MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art

August 17, 2018 by  
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How do you bring young people back into Japan’s rural areas? One popular answer seems to be with art and architecture. In one of the country’s latest rural revitalization efforts, Beijing-based design studio MAD Architects was invited to reactivate the long-forgotten Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel in the Niigata prefecture. Created for the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, this series of permanent artistic interventions aims to help bring back “the cultural energy that once empowered the region.” Set in the heart of Japan’s snow country, Echigo-Tsumari is a mountainous, agricultural region where more than a third of the community comprises the elderly (at least 65 years of age). In a bid to attract young people back to the countryside, Fram Kitagawa founded the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale in 2000. The art field hosts approximately 160 site-specific artworks across 200 villages in an area greater than 760 square kilometers. For this year’s program, MAD Architects was invited to re-imagine the historic Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel, a 750-meter passageway carved through rock that offers stunning panoramic views. In a project dubbed “Tunnel of Light,” MAD created five interventions along the historic tunnel to follow the five elements of nature — wood, earth, metal, fire and water. The first installation (wood) is the “Periscope,” a small timber hut that houses a cafe, shop and hot spring foot spa with a circular aperture surrounded by mirrored lenses. “Expression of Color” (earth) marks the tunnel entrance and is outfitted with atmospheric music and different colored lights at each lookout point. The first of the modified lookout points is “Invisible Bubble” (metal), featuring a reflective and introspective capsule-like structure that only allows one-way views from the inside out. “The Drop” (fire) at the second lookout point comprises mirrored “dew drops” attached to the ceiling and walls and back-lit by red light. The “Tunnel of Light” culminates with the “Light Cave” (water), where semi-polished stainless steel elements bring reflections of gorge into the tunnel to create “an infinite illusion of nature.” Related: Futuristic “spaceship” Lucas Museum breaks ground in Los Angeles “MAD’s ‘Tunnel of Light’ is an artistic transformation that demonstrates how art and nature can come together to reinvigorate a community,” the designers said in a project statement. “Each one of the installations forms a poetic space where visitors can transcend the role of observer and become an active participant — allowing individuals to place themselves in nature in unexpected ways.” + MAD Architects Images by Nacasa Partners Inc and Osamu Nakamura

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MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art

This gorgeous tiny home is perfect for entertaining guests

August 17, 2018 by  
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Today’s tiny homes are often built with many incredible features, but creating a spacious living room with ample seating continues to be a huge challenge. However, the innovative designers at Modern Tiny Living have just unveiled the Clover — a beautiful, 24-foot-long compact home that uses an elevated U-shaped sofa to create a spacious “social area” for entertaining guests. The Clover design is actually a hybrid of the Colorado-based company’s two most popular designs, the Kokosing and the Point. Combining the best of these two models, the Clover offers a gorgeous tiny home with a surprisingly spacious and light-filled interior with plenty of room for hosting guests. Related: Tiny Heirloom unveils ‘The Goose’ — a custom tiny home with stunning interiors The exterior of the home is clad in light-hued durable siding. The exterior is enhanced by white trim, giving off a modern, country-home feel. On the inside, the space is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of windows. A beautiful vaulted ceiling opens up the interior, which is lined in light wood panels, a feature that provides a fresh, airy aesthetic to the design. To the left of the entrance is the kitchen, which is equipped with concrete countertops, a four-burner stove, large sink, refrigerator and a combination washer and dryer set. A high top table that can be used for eating or working sits under the window. Adjacent to the kitchen is a full bath with a custom barn door. Although the basic package offers a flushing toilet, buyers also have the option of installing a composting toilet . Just off the kitchen space is a narrow set of stairs, complete with built-in storage and a closet, that leads up to a sleeping loft . This space is big enough for a king-sized bed and has plenty of windows to provide light and a natural system of cross-ventilation. However, the true heart of this tiny home is located at the other end of the space — the living room. The elevated seating area features a large U-shaped sofa that wraps around the wall. Outfitted with comfy cushions, the sectional was designed to provide a fun social space with ample seating for guests. The flooring at the center of the couch can also be turned on its end to create a guest bed . The seating space sits on an elevated platform that features built-in shelving and drawers for extra storage. The cost of the Clover Tiny Home starts at $89,000, but comes with many options for additional features. For further inquiries, please contact Modern Tiny Living . + Modern Tiny Living Via Treehugger Images via Modern Tiny Living 

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This gorgeous tiny home is perfect for entertaining guests

