Apple’s Best Product is Something You Can’t Buy

What many people don’t know about Apple, a company renowned for designing powerful, sleek, and premium machines, is that the company’s best invention is something you’ll never get to experience.

Apple’s headquarters, aptly named “Apple Park,” is without a doubt the most innovative, modern, and futuristic corporate base in the world; and with a five-billion-dollar price tag, Apple spared no expense.

The Spaceship

I’ll start out with the main building; which many people understandably refer to as “The Spaceship”. It was originally conceived by Steve Jobs, although he never lived to see the project through to completion.

Spaceship Campus
Source: Curbed San Francisco

As you can see, this is no ordinary office building. It features a unique ring-shaped design that is over 1,500 feet in diameter, making the structure wider than the Empire State Building is tall. At the center of the building is a 30 acre courtyard complete with walking trails, fruit orchards, and a pond.

Courtyard
Source: New York Times

The Glass 

Building upon the design style that Apple’s products are known for, Steve Jobs wanted a light, smooth, elegant building that was unique to Apple. To accomplish this, 872 curved glass sheets were affixed to the outside of the structure to create a clean, modern aesthetic.

Outside Walking
Source: Foster + Partners

Easy on the Environment

Another impressive feature of the building is its ability to “breathe.” The 4,300 concrete slabs that make up the floors and ceilings of the structure are hollow, allowing air to move freely inside them and throughout the structure. This essentially creates a natural HVAC system that keeps the building a comfortable temperature throughout most of the year without using electricity. There is, however, a traditional heating and cooling system that can be turned on when necessary.

Void Concrete Diagram
Source: Popular Science

In addition to the natural ventilation system to reduce electricity needs, the roof of the building is also covered with thousands of solar panels that eliminate Apple’s need to pull energy from the electric grid.

Solar Roof
Source: ABC News

The Landscape 

You’ve probably already noticed from the areal pictures just how unconventional the campus is with its use of space. Most of the property is green space. In fact, 80 percent of the total land area is left undeveloped, creating a natural, park-like setting. Over six miles of walking trails weave through the gentle hills covered in native grasses and shrubs. Over 8,000 drought-resistant trees were planted on the property to create a tranquil, environmentally friendly space in the middle of the city. The designers were able to achieve this by burying many of the facilities underground. Beneath the apple orchards and walking paths are parking garages, offices, and even an auditorium, all hidden from view in order to create a clean, pristine landscape.

Source: Quartz

Conclusion

Unfortunately for us, Apple is very private about what goes on inside their headquarters and rarely allows visitors. Because of this, there aren’t many pictures of the spaceship’s interior and it’s difficult to find detailed information about it. Much remains a mystery. However, from what we can see, it’s easy to understand why Apple built this place and why it cost so much — there’s simply nothing else like it in the world.

If you liked this blog post, check out the article I wrote about the Bardessono Hotel in nearby Napa Valley by clicking here!

Your Home is Killing You

Most of us think of home as a place of comfort and safety. But, what if the things inside your home that are designed to keep you safe and comfortable were actually hurting you? Listed below are five toxic things commonly found inside people’s homes that can cause serious health problems.

Paints — Most indoor paints contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These compounds are slowly released into your home’s air and are highly toxic when inhaled. Exposure to VOC’s can cause a range of illnesses including asthma, neurological disorders, fertility problems, and even cancer.

Carpets — Many carpets and area rugs contain chemicals that make them more fire and stain resistant. These chemicals cause visual and respiratory problems.

Vinyl and Laminate Flooring — These types of flooring frequently contain formaldehyde. This can cause numerous unpleasant short-term effects and even cancer if someone is exposed to high amounts of it for a long enough period of time.

Cleaning Products — Many multi-surface and glass cleaners contain ammonia, a substance known to cause respiratory, liver, and kidney problems. Other cleaning products such as bleach and oven cleaners release fumes that can cause permanent respiratory damage.

Insulation — In older homes, insulation often contains asbestos, which is a known carcinogen. In modern homes, insulation often contains Brominated Flame Retardants (BFR’s). These chemicals can cause neurobehavioral problems and endocrine disruptions.

Many people may find this list surprising. But what’s perhaps most shocking is that it’s by no means a comprehensive list. In fact, there are countless other common materials that are just as damaging to our health as the ones listed above.

So, what can we do? Obviously, we can’t eliminate all of these things from our lives completely. But there are a few steps we can take to minimize their negative impacts of our lives.

  • Use all-natural cleaning products that don’t contain harmful chemicals.
  • Open the windows more often to let fresh air in and expel harmful gases from your home.
  • Buy a true HEPA air purifier that is capable of filtering out VOCs
  • Place live houseplants around your home. A variety of common indoor plants can absorb many harmful airborne pollutants.
  • Spend more time outside

These are just a few ideas for living healthier inside your home. If you come up with any more, contact me or leave a comment, and don’t forget to share this page with a friend! If you found this blog interesting, consider reading my blog about East House. Its interior is finished out with many natural materials such as wood and stone to keep its occupants healthy.

Eco-Friendly Concrete Residence on the Atlantic Coast

Sitting high atop a bluff on the Martha’s Vineyard coastline in Chilmark, Massachusetts, this modern concrete dwelling provides an elegant, cozy, and welcoming space to inhabitants while also treading lightly on the environment.

Named “East House,” because of its commanding eastward view of the north Atlantic, this home, designed by Peter Rose + Partners, proves that luxury and tranquility don’t have to come at the expense of the environment.

