All posts by Giulio


“The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration. They should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged.”
The Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls, Co-Founder, Rolls-Royce, 1900


In 1900, Rolls-Royce co-founder, Charles Rolls, prophesised an electric future for the motor car. Having acquired an electric vehicle named The Columbia Electric Carriage, he foresaw its suitability as a clean, noiseless alternative to the internal combustion engine – providing there was sufficient infrastructure to support it. Today, more than 120 years later, the time has come for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to fulfil the prophecy of its founding father.

This prophecy could not have been fulfilled without a more recent promise, when Rolls-Royce CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, made a public commitment to electrification by announcing that he would bring a fully-electric Rolls-Royce to market within the current decade. Charles Rolls’ prophecy and Torsten Müller-Ötvös’ promise led to an historic moment. In September 2021, the marque confirmed that it had commenced testing of Spectre, the first Rolls-Royce to be conceived and engineered from the very beginning as an electric car.

Spectre is not only an historic moment for Rolls-Royce, but also an historic moment for electrification – with Spectre, the marque confirms that the technology has reached a standard that can contain the Rolls-Royce experience. To that end, Rolls-Royce has confirmed that by the end of 2030 its entire product portfolio will be fully-electric.


Spectre is more than a motor car. It is a statement of intent and a symbol of a bright, bold future as Rolls-Royce progresses into an all-electric era. This commitment to an all-electric powertrain will only enhance the Rolls-Royce experience – instant torque, silent running and the sense of one imperceptible gear have defined the characteristics of an extraordinary canon of products dating back to the very first Rolls-Royce, the 1904 10 H.P.


In unveiling Spectre, Rolls-Royce sets a new precedent in the creation of an entirely original class of motor car: the Ultra-Luxury Electric Super Coupé. This designation refers to Spectre’s indulgent proportions, specified in response to a commitment that there is no greater luxury than that of space.

The marque’s designers are deeply rooted in the context occupied by their motor cars. Therefore, their inspiration is drawn from worlds far beyond automotive, including haute couture, modernist sculpture, nautical design, tailoring and contemporary art. In conceiving the principal sketches for Spectre, the marque’s creatives were drawn to modern yacht concepts, specifically the clarity and precision of line, intelligent use of reflection and application of taper to emotionalize silhouettes.

The proportional demands of Spectre’s scale required Rolls-Royce to embolden its wheel strategy. Spectre is the first production two-door coupé to be equipped with 23-inch wheels in almost one hundred years.
Inside, Spectre is provisioned with the most technologically advanced Bespoke features yet, drawing inspiration from the timeless mystique of the night’s sky. For the first time on a series production Rolls-Royce, Spectre is available with Starlight Doors, which incorporate 4,796 softly illuminated ‘stars’. The coach doors can also be commissioned with a backdrop of wood Canadel Panelling, which takes its name from the cove in the South of France where Sir Henry Royce and his design team spent their winters.


The final power, acceleration and range figures are still being refined, as the extraordinary undertaking of finessing Spectre enters its final phase before concluding in the second quarter of 2023. Preliminary data shows that Spectre is expected to have an all-electric range of 320 miles/520 kilometres WLTP and offer 900Nm of torque from its 430kW powertrain. It is anticipated to achieve 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds (0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds).

With many months of testing and optimisation of Spectre still ahead, these figures are subject to change ahead of official confirmation prior to market launch in Q4 2023.


WLTP:   Power consumption: 2.9 mi/kWh. / 21.5 kWh/100km*

Electric range: 323 miles / 520 kilometres*

Co2 emissions 0 g/km.

*Preliminary data not yet confirmed, subject to change.

Spectre is available for commission immediately, with first client deliveries commencing in Q4 2023. Spectre pricing will be positioned between Cullinan and Phantom.

Quantum Passivhaus adheres to promise of quality sustainable housing at a reasonable cost


Not only does Quantum Passivhaus offer prefab-certified international passive house systems, but the Minden company is exceedingly proud of its quality control, value and sustainable approach.

And the world is taking notice.

Quantum Passivhaus (QP) has four building components certified with the Passive House Institute (PHI), the only internationally-recognized, performance-based energy standard in construction, plus six more in development. No other Canadian company has reached that certification.

