Egypt Independent: Living-Main news en Lonely Planet releases free travel app for mobile devices <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Lonely Planet has released mobile versions of its travel guides which have been bundled in a new app.</p><p>Created in response to the shift away from books and the increasing dependence on mobile devices, Guides features offline maps, bookmarking, filtered search options, recommendations from travel experts and a &ldquo;near-me&rdquo; functionality that shows users nearby attractions.</p><p>The app includes about a thousand points of interest as well as recommendations on places to eat, drink and sleep.</p><p>Guides has been launched in 38 cities including London, New York, Paris, Rome, and Rio de Janeiro, with plans to add more destinations.</p><p>The app can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android devices.</p> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:58:00 +0000 AFP 2469141 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/27/505021/mobiel_app.jpg Why wooden skyscrapers are springing up across the world <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>At 1,000 feet tall, it will only be overshadowed in London by The Shard.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But unlike that tapering glass structure, this 80-story tower, if given the green light for construction, will be made of timber &mdash; making it London&#39;s first wooden skyscraper and the tallest wooden structure in the world.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Oakwood Tower is a proposed joint project by PLP Architecture and Cambridge University&#39;s Department of Architecture. It&#39;s an experiment in pushing the frontiers of building with wood, and is part of a growing movement to build in timber.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lightweight, sustainable and even happiness-inducing, according to some experts, wood is being billed as the answer to creating greener cities.</div><div>And apparently, it can be more fire resistant than steel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Spreading like wildfire</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>An explosion of timber towers, either built or proposed, has gripped the architecture world over the past five years, every one seemingly a recorder holder in some respect.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2012, the 10-story, 104-feet-high Forte residential block was erected overlooking Melbourne&#39;s Victoria Harbour.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was the world&#39;s tallest timber building until The Treet in Central Bergen, Norway, stole that title in 2014, with an extra four stories.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last year, the Cube, a 109-feet-high apartment block in London&#39;s Shoreditch, became &quot;the tallest cross-laminated timber structure in Europe,&quot; according to its developers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Canada, work has begun on the descriptively named Tall Wood Building, which will provide student digs at the University of British Columbia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At 174 feet and 18 stories tall, it was set to be the world&#39;s tallest building, until the Oakwood Tower came along.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/160413165603-bamboo-skyscraper-crg-architects-exlarge-169_0.jpg" style="width: 780px; height: 438px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Bamboo was recently recognized by the United Nations as a green building material that can help combat climate change.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Branching out</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So why are architects branching out from concrete and steel?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>New types of ultra-strong timber are partly driving the trend.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There&#39;s a whole bunch of new materials made out of wood that are structurally able to build big buildings,&quot; says Dr. Michael Ramage, of the Center for Natural Material Innovation at Cambridge University.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cross-laminated timber, for example, sees thin layers of wood placed across one another at right angles, and laminated with fire-resistant glue to create a stronger weave.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But it&#39;s bamboo &mdash; a material that has been used in Asian construction for centuries &mdash; that most interests Ramage.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With a five-times higher growth rate than wood, but similar mechanical properties, there are 31.4 million hectares of bamboo worldwide, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We&#39;re working on engineered bamboo,&quot; says Ramage. &quot;We can take the walls of bamboo tubes, cut them up into rectangles and glue them into big slabs.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;You get large pieces of what looks like lumber. But it&#39;s stronger than timber.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kevin Flanagan, a partner at PLP architects, adds that in the future he can imagine the industry genetically modifying wood to make it even more conducive to high-rise construction.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>London&#39;s burning?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obviously, when it comes to wooden buildings, there&#39;s one burning question.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Are timber skyscrapers a fire hazard?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ramage says Oakwood Tower &mdash; which will be an extension of the Barbican Center in Central London &mdash; will exceed the fire standards of regular steel and concrete buildings.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His center has been awarded &pound;250,000 sterling (US$353,785) from the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK to research timber construction techniques, such as fire proofing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There is a huge perception problem,&quot; says Ramage. &quot;Timber doesn&#39;t burn in the way the public imagines.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The great fires of London and Chicago were both sparked by very small pieces of wood. Very big pieces of wood are quite hard to set on fire &mdash; they aren&#39;t kindling material.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Wood, he says, burns predictably. Therefore, fire engineers can calculate how large a block of wood is needed to provide a protective layer to sustain a building for a certain period of time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;All buildings over a certain size need to have sprinklers and active fire suppression systems &mdash; irrelevant of whether it&#39;s wood, concrete or steel,&quot; he adds.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A series of blazes at Dubai skyscrapers in recent years have highlighted that it isn&#39;t just timber buildings at risk of catching fire.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Does wood make us happier?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to Flanagan, wooden buildings have a positive psychological effect on people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;People tend to feel relaxed around wooden buildings,&quot; says Flanagan. &quot;People associate wood with green spaces, they have an affinity to it. There would be a real benefit to introducing wooden structures to the cities where people live.