Concrete House Entrance
Peter Rose + Partners, East House — Chilmark, Massachusetts
Concrete Structure

The first thing one notices when viewing East House from the outside, is the simple, sturdy concrete structure of the residence. These 10-inch-thick, solid concrete walls create, not only a breathtaking home, but a functional and future-proofed one as well. To fully understand this, one must first understand the geographic setting of the home. As mentioned earlier, East House sits atop a coastal bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Although picturesque, this setting poses a problem for the long-term safety of the home site. This is because of the rate at which the ocean is eroding the coastal cliff.

Fearing the cliff’s edge might someday inch too close to the house and destabilize it, the architects designed the concrete structure to extend underground and beneath the flooring. This design essentially makes each room its own three- or four-sided concrete box that can separate from the rest of the home. Because of this, the entire structure can move to safer ground one section at a time. If this happens, only the wood-framed sections between the concrete boxes will need rebuilding. This unique engineering decision ensures that East House will be inhabitable for generations to come, regardless of what nature may take from the land.

Interior Experience

Once inside the rough concrete walls of the home, one is immediately taken aback at how warm and inviting the interior actually is. Dark stone floors meet the planked walls of Alaskan Cedar and Douglas Fir, effortlessly forming an open, yet cozy environment. Nowhere is this more evident than in the main living room, where the rich warmth of the wooden walls gives way to a clean expanse of sliding glass. This glass, when slid open, creates oneness with the surrounding environment and allows the crisp Atlantic breeze to fill the residence.

Living room with large windows
Peter Rose + Partners, East House — Chilmark, Massachusetts
Environmental Responsibility

All of the materials mentioned thus far were chosen to make a home that is bold and unique. They were also chosen because of their function in reducing the structure’s overall environmental footprint. The concrete walls are a great example of this. Because they are 10 inches thick, they have a substantial thermal mass which creates a natural temperature barrier from the outside climate, thus reducing energy costs. Another example has to do with the wooden interior walls, which are made from trees that have been responsibly harvested from sustainable forests.

Interior Materials
Peter Rose + Partners — Chilmark, Massachusetts

One last example, and a feature of the house that I haven’t mentioned yet, is its rainwater harvesting system. Whenever it rains, an underground cistern captures any water not absorbed by the home’s green roofs. This rainwater can then irrigate the surrounding landscape. These are just a few of the many examples which demonstrate how simple designs and materials can make a positive difference.

Concrete home exterior and landscape
Peter Rose + Partners, East House — Chilmark, Massachusetts
Conclusion

In the end, there are few places in this world that can compete with the tranquil beauty of East House. But what’s perhaps even more impressive, though, is the amount of thought that went into creating the property; thought that ensures this magnificent structure is easy on the planet and will last for generations to come.

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—  Alex

Napa Valley Hotel is a Model for the Future

Bardessono Hotel and Spa

Tucked away in the serene hills of Napa Valley, Bardessono Hotel & Spa erases the lines traditionally drawn between sustainability and luxury.

Courtyard at Bardessono Hotel and Spa
Image by Bardessono

Because of the thoughtful design of its structures and grounds, this 62-room resort is one of only a few hotels in the United States that have been awarded LEED Platinum certification. This is the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification there is. The designers accomplished this by strategically sourcing materials used in the site’s construction, and carefully minimizing the complex’s day-to-day burden on the environment.

Recycled Materials

Instead of constructing Bardessono from entirely new materials, the designers opted to use as many reclaimed materials for the hotel as possible. One example of this is with the use of reclaimed Tufa Limestone throughout the property. This stone, quarried over 80 years ago, was originally used in the Bardessono family’s original Napa Valley home. Several decades later, the family recycled the stone and used it in a wine and produce cellar. Since then, the Bardessono’s have recut the stone and given it new life once again. The Limestone is now used throughout the hotel. Nowhere is this limestone more evident than at the front entrance, which the stone elegantly clads. In addition to the Tufa Limestone, over 100,000 square feet of reclaimed wood can also be found throughout the property.

Front Entrance at Bardessono
Image by Sam Dyess via archdaily.com

Sustainable Every Day

While it’s quite impressive how much of the hotel is made from recycled resources, what’s perhaps more impressive is the attention to detail that went into making sure the hotel’s everyday activities weren’t an environmental burden. This is especially evident when it comes to reducing energy usage. One of the most energy-heavy activities of any hotel is the climate control of interior spaces. Because of this, Bardessono has taken many steps to reduce the need for artificial heating and cooling. One example of this is the hotel’s underground geothermal system. This system uses the earth’s constant temperature to help regulate the temperature of the hotel.

In addition to this, large windows allow in ample sunlight during the winter months to assist with heating the structures. Contrastingly, large overhangs offer cooling relief during the summer months.

Courtyard at Bardessono Hotel and Spa
Image by Bardessono

To top it all off, literally, are 940 highly efficient solar panels located on the hotel’s rooftops.

Bardessono Solar Panels
Image By: Sam Dyess via archdaily.com

Other efforts of Bardessono to limit its environmental impact include; using low-flow water fixtures, recycling wastewater for irrigation, planting of drought-resistant trees and shrubs, and composting food waste.

All in all, the Bardessono Hotel and Spa perfectly demonstrates the green ideals that Grow Modern wishes to highlight, and it is definitely on my list of places to visit.

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Welcome to Grow Modern!

Welcome to Grow Modern! This blog highlights modern, sustainable ideas and innovations that are pushing the world toward a greener future. Here, you can expect to find engaging content about sustainable real estate development projects, conservation projects, modern architecture and landscaping, design ideas, and DIY projects.

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