Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris

July 30, 2019 by  
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Local architecture practice Benjamin Fleury has completed a residential complex with 26 affordable apartments in Montreuil, a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris. Affordable housing cooperative COOPIMMO commissioned the design and construction of the building as part of its mission to produce social accommodations with a “renting-purchasing system.” Thoughtfully integrated into the suburban context, the contemporary apartment complex also boasts low-energy consumption and has earned the MINERGIE-P label for its energy-efficient features. Located on the Rue des Chantereines, the 26 Apartments in Montreuil is surrounded by a mix of 1960s housing blocks that range from structures that are five to 10 stories in height to smaller, standalone homes with gardens. Creating a building sensitive to these different building typologies was paramount to the design, as was injecting a contemporary morphology. As a result, the architects decided to split the affordable housing complex into two blocks: a street-facing “urban” block that sits opposite the multistory, midcentury housing blocks and a second “residential” block tucked farther back on the block. A communal garden and gathering space planted with deciduous trees occupies the space between the two buildings. Related: A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans “These accommodations where first offered to local families who could not easily afford to be owners,” Benjamin Fleury said in a project statement. “The principle of the social ownership is simple: in addition to the regulation of low prices, families can contract a loan without pre-existing capital, and then become owners after a first step of renting. Because of the economic flimsiness of the buyers, who already have to assume their loans, it appeared essential to reduce effectively the maintenance costs of the building.” In addition to reducing the cost of maintenance, the architects wanted to reduce energy costs. Passive solar principles were followed to take advantage of natural light, ventilation and shading while heat loss and unwanted solar gain are mitigated with triple-glazed windows. Insulation is also built into the double-layered facade. A double-flow mechanical ventilation system and solar hot water heaters help reduce heating demands. + Benjamin Fleury Photography by David Boureau via Benjamin Fleury

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Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris

A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

July 2, 2019 by  
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New Orleans-based firm Office of Jonathan Tate has unveiled a modern residential complex for combat veterans and their families. Located in the Gentilly district of the city, the Bastion Community is comprised of 29 two-unit apartment buildings laid out specifically in a way to foster social interaction. Additionally, considering the area’s history for severe flooding, the development was constructed with several resilient features . Located on a formerly vacant lot that spans 6.4 acres, the Bastion Community is now a vibrant residential complex comprising 29 apartment buildings, each containing two units. Within the development, there are various one-, two- or three-bedroom options, ranging from 720 square feet to 1,200 square feet. Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen Already known locally for creating modern but affordable housing complexes, the architects specifically designed the Bastion Community to be a “protected but inclusive and thriving live-work environment” for post-9/11 combat veterans and their families. The layout of the homes as well as the on-site community and wellness center were part of a strategy to create a strong sense of community for those who often feel isolated. The homes are uniform in their design, which includes pitched roofs, pale exterior tones and wooden fencing. All units were built to be adapted to be ADA accessible . Considering the location has a long history of flooding , resiliency was at the forefront of the design. All of the structures are elevated off the landscape via concrete piers to allow flood waters to flow freely under the buildings without causing harm. Additionally, landscaping and building strategies for filtering, storing and returning water to the soil were also incorporated into the design. In addition to their resiliency, the apartments were designed to be sustainable and durable for years to come. Tight insulation and high-performance HVAC equipment were used to cut energy costs, and there are tentative plans to install solar panels in the future. Each unit has high vaulted ceilings and operable windows to allow for natural air ventilation. + Office of Jonathan Tate Via Dezeen Photography by William Crocker and aerial photography by Jackson Hill

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A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harms way