“Sustainability is in everything we do,” says Deborah Byrne, QP’s Vice-President of Operations & Innovations. “PHI is acknowledged as having the most rigorous building standard in the world; we approach a build with the best-in-the-market prefab wall systems.”

Notably, QP was the first to offer a cold climate wall and has begun the Arctic certification process in support of Indigenous housing in the north.

“Sustainability isn’t just about energy and carbon,” Byrne says. “True sustainability addresses one’s ability to flourish, grow and give back.”

She says that a QP build allows people to live healthily, comfortably, in an energy-efficient durable home, but also has the ability to shelter in times of blackouts or climate crisis.  QP homes and buildings are resilient and robust to changes in temperature and, as such, can keep people safe for days in the cold even when there is no power.  Moreover, QP homes can be fully electric, affordably.

The QP approach is showcased on many levels with a project at Lorne Beach near Kincardine, Ontario, where multiple unique features are in place that could not be duplicated by quality trades locally.

Abby Xerri, President & General Manager at QP, says that project is a perfect example of prefab rapid housing as smart solution, especially through challenging times.

“Not only did the project stay within three per cent of its budget, but its construction was completed in under 13 months with only two days required for superstructure assembly,” Xerri says.

He pointed out that the homeowner had friends in the building industry and they were much more expensive than the cost from QP.

“They (friends) confirmed to them that they would not attempt to construct a home on their behalf with such aggressive energy targets,” Xerri says.

“Their resources were also extremely limited to the experience required to provide other components for cold climate-certified passive house windows and energy-recovery ventilation (ERV). QP’s processes and passive house prefab ‘kept-simple’ approach allowed the project to experience predictable logistical costs through challenging pandemic times.”

QP strictly followed all health and government protocols, for example, organizing safe site activity/access with clients, suppliers or sub trades.

“We managed material deliveries, handling and critical tool/station sharing,” Xerri explains. “We took the necessary measures to work with our sub trades and forecasting of material availability and predictable market pricing.

“We addressed, with the homeowner, the opportunity to re-evaluate or strategize must-haves or appropriate compromises in order manage budget expectations. QP even absorbed certain costs to try to provide an exceptional product and experience for the homeowners.

At the Lorne Beach project, Xerri says all major components were engineered and met all PHI-certified component requirements.

“That passive house prefab build showcased some unique design and living space areas,” he says, “such as an over-garage rec room, and access to the upper level of the main home. The budget included many component-allowance upgrades such as engineered hardwood flooring, tiled bathrooms and kitchen surrounds, custom-built kitchen, solid custom staircase and railings, as well as exterior finish upgrades.”

Xerri says QP is committed to taking part in pilot projects with PHI as part of their development of the standard, science and components.

“We want to be able to offer innovative climate secure solutions to all our clients – homeowners, builders or developers,” says Byrne. “Having simple affordable approaches to climate change is very important to us. Everyone should have access to resilient housing/buildings.

“We continue to work on making sure our product is of the highest quality, while keeping our costs of certified wall panel components down. While other building materials continue to creep up, we’ve managed to remain affordable.”

Xerri says that QP has been making strides to be an industry leader.

“Our focus on providing solutions to many construction challenges using a prefab system is what makes us stand out from the rest.”

He says that in addition to its world-first cold climate sustainable PHI-certified panels, QP will soon have the first certified Arctic panels and structures.

“Also, QP will soon be manufacturing its own PH window line in partnership with a world-renowned passive house window manufacturer. These windows will not only provide our projects with great value, but the open market stands to benefit, as well, with a homegrown solution suitable for all of climates in Canada.”

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Coulter Dawe continues streak as premier custom/design firm in southern Georgian Bay


There’s something to be said about a custom home builder that stands the test of time.

In many ways, Coulter Dawe and Associates can attest to that.

The premier custom design/build firm in southern Georgian Bay has been in business for more than 50 years, and that, alone, says a lot. That longevity, however, is merely the tip of the iceberg.

“We have been in business since 1968,” says company president Patrick B. Coulter, “focusing on high-end custom homes. We have built more homes in southern Georgian Bay than any other builder and are considered the premier custom home builder in the region.”

