These houses can survive natural disasters

 

Japan Dome House, a modular home manufacturer, has been making and selling its styrofoam dome houses for over fifteen years, but since the April 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes, there has been a surge of interest in the company’s products.

Some readers may do a double take, as the material used for these homes is indeed styrofoam.

Polystyrene (more commonly known as styrofoam) is widely used for everything from cups and food containers to packaging material. Polystyrene is a petroleum-based product made from the styrene monomer, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

 

Some countries and municipalities around the world (including Taiwan and Portland, Oregon and Orange County, California in the U.S.) have also banned the use of polystyrene foam.

Nevertheless, the future of earthquake-resistant home building in Japan may very well come in the shape of domed houses built from this material.

Aso Farm Land
On April 16, 2016, a magnitude 7.0 main shock struck the city of Kumamoto in Kyushu Prefecture (following a foreshock two days earlier). The two earthquakes killed at least 49 people and injured some 3,000 others.

Many structures in Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures collapsed and caught fire, and more than 44,000 people were evacuated from their homes due to the disaster. Thousands of evacuees are still living in temporary housing.

However, among the structures that were not damaged was a small village of 480 houses at the Aso Farm Land resort, a health-themed national park built on a somma volcano, in Kyushu. Visitors to Aso Farm Land can enjoy numerous open-air hot springs and stay overnight in differently-themed accommodations.

The “Village Zone” of Aso Farm Land consists of 480 closely-packed dome-shaped houses made of a next-generation form of polystyrene foam. When the Kumamoto earthquake struck, none of these dome houses were damaged. This has has lead to a surge of interest in the technology behind their construction.

Fourth-Generation Building Material
Japan Dome House, based in Kaga City, Ishikawa Prefecture, claims that it has developed a fourth generation building material (following wood, iron, and concrete); and that its dome house has a number of characteristics that makes it superior to conventional materials and house shapes.

Using proprietary technology, it has developed an expanded polystyrene (EPS) product that is much stronger and more compact than the foam that is used for shipping material and food containers.

 

The company believes that its dome houses have a number of benefits. These include:

Ultra-Short Building Time

A dome house can be assembled in about a week by three or people, using modular dome pieces that weigh only about 80-kg (176 pounds).

Ultra-Low Cost
The company says that the total construction cost of a basic dome house is between ¥7 million and ¥8 million ($68,700 and $78,500) for a house with a floor space of about 36-sqm (387-sqft) and a ceiling height of 3 meters (9.8 feet).

Highly Earthquake Resistant
Because of its dome shape, the lack of a need for posts and beams in construction, and its extremely light weight the dome house is highly earthquake resistant.

Ultra-Thermal Insulating

Expanded polystyrene also has very high thermal insulating properties. This combined with the dome shape (which allows air to circulate by convection and prevents it from accumulating in corners) makes the dome house highly energy-saving.

Highly Durable
Polystyrene also does not rust or rot and is not subject to termite infestation. After assembly, the walls of the Dome House are also coated with fire retardant making the houses fireproof.

The dome shape of the house also makes it resistant to high winds.

Antioxidant Building Construction
The company also claims that its houses are healthy to live in because an anti-oxidant solution is kneaded into the polystyrene foam building material. Formaldehyde is also not used in the construction process which means that Japan Dome Houses do not suffer from “sick-house” syndrome.

Certification
The Dome House and the company’s specially developed polystyrene foam have also been certified by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Tourism and Industry as being compliant with national building codes.

Customizable Dome Houses
Japan Dome House has developed a number of modular parts for its dome houses, which makes them highly customizable.

The company says its dome houses are used around Japan not only as residences but also as small hotels, steam rooms, temples and churches, child care centers and educational facilities and even karaoke bars. Because they can be quickly assembled there is also growing interest in using them as temporary housing for evacuees from natural disasters.

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Perfection: Greek Hotel Made For Families with Little Travelers

Based on my personal experience traveling with kids is 10x harder Than traveling with adults. The kids nends special places that satisfy their desires and needs ! On the other hand though, I experienced  more that traveling with kids has become much easier (such a contradiction I know) but it all depends on the destination. It does take a bit more effort on the parent’s part but hotels have become much more accommodating and even have suites dedicated to traveling en-famille. You don’t have to forgo your love of travel just because you’ve added a couple additional travelers to your family. The Ekies All Senses Resort, a member of the Design Hotels collective, understands this sentiment and has created a Greek oasis for families on vacation with little travelers.

Located on the paradisiacal coastline of Halkidiki, Greece, the Ekies All Senses Resort owned by Alexandra Efstathiadou features 10 eco-luxury suites that encourage children to run free and explore, all the while encouraging adults to do the same. The newer Pine and Evergreen suites designed by Athens-based architectural firm Agarch+ seem to blend into the lush, rustic landscape of fauna and flora. The materials and decor incorporated into the suites, like the hand-laid herringbone stone flooring, are a nod to traditional Greek artisanship alongside modern furnishings, like pieces by Philippe Starck and Achille Castiglioni.

