London's Embassies Show Sustainable Projects

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Images by B. Alter: Norway

As part of the London Festival of Architecture, twenty eight embassies are celebrating the best of their country's architecture. Strange creations like Italy's photo-reactive skin on its front door and Helsinki in a container are popping up in unexpected places.

1. Norway

But we loved these moss-filled rooms created by PUSHAK, a Norwegian architecture firm consisting of 4 women. Called Moss Your City, the walls and partitions have been covered with moss from the countryside. Inspired by the relationship between architecture and landscape, they are giving a 21st century look at moss.

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There is a clean fresh smell and a feeling of softness as you wander amongst the small spaces. Usually considered a weed, moss has ancient associations: Japanese temple gardens, and the Victorian period of plant collecting and love of ferns. Modern architecture is starting to use it on the outside of buildings because it can act as a buffer on noisy streets and it absorbs dust and pollutants. Not mention that it looks lovely and green.

You can grow your own: moss sticks to vertical surfaces and gets its nutrition from rainwater. Here's an easy recipe using buttermilk and beer ( sounds good enough to eat).

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2. Latvia

On to the next... Give a cheer for spunky little Riga, their whole exhibit was created out of foldable cardboard: display stands and benches. They are showing the challenges of your classic European city: history contrasted with contemporary architecture.

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3. Estonia

This stunning bell is from Estonia. The River Bell is sited dramatically in the courtyard of Southwark Cathedral. Against the backdrop of this historic building, the bell plays "the music of silence." It consists of a bell, a cornice and a Gothic wheel, and is lit up at night.

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4. Finland

The Finnish Institute has created The Nest, an abstract timber garden. It is like a pergola, consisting of a mesh of decking and offering shelter from the sun. It was built as part of The Wood Program, a one year programme in Finland that "aims to increase knowledge of the architectural, ecological and technical aspects of wood in contemporary architecture."

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The Netherlands

5. The Netherlands

And lastly, on this fast tour of the world, the Netherlands. The architects have created the Ark, which is a floating barge that will be reworked as an office. This model, in water and mounted in sand, is a conceptual view of sustainable living on water.

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The Netherlands

The architects' theme is "Timber is the New Concrete" and the office that they create to fit into the barge will be all wood. It will be moored on the Thames and the firm of dRMM will use it as their office.

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