Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

March 29, 2019 by  
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When a growing family needed extra living space, they turned to Australian design studio Steffen Welsch Architects to create an eco-friendly extension for their California Bungalow home. For the main construction material, the architects used rammed earth  — a material with low embodied energy and high thermal mass — and created an arced extension that curves to capture warmth and light from the sun. Passive solar principles also largely dictated all parts of the design process, from the zoning and layout to the material selection and building form. Located in Melbourne , the family home and extension — nicknamed ‘Down to Earth’ after its rammed earth walls — was created for a young family who enjoy entertaining and hosting guests. As a result, the brief called for low-cost operation, evolving privacy needs and future accessibility. Spanning an area of nearly 2,100 square feet, the single-story home is organized into four zones: an area for children and guests, a master suite for the parents, communal rooms and transitional areas. Each “zone” opens up to its own outdoor space. To ensure long-term sustainability and to minimize embodied and operational energy, the architects let passive solar principles guide the design of the building and chose materials with low embodied energy, such as rammed earth, and energy-saving properties, such as insulated glass. Operable windows allow for natural ventilation while the rammed earth walls and timber posts are left exposed to create a connection with the outdoors. Related: Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape “A well performing house extension facing south on a small inner city block built in rammed earth is not easy to achieve,” the architects noted. “The building uses the formal language of a Californian Bungalow with the combination of heavy and light materials and generous roofs without copying it. Rammed earth walls appear free standing and separated from a floating roof with wide overhangs providing shade in summer but letting winter sun inside. The house (including the old) achieves an energy rating 3 stars (6) above target.” + Steffen Welsch Architects Photography by Rhiannon Slatter via Steffen Welsch Architects

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Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

December 7, 2018 by  
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When Sydney-based design studio Anderson Architecture was asked to improve the livability of an old heritage home in the inner western Sydney suburb of Lewisham, the house suffered from a cold and dark indoor environment. Drawing on their experience on sustainable design, the architects rearranged the home in accordance to passive solar design in a light-filled transformation that earned the project its name, Suntrap. The contemporary renovation has even doubled the thermal efficiency of the living quarters from 3.2 to 6.4 stars. With a growing family and a dog, the clients not only sought more living space, but also improved comfort and a stronger connection with the backyard. To bring much-needed natural light and an indoor/ outdoor living experience to the home, the architects tore down an existing old addition and replaced it with a new extension optimized to meet the clients’ requests. Located on a long and skinny lot, the house is mainly organized along a central corridor that connects to three bedrooms, while the open-plan living spaces are located in the rear where they connect seamlessly with the backyard. The new extension also features an expansive master bedroom suite on the upper floor. “But our key move was to introduce an internal courtyard ,” say the architects. “We opened the heart of the home to the sun, where strategically placed eco-friendly concrete walls and hydronic heated flooring brought much-needed heat gain to cold zones. New awnings let in winter sun and we specified heavily insulated prefabricated wall and roof panels, and double-glazed windows, to help maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.” Related: 76-year-old Funkis home in Norway gets a Passive House makeover To keep costs low and reduce waste, the architects repurposed the spotted gum flooring reclaimed from the old addition into cupboard faces and the timber-lined ceiling above the kitchen. The bricks from the old kitchen were also repurposed into a strategic thermal mass wall in the backyard that doubles as a screen for a 1,400-liter rainwater tank used to irrigate the native landscaping. + Anderson Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Nic Bower

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Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