Century-old Iowa warehouse is transformed into LEED Platinum offices

August 13, 2018 by  
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Des Moines-based Neumann Monson Architects has breathed new life into a historic industrial warehouse in Iowa by transforming the 117-year-old building into LEED Platinum multi-tenant offices. Commissioned by Blackbird Investments, this eco-friendly renovation not only involved salvaging and reusing original elements in the century-old building, but also inserting energy efficient systems including a combination of geothermal and solar that have helped the project achieve net-zero energy certification. Dubbed Market One, the thoughtfully restored structure has sparked greater revitalization in the surrounding industrial neighborhood and is the state’s first commercial building to produce more energy than it consumes. Completed in 2015, Market One comprises 55,000 square feet of renovated warehouse space in addition to 1,887 square feet of added construction. Originally built in 1901 as the offices and manufacturing center for the Advance-Rumely Thresher Company, the warehouse comprises three main floors as well as a basement. While renovating the building, Neumann Monson Architects also added a rooftop office and deck. The block immediately east of the building was converted into a surface parking lot with an overhead photovoltaic canopy. Related: LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot “The project achieves a rich, nuanced dialogue between new and old,” Neumann Monson Architects said. “In some locations, the two are carefully delineated. In others, modern interventions blend in and take a backseat to historic character. Throughout the building, transparency and compatible finishes allow space to flow freely. To maintain the large volumes’ spatial continuity, the design locates new enclosed areas at the building’s core and terminates their walls well below the ceiling plane. Extensive glass and polycarbonate interior partitions allow light penetration deep into the building and maintain open visual connection throughout each floor level.” Local, sustainable and durable materials were used throughout Market One. A planned green belt and pedestrian trail will soon be added to the north of the building and a new Amtrak station will also be added in the future. + Neumann Monson Architects Via Dezeen Images via Cameron Campbell

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Century-old Iowa warehouse is transformed into LEED Platinum offices

HW-Studio transforms a warehouse into a food market in Mexico

August 9, 2018 by  
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When local architecture practice HW-Studio was tapped to redevelop an abandoned warehouse into a food market in the Mexican city of Morelia, the firm looked to the site’s extant conditions and the surroundings for inspiration. HW-Studio founder and lead project architect Rogelio Vallejo Bores was born and raised in the city and loved the site’s sense of solitude — a quality that he says is uncommon in the downtown of any Mexican city. As a result, he and his team used a minimalist design and material palette to create a food market, named the Mercado ‘Cantera’ (also known as the Morelia Market), that would defer to its surroundings. Completed this year on a budget of approximately $80,000 USD, the new food market in Morelia spans an area of 3,444 square feet. Before the architects began work on the design, they studied the perimeter and found it was located two blocks from one of the country’s most important music schools — a former convent of XCI Century Dominican nuns of Santa Catalina de Siena — as well as one of the most beloved and popular city squares, Las Rosas. Then the architects mapped out the most popular food spots in the area and found that people congregated in the public squares to eat. As a result, the guiding principles of the food market are borrowed from the design of public squares, from the use of natural materials, axial routes and sense of openness and connection with nature. “We thought that the place had lost its soul,” said the architects of the warehouse due to its numerous renovations. “Everything antique with architectural value would be rescued, and the new would formally and materially have a different nature: a white and defined nature that would demonstrate its own presence and its own historical and conceptual moment. With this, we would try to achieve a balance between the new and the old.” Related: Grain silo transformed into a community food hall in the Netherlands In contrast to the stone walls and other antique details that were preserved, the architects inserted minimalist and modern white volumes to house the food vendors. They also added a new tree-lined central corridor between the new volumes to emphasize the open-air market’s connection with the outdoors. The eating areas are located on the top of the stalls. The architects noted, “Its most important function is to frame, without exclusion, the different layers of architectural history left over the centuries.” + HW-Studio Via Dezeen Images by Bruno Gómez de la Cueva

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HW-Studio transforms a warehouse into a food market in Mexico

