TreeHugger offers some solid guidance on how to ensure the dirty heap of shipping pallets that you plucked from that back-alley and plan to transform into the Mason jar chandelier of your dreams are a-okay to use. Apparently, pallets hailing from Canada are the safest as they are heat-treated (HT) in lieu of being fumigated with carcinogenic methyl bromide (MB).

Architizer gives props to the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a new research and education facility at at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh. Although the laundry list of sustainable features found at this über-green 24,350-square-foot building are too numerous to mention here,  I will say that it's aiming to achieve the never-done-before green building trifecta of LEED Platinum certification, Sustainable Sites Initiative certification, and the holy grail of sustainable building standards, the Living Building Challenge. Truly impressive stuff. 

Core77 marvels at a rather ingenious sleeping solution hidden away in a 130-square-foot Parisian micro-apartment.

SmartPlanet notes that the "spirited culture of scrappy, do-it-yourself product design" has officially invaded the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.

Gawker shares one of the strangest tales to come out of the greater Buffalo area this year. Let's just say it involves protracted court battles, nerfarious developers, and childhood trauma involving crazed Italians brandishing bullfrogs.

The Guardian remembers Paolo Soleri. The visionary Italian-born architect and before-his-time sustainability advocate passed away this week at the age of 93. One of the last surviving disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright, Soleri is perhaps best known for creating an experimental eco-utopia in the Arizona desert known as Arcosanti (pictured above). Reads Soleri's obit: "Conceived as a reaction against the pernicious sprawl of American suburbia, Arcosanti was planned as a dense, car-free development, in which curvaceous organic dwellings were linked by a network of winding footpaths. With passive environmental design at the core, the buildings were south-facing, their thick concrete apses oriented to soak up the winter sun, while providing shade during the sweltering summer. Entirely self-built, it was also a conscious critique of commercial house-building: "Developer," Soleri would say, "starts with 'D', like 'devil' and 'demon'."

Design Milk provides us with a look at yet another way decommissioned shipping containers are being repurposed. I have to say that DM doesn't exactly make clear what the containers are used for other than the fact that they play a part of some some sort of Polish hang-out spot (commune?) where "hammock lovers meet artists." Whatever the case, it looks like a pretty cool scene.

Designboom takes a look at an innovative yet low-cost housing concept (around $2,000 per home) from H&P Architects that's geared toward flood-prone villages in Vietnam. The six-person floating homes can be built by the villagers themselves using readily available materials such as bamboo and recycled oil tanks.

Co.Exist has a sneak peek at Start.Home, Stanford's entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon. Centered around "The Core," a souped-up utility closet that contains the home's mechanical and plumbing systems, team leader Derek Ouyang describes the space as being like an engine for a home: "We didn’t want to build a onetime showcase. We wanted this to really be a much larger idea — something that we think can change industry. It’s been customizability versus competitiveness. Our solution to that is giving people an engine. After that, they can have any design they want in the rest of the house."

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Floating huts, frog horror and DIY does Milan [Friday link clump]
This week: An innovative housing concept for flood-ravaged Vietnamese villages and an amphibian home invasion. Plus, remembering Paolo Soleri.