Net-zero prefab home stacks together and expands like childrens blocks

October 10, 2017 by  
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Wish you could expand the size of your home without breaking the bank? A group of architecture students from the University of California, Berkeley and University of Denver created RISE, an affordable and sustainable housing solution that lets you do just that. Conceived for urban infill lots, the adaptable and scalable solar-powered home stacks together like children’s blocks and can expand up to three stories with up to five units of multifamily living. RISE—which stands for Residential, Inviting, Stackable, Efficient—was designed specifically for Richmond, California, a coastal city struggling with a shortage of affordable, sustainable housing. Flexibility is key to the RISE design, which boasts customizable floor plans with moveable walls and windows to meet the needs of diverse occupants. The moveable walls, installed on a track system, can roll to the sides to transform three-quarters of the interior into an open-plan area or can be used to delineate multiple rooms. Transforming furniture and modular cabinetry support this versatile floor plan. Modular, prefabricated construction makes the home scalable and stackable, and gives homeowners the ability to transform their home from a single-story family unit into a multigenerational dwelling. The house can be constructed efficiently without specialized labor. Sustainability is also an important factor to RISE, which is designed to achieve net-zero energy consumption and is powered by solar energy. Daylighting and access to natural ventilation is optimized throughout the home, while wool insulation helps lock in stable and comfortable indoor temperatures. A green wall of moss covers the north facade. RISE was completed as University of California, Berkeley and University of Denver’s entry to the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition, after which the home will be donated to the Denver Habitat for Humanity, which will install it on a permanent lot and sell it to a family in need. Related: Transformable solar building changes shape to teach people how to live sustainably “At $200,000, a single RISE unit is less expensive than 72% of homes in the city,” wrote the students . “Whereas this fact is significant, what really increases the affordability of RISE is that five units can fit onto a single lot that traditionally would host just one home. The RISE home’s stacked design and large open roof-deck spaces allows greater density and a lower price point per unit while preserving the open feel of a neighborhood home, which residents both need and desire to build community. Though designed specifically for Richmond, this approach would translate well to other urban centers that currently face a shortage of affordable housing.” + Solar Decathlon Images via Mike Chino

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Net-zero prefab home stacks together and expands like childrens blocks

Cozy egg-shaped treehouses offer stunning views of the Italian Alps

October 10, 2017 by  
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A pair of adorable egg-shaped treehouses is hidden away in one of Italy’s oldest forests. Architetto Beltrame Claudio designed these dreamy retreats, called Pigna, that overlook stunning views of the Italian Alps. Inspired by the shape and texture of pinecones, these shingled dwellings are carefully designed to blend into the landscape while serving as a cozy and elegant getaway. Pigna was originally conceived for an architecture competition in 2014 but was only recently completed this year in Malborghetto Valbruna, Italy. The 70-square-meter project comprises two treehouses and both are elevated ten meters off the ground with three stories each. The egg-shaped buildings were constructed from cross-laminated timber with wood fiber insulation. Larch shingles clad the curved exterior punctuated by two covered balconies framing views of the outdoors. Related: Egg-Shaped HemLoft Treehouse is Nestled in the Forests of Whistler “The project started from the desire to create a structure that is not only a refuge for man, but also a natural element of its environment, a mimesis of its surrounding,” wrote the architects. “From the tree, for the tree.” The treehouses are anchored to nearby trees. Both the first and second floors can be reached via outdoor stairs or a walkway. The first floor serves as panoramic covered terrace, whereas the second houses the main living areas with a small kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The bedroom with a double bed placed beneath a circular skylight is located on the third floor. Wooden stairs connect all three floors. + Architetto Beltrame Claudio Via ArchDaily Images via Architetto Beltrame Claudio , interior shots by Laura Tessaro

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Cozy egg-shaped treehouses offer stunning views of the Italian Alps

Life-saving LifeArk snaps together like LEGO to provide emergency off-grid housing

