing process, detailed benefits, and more here! 

“After experimenting with the material to enhance its look and its mechanical properties, I had to find a proper application for it. I aimed at designing a mass-produced everyday object within the packaging industry, which proved to be a successful field of application for PaperFoam as it was resistant, natural, and could be customized with branding,” says Yoon. “The purpose was to approach this project in a sustainable way, think about a valid and meaningful alternative to already existing products, combine maximum efficiency with aesthetic quality using an environment-friendly approach throughout the whole lifecycle.”

Compared to the cellulose-pulp, foam, or plastic boxes, the Stamp PaperFoam egg trays are lighter (beaten only by the Polystyrene ones) and emit much less carbon dioxide compared to their competitors (96% less than pulp, 91% less than PS, and 87% less than PET). Easy to achieve with the injection-molded manufacturing process, the product is cost-effective, energy-efficient, high-performing, and attractive!

The carton’s dimpled form accommodates individual eggs and prevents them from coming into contact with one another. An improved hinge holds the units together and makes the cups easy to separate into single independent boxes which saves space and keeps them fresh for longer. The name of the brand and the nutrient contents can be directly embossed on the material surface, saving on additional labeling costs and making recycling easier. Stamp is egg-straordinary!

Designer: Il-Seop Yoon

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This cabin looks like a hobbit house that got a modern makeover!

We have a special place in our heart for tiny homes and this one is definitely our first cabin love of 2022. The uniquely-shaped house is located on sloping land and gives major hobbit vibes but through the lens of modern architecture. The design consists of a surface that starts from the ground and extends and forms the shape and defines the interior space.

In the interior space, a glass strip starts from the floor and extends to the ceiling to maintain a visual connection to the entire space in fourth dimensions from the interior space. On both sides of the entrance, the two trees combine with the volume and define the entrance space giving it a harmonious, fluid aesthetic that connects the exterior, interior, and the surrounding landscape!

Being above ground helps facilitate more natural ventilation. The black and wooden combination is a stark contrast to the forest but still helps the cabin blend in because of its form. Unlike traditional cabins, the interior is luxurious, modern, and minimalistic – almost resembling a private spa retreat. The bedroom with the glass strip is our favorite part, it makes you feel like the structure is floating!

Designer: Milad Eshtiyaghi

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This slim shelf’s minimal design looks like an open book to encourage you to read!

Imagine instead of having a self-care app send you a notification that reminds you to read (especially if that is your resolution for the new year), the furniture itself can be a reminder! That is what Slice essentially is, a minimal, compact, elegant bookshelf that looks like an open book so that it can nudge you to read without having any more screens or digital stimulation.

“In amazingly digital era books aren’t easily opened, having this in mind ‘Slice’ is a bookshelf that intends to motivate individuals to read more often,” says Portuguese designer Joao-Teixeira who is known to always understand the assignment and delivers every single time with unique pieces like this.

Slice connects the environment, the activity, and the user very seamlessly through its form and function. Besides its emotional character, the bookshelf also takes on an aesthetic approach based on minimalistic and sleek shapes. Its elegantly formal look allows the product to become modular, enabling dynamic configurations as a means to highlight its presence and therefore its use.

You can access books from both sides (front or back) easily and the shelf was deliberately created with a slim profile to better fit in smaller spaces. It is horizontally stackable if you want to add more colors or create a piece for your home library, but Slice is certainly a slice of heavenly furniture for every book lover out there with big dreams and little floor space!

Designer: João Teixeira

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Tokyo’s unique Blue Bottle Cafe offers a safe experience for introverts & coffee lovers!

If I want to be more productive, I usually go work in a cafe to have a change of space or do a coffee run as a reward for finishing my tasks. But ever since the pandemic started, it has almost been impossible to work in a cafe but it has also become trickier to pick up coffee while making sure sanitizer doesn’t get into it! But this Blue Bottle Coffee pop-up in Shibuya, Tokyo is making that little normal part of our lives safer by creating a contactless experience to get our coffees using AI robots.

The interior architecture is designed to utilize the technology of AI cafe robot ‘Root C’ which is a service that lets you order from a screen and pick up your fresh coffee from a capsule. There are multiple slots that make up a whole wall of lockers and it almost looks like capsule hotels but tinier for your drink!