Dawe joined the firm 15 years ago and worked his way through the ranks to his current position of vice-president and principal.  He now leads the firm. His in-house projects represent the ultimate in quality and elegance.


Offering full client consultation, from land purchase to occupancy, the company’s management team has been together for 30 years and is fully qualified to assist clients all the way to the final finishes. They have been exceeding customers’ expectations and take pride in getting credit for building projects that will be remembered for generations.

Coulter Dawe believes that choosing the right builder should not be based on a sales pitch; the selection should be done by looking at a firm’s long-standing reputation of guiding clients through the architectural and building process, followed up by delivering what is promised.


“We have a tremendously capable team of staff, experts and associates,” says Coulter. “Distinct by the depth of our experience, the core management team has vast experience at unique site locations and difficult build sites.


“Our firm is always client-first. We are always respectful of schedule and budget and will not authorize additional spending without client authorization. Every past client would refer us to friends and relatives.”

Currently, when discussing a build with clients, Coulter says many are interested in knowing more about wind and solar power.

“They are all seeking high quality systems, with greater air tightness, higher insulation levels, efficient lighting systems, high-efficient boilers with multiple air handlers, with radiant floor heat considerations.

“We have done a number of solar and wind surveys for clients. Our clients generally have elected to go with high-efficiency conventional systems, including ground source options.”

Coulter says the firm has participated in all educational and energy management projects to develop a company attitude towards energy responsibility at all levels of their work.

“We are very focused on perfection at all levels of construction,” says Coulter, whose role into the future will be as senior advisor to Dawe and the team. “We practise a green approach in every one of our projects – it’s not an isolated part of our work. Overall, we produce top-quality projects for our country’s most elite clients.


He says Coulter Dawe has an established team of design and system experts who coordinate the performance of a building to ensure the best possible energy performance within the limits created by the building design.


“We are proud to be recognized as the premier custom home builder in southern Georgian Bay,” adds Coulter. “We have studied energy management to guarantee we are ready and aware of the options every client will face and ensure they are guided to wise choices.

“We feel that the choices that are made today in housing must be considered prudent for the next 50 years.”

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Sustaining a vision

Onwards and upwards for the Strashin Family’s 501 Alliance project


His mantra has been tweaked ever so slightly over the years, but Elliot Strashin’s ultimate goals and aspirations make even more sense today than ever before.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the ongoing progress at 501 Alliance, the Toronto project managed by Strashin Developments, which is undergoing continuous renovation and targeting LEED platinum certification.

“I continue to stand by my belief that the greenest building is the one that already exists,” says Strashin, President of Strashin Developments. “What I find even more true today than ever before, however, is that for sustainability or green technology to gain any traction, it must also make financial sense. Otherwise, people will rationalize that they can’t adopt it right now and nothing will happen.”

Changing with the times, on any level, means adapting and refining the status quo, something Strashin Developments has done continually … with stellar results.

“Since we started out with 501 Alliance back in 2012, greenhouse gas emissions have only gotten worse,” he says. “Now we face rising interest rates and a possible recession. And Covid has certainly changed the nature of work in the office”.

“But these facts of life only highlight our goals of sustainable, green buildings which reduce carbon emissions and make financial sense. I save money with the changes I have adopted, as well as reduce carbon emissions.”

This project, through its wholly-owned subsidiary 501 Alliance Investments Inc., is taking place at the former Cooper Canada sporting goods factory, near Weston Road and Black Creek. The original building was built in two stages, a one-storey section in 1965 and a four-storey section with full underground parking in 1975.

The building is geographically located in the heart of the city, with access to the St. Clair dedicated streetcar, the Eglinton LRT, the Smart Track, GO Transit, plus buses and major highways near Weston Road and Black Creek.

The Strashin project at the 380,000-square-foot facility involves gutting and renovating throughout. It is 2/3 renovated and tenanted to date but is expected to be finished within three years, Strashin says.

Some of the changes included in the renovation include:

  • 20-year high SRI reflective roof;
  • 298 KW solar farm;
  • Insulated roof and walls;
  • Storm water harvesting;
  • Geothermal HVAC throughout;
  • High efficiency plumbing fixtures;
  • High efficiency LED lighting and controls;
  • Geothermal-heated sidewalks and parking lots;
  • Parking for bicycles and electric cars;
  • And fibre-optic connectivity.