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2009, the Austrian Joanneum Research Institute compared four classrooms: two with timber flooring, ceilings and cupboards, and two fitted with linoleum floors, plasterboard walls and chipboard cupboards.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Children working in the timber classrooms, researchers found, were more relaxed, displaying lower heart rates.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Aren&#39;t we meant to be saving the rainforest?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Yes. According to the World Wildlife Organization, up to 58,000 square miles of forest are lost each year &mdash; that&#39;s equivalent to 48 football fields every minute.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Ramage explains that Oakwood Towers, if approved, would be built from &quot;white wood&quot; &mdash; that is, crops grown over a 40-year-period specifically for construction purposes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Russia has huge timber reserves, largely because we&#39;re finally using less paper,&quot; he explains.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In fact, using wood could be more sustainable. Ramage says wood is, on average, four times lighter than concrete, so transporting it uses less energy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Furthermore, timber buildings are increasingly being assembled in a factory, and then craned into position and fixed together on site &mdash; like an Ikea-style skyscraper that can &quot;self-assemble&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This has huge time and financial savings implications,&quot; says Flanagan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Won&#39;t wood rot?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>From the magnificent Tudor timber arches of Westminster Hall in London to the wooden rooftops of the Forbidden City in Beijing, wood has been used to construct some of the world&#39;s most beautiful, iconic buildings.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And they haven&#39;t fallen victim to rot.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We know from a very long history of building in wood it can last &mdash; we have 600, 700-year-old buildings in the UK which are fine,&quot; says Ramage. &quot;The one constant they have is that they have all been well looked after.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/160413151909-oakwood-tower-river-at-night-4-exlarge-169.jpg" style="width: 780px; height: 438px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>At 80 stories high, it would be London&#39;s first wooden skyscraper, and another addition to the growing trend for structures made entirely of timber.</em></div> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:08:00 +0000 courtesy of CNN Style 2469132 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/27/43/151107124152-bamboo-1-exlarge-169.jpg Naked dining: Latest restaurant concept to hit London <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>From an owl café to a &quot;Game of Thrones&quot; themed restaurant, it&#39;s hard to beat London when it comes to keeping foodies on their toes with new dining experiences.<br /><br />The latest addition to the city&#39;s quirky restaurant scene is a pop-up that&#39;s encouraging diners to shed their clothes and sit down to dinner in their birthday suits.<br /><br />There&#39;s nowhere in the world quite like London for coming up with new and original restaurant concepts.<br /><br />Londoners can already head to an eatery serving only tinned fish, pay for tea and cakes with hugs at a cuddle café, or sit down for coffee in the company of an owl.<br /><br />Even the London Tube &mdash; the city&#39;s underground railway network &mdash; has been turned into a pop-up restaurant.<br /><br />The UK capital&#39;s next big thing for thrill-seeking foodies is a naked restaurant, where customers are invited to remove jackets, skirts, trousers and other items of clothing before slipping into a dressing gown and taking seat.<br /><br />Lockers are provided for storing diners&#39; garments and personal effects.<br /><br />Punters can then choose whether to keep or remove the gown once at their table.<br /><br />Privacy is maintained by bamboo partitions on the restaurant floor, closing off diners in intimate spaces and keeping prying eyes at bay.<br /><br />Members of staff are also expected to be minimally clothed.<br /><br /><strong>Stripped-back cuisine</strong><br /><br />The restaurant, called The Bunyadi, opens in June in central London at an as yet undisclosed address.<br /><br />However, diners looking to experience the naked restaurant can join the waiting list at<br /><br />Over 4,000 people have already signed up to test the new eatery.<br />The aim of the concept goes beyond the strictly culinary, in a bid to free diners from the &quot;trappings of modern life&quot; and focus on the bare essentials.<br /><br />As well as being freed from the shackles of clothing, customers won&#39;t be able to use their smartphones, for example, and will dine in candlelight since there&#39;ll be no electricity.<br /><br />Dishes cooked over wood fire will be served in handmade clay crockery and cutlery will be edible. As for food, the exact menu hasn&#39;t yet been outlined in detail, but it&#39;s already known to offer vegan and non-vegan options.<br /><br />Diners intrigued by the concept but not quite brave enough to go the whole hog can rest assured that the restaurant will be divided into separate naked and non-naked sections.</p> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:41:00 +0000 AFP 2469083 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/25/504802/restaurant.jpg Dutch fountain runs on sunshine and air <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A Dutch sculpture presented on Earth Day spouts water six meters high without using conventional water or power sources in what creators hope will inspire new ways to ease resource shortages in drought-prone climates.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Solar Fountain, which took Dutch inventor Ap Verheggen six years to develop, produces around two liters of water per day using an ordinary dehumidifier, two 250-watt solar panels and a rechargeable battery pack.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We present the sculpture with technology that&#39;s off the shelves,&quot; Verheggen said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I want to show with this project that we can really do it, that it is an option for future development.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While the parts are easily available, at a cost of roughly 1,000 euros (US$1,125), the fountain is not yet a realistic solution for impoverished desert regions with water shortages.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We hope to inspire other people that they pick up the idea and that they start to make watermakers...this is the first step,&quot; Verheggen said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Water output was greater in simulated desert-climate conditions due to stronger sunshine, but the prototype does has technical limitations. The dehumidifier cannot extract water from the air in temperatures below 13 degrees Celsius.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Solar Fountain can be seen in the &quot;Museum of the Sculptures on the Sea&quot; in The Hague until October 2.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>($1 = 0.8884 euros)</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 14:02:00 +0000 Reuters 2469040 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/24/501184/dutch_company.jpg