The suites come equipped with cozy loungers, hammocks and private soaking pools. And Alexandra’s mother’s family co-own Coco Mat, a company that produces natural sleep products, bed linens, towels, and furniture, all of which are used throughout the hotel.

Blue accent walls and tiles reflect the waters of the Aegean shores just mere steps away from the property. Illustrations and typography showcasing Greek poet Aesop’s fables adorn the walls of certain suites. There are 69 rooms and suites in total, each with their own pool, sea or garden view and each are unique in terms of color and decorations.

 

Alexandra shares her vision for the property:

” I wanted to display Greek culture but in a modern way. I wanted to create a new way for people to look at the country. It is a place filled with love. In other words, it’s the perfect place to spend with your family and little ones.”

What: The Ekies All Senses Resort
Where: Sithonia, Halkidiki, Vourvourou, 63078
How much:  Rates for the Pine suites start from $264 USD, rates for the Evergreen Suite start from $522 USD.
Highlights: This Greek hotel has all the modern amenities you need to stay more than comfortable while on vacation (we’re going to assume that it won’t be that hard on a beautiful property like this) but is a true escape into paradise with the lush landscaping, scenic views (Mount Itamos is just a drive away) and Greek-influenced interiors.
Design draw: Agarch+ chose materials and decor that give a nod to Greek craftsmanship while also maintaining a contemporary aesthetic with modern furniture and fixtures.

Book it: Visit the Ekies All Senses Resort

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Via Design Milk.

Restaurant Review: The Best Food I’ve Ever Had

Located in the most stunning place in the UAE (Dubai) Folly by Nick & Scott is a modern international cuisine fine dinning restaurant delivering inventive and at times unfamiliar flavours using fresh ingredients that will make your tongue bud dance in happiness !

The picture below shows the brief story of of how the owners was involved in designing the interior.

I found about it randomly on instagram and judging from their terrace I immediately decided to celebrate my birthday there. As I am obsessed with terraces. My whole impression was amazing, I always judge restaurants by a bunch of factors (Quality of food, Interior, Terrace and facilities, cleanliness and atmosphere). Folly had it all ! Anyone who lives in Dubai or visiting and didn’t had a meal in Folly in my opinion just missed the best place in Dubai.

 

As a person who appreciates food a lot I have been crushing through different restaurants all day I was still pretty full at this point, so I decided to order their tasting menu and two appetizers to share, to at least get a feel for the menu and what they had to offer. After my first bite to the first dish of appetizers whcih was a Boiled Octupus Soacked in lemon and butter I knew that this is the place that I would eat at everyday anytime !

 

 The tasting menus is shown below signed by every single employee in the place as a greetings for my birthday which was so sweet of them ! Never happened to me in any other place.

Every single dish in that menu was spectacular I never imagined that there would be anything like that to eat ! The balance of ingredients and the fusion of cuisines are what making this restaurant incomparable to any other at least to those I have been to, and they are A LOT. It’s even without exaggeration better than all the Michelin Stars rated restaurants I have been to.

I am really out of word to descirebe how awesome was the experience, the staff was amazing every single one of them greeted us with a smile.

 

Folly Restaurant is located in Madinat Jumeirah Dubai.

 

Enjoy the slideshow:

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PS: my posts are not paid. I have never accepted any kind of payments/gifts or privileges to post about any place I visited.

 

Milano’s Hidden Jewels 1: Maido Japanese food street

I am on a business trip to Milan, a city that I have visited 100s of times before. And always almost with each visit I get more and more convinced that you only find good places (any place) if you wander.

 

My arrival to Milan this time was a complete disaster in terms of flight. I have arrived 21st of July in the morning after horrific flight from Doha (23+ hrs). I hade to do couple of meetings upon arrival then went out with my clients for a meal and back to the hotel swaying like a zombie. Although I live in almost similar time zone area of (Milan) but when I woke up earlier today I felt like being jet lagged. I was confused what should I eat and decided to walk to a cafe that I see on daily basis but never visited it, of course as usual my memory was terrible and I got lost 🙂

 

 

I never regret being lost not in my own thoughts not physically ever because I always end up in a fantasy land ..

I have first to explain how I decide to choose where to eat just to make you understand what I have ignored on my way. Its not quantum physics but its probably unlike anyone else. Smell of the place is the most important factor for me, and NO it doesn’t have to smell nice, delicious/yummy or flowery for me to decide to stay. For a restaurant … it must be smell-less if I am allowed to say, the minimum the smell of cooking the biggest the chance it will have me thinking twice about getting in. Then comes the design, cuisine, location, ambience etc.

