It's been a big week for design news as the world's largest architecture award was bestowed upon Alejandro Aravena. The Chilean architect is known for his modest, practical and socially beneficial projects (check out 12 of his best works here). We also featured several futuristic approaches to architecture: a passive house that snaps together like LEGOs and a sail-like building with a beautiful 3D-printed facade. In other architecture news, Soad Moarefi unveiled plans to transform a dirty energy plant into a vibrant green community. And Blue Forest is building a series of utopian treehouse retreats on the UK's Isle of Wight.
This week President Obama gave his final State of the Union address, where he smacked down climate deniers with an awesome Sputnik analogy and called for the transition away from dirty energy. The call comes at a critical time as oil plummets to $30 a barrel, but fortunately renewable energy is soaring around the world. Texas broke a renewable energy record this week when wind turbines produced 40 percent of the state's power for 17 hours straight. Meanwhile, researchers are developing high-flying solar balloons that could harness the sun's energy from miles above the clouds.
Everyone knows that LEDs and CFLs are more efficient than old incandescent bulbs, but researchers at MIT just developed a new energy-recycling incandescent that's three times more efficient than LEDs. In wearable tech news, L'Oréal debuted a UV-monitoring skin patch that could help prevent skin cancer and Under Armour launched a next-gen smart sneaker that tracks your workout. And in one of the week's most heartwarming stories, a Somali teen earned a free education after wowing his town by creating electric toys out of trash.