Handsome timber-clad extension embraces Australias great outdoors

August 3, 2018 by  
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When the residents of a home in Eganstown, Australia, decided to add a modest extension to their house, they were looking for more than just extra breathing room. Enlisting the help of Melbourne-based emerging design practice Solomon Troup Architects , they envisioned the extension as a way to more fully embrace the expansive hillside landscape. The resulting structure—named the Limerick House—does just that, all while referencing the outdoors with its natural materials palette . Covering an area of nearly 2,100 square feet, the Limerick House offers a twist on the original home’s pitched forms with an asymmetrical gabled roof inspired by the lean-to timber shearing sheds found throughout the local landscape. “The gabled form of the addition responds to the existing pitched roofs of the existing house,” explains Solomon Troup Architects. “The new addition has the same dimensions and shape as the existing three railway cottages used to build the existing house, but is sloped on the eastern boundary to create a doorway, used to link the house to another existing house on the property.” In another nod to the local sheds , the new extension is built mainly from timber. Spotted gum decking boards—stained black—clad the exterior and will develop a silvery patina over time. In contrast to the dark facade, the interior is lined with light-colored silvertop ash boards, which the architects say give the addition the look of a “warm winter weekend cabin.” Related: A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience The extension houses an open-plan kitchen and dining area, freeing up room in the main house, which now includes a master ensuite, two bedrooms and a living room that opens up to a cozy den through a sliding door. A massive steel-framed pivoting door opens the new structure up to the outdoors and a spacious timber deck partly sheltered by a deep roof overhang. Large windows let in plenty of natural light and views. + Solomon Troup Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Tatjana Plitt

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Man converts old ambulance into a traveling tiny home on wheels

August 3, 2018 by  
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Ebay may be filled with trash that many turn into treasure, but one man has taken it a step further by converting an old ambulance into a gorgeous tiny home on wheels . Ian Dow purchased the ambulance in 2016 and promptly got to work customizing the space into a dream home built for adventure – one that even comes complete with a rooftop sundeck. Unlike many bus and van conversions built on the owners’ dreams, Ian’s tiny home on wheels was built on pain. “I’d been searching for a van to convert and was blinded by the Sprinter fad,” Dow told ABC News . “After getting burned by a Craigslist seller — he backed out after I drove 12 hours to buy his Sprinter — I was depressed and I crashed my motorcycle. Then I had an epiphany. I was in pain and needed some emergency help. Sitting on the couch that night with a busted shoulder, I searched eBay for ambulances, found a cheap one, and even Google Earthed the charity listed as the seller, finding the ambulance parked right outside.” Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel The Newport Beach native purchased the old ambulance for $2,800 and began the renovating process by gutting most of the interior and retrofitting the old life-saver into a customized tiny home on wheels . To make efficient use of the space, he installed some seriously flexible features. For starters, Dow installed beautiful teak floors that run the length of the living space. The subway-tiled kitchen is a space-saver, with built-in shelves and plenty of storage areas to avoid clutter. A collapsible hardwood table, used for eating or working, can be stowed when not in use. There’s even a cedar-lined closet for Dow’s clothing. The sofa folds out into a bed, and an additional wooden plank – stored in a closet – extends to create extra sleeping or lounging space. Unique to the design is the former equipment closet located on the exterior, which Ian converted into an outdoor shower – perfect for enjoying incredible views while cleaning up after a long day of hiking or surfing. And, as if the beautiful interior weren’t enough, he added a sundeck on the ambulance’s roof, complete with an extendable umbrella. Dow, Dino the dog and their friend, Dylan, have been traveling for the last few years in the converted home on wheels. You can follow their adventures on Instagram . + Ian Dow Via Little Things and ABC News Images via Ian Dow

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A terracotta home keeps naturally cool in one of Thailands hottest regions

July 30, 2018 by  
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The Thai province of Kanchanaburi is one of the country’s hottest regions, with a tropical savanna climate and annual temperature averages of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. So when Bangkok-based design practice Anghin Architecture set out to create a new addition to a riverside house it designed years ago, the team prioritized passive cooling throughout. Taking advantage of the site’s topography, the terracotta home is positioned for optimal air circulation and cross ventilation to maximize comfort while minimizing energy consumption. Named the Kanchanaburi House Phase II, the structure spans a little more than 2,300 square feet and is covered in red terracotta cladding to match the appearance of the original home. The annex, set near a river, provides elevated views of the water and also offers leisure facilities for the homeowner and her guests. Raised off the ground, the building includes the parking pad and storage space on the lower level. The upper floor consists of a guest room, bathroom and spacious Pilates room flanked with balconies on the north end; an open-plan living space, play area and bar area in the middle; and an expansive outdoor entertaining terrace on the south end that looks out over the river. Related: Brilliant zero-energy air conditioner in India is beautiful and functional “Tackling energy consumption was our main focus,” Anghin Architecture said. “The house was designed to maximize comfort through a passive cooling system. We make use of the site’s topography by elevating the house to allow for better air circulation. In addition to cross ventilation at the main level, the air shaft was designed to help further ventilate the ceiling by allowing the cooler air from underneath the house to move up and disperse the heat collected under the roof. The northern opening ensures thorough illumination without the direct sunlight penetration, while the extended wall fins and retractable awning keep the house properly shaded.” + Anghin Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Gregoire Glachant