August 28, 2017 by  
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Architect Charles Wee didn’t have grand plans to save the world—but that’s exactly what his incredible LifeArk could do. Designed for disaster relief, LifeArk is a prefabricated, modular building system for quickly deployable and affordable housing that can operate 100% off the grid . These self-sustainable life-saving homes, which can be scaled up into communities, can pop up virtually anywhere to float on water or be anchored on land. Thanks to its innovative HDPE materials and production methods, LifeArk clicks together like LEGOs in just a few hours and slashes the total design and construction time for prefabricated architecture in half. LifeArk was recently honored as a 2017 BFI Fuller Challenge Semifinalist . Charles Wee’s architectural career spans a start at AECOM to the founding of international firm GDS Architects . In recent years, however, he began thinking about changing his focus in architecture. “I was sick of conventional architecture,” Wee told Inhabitat in an interview. “Then I had a conversation with a family member that became a light bulb moment. Twelve years ago, my cousin moved to Santa Rosa Island in a part of the Amazon River near the borders of Brazil and Peru to work as a missionary. It’s an area of extreme poverty. I didn’t know much about his work until 2013, when my cousin came out to California and we talked about the way the community lives.” “Their entire existence revolves around fighting flooding. It can flood up to 8 meters high—that’s like 3 stories tall. For 8 months out of the year they must live above water in stilt houses but most of the time the water will come way above that. I saw that in person and understood it as a design and engineering problem. I began to think of floating architecture and buoyant solutions—trying to solve this problem is really what started LifeArk.” His meeting and visit with the people of Santa Rosa opened the doors for Wee to see the worldwide need for floating prefabricated housing. “I couldn’t believe the number,” he said. “There are hundreds of millions of people along floodplains around the world who live under threat.” Wee then assembled a team of experts and engineers to create a sustainable modular solution that could be mass-produced, easily deployable, and assembled. Their solution became LifeArk. The LifeArk components are prefabricated using rotational molding technology; their California factory is expected to stamp out 10 modules a day with around 20 components each. The 60-square-meter modules would then be sent to a second factory to be fitted with the fixed features, such as a kitchenette and off-grid elements like solar panels, before the components are packed into a shipping container for transit. Once onsite, each module can be quickly assembled using unskilled labor and standard tools in as little as 2 hours. Approximately 20 to 24 modules would be needed to construct a house, and the modular buildings can be scaled up and infinitely configured to form a community. Related: Peru plans to dam Amazon River’s main source and displace thousands “They’re like LEGOs,” explained Wee. “You just ‘click, click, click’ and you can bolt the parts together. They all fit together in a shipping container and can be transported to site. While manufacturing is being done we would prep the site, and then it’ll be say to bolt the module on top. All the machinery will be inside already so the only skilled labor needed on site is connections to sewers. But there’s also the option for 100% off-grid capability.” After four years of research and development, the LifeArk team is about ready to deploy their first prototype in March 2018. Three or four buildings will be prefabricated in California and installed on a lake near Dallas, Texas, along with an attached hydroponics farm. Wee also plans to sell LifeArk buildings to cities and organizations looking for affordable homeless housing . Profits will fund the construction and deployment of LifeArk buildings across the world for refugee housing, disaster relief, and other humanitarian purposes. LifeArk was selected as one of 17 proposals to advance in the semifinals for the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge , an annual honor known as “socially responsible design’s highest award.” + LifeArk

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Life-saving LifeArk snaps together like LEGO to provide emergency off-grid housing

Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

March 24, 2017 by  
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Semi-arid regions of Africa face unique obstacles in their efforts to address a growing housing crisis . For years people built roofs with bush timber, but thanks to climate change and deforestation , those building methods are no longer feasible. And sheet metal is simply too expensive for most rural families. So the Nubian Vault Association is bringing back an ages-old sustainable building material: mud bricks . Back in 2000, Burkina Faso farmer Seri Youlou and Frenchman Thomas Granier started the association, which is also known by its French name Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN). They resurrected what they call the Nubian Vault technique, or the process of constructing sturdy vaulted roofs with mud bricks similar to processes employed centuries ago in ancient Egypt. The brings are simply formed with earth and water and then dried in the sun. Houses with these vaulted roofs last for at least 50 years, or even more if they are well maintained. They’re also cheaper than tin or timber, and stay warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Related: Bioclimatic Preschool Built with Rammed Earth and Mud Bricks Keeps Cool in the Moroccan Heat The association also works for economic growth by training local apprentices and supporting village masons in multiple West African countries. They aim for a self-sustaining Nubian Vault market, and according to Curbed, their A Roof, A Skill, A Market program has made a $22 million economic impact. They’ve trained over 380 masons, with hundreds more learning as apprentices. The group has now helped homeowners build over 1,800 homes across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. A Nubian Vault home costs around $1,000, and families can lower costs by making their own mud bricks. Not only has the technique helped put a roof over families’ heads and driven economic development, it’s benefited the environment as well. According to AVN , since September 2015 Nubian Vault homes have saved around 55,000 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere. + The Nubian Vault Association Via Curbed Images via The Nubian Vault Facebook

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Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

