An indoor-outdoor home in Colombia is remodeled with local reclaimed wood

September 29, 2020 by  
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Located at the top of a mountain in Colombia’s Calandaíma River Valley, Casa Volcanes is a stunning home that promotes indoor-outdoor living and natural materials . Martínez Arquitectura kept the project budget low by choosing local and handmade elements in its redesign. Eighty percent of the woodwork for the home was reclaimed from demolition deposits in nearby Bogotá. Dark materials are used both for economic value and to highlight the raw sensation of the building’s relationship with its environmental surroundings. The architects chose handmade chircal brick to continue the home’s theme of blending seamlessly into the forest. Its location in Anapoima, just two hours from Bogotá, provides incredible jungle views and serene scenery that are enhanced by the locally sourced building materials. Related: This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood “Its hot tropical climate is a discovery of sensations and surprises. From time to time, you can feel the extreme humidity of the fog, the torrential rain and the blizzards that scare, as well as the dry periods of high temperatures, which suggest fires,” said Marisol, owner of Casa Volcanes. “The delight of the air and the insatiable sound of cicadas and frogs, of birds and insects inviting you to stay, are always a fundamental part of this marvelous environment.” Originally, the plot had a one-level construction, typical for a home in the Colombian coffee zone. Casa Volcanes, though it revolved around a communal space with picturesque windows surrounded by railings, had rudimentary and barely functional amenities. The owner wanted to keep the magical, organic feel of the place while updating the space to provide a more contemporary functionality. The kitchen is remodeled with a cobblestone floor, a new opening to the south and more space for social gatherings. The rooms themselves now act as semi-open spaces with mobile doors that allow them to be extended into the gardens. The designers kept the high ceilings and rustic lattices to respect the essence of the house, but painted the exterior a darker shade to create a reduction in thermal sensation and complement the stone rainwater pond. The existing railings are shortened to make their presence less obvious yet still harmonious to the property. + Martínez Arquitectura Photography by Carlos Alberto Martínez Valencia, Jesús Fiallo and Ana María Díaz Parra via Martínez Arquitectura y Fiallo Atelier

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An indoor-outdoor home in Colombia is remodeled with local reclaimed wood

Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

January 24, 2020 by  
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Mumbai based architecture and design firm,  unTAG  has just unveiled a stunning home built for a retired teacher looking to spend retirement in his home village of Dakivali, India. Working within the man’s limited budget, the architects employed several low-cost,  passive strategies  such as building the home in the middle of a lush bamboo field to use the vegetation as natural insulation. Spanning two levels, the 1,400 square feet home was constructed using  low-cost , locally-sourced materials, with the main material being concrete. The resulting aesthetic is a monolithic exterior, which contrasts nicely with the surrounding vegetation. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC In addition to the concrete’s innate  sustainable aspects , the home boasts several passive strategies to achieve optimum thermal comfort. Strategically located westward, the home was built in the middle of an existing bamboo grove. Abundant greenery envelopes the home, adding an extra layer of insulation that protects from the harsh summer sun. According to the architects, the large trees also help create a comforting microclimate for the interior, lowering the temperature by up to 5°C. The house’s entrance is through a landscaped courtyard with a large concrete  jaali  screen. A common feature in Indian architecture, the screen helps keep interior spaces private, while allowing pleasant breezes to flow through the interior. Additionally, the home was built with several seating areas, both covered and open-air, which let  natural light  filter into the living space. Adding to the home’s thermal mass, the various terraces are painted white to reduce heat gain. For the interior, large walls were built with  locally-manufactured bricks  and covered with natural plaster, while the floors were made out of natural stone. The home also features several rain collection drains that channel runoff into tanks where it is used as irrigation for landscaping. According to the architects, the main objective of the home was to provide a comfortable family home for a retired man to spend his years reconnecting with nature. The home’s simple but effective  passive strategies will also let him live with low operating costs, adding to his quality of life. The architects explained, “Inhabiting this meek abode, our dear client is a proud owner of a village home, exemplary of an affordable luxury, which he enjoys residing, nurturing and aging gracefully with it. This humble home of a farmer exemplifies that sustainability need not always come at huge costs, but can be practiced at grass root level too, through simple DIY solutions.” + unTAG Via Archdaily Images via unTAG Architecture & Interiors

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Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

January 24, 2020 by  
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Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, persist in the environment , grossly tainting the drinking water of many United States cities, like Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. More specifically, findings by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveal that the a 2018 estimate of 110 million U.S. citizens being contaminated with PFAS is far below actual numbers. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” shared David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals.” Related: Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater PFAS are highly fluorinated chemicals that do not break down in the environment. The most infamous PFAS are those associated with Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard. Much of the PFAS contamination is legacy pollution . In fact, both Teflon and Scotchgard were phased out years ago, but these harmful PFAS still persist in the environment — in soils and especially in water , such as the rainwater that supplies drinking water. Despite the original PFAS chemicals being taken off the market, they’ve been replaced by modern PFAS chemicals that might still be just as harmful, if not more so. These modern PFAS chemicals lurk in packaging, stain-resistant furnishings, water-repellent clothing and items, cosmetics and personal care products and firefighting foam. What’s worrisome, too, is that PFAS can accumulate in the human body, thus compromising health . Cancer, disease, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, low birth weights and a host of other compromised health incidences are some of the consequences of drinking PFAS-tainted water. EWG is advocating for tougher regulations and laws to reduce PFAS chemicals in drinking water and consumer products to help reduce human exposure to these toxins . Some states are ramping up their efforts to reduce PFAS in the drinking water by banning PFAS-based food packaging or firefighting foam. But more work is still needed. + EWG Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Arcaion

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EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

Solar-powered multi-generational home offsets its energy consumption

June 5, 2018 by  
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Toronto-based architecture firm Williamson Williamson has completed a stunning home that embraces aging in place with a sustainably minded footprint. Located in the Ontario town of Hamilton, the House on Ancaster Creek comprises two distinct residences—one for the clients and the other for their elderly parents. The multigenerational home also reduces its energy demands with a 10KVa solar array, daylighting techniques, and low-energy fixtures throughout. Conceived as a high-density solution, the House on Ancaster Creek combines the functions of two separate homes into a single L-shaped entity. To accommodate any future mobility limitations, the architects placed the parents’ suite on the ground floor, where it’s joined with additional living spaces. Elder-friendly design considerations and features were also incorporated, such as the well-located drains and a master power switch that can immediately switch off any fixtures accidentally left on due to memory loss. The second floor master suite is accessed via a dramatic wood-clad spiral staircase that ascends from the first-floor living room located at the intersection of the two rectangular volumes. The main residence is positioned parallel to the creek and overlooks the views through floor-to-ceiling glazing. Full-height glazing is also used throughout the home to create a seamless connection with the outdoors. The material palette also reflects this connection: the ground floor of the home is clad in three-and-a-half-inch thick locally quarried Algonquin limestone while timber is used throughout. Related: Fabulous multigenerational home allows owners to comfortably age in place Despite the abundance of glazing, the home manages to keep energy demands to a minimum thanks to a highly insulated envelope and a high-performance triple-pane wood-frame window system with an average Uw of .77. Radiant heating is also used to complement a high-efficiency furnace, while LEDs and low-energy fixtures are installed throughout. A 37-module 9.8 kW solar array is installed on two of the flat roofs to offset energy consumption. + Williamson Williamson Via ArchDaily Images by Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

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Solar-powered multi-generational home offsets its energy consumption

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