April 25, 2019 by  
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Nearly one out of every 10 low-income housing projects is in a flood zone. In Houston , residents of a government-subsidized complex have sued the landlord, arguing that the subsidy system unfairly traps them in a cycle of devastation with no choice but to continuously return to where their lives are at risk and where they have lost everything — year after year. Half a million Americans live in government subsidized housing that is at direct risk for flooding. This number is modest, because the estimate is based on historical climate data and does not reflect rapidly increasing rainfall patterns. Related: National Weather Service claims 2019 flooding could cause record-breaking damage In 2016, a storm flooded the Arbor Court Apartments in Houston and residents like Sharobin White lost her car and everything in her apartment. Then in 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and again White lost her car and all her possessions. Like thousands of low-income families, Ms. White’s housing voucher is specific to her building and therefore returning to her apartment — despite the trauma and toxic mold — is her only option. Low-income residents take legal action According to an investigative article by the New York Times, the Arbor Court Apartments — like many low-income complexes — is a privately-owned building that has a contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The landlord receives payment from the government in exchange for renting to low-income tenants. Despite the known risks and exorbitant recovery expenses after the flood in 2016, the government renewed its contract with Arbor Court. Given the housing crisis throughout the country, HUD argues that without these complexes, thousands of families would be homeless. In other words, the department believes providing vulnerable housing is more urgent and beneficial than sending half a million Americans out onto the street. Similarly, the landlord’s lawyer argues that this building is just as at risk as others in the area and that despite two back-to-back floods, such catastrophes are not the norm. Climate science, however, indicates that these “ freak storms ” are indeed becoming more frequent and therefore not something that the government can afford to ignore. Low-income communities require massive amounts of assistance and funding after disasters and are least capable of recovery. By taking the risk to continue to fund such inexpensive, but repeatedly vulnerable housing, the government is setting itself up for higher costs in the long run — including losses in infrastructure and lives. Still, the government and landlords are cutting corners on recovery efforts and forcing low-income residents to return home despite glaring health risks. “Arbor Court is not a close question,” Michael M. Daniel, a civil rights lawyer working on the case, told The New York Times. “How in the world it hasn’t flunked the ‘decent, safe and sanitary’ test — it’s beyond belief.” Discontinuing decades of discrimination and danger The connection between low-income housing and unsafe conditions is not new. Land in vulnerable areas is cheaper, and therefore readily available for government and low-income projects , just as low-income and minority residents have historically been segregated to undesirable housing near toxic sites. A major shift in planning, policy and budget priorities will be necessary to begin to reverse decades of discriminatory policies, but HUD could start by discontinuing contracts with buildings in vulnerable and damaged areas. Related: High tide coastal flooding in US has doubled in the past 30 years In Houston, the Arbor Court landlord is currently constructing a new complex located 25 miles away but in a safer zone — at least in terms of flooding . Although the landlord plans to accept the same housing vouchers at that complex, residents argue that this option is still unacceptable. The new complex is located in a high-crime neighborhood, and the residents and their lawyers argue this is further perpetuating segregation. Arbor Court residents are calling for subsidized housing vouchers that could be accepted anywhere, giving the families the ability to choose where they want to live. However, the reality is that without specific state legislation, most landlords can legally refuse these vouchers and discriminate against those who have them. Safer housing solutions Some states, such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, passed legislation prohibiting landlords from refusing Section 8 housing vouchers, which is an important step in housing reform and justice. Other housing experts propose “climate vouchers,” which could give affected families the option to relocate somewhere safer, rather than being required to return to their unsafe homes in order to keep their benefit. Another possible solution would be to use disaster mitigation grant funding toward long-term relocation of housing projects and other infrastructure. Last year, HUD received $16 billion for disaster mitigation, which could be used toward building in safer zones or retrofitting buildings to be more resilient to expected storms. Once residents are relocated, flood zones should be re-converted into wetlands and open spaces, where green infrastructure like underground levees provide critical defenses that protect inland buildings from flooding. Properly designed open spaces can not only protect urban infrastructure, but also provide recreational spaces, beautify neighborhoods and raise property values. This long-term, equitable planning could ultimately save the government millions in recovery dollars after disasters hit. Via The New York Times Images via Revolution Messaging and SC National Guard

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Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harms way