March 24, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking to greenify your home, look no further than the plant-filled Living Table . At first glance, the table appears to be a simple square planter covered in a glass top, but an integrated capillary system within the design actually mimics how plants naturally grow, while eliminaing the need for drainage. The high-tech system offers an attractive low-maintenance planter that even those without a green thumb can manage. The Living Table has an integrated passive sub irrigation system that creates a capillary action where water flows upwards. This system, along with the ideal balance of moisture to aeration in the base, results in an attractive planter that doesn’t need drainage. The low-maintenance design, which allows the plants to auto regulate, is perfect for those who find themselves constantly killing their plants because of too much or too little water. Related: Give your succulents their own spacesuits with this 3D-printed planter As far as planting, the  Living Table system is designed for low-growing, ground cover type plants that won’t grow tall enough to touch the glass. Standard 4” plant containers or smaller can be placed directly onto the Habitat Horticulture Growtex capillary mat or plants can be directly planted into the table base using any standard potting soil. Although the planter design is meant to be low-maintenance, the manufacturers are careful to point out that the plants’ specific needs should be considered before planting. The Living Table comes in two sizes with either a stainless steel or powder white finish, and can be all yours for as little as $850.00. + The Living Table

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Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

CargoTek taps shipping containers for affordable UK homes and offices

January 27, 2017 by  
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Shipping containers can be a great solution for creating temporary, easily transportable spaces. London-based company CargoTek has recognized the versatility of modular, prefabricated structures with several cost-effective, rapidly deployable designs that require minimal infrastructure. Among their developments made from shipping containers is the Cobbler’s Thumb Development in Brighton and an emergency housing scheme for London ‘s Ealing borough. CargoTek’s plug-and-play innovative space solutions work across many sectors and applications, for both semi-permanent and temporary developments. All of their projects are designed to the same standard as regular buildings and are fully compliant with local building regulations. Related: Nha Trang’s first hostel built from recycled shipping containers pops up in Vietnam The Cobblers Thumb Development in Brighton comprises eight small business units, which range from five to 28 square meters. It took just 10 weeks to complete by local sub-contractors. The emergency housing scheme for Ealing in London addresses a housing shortage for vulnerable populations, offering accommodation for people who would have otherwise had to relocate away from their families and jobs. + CargoTek

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CargoTek taps shipping containers for affordable UK homes and offices

Tiny new flat-packed off-grid homes offer affordable housing breakthrough

September 21, 2016 by  
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For 11 years, Australia ‘s five major cities have been listed as “severely unaffordable” – making home ownership just a dream for many. Architect Alex Symes realized home ownership is typically tied to land ownership, but land prices are now so high, most people can’t afford to buy. As a result, Alex started Big World Homes . The goal is to disrupt expensive city housing with tiny , flat-packed, off-grid homes that sell for between $60K and $80K in Australian dollars, or around $45K to $60K. https://vimeo.com/180534968 A Big World Home is created with 39 flat-pack panels, which are comprised of ” low environmental impact materials “, including plywood, thermal insulation, and lightweight cladding. Even people without building experience can erect a Build World Home using a drill and a hammer, with access to online support. Related: Solar-powered POD-Idladla is a tiny flat-pack home for two that lets you live almost anywhere A basic home is equipped with a bed, living room, and bathroom complete with plumbing. The home is powered by solar panels and receives running water via rainwater tanks. The whole home, built atop a trailer, is portable. A Big World Home can even grow with a family; owners can add more modules to add more space to their home. Land is still a factor, but Big World Homes partners with ” developers, councils, community groups, and individual landowners ” to find land spaces from unused plots to backyards where one Big World Home or a pop-up community can be erected. On September 29 in Waterloo, Australia, a group of “non-skilled volunteers” will build a Big World House in a few hours using solely a drill and a hammer. That home will be displayed at the Sydney Architecture Festival from September 30 to October 3, 2016. Big World Homes is also crowdsourcing via Chuffed to build that first home and a pioneer community. You can donate here . + Big World Homes + Big World Homes Chuffed Campaign Images courtesy of Big World Homes

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Tiny new flat-packed off-grid homes offer affordable housing breakthrough

