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10 Smart, Passive Homes

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Passive homes are popping up all over Europe and Japan, and, finally, here in the U.S. What is a passive home? A house that keeps its aggression at bay, of course! No, a passive home uses insulation and an airtight shell so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in, which means it can use up to 90% less energy than a conventional house. Appliance heat and human body heat are both used, along with the sun, to heat the house. The real kicker is that in some countries, like Germany, the real pioneers in passive home construction, these homes cost less than 10% more to build than the average home. Smart, eh?

The first image below is from a 4-bedroom, 3,000 sq ft passive home in the U.K. built by architect Richard Hawkes. The image below it is of Waldsee BioHaus in Bemidji, Minnesota - the very first passive home in the U.S. The rest of the images come from Germany mostly, and Japan. The New York Times published an amazing graphic that illustrates how air flows through the home and what makes these so energy efficient. Click the final image in the post to see the full graphic.

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This Russian Kindergarten Looks Just Like a Castle
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A group of lucky kindergarteners in Russia don’t have to wear poufy dresses or plastic crowns to pretend they’re royalty. As Atlas Obscura reports, all they have to do is go to school.

In a rural area of Russia's Leninsky District sits a massive, pastel-colored schoolhouse that was built to resemble Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle. It has turrets and gingerbread-like moldings—and instead of a moat, the school offers its 150 students multiple playgrounds, a soccer field, a garden, and playhouses.

Tuition is 21,800 rubles (about $360) a month, but the Russian government subsidizes it to make it less expensive for parents. As for the curriculum: it’s designed to promote social optimism, and each month’s lesson plan is themed. (September, for example, will be career-focused.)

Take a video tour of the school below, or learn more on the school’s website.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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This Chinese Library's Interior Is Designed to Look Like an Infinite Tunnel of Books
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The Chinese city of Yangzhou is known for its graceful arched bridges and proximity to the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Architects kept these unique local features in mind while designing Zhongshuge Yangzhou, a new bookstore and library that was completed in 2016.

Designed by Shanghai studio XL-Muse Architects, the building has black, mirrored floors and arched ceilings that symbolize Yangzhou’s famous waterways and overpasses. The floor reflects the store’s curving shelves to create the illusion of a never-ending tunnel of books—a true bibliophile’s dream.

Learn more about Yangzhou’s unique library/bookstore below, courtesy of Great Big Story.

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