BIG completes low-income Homes for All project in Copenhagen

October 22, 2018 by  
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Beautiful yet affordable design-led apartments have been quickly completed in the northwest part of Copenhagen thanks to the power of prefabrication . Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group as part of the non-profit affordable housing association Lejerbo’s “Homes for All” mission, the Dortheavej Residence is a 6,800-square-meter curved building with 66 new homes for low-income clients. Clad in long wooden planks and stacked to create an attractive checkered pattern, the apartment modules feature soaring 3.5-meter ceilings and full-height glazing to let in plenty of natural light. Completed on a strict affordable housing budget of $9.8 million, the five-story Dortheavej Residence consists of apartments that range in size from 60 to 115 square meters. To keep costs low, a simple materials palette of concrete and wood was used. Since the new building is located in one of the city’s most diverse, low-income neighborhoods, the architects wanted to stress transparency and community. The full-height glazing, balconies and public spaces help achieve those goals. “Affordable housing is an architectural challenge due to the necessary budget restrictions,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “We have attempted to mobilize modular construction with modest materials to create generous living spaces at the urban as well as the residential scale. The prefabricated elements are stacked in a way that allows every second module an extra meter of room height, making the kitchen-living areas unusually spacious. By gently adjusting the modules , the living areas open more toward the courtyard while curving the linear block away from the street to expand the sidewalk into a public square. Economical constraints often lead to scarcity — at Dortheavej, we have managed to create added value for the individual as well as the community.” Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants The curve of the building frames a street-facing public plaza on the south side that will be landscaped with cherry trees and bicycle parking spaces, while an enclosed green courtyard for recreational activities is located on the northern end. + Bjarke Ingels Group Images by Rasmus Hjortshoj

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Casas Melhoradas explores sustainable and affordable housing in Mozambique

August 1, 2018 by  
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Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world—and its capital, Maputo, suffers from infrastructural challenges and urban sprawl. In hopes of initiating sustainable urban development in the city’s informal settlements, Johan Mottelson and Jørgen Eskemose of the Institute of Architecture, Urbanism & Landscape at KADK , the Mozambican NGO Estamos, and Architects without Borders – Denmark have teamed up to develop Casas Melhoradas , an affordable housing research project. Designed with urban density and sustainable practices in mind, the groups’ latest housing prototype features a low-rise high-density development sensitive to cultural and site context. Completed in 2018, the Casas Melhoradas housing prototype takes on a row-housing typology that fits six dwellings on a plot that normally would have been used for single-family housing, thereby combating urban sprawl and the capital’s “growing infrastructure deficit” through example. The primary building materials are concrete and compressed bricks made from local soil, which gives the earth blocks their reddish tone. The project was completed in collaboration with local builders, with whom the housing models, building techniques and production methods—including experiments with prefabrication—were tested. According to the project partners, “Casas Melhoradas is an applied research project on housing for low-income groups in the informal settlements of Maputo, Mozambique with a three-fold focus: 1) developing alternative construction methods to improve the quality and decrease the cost of housing; 2) developing housing typologies that utilize space and infrastructure more economically to initiate a more sustainable urban development; 3) engaging in construction of affordable rental housing through public and private partnerships to scale up the impact of the project.” Related: Awe-Inspiring Thatched Mozambique Home is Draped in Solar Panels The housing units, which are rented out through a local nonprofit housing organization that reinvests income into new housing projects, feature private outdoor kitchens (a necessity due to the predominate use of charcoal) equipped with gas stoves in an effort to reduce air pollution. Common courtyards offer shared bathrooms and laundry facilities. A green roof has also been installed to improve the microclimate. Casas Melhoradas is currently seeking donors and investors for future collaboration. + Casas Melhoradas

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Designers envision innovative affordable housing for Sydney