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A terracotta home keeps naturally cool in one of Thailands hottest regions

An energy-efficient extension in Melbourne captures the owners adventurous spirits

July 20, 2018 by  
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A century-old Edwardian home has been updated with an airy and environmentally-friendly extension in Melbourne , Australia. Commissioned by clients who had recently returned to Melbourne to settle down after years of working and traveling overseas, the renovated dwelling — called the Glide House — was crafted by local architecture firm Ben Callery Architects to serve as a space that would embody the clients’ adventurous spirits. The extension’s butterfly roof adds sculptural flair to the new building, which was also integrated with energy-efficient features and local materials for low environmental impact. Working with a $350,000 AUD ($258,321 USD) budget, Ben Callery Architects emphasized flexibility in their redesign and expansion of the Glide House. The existing double-fronted Edwardian was left intact, however, the interior four rooms were reassigned to serve as flex rooms that could be easily adapted into bedrooms, living rooms or even workspaces . Currently, the original structure comprises the master bedroom, two bedrooms and the lounge. To minimize costs, the laundry, powder room and bathroom were placed in the new extension to avoid plumbing the old Edwardian. The living room, dining area and kitchen are also located in the extension . “Out the back, our clients wanted their own place in the sun,” Ben Callery Architects said. “They noted that in their travels they were often ‘chasing the sun.’ Upon returning home, they wanted a place they could settle in that encapsulated that spirit, but with the permanence of a home.” Related: A light-filled extension turns an Australian home into an oasis of calm As a result, the new extension is flooded with natural light yet is protected from unwanted solar gain in summer by the roof’s sweeping eaves. Clerestory windows let in cooling cross breezes and provide glimpses of the tree canopy. Recycled materials are used throughout the home, from the reclaimed timber in the cabinetry to the recycled brick pavers. Locally sourced materials were used wherever possible. Double-glazed windows and highly effective insulation also ensure energy efficiency. + Ben Callery Architects Images by Tatjana Plitt

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An energy-efficient extension in Melbourne captures the owners adventurous spirits

Classic Eichler gets a tasteful renovation and expansion in the heart of Silicon Valley

December 7, 2017 by  
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Klopf Architecture has refurbished and expanded a classic Eichler home in the San Mateo highlands while keeping its mid-century modern charms intact. Working in collaboration with Outer Space Landscape Architects and Coast to Coast Construction , the updated single-family home was enlarged into a 2,285-square-foot dwelling with four bedrooms and two baths with the help of 3D modeling. Set in the heart of Silicon Valley , the Eichler renovation was commissioned by a young couple with two small children, who, as evidenced by their choice in furnishings, sought to maintain the modernist and minimalist look of their home in the upgrade. “The goals were to maintain the Eichler style while bringing in high quality, more current materials and updating what was already there,” wrote the architects. The clients also desired a new addition that would be used as an office and guest room. Using 3D modeling , the architects determined that the most suitable location for the addition would be in the side yard, rather in the rear due to set back limitations. “The addition needed to be transparent so it would not appear massive and take up the side yard,” added Klopf Architecture. Like the rest of the existing home, the addition features post-and-beam construction, Eichler profile siding, and dark bronze door frames. Related: Vintage Eichler home receives open and airy remodel that preserves its roots The bathrooms, entry, and storage were also enlarged. The interior is lined in timber paneling—some of which new to replace damaged paneling—all of which was re-stained to bring out the wood’s rich colors. The leaky steel radiant heating tubes were replaced with a new radiant floor heating system beneath concrete slabs and new flooring installed throughout the home. + Klopf Architecture Images ©2017 Mariko Reed

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Classic Eichler gets a tasteful renovation and expansion in the heart of Silicon Valley

Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbournes summers with smart passive design