School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

July 27, 2018 by  
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Americans often take education for granted. Whether their children attend public or private schools, the opportunity to learn is always there, from kindergarten through high school and often beyond. Meanwhile, many children around the world can only dream of this priceless endowment. Sydney architect Stephen Collier noticed this problem and wanted to take action – so, along with various international non-profit groups, he developed School-in-a-Box, which has helped make the dream of education a reality for many children in Papua New Guinea . In the Beginning Four years ago, Collier read Drusilla Modjeska’s novel The Mountain , which tells the story of how established cultures based on clans struggle to embrace contemporary mores in post-independence PNG. Since Collier was born in PNG, he had a personal interest in the material, and he contacted Modjeska, a stranger at the time. She asked him to join her on an excursion to Tufi , where she revealed she had an indefinable project in dire need of an architect. Collier was soon en route; he and Modjeska flew into the tropical coastal fjords of the province of Morobe in a tiny Dash8 plane. Multiple Challenges Modjeska is the co-founder of Sustain Educate Art Melanesia (SEAM), an organization that works to improve literacy in the six villages of Morobe. In the more remote areas of PNG, adult literacy is often as low as 15 percent; even though parents want their kids to be educated, they don’t want to sacrifice their customary connection to the farmland that sustains everyone in the villages. In addition, the villages are each very difficult to reach, with many sitting along single-file ridges above the coast, creating a long and treacherous journey for children. Even though the PNG government funds remote schools, each of which typically supports between 100-150 students of various ages with two teachers, these schools have a minimal number of books (no reference or literary texts, only workbooks) and hardly ever have electricity. Paper is hard to come by, fresh water is rare, and there are no pencils, crayons, pens or other writing materials. Students can’t read to each other, and the schools have nothing written by locals. The Box is Born Collier and Modjeska started brainstorming as soon as their plane touched down and a solid concept for School-in-a-Box began to grow. Early on, it was clear the box had to include water and solar electricity resources and storage systems. The box had to be light enough to easily transport from village to village, large enough to be functional, and tough enough to last and protect its cargo. Related: Hand-Built Library on Wheels Helps Retired Teacher Spread the Love of Reading The boxes, made from polycarbonate , are the same as those used by the US Army to transport armaments. The tents, poles, solar panels, and other materials conform to the box’s dimensions. The stretchable roof covers around 485 square feet and its translucent fabric is easily wound into a miniscule size for storage. The Treasure Inside Modjeska’s and Collier’s goals for the School-in-a-Box were multifaceted. They wanted the contents of the box to focus not just on childhood education, but also on creative writing and drawing for adult literacy classes, sharing and recording local stories to encourage imaginative investigation instead of pattern/repetitive learning, and making education more accessible to girls. After intensive idea sharing, they decided that each lockable, waterproof School-in-a-Box would include: two marine-grade plywood cabinets a 20 x 26-foot stretch tent with cables, poles, cables, stakes and ties two flexible solar panels batteries and an electrical board two laptop computers an A3 printer, guillotine and laminator books, paper, pencils, crayons, paints and brushes a 1,320-gallon water storage tank a simple water filter that can function without electricity or chemicals How It Works When the assembly is complete, cooling breezes flow freely underneath the structure. The roof is flexible enough to adjust to weather conditions and the sides are adjustable to stave off high winds. Collier created a hefty fabric gutter along one side to accumulate rainwater for storage in a pillow tank. To protect the gutter from direct sunlight, he made it concealable under a raised platform. The local community contributes some of the materials and helps in the platform construction. When closed, the cabinets form a box, although they open up and extend out in five directions. A teacher can conduct a class on one side, private study can take place on another, and the other sides serve as storage compartments. Looking Forward Mundango Abroad, The Readings Foundation, Planet Wheeler Foundation, Victorian Womens’ Trust, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and numerous other charitable organizations support the project, which has been going strong since its inception in 2014. Stephen Collier Architects, which won The Australian Institute of Architects Small Project Architecture prize in 2018 for this project, is investigating how to deliver more boxes to PNG in the future. A new fund to make that happen and take donations has been set up. If you would like to donate or assist in other ways, please email  info@collierarchitects.com  with SCHOOL-IN-A-BOX in the subject line. + Stephen Collier Architects Images courtesy of Stephen Collier Architects

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School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

A 19th century building is reborn as solar-powered temporary housing for families in need