How is the project taking aim at LEED platinum certification? Strashin says there are a number of initiatives, including stormwater harvesting, geothermal HVAC, passive heating and cooling of the make-up air, high-efficiency LED lighting and insulated roofing and walls.

The 298KW solar farm is part of the feed-in tariff (FIT) program undertaken by the previous Liberal provincial government in Ontario.

“The other additions we include make a significant difference, yet they don’t cost much more than a regular renovation,” Strashin explains.

As with any project, occasionally developers have to deal with unforeseen stumbling blocks.  In the case of 501 Alliance, Strashin says they were confronted with the fact that the site is located on a floodplain, and work has been affected by three separate once-in-a-hundred-year floods. They persevered, however, flood-proofed the building and continue to follow a sustainable path, despite the obstacles.

With excellent support from like-minded sustainability experts, Strashin has evolved and forged ahead. For example, one of the existing 501 Alliance tenants, Dennis Campbell, of Polar Bear Water Source Heat Pumps Mfg. Inc., interested Strashin with his geothermal technology ideas, so much so that he incorporated geothermal into the building.

“Geothermal HVAC, with heat pumps operating off ground or lake loops, make the most sense in reducing greenhouse emissions for buildings,” says Strashin, who has now partnered with Dennis and Roman Dychka in Green Systems Group Inc., the successor of Polar Bear. The new company has about 6 projects on the go including an apartment building, a school and some smaller residential and commercial installations

“It’s true that there is incredible demand for geothermal today, what we refer to as ground-source heat pumps. Actually, what other viable choices are there? Ground-source heat pumps work anywhere, no matter the conditions or weather. Compare that to air-source heat pumps that really don’t work well in extreme temperatures.

“Sure, there are drilling costs up front, but depending on your source of heating and AC the payback can be as little as seven years, which is the case for 501.”

At the end of the day, Strashin firmly believes that no matter what materials you use, no matter how carbon neutral you attempt to be, you can never surpass the savings in carbon emissions generated by re-using and repurposing an existing building such as 501 Alliance.

“Again, I target my construction projects to be green because it makes economic sense,” says Strashin. “Green technologies and sustainable development will only become mainstream if it also makes economic sense. Everything we do is carefully engineered by our consultants and researched beforehand, to confirm the savings.”


Their master-planned, mixed-use community is the first in Canada to include EV charging stations in all parking areas 

Taking the concept of sustainability to a new level, Amexon Development Corporation’s has launched Central Park, a master-planned, mixed-use condominium community in Toronto’s Bayview village neighbourhood.


Central Park will be constructed to Amexon’s unique Green Development Standard™ incorporating industry-leading green features. It is the first large-scale project of its kind in Canada to include EV charging stations in its over 1,500 parking areas.


As a member of the Green Building Council, Amexon develops innovative green solutions that conserve natural resources, respect the environment and support viable, healthy communities – now, and in the future. With environmental, social and economic sustainability in mind, Amexon’s Green Development Standard™ incorporates environmentally responsible design and building practices, reduces environmental impact and fosters a clean and energy-efficient lifestyle.


Amexon’s Executive Sales Manager Jason Shiff said, “We believe that reducing the carbon footprint in all our residential and commercial communities is the right thing to do. In our buildings, we strive to incorporate industry-leading sustainable green features and initiatives such as green roofs, rooftop solar panels, high-performance thermal building envelopes, next-generation mechanical systems, low water- and electrical-use systems and appliances. Central Park is testimony to that commitment.”

The 12-acre community, adjacent to the East Don Parkland’s forested ravine and close to numerous urban conveniences, and offers the opportunity to live, work and play in a prime Toronto location. The Leslie subway station and the relocated Oriole GO station are situated within Central Park.  In addition to immediate access to public transit, this location is close to Highway 401 and the Don Valley Parkway.  Bayview Village Shopping Centre is nearby, with shops and services ranging from restaurants to lifestyle and wellness.