So I walked 45 minutes and saw bunch of places ignored each and every one because they fail to met my parameters, until I have stumbled upon Maido Milano! A small Japanese street food shop/restaurant full of locals. Has almost zero smell of cooking and their menu looked stunning. The smell factor was tempting enough for me the interior too looked beautiful, so I gave it a try and my guts was telling me you will never regret this ..

Maido Milano is A welcome respite from the repetitive culinary homogeny offered in the bars, cafes and restaurants of Milan. Sure, there are some places that are better than others, but when it comes to variety, Italy in general seems stuck in another era of time. Yes, there are other Japanese restaurants, but unfortunately they, too, all adhere to the same ‘all you can eat’, mediocre forumlas. Maido breaks out and offers a wonderful and refreshing take on Japanese Street food, which is actually even pretty rare in the world.

Continue reading “Milano’s Hidden Jewels 1: Maido Japanese food street”

The Alien lounge : HR Giger Bar

Can you imagine stepping inside this bar? Bar? Yes, it is just a bar called “HR Giger Bar“, found at the HR Giger Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland. HR Giger Bar is a cavernous, skeletal structure covered by double arches of vertebrae that crisscross the vaulted ceiling of an ancient castle.


The sensation of being in this extraordinary setting recalls the tale of Jonah and the whale, lending the feel of being literally in the belly of a fossilized, prehistoric beast, or that you have been transported into the remains of a mutated future civilization.


This is a really impressive design and I bet you will have a unforgettable drinking experience inside.

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The Beautiful Tree of Italy: Alberbello

Alberobello (Italian: means literally “beautiful tree”) is a small town and comune of the metropolitan city of Bari, Apulia, southern Italy. It has about 10,700 inhabitants and is famous for its unique trullo buildings. The trulli of Alberobello have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996.

Alberobello was first mentioned in the early 16th century when the first 40 families were granted land to farm in the area. The abundance of calcareous sedimentary material in the area lead to the building of houses with dry stone without the use of mortar. These houses were the first trulli which contributed to the expansion of the settlement. Building the houses of dry stone was a requirement of Count Giangirolamo II as in this way it was avoidable to pay taxes on them. (Source)

There are so many hidden jewels in Italy much more than what is marketed, I personally discovered many charming towns and destinations by chance when doing road trips. Alberobello was one of these findings. located on the heel of the shoe (Italy map), It is 5 hours drive from Rome by car probably 3 hours from Naples.

 

The town is small, most of its old houses are renovated and turned into hotels or tourists markets. Only couple of houses are left untouched to preserve the town history.

Alberobello and its surroundings is definitely a relaxing/sightseeing place, after sunset there is nothing much to do other than dinner and for me specially in that town was enough as their cuisine was amazing. While before sunset your day should be packed with activities according to your taste. The hotels there are pretty much the same in terms of exterior/interior design. If I was asked to recommend one it would be Il Gabellota Resort .

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Restaurant Review: Estrella Sunset

Is there a group more obsessed with ineffective buzzwords than restaurants? Doubtful. Artisanal, sustainable, local, farm-to-table, gourmet, organic. These words are so dangerously undefined they serve no purpose except being entirely misleading. And then there’s the king of them all. A word so misused and overplayed by every person writing, cooking, or taking an Instagram of the nearest stalk, it’s basically devoid of any meaning whatsoever. Seasonal.

By my estimation there isn’t one restaurant I’ve been to that doesn’t claim that word somewhere on its menu. And Estrella is certainly guilty as charged. Except for one big, legitimate difference – Estrella actually backs it up.

No, I’m not just talking about Estrella’s food being in season. I’m talking about taking a bite of whatever dish you ordered at this West Hollywood spot and feeling like you’re eating the current season itself. What? Yes. Sliced figs, turkey chorizo, and pomegranate seeds on one plate. That tastes like autumn to me. And most importantly, it tastes phenomenal. The menu is fairly wide ranging, but anytime a place can pull off a hamachi crudo and angus burger in one sitting, it’s a good bet they know what they’re doing in the kitchen.

Estrella’s space is warm and eccentric. But despite the Laurel Canyon in the ’70s hippie vibes, Estrella isn’t necessarily a “casual” restaurant. It’s certainly not formal, but it is the kind of place you make a reservation. So do so.

Estrella’s most surprising aspect though? It’s open everyday at 8 a.m. for breakfast, giving this part of town the all day, non-hotel restaurant it needed. Weekend brunch with your friends, afternoon business meeting on the patio, or romantic date night in the evening – Estrella nails every occasion.

There are places that speak to our souls and whisper gently .. Welcome Home !

Estrella was surely one of them !!

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UTOPIA !

