Courtesy Recycled Island Foundation

In Rotterdam, Netherlands, a new floating park made entirely of plastic waste pulled from the city's rivers and ports has opened. Dubbed "Recycled Park," the 1,500-square-foot island comprises 28 hexagonal blocks designed and built by the locally based Recycled Island Foundation (RIF) with support from the City of Rotterdam. "The aim of this iconic Recycled Park is to illustrate that recycled plastic from the open waters is a valuable material and suitable for recycling," according to the RIF. "By reusing the retrieved plastics and by producing building blocks with them, the plastics receives new value." The team hopes that this project will help to raise awareness about the amount of plastic waste that fills water bodies worldwide. [RIF]

In conjunction with the United Nations (U.N.) High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, held July 9–18 in New York City, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN-Habitat in a collaboration with the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture unveiled the Ecological Living Module, a 237-square-foot house that runs on renewable energy. Designed, fabricated, and installed by New Haven, Conn.–based Gray Organschi Architecture, the tiny housing module is made of locally sourced, bio-based renewable materials, and serves a testing ground for reducing the consumption of natural resources, such as water. The project, is intended to "spark debate and new ideas on how to redesign the way we live," according to a UNEP pamphlet. [UN-Habitat]

Chattanooga, Tenn.–based architectural fabricator Branch Technology claims to have built the world's largest 3D-printed structure for Nashville, Tenn.'s LEED ND–targeted OneC1TY neighborhood. Made of carbon fiber–reinforced ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), the 20-foot-tall, 42-foot-wide structure was unveiled this week at the 2018 International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, an annual architecture and engineering symposium held this year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [ARCHITECT]

Thinness comprises 12 exterior column modules and four interior light well modules
Mike Campos/AerialShotz Thinness comprises 12 exterior column modules and four interior light well modules

A citation winner in our 2018 R+D Awards, Thinness, by Syracuse, N.Y.–based Aptum Architecture and global concrete manufacturer Cemex, is a 10-foot-tall, -wide, and -long pavilion with 0.78-inch-thick concrete walls. Aptum principals Julie Larsen, Assoc. AIA, and Roger Hubeli with their team used glass-bead aggregate and 0.6-inch-long steel and fiberglass fibers to cut the weight of the concrete mix to half that of a conventional formulation. [ARCHITECT]

In an effort to expand New York City's green scenery and combat climate change, city council members Rafael Espinal, Donovan Richards, and Stephen Levin introduced a package of legislation that would require new skyscrapers in the city to incorporate green roofs, small wind turbines, or solar panels—or a combination of the three. “Green roofs ... reduce ambient temperatures, save energy, and reduce the strain on our sewer system, thereby preventing waste from being dumped into our waterways,” Levin said in a press conference. “Solar panels will also be crucial to jump-starting our renewable energy generation right here at home. This set of legislation demonstrates a serious commitment to protecting our environment.” [Solar Power World]

Adobe Stock/Simon Kraus

Using a type of bacteria that converts light to energy, researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver have developed an affordable, sustainable way to build a solar cell. Called “Biogenic,” the bacteria cells can generate a current stronger than comparable, existing devices under cloudy or sunny skies. The researchers say the new cells "could become as efficient as the synthetic cells used in conventional solar panels." [UBC]