Designed by the Schema Architectural Plan, the capsules resemble a beehive. Wood is used to add warmth and translucent acrylic that covers the capsule is inspired by the glow of honey. It is designed to make you feel comfortable even if you are staying for a short time, taking home a drink.

It is a simple way to adapt to the demand for contactless service and safety while still making it a pleasant experience (especially when compared to a drive-thru!). When the barista places the coffee in the locker, the capsule glows to alert you that you can pick up your drink.

The ordering and receiving locker system is only available in Blue Bottle’s Shibuya location for now. Not only does it reduce the risk of transmission and protect people, but it is also a blessing for introverts in all circumstances – ordering without interacting with anyone.

Designer: Schema Architectural Plan, New Innovations, and Blue Bottle Coffee

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Affordable solar homes – a solution for homeowner poverty & net-zero housing!

Net-zero architecture is what will reduce emissions from the construction industry on a large scale. But make it inclusive as well as scalable and you also get a solution that can lift homeowners out of poverty while building a community! Created for that very purpose, these solar homes are aiming to help solve both the global housing and climate crises with one design. The houses produce their energy, harvest 100% of the rainwater, clean their sewage, and also have the potential to grow their own food!

It is called the PowerHYDE housing model and was created by Prasoon Kumar and Robert Verrijt of Billion Bricks from India and Singapore. The model explores sustainable solutions to empower and facilitate growth opportunities for people without homes around Southeast Asia which has a lot of rural and low-income populations. These homes not only provide shelter but are also a power module to scale sustainable communities that lift homeowners out of poverty!

“A BillionBricks Community is the world’s first carbon-negative solar home community to bring families out of poverty within one generation. PowerHYDE homes are plug-and-play modular structures that do not need any connection to services and could be made functional from the day of completion of construction,” says the design team. The cost-effective solution even won a Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction!


The PowerHYDE homes are built via an indigenous prefabricated technique that makes them easy to assemble in remote locations. The home has a solar array installed on the roof and the homeowner can sell excess power generated back to power companies, generating a profit that helps to pay off the cost of the home. Sample homes have been built in Mathjalgaon Village in India and in the Philippines. BillionBricks now plans to build a community of 500 homes near Manila, Philippines that will generate 10 megawatts of power.

Not only does it reduce the emissions from the construction industry (which is the leading contributor in the world for CO2 emissions) but it also helps more people become homeowners while equipping them with means to create renewable energy thus reducing individual carbon footprint as well. It is a radical concept in housing designed for energy sufficiency, extreme affordability, and education for future generations to adapt to a sustainable lifestyle even in rural areas.

Designers: BillionBricks and Architecture BRIO

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These sustainable lamps are made from coffee and orange peels!

Lamps have the ability to truly turn up the vibes in a space when they are done right and Obscure fits neatly in that category. In fact, it elevates the lighting game because it is also 100% sustainable, cold-compostable, and zero-waste! The collection of lampshades manifests nature’s genius and demonstrates an intelligent, material-driven approach to eco-friendly design.

The handmade collection is created by a London-based biotech and biomanufacturing startup. It represents the close-knit collaboration between ‘maker’ and ‘matter’. The matter, Orb or organic refuse bio-compound, influences the maker whilst the maker prescribes the matter with geometry. As the matter conforms to the maker’s prescription, the maker’s geometry inspires the matter to bend and flow as it pleases.

Obscure is made of 100% coffee chaff and orange peel. The company behind it constantly showcases the potential of bio-manufacturing of natural materials and regularly uses excess resources/wastes and byproducts in their design to reduce the use of plastics. Orb is a combination of food and agricultural bioproducts with a plant-based binder.

The team is also working to address several planetary challenges at once – the climate crisis, waste crisis, and social injustice – through their work. They apply principles of biomimetics, or systematically applying the ecological laws of nature, to create products and manufacturing approaches that innovate across the entire manufacturing life cycle. And, therefore, to create ethically-sourced and locally-fabricated high-performance sustainable products.

“There has never been a more critical time to be doing the work we do at Biohm,” said Ehab Sayed, founder and director of innovation at Biohm. “Recent events have emphasized how our economies and systems are flawed and unsustainable, and that we need to immediately implement radical and regenerative biotechnologies delivered through equitable and compassionate business models to make leaps in the fight against the climate crisis.”