 

These past couple of weeks I’ve been in full travel planning mode as I’m trying to organize everything for my upcoming business trips, so I couldn’t help but reminisce one of the most special spots I’ve ever stayed in. As you probably remember from previous post I mentioned that I will be visiting LA then VEGAS and back to LA. Los Angeles is one of my favorite places to travel too, Not only is it incredibly beautiful but there are also so many new places to discover every time you visit it. I wont share a travel guide with all my tips about where to eat, shop and have fun because to each his own ! I am just going to post about the hotels I stayed in and some of the places I liked.
so it’s high time I revealed the ultimate place to stay in the LA: Hotel Beverly Terrace ! It should be called Utopia though because at least to me the hotel is yard is just how I imagine Utopia!

Perched on a secluded hill overlooking the mountains of Beverly Hills, the hotel beverly terrace is the crown jewel of Beverly Hills hotels. The outer look of the hotel and the Lobby doesn’t reflect what its really like to walk in further inside. from the moment I’ve arrived I welcomed with chilled drinks at the bar. Shortly after checking in, I had a walk all around the hotel which really sealed the deal – and I was like this is going to be a fantastic 2 days.

The hotel was a maze of bright grey alleyways leading to the rooms. Some rooms like mine had a direct access to the yard pictured above. Its very hard to mix vintageness with modernness and come up with a masterpiece of design. I was positively surprised by how well it integrated with its surroundings. The atmosphere was also great – chic, relaxed and luxurious all in one. The hotel was not to big but it really had everything I needed: A rooftop area, an outdoor cocktail bar, a gym, a cute little busniess center and one of the best restaurants in the area.

The room was not spacious but very well designed to look so, spotless clean and beautifully decorated. Truth be told, I was worried it could be noisy as it also overlooked the yard/bar area, this was not an issue throughout my stay not at all. One of the things I really loved about the Hotel Beverly Terrace was how relaxed and intimate it felt. I typically spent my two nights unwinding by the roof, soaking up the sun, listening to great tunes and socializing with the amazing staff. That’s not to say that I didn’t get to enjoy the surrounding area too.

If you’re looking for a place in Los Angeles where you can treat yourself to a relaxing holiday, Then this hotel is absolutely the only hotel you should pick !

It may be pricey indeed but don’t let the cost startle you; you’ll be rewarded with one of your best traveling experiences for sure.

A special shout for the super amazing staff Yenory, Maria from the front desk and Aleckx from the bar/restaurants. At some places staff really make the difference !

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Emirates Airline A380 Business Class Review

 

My connection was 1 hour in Dubai airport so I had to run immediately to the gate “flight number EK215” rather than the business class lounge, I boarded through the door on the lower deck, walked up the staircase through first class, and then found myself in the business class cabin.

Emirates’ A380 business class cabin is massive, with 76 seats. There’s a forward business class cabin with 58 seats, and then a rear cabin with 18 seats. As you can see, the forward cabin is huge.

Emirates’ A380 business class product is in a staggered configuration, with each fully flat seat featuring direct aisle access.

I had assigned myself seat 18A, which was the window seat in the fourth to last row of the forward cabin. Emirates’ business class seats are staggered, meaning that in each row they alternate between being closer to the aisle and being closer to the window. you’ll want to select the seats closest to the window, if possible. That’s because these seats have significantly more privacy, and really feel like cocoons.

 

As you can see below, the seats closer to the aisle don’t have nearly as much privacy, and feel quite exposed

Meanwhile to my right was the entertainment controller, seat controller, minibar, power outlets, and more storage.

Generally speaking I find this type of staggered configuration to feel pretty claustrophobic, especially the area for your feet, which is often too small to be able to move your feet when in the reclined position.

The meal was done about 2hr30min after takeoff, which is quite long for a three course meal. Then again, it’s not like there’s much of a rush on a 16+ hour flight.

As far as the service goes, I think the crew was friendly, though I think Emirates’ service procedures in business class are way better than any other airline I’ve tried. The entire experience feels like an assembly line.

I really felt guilty asking for things “out of turn,” although the crew is so nice during the service they also looked so stressed. and has a very specific procedure. Perhaps part of the problem is that Emirates has a pretty big business class cabin.

So while it’s not the crew’s fault, there’s room for improvement on Emirates’ part.

At this point we were approaching Russia, and I decided to check out the bar at the back of business class.

In the bar there was dedicated cabin crew called Christina from “Lithuania” she was simply amazing, as a person who cannot sleep during flights I spent most of my time at the bar chatting with her and other passengers, it was like a social place with people from all around the world.

 

She also offered me a pre-departure beverage from a tray, with the choice between champagne, rose champagne, apple juice, or orange juice. I had a glass of champagne, and was also asked if I wanted the wine list for the flight.

It was my first time on A380 business call and that’s the reason I am posting about it !

Over all it was one of the best flights I have ever took. Emirates exceeded my expectation.

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