According to Shiff, “This upscale community will be a tranquil oasis in bustling urban surroundings. Outdoor lovers can immerse themselves in nature year-round. The adjacent ravine is part of the Don River Valley parklands, where a network of walking and cycling trails leads all the way downtown. The environmental features are the icing on the lifestyle cake at Central Park.”

Community amenities include retail space, restaurants, and services, including on-site daycare. At the heart of the property, Central Park Common is a landscaped, 3-acre urban park with bike paths, casual dining venues, fountains, reflecting pools, and year-round programming that will include a farmers’ market and an ice-skating rink.


The exterior for the residential condominium features facades with an organic leaflike design.  Among the architectural highlights are 6-foot-deep balconies and views through floor-to-ceiling windows. “We wanted to break away from the conventional,” says CORE Architect’s Deni Poletti, “to express a harmonious coexistence between sparkling glass and nature. It was important to be respectful of the development’s natural setting above the East Don Parkland.”

Central Park’s residents will have the use of 55,000 square feet of fitness, wellness, leisure, and social amenity space in The Park Club. It will also include a 5,000-square foot co-working space with smart technology, meeting rooms, hot desks, and a business centre.


The community will eventually encompass over 1,500 suites in one- to three-bedroom + den layouts, in sizes from 439 to 1,200 square feet. Features and finishes include 9-foot-high European-inspired kitchen cabinetry.

The most beautiful island in the world 2022? It’s Italian and this is it

The most beautiful island in the world 2022? According to the well-known American magazine Travel+Leisure, it’s Ischia. In the annual ranking of the most beautiful islands in the world 2022, the small pearl of Italy takes the first place. Ischia was considered the most beautiful island in the world 2022 by Travel+Leisure readers with a score of 94.61.

Ischia has beaten other beautiful islands in the ranking. But let’s see what are the pearls in the list of the top ten most beautiful islands in the world 2022 compiled by Travel+Leisure:





Fiji Islands

Galapagos Islands




Cape Breton Island

What rewarded this pearl of the Gulf of Naples were the picturesque views, the hot springs, the pristine beaches and the friendliness of the residents.

But what are the treasures of Ischia that have made it, for the readers of the prestigious travel magazine, the most beautiful island in the world?

First of all, we must remember that Ischia is a volcanic island. A fact that has given rise not only to some of its glittering black sand beaches, but also to the numerous thermal springs, to the point that thermal bath establishments are its hallmark.

But Ischia is also perfect for those who dream of a relaxing wellness vacation. It is no coincidence that it is possible to bathe in crystal clear waters such as those of the bay of Sorgeto or that of San Montano.

Ischia is also an island rich in culture. It is no coincidence that the most important monument is the Aragon Castle, which stands on a small island connected by a bridge to the rest of the island.

The first construction of the castle dates back to 474 BC by Hieron of Syracuse, but it was not until 1441 with Alfonso V of Aragon when it reached its current physiognomy. Inspired by the Maschio Angioino in Naples, it is now privately owned, but accessible to the public through paid visits.

At the southern tip of the island is Borgo Sant’Angelo, a typical fishing village. The characteristic colorful houses are built against the mountain that rises above it. Closed to cars, the village can only be visited on foot, starting from the typical small square. From here starts the typical dirt road that leads to the famous Fumarole. The island’s subsoil gives off heat here, which makes the beach particularly warm.

Rome’s Colosseum has no price tag, but Deloitte estimates it is worth $79 billion.

The consulting firm Deloitte has made an estimate of the tangible and intangible value of one of the seven wonders of the modern world: the Colosseum in Rome. The Flavian Amphitheater contributes about $1.4 billion a year to Italy’s GDP, but its mere existence and all that it brings to the city and the country is estimated at $79 billion, about 77 billion euros at current exchange rates.

Calculating its economic contribution is relatively easy, between the direct cost of admission fees and the impact of visitors and tourists on other businesses around the historic center of the Eternal City. But its value is much more than that, and not only for Italians, nor for all the visitors who visit the forum every year.

The Deloitte study evaluated a survey asking whether they would be willing to pay for a good (or service) even if they have no direct use for it, and do not plan to use it in the future. According to the analysis, each Roman citizen would be willing to pay an average of €90, while in the rest of Italy, the figure would remain at €57.

