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Self-sustaining country home designed by architect Germán Spahr
Self-sustaining country home designed by architect Germán Spahr
Graciela Baduel

BUENOS AIRES — An Argentine architect has won his country's 2016 Sustainable Habitat Prize for his very first project, a self-sustaining country home inspired by Michael Reynolds's emblematic "earthships."

The winning project, designed by architect Germán Spahr and built near Bariloche, in western Argentina, maximizes insulation, is self-powered, has a vegetable patch and even treats its own sewage. It also follows the earthship model's sustainability principles, including use of recycled construction material and the ability to store and filter rainwater.

The Sustainable Habitat Prize is awarded annually by the Nacional University of la Plata and the Buenos Aires Province college of architects.

For the load bearing walls in the 130-square-meter, two-story house, Spahr used quake-resistant concrete. Elsewhere he used a lightweight, metallic structure to build a north-facing facade and slanted roof that will hold six solar panels (plus a wind turbine). The building also has a "thermal wall" that uses earth-filled tires as insulation.

Rainwater flows from the roof into five underground tanks for storage. Some of the water is channeled through a filtering system to become potable. The house also treats its own sewage.

There's nothing run-of-the-mill about the award-winning residence, as Spahr readily admits. "It wasn't conceived for a normal client," he tells Clarín. But even people with "regular" homes can do things to be more sustainable — by cutting back on consumption, for example, and recylcing, he suggests. "Not, this is not a normal house, but I'd like to imagine it could be some day," says Spahr.

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Russia

How The War In Ukraine Could Overturn Everyone's Plans For The Arctic

Russia owns 60% of Arctic coastline and half of the region's population. In recent history, NATO has not been overly concerned with the defense of the Arctic region because the U.S. military has been focused on the Middle East. This is all changing since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Photo of employees walking through frozen installations at the Utrenneye field in Murmansk Region, Russia.

At the Utrenneye field in Murmansk Region, Russia.

Kateryna Mola

-Analysis-

KYIV — As important as the Arctic is for studying climate control and ecology, various states have eyes on it for another reason: resources. Climate change has made the Arctic more accessible for mining, and much of that area is in the Russian Arctic. In order to exploit these potential natural resources, Russia turned to foreign investors and foreign technology, from both the West and China. The war in Ukraine is throwing all of that into question.

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have a profoundly devastating impact on the development of Russian Arctic infrastructure, as well as shipping routes through the Arctic. Western companies have left or are about to leave the market, and counter-sanctions threaten those who still cooperate with the Russians.

Given that Russia does not produce the sophisticated equipment to operate in such a complex region and soon will not even be able to repair the equipment it possesses, we can expect Russia's activity in the Arctic to slow down.

Yet, Vladimir Putin has continued to emphasize the Arctic as a priority region, and extended invitations to cooperate to both India and China.

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