July 19, 2018 by  
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No matter where you live or what you do for a living, there’s always a chance that fate will take a few bad turns, leaving you and your family in need of temporary housing. The Cambridge Health and Human Services Department (CHHSD) and Cambridge’s HMFH Architects recently joined forces to build such a shelter in a lovely 19th century building once thought doomed for demolition. In addition to providing safe, short-term housing, the project focuses on sustainability in its design. Once a grand, aluminum-gilded structure among the dignified homes along Massachusetts Avenue, building number 859, constructed in 1885, was turned into offices years ago. But time took its toll: the aluminum siding faded, the entryway became disheveled, rust sullied the fire escapes and flourishing gardens were harshly paved. Related: Architect converts derelict 19th century Mexican home into light-filled mixed-use community center The city purchased the dilapidated structure, and HMFH Architects razed the interior down to its structural beams and studs to make room for 10 family-sized housing units that each provide temporary homes with private baths for an adult and one to two children. Each floor has a kitchen and dining area shared by tenants. The architectural design team joined forces with the Cambridge Historical Commission to ensure as many details as possible were restored to their original state, from the front stairway design to the paint, trim and roofing materials. Sustainable design was also high on the list of project goals. The building meets Cambridge’s goal to keep the site’s energy use to as close to zero as possible, concurrent with generating sufficient renewable energy to fulfill its own yearly consumption. To accomplish this, the building has three types of solar roof tiles , maximum-efficiency mechanical systems to decrease heating and cooling needs and LED lighting operated by sensors. Double-thickness walls and insulation along with energy-efficient windows and doors also helped the project meet its energy goals. “The new residence at 859 Mass Avenue provides a welcoming, comfortable environment for families and children in need,” said Ellen Semonoff, Cambridge’s Assistant City Manager for Human Services. “The beauty and functionality of the building let families know that they are valued members of our community.” The Cambridge Historical Commission presented the 2018 Cambridge Preservation Award to jointly honor the project and the city for its work. + HMFH ARCHITECTS + Cambridge Health and Human Services Department Images via Bruce T. Martin and Ed Wosnek

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Historic warehouses transformed into a swanky boutique hotel in New Orleans

July 12, 2018 by  
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New York City-based architecture and interior design firm Stonehill Taylor tapped into New Orleans’ storied past for its design of The Eliza Jane , a new boutique hotel a few blocks west from the city’s iconic French Quarter. The unique hotel was created from seven centuries-old warehouses that were combined and renovated to form a variety of elegantly dressed spaces including 196 guest rooms with 50 suites, a fitness center, garden courtyard, lounge, restaurant, and lobby. Created as part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, the Eliza Jane hotel was named after Eliza Jane Nicholson, the first woman publisher of a major metropolitan newspaper in the United States. In the late 1800s, Eliza Jane had worked as the publisher of ‘The Daily Picayune,’ which was one of the original warehouse occupants. Moreover, Stonehill Taylor wove references to ‘The Daily Picayune’ and the buildings’ other original occupants—like the Gulf Baking Soda company and the Peychaud Bitters Factory—throughout the adaptive reuse design. The ‘Press Room’ lounge on the ground floor, for instance, is decorated with typewriters and other antiques referencing a 19th-century newsroom. “The intent was to create a quintessentially New Orleans setting, a sophisticated blend of old and new, that pays homage to the building’s past,” says Stonehill Taylor in a statement. “The hotel is built within seven historic warehouses that stand distinct on the outside but have been internally conjoined to create the luxury accommodations with a 2,000-square-foot open-air interior courtyard .” Related: Abandoned NYC warehouse is reinvented as LEED Gold-certified apartments The arrival sequence is anchored by a 60-foot-tall light-filled atrium surrounded by lush greenery and the original exposed brick and slate-colored plaster walls. Repurposed materials can also be found throughout the interior, while new custom wall coverings reference the different historic uses in each building. The opulent material palette is combined with vibrant patterns and rich colors to create a setting that feels luxurious and uniquely New Orleans. + Stonehill Taylor Images via The Eliza Jane

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Go glamping with views of the Statue of Liberty on NYCs Governors Island

