Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
It's been a big week for architecture -- especially the futuristic kind. First, winners were announced for the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, a contest that challenges designers to create buildings that are beautiful as well as problem-solvers. Top honors were earned by Sand Babel: a twisting, solar-powered, 3D-printed skyscraper built from desert sand. Then there's the extraordinary Hyper Filter Skyscraper, which is designed to inhale carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and exhale oxygen. China's ongoing air-pollution crisis seems to have inspired more than one designer, as an honorable mention also went to Project Blue, a skyscraper that could actually transform air pollution into green energy.
Of course, pollution isn't only found floating in the air. That's why the judges were particularly fond of this floating skyscraper, which could rid the world's oceans of plastic while generating clean energy. But you can't spend too much time with your head in the clouds. That's why we love real-world architectural geniuses like Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who was awarded the prestigious 2014 Pritzker Prize for his experimental and environmentally conscientious designs built from low-cost and recyclable materials.
In renewable energy news, the city council of Bridgeport, Conn., voted to approve plans for a 9,000-solar panel array to be built across 16 acres of what used to be a landfill. Talk about trash to treasure. Meanwhile, Israel launched the world's first self-cleaning solar farm and a new study shows that wind power costs are almost on par with the price of natural gas. Energy experts are also thinking outside the box when it comes to new ways to harvest renewable resources. Case in point: An enormous helium-filled wind turbine will soon float over the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, to produce enough electricity (and WiFi!) for more than a dozen families living off the grid.
Tired of digging your car out of the snow? Things might be easier if you had Rungu's Three-Wheeled Juggernaut Bike. Equipped with large, soft tires, this "fatbike" floats over snow and sand -- and it can even climb up stairs. Not interested in doing quite that much leg work? You'll be glad to know that the stylish Leaos Carbon pedal-assist electric bike has finally made its way from Europe to the US. The futuristic bike features state-of-the art technology such as sensors and Supernova LED lights, and it can travel up to 2.5 hours on a single charge. And what about those who can't pedal because of a physical disability? Designer Jesse Lee sees no reason why they should have to miss out on the electric-bike fun. So he created an all-terrain electric tricycle that can be controlled with hand or foot pedals, giving riders the freedom to travel across gravel, hills, grass and dirt.
Have you ever wished you could smell a dish before ordering it? Michelin-starred Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz is working on a smartphone app that greets customers with bursts of delicious fragrance as they peruse his menu. That's almost as crazy as an innovative edible water bottle called Ooho that recently received a 2014 Lexus Design Award. Made from a gelatinous membrane, the biodegradable bottle can be cooked up in your kitchen, then eaten or safely thrown away. Speaking of biodegradable design, researchers are working on a new breed of dissolvable batteries that can be inserted under the skin to power medical devices. In wearable tech news, NASA is looking to the public for help in designing its next-generation "Z-2" space suit. The "Z-2" will incorporate a number of advanced features designed to protect astronauts from deep-space conditions. If you're more interested in designs you can actually wear, be sure to check out this incredible Iron Man suit crafted by a father-and-son team in China.