Germany unveils worlds first zero-emissions hydrogen-powered passenger train

September 21, 2016 by  
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French company Alstom unveiled the first-ever passenger train powered completely by hydrogen at this week’s Berlin InnoTrans trade show . The hydrogen train or “hydrail” will be put into service on Germany’s Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony by December 2017. After two years in development, the “Coradia iLint” train offers a zero-emissions alternative to Germany’s existing fleet of diesel trains, thanks to a roof-mounted tank of hydrogen fuel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3bUE9uHkqM The hydrail is an electric train operating with a hydrogen fuel tank on its roof that powers a fuel cell to generate electricity. This train, and others like it to come in the future, are part of a big push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The Coradia iLint will be the first of its kind to carry passengers along the railway, as most other innovations in hydrail technology have been focused on cargo transport. Related: China develops first fuel cell light rail locomotive “Alstom is proud to launch a breakthrough innovation in the field of clean transportation which will complete its Coradia range of regional trains,” said Alstom chairman and CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge, in a statement. “It shows our ability to work in close collaboration with our customers and develop a train in only two years.” Due to its electric engine, the Coradia iLint is much quieter than traditional diesel trains. In fact, even at its top speed of 87 miles per hour (140 km/h), the only sound passengers will hear comes from the motion of the wheels and air resistance. Although the hydrail trains are reportedly more expensive than existing diesel models, officials in other parts of Germany, as well as in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, are interested in bringing the clean running trains to their regular rail services as well. Via The Local Images via Alstom

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Germany unveils worlds first zero-emissions hydrogen-powered passenger train

Tiny House Nation’s Zack Giffin will teach veterans to build their own homes

July 15, 2016 by  
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There are nearly 50,000 homeless veterans every night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nonprofit Operation Tiny Home (OTH) decided to help veterans find a solution through tiny homes . Now they’re teaming up with Tiny House Nation ‘s Zack Giffin to offer a three-day workshop in Wisconsin to build homes for the James A. Peterson Veterans Village . The Wisconsin workshop will teach veterans how to construct their own tiny homes, in addition to giving them valuable job skills. The workshop is aimed at all skill levels. Not only will attendees be taught carpentry skills necessary to build their own homes for the James A. Peterson Veterans Village, they’ll learn about design concepts and how to read blueprints. Milwaukee Tools, USA will supply the tools for the workshop . Through the veterans village, Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin aims to give veterans the chance to have stable housing and become ” productive members of society ” again. Related: How Tiny House Villages Could Solve America’s Homeless Epidemic Zack Giffin said in a press release, “Veterans need quality, yet affordable homes, that provide dignity with their living situation, security, and an opportunity to be supported by their country…It’s about recognizing that financial stress and housing insecurity play a huge part in the mental well-being of many of our nation’s veterans.” OTH said tiny homes can offer “a high level of independence and dignity” for veterans who have struggled with finding housing in the past. This will will take place July 22-24, but Giffin and OTH hope to “jumpstart” more workshop programs around the United States. Other collaborative workshops are in the works for Washington, Tennessee, California, Texas, and Indiana. OTH Executive Director Gabrielle Rapport said, “These workshops are powerful and provide veterans with a sense of purpose and connection to their community.” + Operation Tiny Home + Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin Images via Zack Giffin Facebook and Operation Tiny Home Facebook

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Tiny House Nation’s Zack Giffin will teach veterans to build their own homes

Biotrap is the world’s first 100% biodegradable mosquito trap

July 15, 2016 by  
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If you’re concerned about the Zika virus or simply keen to prevent pesky mosquito bites, you may not have to use DEET-filled sprays or citronella candles anymore. Canada-based Greenlid Envirosciences decided there had to be a better alternative, so they designed Biotrap, a mosquito trap that is both biodegradable and compostable . Biotraps are designed to help protect against mosquito-borne diseases, and they’re easy to use. All a person needs is to add water and the trap takes care of the rest. Greenlid Envirosciences even recommends using dirty water for convenience in both rural and urban areas, and no upkeep is required. Related: This billboard imitates human sweat to snare mosquitoes Biotraps include ” both attractant and environmentally safe insecticide ,” drawing in female mosquitoes, according to the company. There’s only about 0.0125 grams of the insecticide Bifenthrin in each Biotrap, and Greenlid Envirosciences said the minimal concentration means the trap is non-toxic. The trap acts as a ” simulated breeding ground ” that kills off both the female mosquito and the larvae. It’s highly effective too. According to Greenlid Envirosciences, the Biotraps eliminate more than 95 percent of the larvae. The waterproof, compostable containers are made with ” end-life recycled cardboard ” and will break down in four to six weeks. They’ve already been deployed to Brazil, Colombia, Florida, Pakistan, and Hawaii. The Australian government has also ordered Biotraps to protect against Queensland dengue outbreaks, and Greenlid Envirosciences is seeking to work with other agencies and governments to help people in regions with outbreaks of mosquito-borne illness. Soon you can order your own Biotrap via an Indiegogo campaign that launches July 18. Greenlid Envirosciences will donate one Biotrap for each trap purchased through partners Direct Relief and the International Medical Corps . You can sign up for updates here . + Greenlid Envirosciences Images via Biotraps Facebook

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Biotrap is the world’s first 100% biodegradable mosquito trap

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