The Colosseum in Rome underwent a deep restoration of about 25 million euros between 2011 and 2016, largely financed by the Italian group Tod’s. With the pandemic, visits have dropped but in 2019, a precovid year, the monument welcomed some 7 million tourists.

Sluishuis Residential Building / Barcode Architects + BIG

A new icon and entrance for Amsterdam IJburg

After four years of construction, Sluishuis has been completed. Amsterdam IJburg now has a new, architecturally iconic landmark. The building forms a bridge between IJburg and the city center. With 442 different types of owner-occupied and rental homes, a public green roof garden with a rooftop walkway, bird and recreational islands, jetties for boats, and catering facilities, Sluishuis is a place for everyone.

Leading architecture

Sluishuis offers a modern and sustainable way of living on and around water. It is a remarkable building with a unique volume that seems to float on the water thanks to the double cantilever. The cantilevers come together in a high corner that forms a large gateway from the IJ to the inner harbor of the building. On the other side, the building is complemented with stairs leading towards its rooftop and green, welcoming terraces: an inviting gesture towards the neighborhood of IJburg.

Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner at BIG, says: “Having spent my formative years as an architect in The Netherlands at the end of the 20th century, it feels like a homecoming to now get to contribute to the architecture of the city that I have loved and admired for so long.” Dirk Peters, Founding Partner at Barcode Architects adds: “With iconic architecture, as well as new housing typologies, high-quality outdoor spaces, and breathtaking views of the IJmeer, Sluishuis is a new landmark for IJburg as well as Amsterdam.”

A new living experience on the water

Sluishuis consists of 442 energy-neutral owner-occupied and rental apartments and an offer featuring houseboat lots, jetties for pleasure crafts, hospitality facilities, commercial spaces, and a fully integrated water landscape with islands for recreation, water sports, fauna and flora, and even power generation. The project is largely publicly accessible. Residents and visitors can linger in the inner harbor, enjoy the promenade with stunning rooftop views, and benefit from the jetties and islands, spot water birds or admire the historic houseboats.

Sluishuis offers different apartment types and was designed for a variety of target groups, income levels, and age categories. In addition to compact city studios and water sports apartments, Sluishuis features duplex penthouses with views on both the inner harbor and the IJ-lake. The stepped part of the building comprises premium apartments with luxurious wooden sun-oriented roof terraces with views over IJburg. The apartments at the bottom of the cantilever with splendid views over the IJ-lake are particularly remarkable.

Integral sustainability

The sustainability of Sluishuis is an integral part of the project. With an energy performance coefficient (EPC) of 0.00, the building generates more energy than it consumes. The building’s heating requirements are minimized by combining high-performance insulation techniques, triple glazing, and heat recovery on the ventilation systems and wastewater. Energy consumption is further reduced by a heat and cold storage (CHS) system in the ground for heat and cooling in combination with a connection to the district heating system for peak times.

The remaining energy consumption for heating, heat pumps, ventilation, and LED lighting is fully compensated by approximately 2,200 m² of solar panels, to which an entire floating island adjacent to the project is dedicated. The development team of Sluishuis paid particular attention to green space and water collection. The front sides and the inner harbor of the building feature gardens with local plant species. The greenery runs across the roof terraces up into integrated planters, creating a pleasant green atmosphere.

Reinforcing social cohesion

In addition to the building’s sustainable features, Sluishuis aims to stimulate and strengthen the social connections between residents and visitors. The staggered balconies encourage relationships and exchanges. The public walkway towards the rooftop, but also the children’s playground in the inner harbor, the landscape with jetties, and the wooden roof terraces promote spontaneous encounters.

Hans Meurs, CEO VORM: “If we were to design all the Netherlands like Sluishuis, we would no longer have an energy problem and loneliness would be almost impossible. A successful project in every sense of the word. We all worked with passion on this project. That makes me proud.”

Natural materials

The building materials contrast and connect with their environment. Natural materials were chosen for their material palette, which will give the building a rich and natural look over the years. The abstract, untreated aluminum of the facade reflects the water and gives the volume a different look at any time of day. In contrast, the stepped roof terraces and the jetties landscape are made of wood which gives a tactile appearance. The building’s façade is circular.

Photographs :Ossip van Duivenbode