March 16, 2017 by  
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Sustainability and a tight budget were the driving features for this bright and airy lean-to extension to a detached 1960s home. Designed by Warc Studio , the timber-and-glass addition houses a spacious open-plan living area, dining space, and kitchen that connect to a rear garden. To meet sustainability requirements, the architects used locally and sustainably sourced timber, stressed resource efficiency , and promoted natural cooling with operable window openings and solar shading fins. Located in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh, Australia, the new addition was inspired by the mono-pitched lean-to structures prevalent to the homes in the area. The architects put a modern twist on the seemingly ubiquitous building structure by combining two gabled roofs with differing gradients. “The design program was driven by resource efficiency which was essential to delivering both economic and sustainable objectives,” wrote the architects. “The resulting roof form provides a compact building envelope: the surface area of the additions are around 12% less than if a flat roof / flat ceiling solution had been employed with the same built volume. This in turn translates to increased efficiency of the thermal envelope and reduced capital material consumption.” Related: Old bungalow transformed into a light-filled dwelling with recycled brick Large windows open the new addition up to views and natural light , reducing reliance on artificial lighting. To mitigate solar heat gain, the architects strategically placed window openings and an automated operable roof window for cross-ventilation . Laminated timber fins jut out from the glass panes to provide shade. The roof is lined with white steel sheet lining to minimize solar heat gain. + Warc Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Aaron Pocock

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First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

March 16, 2017 by  
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Scientists found the first fluorescent frog in the world – by accident – in South America . Researchers at Buenos Aires’ Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum stumbled across the discovery while studying pigment in polka dot tree frogs, which are common in the continent. Beneath an ultraviolet (UV) light , the otherwise dull-colored frog glows bright blue and green. Fluorescence – or the ability to take in light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths – is found in several ocean creatures but is incredibly rare on land. Only some scorpions and parrots were known to possess it until now, and this is the very first amphibian we’ve found that fluoresces. Scientists don’t really know why creatures are fluorescent; they could be communicating, attracting mates, or concealing themselves. Related: Biofluorescent sharks glow bright green in the depths of the sea The scientists initially thought the frog might glow a faint red because it contains the pigment biliverdin, which gives some some insects a slight red fluorescence. But when the researchers shone a UVA flashlight on polka dot tree frogs that came from the Santa Fe, Argentina area, they were amazed to see the brown-green frogs glow bright green and blue instead. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published their research on March 13. Study co-author Maria Gabriella Lagoria told Chemistry World, “This is very different from fluorophores found in other vertebrates, which are usually proteins or polyenic chains.” And there could be even more fluorescent frogs that we haven’t discovered yet. Co-author Julián Faivovich told Nature, “I’m really hoping that other colleagues will be very interested in this phenomenon, and they will start carrying a UV flashlight to the field.” He plans to seek fluorescence in 250 other tree frog species that have translucent skin like the polka dot tree frog. Via Nature and The Guardian Images via Carlos Taboada et al

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First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

Norwegian cabin weathers a harsh climate for breathtaking views

March 15, 2017 by  
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Norway’s Lofoten archipelago is famous for its spectacular scenery with dramatic mountains and views of the northern lights—but its remote location up north also means a bitterly harsh climate in winter. Architect Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk was asked to create a summer retreat on a coastal Lofoten island that would be strong enough to withstand the harsh climate, particularly high-speed winds and rain. He and his team of architects completed the Summer House Gravråk, a renovated timber structure with a new addition and beautiful modern interior. The 25-square-meter Summer House Gravråk began with the rehabilitation of an old “Nordlandshus,” a kind of a traditional northern Norwegian home with a gabled roof and timber structure. The architects extended the building’s existing footprint with an addition towards the west that matched the original structure’s design. The exterior is clad in untreated spruce, which developed a gray patina after exposure to the elements. Standing seam zinc roofing tops the building. Related: Norwegian Mountain Cottage Stands on Stilts to Preserve Native Reindeer Moss The extension is constructed with prefabricated pine glulam and is wind-anchored to an encapsulating concrete slab that serves as a stabilizing counterweight, while the existing building is guy-wired to the ground. “The addition is a pure extension of the existing building, and re-uses the geometrical principle with asymmetrical dormer windows to let in light and give a view from the loft,” write the architects. The windows are constructed with aluminum frames on the exterior and wood on the interior to match the interior birch plywood cladding. The interior is minimally furnished and the abundance of windows keeps the focus on the landscape. The architects also constructed a small green-roofed annex separate from the main building. + Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk Images via Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk

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