A green-roofed underground extension breaks the mold for school architecture

September 13, 2018 by  
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When Singaporean architecture firm Park + Associates was tapped to design an extension for Nanyang Girls’ High School in Singapore, the team knew that it would have to think creatively. The brief called for two large four-story blocks that would house a variety of programs, including classrooms, a large performing arts center and a multipurpose indoor sports hall. To meet these requirements without overshadowing the school’s existing architecture, the firm built the spaces below ground — an unconventional move and considered the first of its kind for an academic extension in Singapore  — and topped the new buildings with artificial turf that can be used for sports and outdoor recreation. Founded in 1917, the Nanyang Girls’ High School is one of the top public schools in Singapore. The school changed campuses several times and has been established at its present location along Dunearn and Bukit Timah Roads in the heart of Singapore since 1999. The school’s original colonial-inspired architecture comprises a clock tower flanked by two brick wings and has become an iconic landmark for the area. As a result, Park + Associates wanted to preserve the appearance of the building without necessarily emulating the existing school complex in the new design. Therefore, the firm decided to set the two new extension blocks partly below ground and top the volumes with curved green roofs that slope to touch the ground. By lining the roofs with artificial turf, the architects could also replace the school field. Careful consideration was taken to create bright and airy interior spaces within the partially underground extension, which enjoys access to plenty of natural light, views and natural ventilation. Related: New images show greenery engulfing Singapore’s tropical skyscraper The architects explained, “This Nanyang Girls’ High School extension, as the first secondary education institution in Singapore that has spaces below ground, is symbolic, as it allows students to see that rethinking assumption and rules, followed up with constructive discussions, can result in an outcome more successful and creative than otherwise imaginable.” + Park + Associates Images by Edward Hendricks and Frank Pinckers

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A green-roofed underground extension breaks the mold for school architecture

NY man spends 6 years building this incredible, energy-efficient hobbit home

September 13, 2018 by  
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A lot of lives have been touched by the Lord of the Rings films, but super fan Jim Costigan took it one step further by building his own Bag End-inspired hobbit home . The New York construction supervisor and his family spent more than six years building the energy-efficient cottage with a curved shape and lush green roof that would even make Bilbo Baggins a little bit envious. Like millions of people, Jim Costigan was enthralled by The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Specifically, though, he was drawn to the home of Bilbo Baggins, Bag End. The curved home enveloped in greenery spoke to Costigan’s love of design.  “I thought that was the coolest house I’d ever seen,” Costigan said. “Architecturally, I thought that that house in the movie was just really well-done, that it was really original. The curvatures, everything about it was unique.” Although Costigan had spent most of his career working on skyscrapers in Manhattan, he decided to re-create the charming design in his own backyard, with a cottage he now calls Hobbit Hollow. Related: This earth-sheltered Australian hobbit home stays cozy all year More than just a fan’s whimsy, the ambitious builder set about to not only recreate the famed hobbit home, but to make it an earth-sheltered passive house . From the start, the entire project was integrated with energy-efficient details, including thermal bridge-free construction that provides a tightly insulated shell, as well as triple-pane thermal windows and a heat recovery ventilator. Starting with a concrete foundation, the 1,500-square-foot home was built with various creative features that showed off his attention to hobbit detail as well as his commitment to sustainability . Just like Bag End, the exterior of the house is clad in natural stone. However, when it came to putting in the signature round door, there was a bit of a snag, because it didn’t meet Passive House standards. Working around the problem, Costigan built a circular red frame that hides the rectangular door. And of course, no hobbit home would be complete without a lush green roof that follows the curve of the design, blending it deep into the landscape. On the inside of the home, a high barrel-vaulted ceiling gives the tiny space character and depth. The abundance of windows and skylights in every room, except the guest bathroom, flood the interior with natural light . Adding to the charm is the various geometric shapes and patterns that the family imprinted into the concrete ceiling and skylight borders themselves. As an extra nod to the beloved films, a replica sword hangs over the electric stone fireplace, a gift to Costigan from his sons. Located in Pawling, New York, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom hobbit home sits on 1.7 acres of natural forestscape with an open-air bluestone patio in the back. From there, the family and visitors enjoy the sounds of a babbling stream that leads to an idyllic Shire-like waterfall and pond. + My Hobbit Shed Via Houzz Images via Jim Costigan

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NY man spends 6 years building this incredible, energy-efficient hobbit home

Magical new classroom reconnects children with nature in the UK

May 3, 2018 by  
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Dramatic swooping roofs top this new timber-clad building designed by Studio Weave for Belvue School, a secondary school for children aged between 11 and 19 with moderate to severe learning difficulties. Appropriately dubbed The Wooden Classroom, the building was created to help reconnect students with nature and opens up to the adjacent woodland recently acquired by the school to serve as an educational nature reserve. Constructed from a low budget originally allocated for a cargotecture school expansion, the 1,600-square-foot The Wooden Classroom comprises a “cozy lounge” informal teaching space and a “sociable kitchen” student-run school cafe next to the woods. “We identified that the boundary between the playground and woods marks the border between familiar school territory and the magical, mysterious world of trees,” said Studio Weave. “This very important threshold, symbolising the entrance to another world, like the gate to the secret garden, or the cupboard to Narnia became a focal point and we consequently designed the woodland classrooms to act as a gatehouse between one world and another.” Related: Free off-grid shelter pops up for urban explorers in Bordeaux The wood-lined interior is flooded with natural light with curved ceilings and clerestory windows . The Wooden Classroom is entirely naturally ventilated. Large window walls frame views of the outdoors and bring nature in. Studio Weave also worked with a forest management specialist for their sensitive approach to the landscape. + Studio Weave Images via Studio Weave

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Magical new classroom reconnects children with nature in the UK

LEED Silver-seeking Perry World House marries new and old at Penn

May 26, 2017 by  
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The newest building at the University of Pennsylvania also happens to be the oldest. This curious marriage of new and old is the Perry World House, the university’s new hub for international affairs. Designed by 1100 Architect , the academic building merges a historic 19th century structure with a modern new-build into a LEED Silver-seeking research center with open and flexible spaces. Completed in 2016, the Perry World House is a 17,400-square-foot academic center that combines a historic house built in 1851 with a new limestone -clad structure. As a center for global and multidisciplinary engagement, the building offers a wide range of spaces including classrooms, meeting rooms, 14 offices, a 50-person conference room, and common rooms open to affiliates from the university’s 12 schools. A glass-enclosed atrium called the World Forum occupies the building’s heart and is used as a multipurpose events space. The historic house was salvaged and its fake limestone stucco referenced in the new addition clad in real limestone. Merging old and new architectural styles has the added benefit of matching both the pedestrian scale of Locust Walk on one side and the busy, urban scale of 38th Street on the other. In addition the project’s adaptive reuse, the Perry World House is on track to achieve LEED Silver certification with its many sustainable design features, such as the maximization of daylighting , stormwater management with a 90% capture rate of the average annual rainfall, energy-efficient fixtures, and use of recycled materials. Related: University of Pennsylvania’s green-roofed New College House targets LEED Silver “With its open and flexible spaces, Perry World House reflects and supports the aims of the institution it houses,” says 1100 Architect founding principal David Piscuskas, FAIA. “We have created an environment, filled with natural light , where different points of view can be discussed in different types of settings. Transparency between spaces reinforces an emphasis on cooperation between academic disciplines and different world views, while the dialogue of a 19th-century cottage and a 21st-century building gives form to the timelessness of these pursuits.” + 1100 Architect Via ArchDaily Images © Greg Benson

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LEED Silver-seeking Perry World House marries new and old at Penn

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