May 7, 2018 by  
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The Sydney Affordable Housing Challenge , organized by Bee Breeders , calls for ideas that try to solve the affordable housing shortage in Sydney. The competition attracted worldwide talent as designers attempted to create innovative solutions. Many of the successful entries offered more than just housing — they designed spaces that would build communities. Bridging Affordable Housing, the winning entry, intersperses  green-roof prefab housing units throughout the city. The project involves “a simple module : a structural bridge pier with decking that contains prefabricated housing units topped by a green roof.” Instead of stacking the units, the team designed the houses above the city’s streets like bridges. The second prize winner is “Newborn in the Crevice”, which combines housing units with public spaces in a structural grid. The simple vertical arrangement makes the design adaptable to population needs and economic conditions. Related: Tiny new flat-packed off-grid homes offer affordable housing breakthrough The third place project, TOD and Waterfront Housing, envisions “stacked prefabricated units floating within the bays of  Sydney .” It creates  waterfront  housing and commercial spaces and introduces a rail system to reduce dependence on cars. Finally, The BB Green Award winner was project Water Smart Home Sydney, which aims to sustainably harness energy from several sources, through both passive and active systems. The project authors said they hope their design helps to “…contribute ideas that could bring desirable living within reach of the majority of the population and lift the burden of housing affordability for young people and low-income families.” + Sydney Affordable Housing Challenge Via Archdaily

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Designers envision innovative affordable housing for Sydney

These new airless 3D-printed bicycle tires never go flat

May 7, 2018 by  
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Will cyclists pedal bikes with airless tires in the future? BigRep just unveiled a new set of 3D-printed bike tires and took them out for a whirl in Berlin, Germany. The airless tires are made from PRO FLEX Filament – a new thermoplastic elastomer that introduces flexibility to 3D-printing . Designer and test cyclist Marco Mattia Cristofori described the ride as “very smooth”. PRO FLEX Filament can be used with the BigRep One industrial 3D-printer and it boasts “high temperature resistance, low temperature impact resistance” and durability “with excellent damping behavior and dynamic properties.” Related: NASA’s new airless titanium tires are almost indestructible Possible applications for the material include skateboard wheels, sporting shoe shells — and bicycle tires. The flexibility of PRO FLEX is what enables it to work for the airless tires. Maik Dobberack of BigRep told CNET the idea behind the tires is that users could print and customize the treads and internal patterns for varying needs: mountain biking, cycling on roads or handling various weather conditions. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy the airless bicycle tires in a store at this point. Dobberack told CNET the tires were an “in-house industrial application design” not intended for large-scale production right now. “The main goal of the design was to inspire and explore the endless possibilities of large-scale 3D-printing,” Dobberack said. We printed the world's first 3D printed airless bicycle tire using our new PRO FLEX material – a TPU-based filament – and took it for a spin in Berlin. Stay tuned for some exciting news! #3dprinter#prototype #bigrep #design #3dprinting#additivemanufacturing #italiandesign #tpufilament A post shared by BigRep 3D Printers (@bigrep3dprinters) on May 3, 2018 at 7:52am PDT The company has also played around with 3D-printed wheel rims , also designed by Cristofori, in “a meeting of advanced design and industry.” Cristofori said, “With 3D printing you can prototype organic forms… It allows you to envision more complex shapes, because you don’t really have any limits.” Last year, Michelin unveiled concept tires that were also 3D-printed and airless; their Vision tire was printed with organic, recyclable materials and was completely biodegradable . + BigRep Via CNET Images and video courtesy of BigRep.com

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These new airless 3D-printed bicycle tires never go flat

DFA’s flood-proof towers could survive six feet of sea level rise in New York City