Designer: Biohm

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This laptop desk is cushioned, has storage space & makes working from couch more ergonomic!

Let’s be real – we spend a lot of time in the day figuring out the most comfortable work-from-home position because the bed is where we start slouching into a nap and the desk is too upright. Tony Heap was going through a similar problem and after making a makeshift laptop desk that let him work from his couch, he made it even better by adding in storage and taking care of ergonomics. Heap, really heard our cries for a comfortable laptop desk and that’s how LAPOD (laptop desk + storage pod) was born!

Whether you’re a digital nomad or a remote worker, LAPOD allows you to easily and comfortably work from anywhere. The lap desk holds all accessories such as chargers, cables, portable drives, without adding clutter to your ouch or side tables. The storage pod is also cushioned to make it comfortable when it is on your lap. No more balancing your laptop on your knee, battery indicator flashing, juggling charger, and plug while searching your bag for your earbuds to take that incoming video call!

The gentle sweeping ergonomic shape is the result of a carefully considered form designed to fit you just as well as fit your things. Raising your work up off your lap reduces wrist angle and neck-craning. “Ergonomically, we work in a multitude of different positions: sitting upright or reclined, knees together or spread, maybe one leg over the other, or sitting cross-legged yogi-style in the lotus position. To add to this, we aren’t really designed to stay sitting still, so it’s often a combination of all of the above in some sort of human posture shuffle,” adds Heap.

Single-handedly access whatever you have inside the storage pod without disturbing whatever you have on top of your desk. Need to plug into portable drives or power packs? LAPOD’s simple cable routing slot has you covered. It also features a cutaway slot in the work surface that allows you to run cables or charge batteries without navigating a ‘spaghetti junction’ at your feet or losing any valuable desk space.

Heap believes that balancing the often diverging properties is key to great material selection and development. LAPOD’s storage pod is made from high-quality rigid P.E.T. felt as it is super durable while being tactile and aesthetically pleasing. The desk is slim, lightweight, resilient, and completely hand washable. This lap desk is currently topping our list of work-from-home essentials!

Click here to shop!

Designer: Tony Heap

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This luxury holiday home is every grown-up & child’s dream with an architecture designed to deliver ultimate fun!

If you have ever dreamed of having a treehouse, a pool, a slide, and more in your house but gave it all up because grown-ups can’t have fun, then do I have good news for you! PLA2 is a luxury house is made to incorporate the most fun activities – both indoor and outdoor – into its architecture and interior design. It is an extension of the Z9 resort in Thailand and therefore the holiday vibe is continued with PLA2. The floating villa lets you enjoy water rafting, karaoke, laze by the pool or sleep in the giant net over the water while still living in a modern structure.

PLA2 is close to the Z9 resort so all necessary supplies come from there. The slides and sloped stargazing beds are perfect for people of all ages to have their dream camping night. The team also plans to include a large movie screen for private screenings at the villa. The theme was inspired by active elements and words like dynamic, moving, energy, and vitality which resonates through the structure.

The exterior is inspired by the local fish which can be seen in the rounded curves of the cladding. The shape has two abstract volumes that echo the anatomies of a male and female snake-head fish swimming together. Males are smaller in size, and fresher in color, while females are larger and darker – hence the differences in tone and size observed in each spatial block. The main structure has a balloon frame to make the construction more dispersed and lighter in weight. It includes a water storage system a tugboat, and a backup generator for electricity in case the Z9 Resort can’t be accessed for supplies.

Just like the fish that swim together, the space is designed to blend in with each other in a harmonious flow both internally and externally. The rooms can be all opened up into one space during the day to make most of the natural light and wind while at night they can be separated to create sleeping zones and privacy. Nautical details inspired by submarines can be seen in the door handles or circular windows.

Wood and steel are the main materials used for construction. There are two different shades of wood – reflecting the female/male distinction. Each wooden volume is then punctuated by rusty-looking etched steel frames on the front façades, evoking the gills of the snake-head fish when its mouth opens up. To further illustrate freshwater life, the outdoor pool stands out with its light blue tone while darker and more sandy colors accentuate the interiors – from the bedroom suite to the entrance hall and gathering space. PLA2 incorporates all the fun activities while paying tribute to the local ecosystem beautifully!

Designer: Dersyn Studio

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