Tag Archives: environment

Green School – Monday TED Talk

The story of John Hardy and tbe Green School in Bali is an inspriring one.  Having recently come back from a business course in Bali where we had the opportunity to visit the Green School and be personally shown around by John.

John started The Green School in Bali to give students a relevant, holistic and green education. He wanted these students to understand and, from a very young age, be ready to make positive changes to how we live our lives.

I left our visit feeling inspired to have heard John’s vision for the school and the difference he is making through the school to our next generation.  The attraction that John has at the school is amazing. For example Richard Branson on a recent visit to Australia dropped in to visit the Green School, Bali on his way home and sponsored one of the main bamboo poles in The Heart of School building.  Brio Group also sponsored a pole and feel incredible privileged to help John achieve his vision.

If you have the chance drop by and join one of the two weekly guided tours of the school, you too will be inspired and touched by the efforts of this incredible man and the team he is attracting around him.

Yours in making a difference to the next generation,



Chit chat worth listening to

Pecha Kucha visited the Brisbane Powerhouse again last night, with 11 speakers presenting loads of neat ideas. For those not familiar with Pecha Kucha, it is an event where designers, artists, architects, or other creative people are given 20 seconds per slide to present 20 slides on their designs, thoughts or ideas. Each speaker gets 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame.

There were quite a few thought-provoking ideas that came out of last night’s event (Volume 24) but one speaker that I particularly enjoyed was Yen Trinh. It became apparent that Yen’s name is very fitting, as she has a yearning and passion for improving society. Her presentation ’20 wishes for Brisbane’ listed  20 awesome ideas for ways we could improve Brisbane based on her previous experiences in other countries.

Some of my personal favourites were:

  • City-wide putt putt golf: the course exists all around the city on streets and laneways, and each hole is designed by a different person/group.
  • Pop-up drive-in movie theatres: drive-in movies that pop up in suburban shopping centre carparks, where the space goes to waste at night time.
  • Cooler street furniture: including hammocks, recliner chairs and movable furniture.
  • Someone like Candy Chang: whose projects include the very cool ‘I wish this was‘ sticker.
  • Front yard cafes and friendlier neighbourhoods: Suburban Grind is a community building project travelling around Brisbane, setting up in people’s garages and serving free cafe style coffee in an effort to bring neighbours together.

Very cool! Can’t wait to see some of these projects up and running!

What would you like to see in Brisbane? What existing space would you redesign?

Yours in creative ideas,


Designing our environments

Nothing screams “rubbish day” like row upon row of bleak grey bin bags piled along the curb. But what if we could take those boring (and let’s face it, depressing) bin liners and create art from waste, at least until the rubbish collection truck finally makes its way to the front gates or sidewalks?

Well the people of Auckland have done just that with their “Beautify Your City” campaign which aims to prevent the illegal dumping of rubbish in city flowerbeds, as well as making the rubbish placed on sidewalks impressively “disappear” before our eyes. The result of this campaign turned ugly sidewalk displays like this:

…into beautifully hedged CBD pathways and gardens like these:

So as we move towards a more environmentally friendly world, where recycling is encouraged more frequently, it’s nice to see even our unrecyclable waste can be beautified and reused, if only for a short time.

The only question I have now is when will they be coming to Australia so I can stop taking out the rubbish (which is a personal hate chore of mine) and start designing my environment?

Yours in urban design,


Accidentally legendary

A good friend of mine brought a very interesting site called 9-eyes.com to my attention recently. This site shows a collection of fantastic images that were caught by Google maps with Street View. I’ve shown you a few of my favourites here, but there are plenty more. It just goes to show some of the best photographs don’t require fancy equipment, just to be at the right place at the right time.

Yours in shooting from the hip,


Spaces Magazine to help creatives live, work and play in inspired surrounds

The popular creative design magazine Frankie has now launched a new magazine project named ‘Spaces – Where creative people live, work and play’.

Spaces showcases a fantastic global collection of eclectic interiors. This large format magazine explores the favourite space of photographers, graphic designers, vintage collectors and shop owners.

Be inspired by the unique living, cafe, shop and studio spaces this new magazine has to offer and see how passionate creatives are about styling the environment they are surrounded by every day.

Spaces can be purchased at your favourite bookstore or online.

Wouldn’t you just love to get your creative juices flowing and leave your signature mark in your office or room? Alot of the interiors in Spaces were created on a budget, all it takes is your time and imagination.

Your in Design
Amber van Sloten

Environmental Myth Busted

So here we are thinking we’re being environmentally friendly by uploading files to websites to be read online or burning them to CDs rather than printing them.

A study conducted and published in Finsbury Green’s publication: Green Paper Guide, demonstrates that less CO2 is generated by the conventional method of printing. The study used the example of a 700-page report: The Stern Review.

If a book is printed it will only omit CO2 once. Reading a book online was a hard one to measure accurately as the viewer may revisit the document several times and may even print sections to read a hard copy so this one was only calculated per online visit. In addition to generating the most amount of carbon, CDs and DVDs are also non-recyclable so just added to landfill.

Isn’t this study a surprising outcome?!

Yours in Design,
Amber van Sloten

Green Roofs

ACROS Fukuoka, Japan.
ACROS Fukuoka, Japan.
Millenium Park, Chicago
Millenium Park, Chicago
Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn, Germany.
Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn, Germany.
School of Art and Design, Singapore.
School of Art and Design, Singapore.


A green roof in Beijing.
A green roof in Beijing.

Having attended the always inspiring Pecha Kucha night at the Brisbane Powerhouse, I was intrigued by landscape architect, Sidonie Carpenter’s introduction to the concept of ‘green roofs.  As the presentation time was limited, I was compelled to research the topic further and this is what I discovered…

Green roofs are a phenomenon that has taken off in many countries around the world and is recognised as an important response to climate change. A green roof system is an extension of a building’s existing roof which involves a high quality water proofing and root repellent system, a drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium and plants.

There are two types of green roofs: intensive roofs, which are thicker and heavier to support a wider variety of plants, and extensive roofs, which are lighter, easier to maintain and covered in a light layer of vegetation.

Other than their aesthetic value, there are many proven benefits such as:

  • Increasing air quality and helping lower air temperatures, which aids in the reduction of the “Urban Heat Island Effect” and helps combat climate change.
  • Aiding in biodiversity in urban areas by providing refuges for wildlife.
  • Saving water – green roofs can significantly reduce the volume of run off rainwater. They can also reduce the impact of flash flooding.
  • Providing insulation which then reduces the energy consumption of a building, because the temperature inside is more constant and comfortable.

Millennium Park, in Chicago, is one of the largest green roofs in the world, at more than 24 acres. Fukuoka City in Japan have an amazing building called “ACROS Fukuoka” where one side looks like a conventional office building with glass walls, but on the other side there is a huge terraced roof that merges with a park.

In North America, the benefits of green roof technologies are being increasing understood as the green roof industry moves from novelty to common practice. In Europe green roof technologies have become very well established since the 1980s. This has been a result of government legislative and financial support. Perhaps it’s time for the cities of Australia to catch on?