February 13, 2018 by  
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New York-based architecture firm DFA just unveiled plans for 19 cylindrical apartment towers that can survive six feet of sea level rise at Manhattan’s Pier 40. The towers are wrapped in lattice facades with lots of vegetation, and they’re designed to address the city’s lack of affordable housing and flood-resistant buildings . The towers would offer apartments as well as recreational and commercial spaces, and they’re designed for a site currently occupied by car parking facilities and a football field. The entire development is expected to function as a floating island in the event of flooding. The living units in the high-rises are set 60 inches above expected storm surge levels. An elevated path flows along the base of the clusters and connects a series of public pavilions . Related: Waterstudio’s Koen Olthuis on FLOAT! “Beyond 2050, as regular flooding begins to engulf the coastline as we know it, the landscape deck transforms into a floating island with new pathways built to connect the evolved wetland ecosystem to Manhattan,” said DFA. The architects designed the complex as a response to construction trends in New York. They describe it as a long-term solution that will “safeguard the city from rapid changes in the environment or protect future generations of people”. + DFA Via Dezeen

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DFA’s flood-proof towers could survive six feet of sea level rise in New York City

Local residents help build pre-fab bamboo social center that can be constructed in a week

January 24, 2018 by  
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Mexican studio  Comunal Taller de Arquitectura is proving yet again that bamboo is a miracle material when it comes to creating affordable housing options. Working with local residents, the studio has built a social housing structure in a small town outside of Puebla. Using a prefabricated bamboo frame, the architects worked side-by-side with the locals so that the residents would learn how to replicate its design – which can be built in just seven days – on their own. The architects have made a name for themselves thanks to their commitment to working with locals on self-build structures using local bamboo and other locally-sourced materials . In this project, however, the architects were forced to import bamboo from the United States due to government restrictions. Once the imported bamboo was available, the team, along with the local residents, used it to make a modular and prefabricated frame. Related: INTERVIEW: Bamboo builder, and Ibuku founder Elora Hardy on creating incredible buildings with bamboo Once the frame was in place, the skeleton of the prefab bamboo structure was constructed in less than a week. The second step consisted of building out the 60-square meter residence using local wood and stone. The various bamboo panels used throughout for the window shutters and the doors were coated with a local tissue known as ixtile for extra protection against the elements. Walls of red brick lattices provide natural air ventilation throughout the home and are helpful in rerouting any kitchen smoke to the exterior. On the interior, exposed bamboo trusses and beams form a slanted roof, which is topped with a thin metal sheet. The roof overhangs around the structure to provide shade for the wrap-around covered porch area. A grey paving makes up the flooring of the porches and continues throughout the interior. According to the architects, the rural housing design was approved for federal subsidies, meaning that the affordable and sustainable prototype could be easily replicated in other areas using local materials and methods . + Comunal Taller de Arquitectura Via Dezeen Images via Comunal Taller de Arquitectura

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Local residents help build pre-fab bamboo social center that can be constructed in a week

Kansas State students built this charming affordable home for low-income families

December 8, 2017 by  
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A group of fifth-year architecture students at Kansas State University teamed up with local firms El Dorado and Studio Build to design and build an affordable two-unit dwelling for low-income families. The Waldo Duplex, built for $200 per square foot, comprises carefully designed open spaces that strategically utilize  natural light . The duplex, built on a budget of $290,000, is located in a historic area of Kansas City, Missouri, dominated by single-family bungalows and shotgun homes. While the duplex has been dominated by generic, utilitarian form these days, the designers wanted to create something that stood out. The result is an unconventional housing solution amongst fairly uniform residential typology. The exterior and roof are clad in corrugated steel and features high-end finishes on the interior. Related: El Dorado brings Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Echo Ridge Community to Topeka, Kansas The students, working as part of Design+Make Studio, teamed up with two local studios to design this pair of apartments for low-income tenants. “This building type was conceived as a more compassionate way to meet housing needs in lower-income municipalities and neighborhoods without the density that is typical in affordable housing,” explained the team. The street-facing porches are enclosed within wooden slats and cantilever over the site. Each apartment offers 725 square feet (67 square meters) of space, with open-plan layouts that include living rooms, kitchens and dining areas. These spaces balance natural and artificial light, working in synergy and dialogue with each other. + Design+Make Studio + El Dorado Inc. + Studio Build Via Dezeen Photos by Mike Sinclair

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Kansas State students built this charming affordable home for low-income families

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