July 12, 2018 by  
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A new glamping destination has popped up in an unlikely location — a 172-acre island just across the river from New York City’s Statue of Liberty. Launched by Denver-based Collective Retreats on Governors Island , the Collective Governors Island retreat offers luxury tents with modern amenities in a verdant setting just a quick ferry ride from Manhattan. The experimental campsite is the first time camping has been allowed on Governors Island, which has recently undergone dramatic changes from a military base to a beloved summer escape for New Yorkers and tourists alike. Glamping — short for “glamorous camping” — at Collective Governors Island offers an all-inclusive experience with a variety of high-end dining options, amenities and activities available. Currently, the 100-person campsite includes two luxury tent types: the Summit Tents and the Journey Tents. The Outlook Shelters, a series of full-service suites housed in repurposed shipping containers , are coming soon as well. Both the Summit Tents and the Journey Tents are outfitted with comfy beds and linens as well as electricity, however, the former is a larger, more luxurious option that includes added amenities like a private en suite bathroom; the Journey Tents are connected to a shared bathroom. Related: Luxury facilities let campers enjoy nature with no hassles Although Governors Island is less than a 10-minute ferry ride from Manhattan , the naturalistic setting makes the island feel miles away and is ideal for a relaxed glamping experience. This area is mainly owned by the city and state, while 22 acres are controlled by the National Park Service. Related: Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food A recent push to open the car-free island to the public has seen the addition of movie nights, community gardens , and public art installations. However, a curfew and the ferry’s limited schedule meant visitors had been previously barred from staying overnight. Although guests at Collective Governors Island will not have free reign over the island at night, there are more than enough activities to keep families entertained, from the new The Hills Park to biking paths. A stay at the Collective Governors Island starts at $150 a night. + Collective Governors Island Images by Patrick Chin

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Go glamping with views of the Statue of Liberty on NYCs Governors Island

This British caf is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste

July 5, 2018 by  
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A coffee shop northeast of London wants to serve its customers coffee in a mug from your home.  La Tour Cycle Café has a novel idea to stop its reliance on disposable coffee cups: pour everything into reusable ceramic mugs, even if the order is to-go. A 2017 report from Britain’s House of Commons discovered as many as 2.5 billion coffee cups are disposed across the United Kingdom every year. This equates to more than 6.8 million cups per day. To cut down the amount of waste from hot beverages, the La Tour Cycle Café has started serving everything — including to-go beverages — in  reusable mugs . Although customers sometimes choose to take their beverages with them, supplying more mugs for the next customer isn’t a problem for the café. Every day, the business puts out a collection basket for coffee drinkers to return their cups . While many choose to come back with their glassware, even more use the opportunity to clean out their cabinets and donate their unused mugs to the café. “We’ve all got mugs languishing in our cupboards that we no longer need,” Anna Matthews, the owner of La Tour Cycle Café, told the BBC . “Why not donate them to your local coffee shop and allow people to actually have a hot drink in a china cup while they walk around?” Related: German city offers ingenious alternative to single-use coffee cups The unique program allows people to reduce the amount of waste destined for landfills  while still enjoying their favorite beverages. But reusing and recycling isn’t a new concept for Matthews and La Tour Cycle. Earlier in 2018, Matthews worked with a contractor team to transform a vacated building. Matthews was able to move her business into the bigger space, which features better wheelchair accessibility and public art displays. The café — and its eclectic collection of coffee mugs — only plans to be in the new space for two years;  Matthews has aspirations to move and give new life to another abandoned building by then. + La Tour Cycle Café Via BBC , The East Anglican Daily Times  and  Treehugger

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This British caf is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste

An old London chapel is reborn into a modern home and artist studio

June 19, 2018 by  
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UK architect Alexander Nikjoo has breathed new life into a Victorian chapel by transforming it into a contemporary home and studio for an artist. Located in Deptford in South London, the renovation has streamlined the look of the former chapel with a fresh coat of paint and a minimalist material palette. The interior was refreshed to feel bright and airy with plenty of natural light. Although the old chapel was already being used as a studio space by the time Nikjoo was approached for the project, it was dark and uninviting. In transforming the building, the architect kept the layout and several architectural features intact, such as the exposed roof trusses. “The building was stripped back to its original form revealing features and details that had been covered through years of piecemeal extensions and additions,” Nikjoo said. “Restored using a palette of rich yet simple materials, the new interventions interweave with the existing fabric of the building.” In contrast to the black exterior, the interior is filled with light-colored materials — including oak, birch plywood , oiled pine, stone and polished concrete floors — that help create a welcoming atmosphere. Skylights and windows bring in copious amounts of natural light, while the tall ceiling brings the view upward toward the new mezzanine built with birch plywood railings. Related: Stunning chapel in Japan brings a fractal forest indoors The former nave now houses the open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen that are positioned linearly from the entrance. The stairs to the mezzanine level, which opens up to a flat roof terrace, are located behind the kitchen. The master suite and two guest bedrooms with a shared bathroom are tucked away in the rear of the home where the vestry once was. Storage is discreetly hidden away behind wooden doors to maintain the minimalist aesthetic. + Nikjoo Via Dezeen Images by Nikjoo

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