De Stijl-inspired modern home generates all of its own energy

July 10, 2019 by  
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When a couple decided to “break free” from their cookie-cutter home and realize their long-awaited eco-friendly dream home, they turned to Chapel Hill-based architect Arielle Condoret Schechter to bring their vision to life. With their grown son now out of the house, the couple wanted to downsize to a simple modernist home where they could peacefully age in place. Nestled in a secluded place in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, the resulting sustainable home is custom-designed to meet all their needs, from achieving net-zero energy to its modernist design with architectural elements inspired by the Netherlands-based De Stijl movement of the early 1900s. Completed earlier this year, the contemporary zero-energy home embraces the outdoors without compromising the clients’ needs for privacy. Along the front, street-facing elevation, architect Arielle Condoret Schechter installed a natural cypress screen that filters light, obscures views and references the surrounding woods. The windows along the front are also placed high up along the fiber cement walls. In contrast, the rear of the property is completely open to the outdoors with a large outdoor deck with full-height windows and walls painted with geometric blocks of primary colors in the style of the De Stijl art movement. “We want a house just for the two of us,” said the clients. “We don’t want to socialize. We want to be left alone to enjoy our life…[and have] a sheltered place to sit outside and watch the rain.” To meet the clients’ needs for aging in place, the architect created an interior with zero thresholds, curb-free showers and oversized doorways. Meanwhile, the couple can watch the outdoors in comfort from the south-facing deck that’s protected by a deeply cantilevered roof. Related: Net-zero Maine house is designed to blend into the forest with age The large roof overhangs around the entire house also help reduce solar heat gain and support a rooftop solar array. Highly efficient insulation wraps the home’s three rectilinear volumes to create an airtight envelope, while an energy recovery ventilator keeps indoor air fresh without producing ozone. In addition to following passive design principles such as maximizing natural light and ventilation wherever possible, the architect also installed windows and doors certified for Passive House Construction to ensure that the house archives Net Zero performance. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Images via Arielle Condoret Schechter

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De Stijl-inspired modern home generates all of its own energy

Green-roofed infill rental fills a gap in Vancouvers housing crisis

May 28, 2019 by  
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In light of Vancouver’s housing crisis , local architectural firm Haeccity Studio Architecture has transformed a 1950s bungalow in the city’s West End neighborhood into Comox Infill, a contemporary multi-family development with six dedicated rental units. Described by the firm as the “missing” piece from Vancouver’s urban fabric, this small-scale multi-family project is a case study for much-needed densification that doesn’t compromise on livability. Sandwiched between two heritage properties, the modern infill project thoughtfully references its traditional neighbors while considering key issues including walkability, car sharing, accessibility and aging in place. Located on a standard 33-foot-by-122-foot single-family lot in downtown Vancouver, Comox Infill is a three-story walk-up that includes six dedicated rental units for tenancy, a green roof  and a shared courtyard with a preserved, mature Cypress tree. The decidedly contemporary development relates to its urban context through its sloped roof, separate exterior dwelling entrances and human-scaled circulation. “Not quite a single-family home, and yet not a soaring condo tower, the missing middle typology offers something in between,” explained the firm. “In rethinking the possibilities for urban dwelling, it’s a solution that calls for incremental densification without drastically disrupting the character and community of existing neighborhoods. Comox Street embodies the desirable qualities of a missing middle typology, including walkable urban living, accessibility to a middle-income household and housing diversity, which are all essential to the continued fostering of a city’s social and cultural vibrancy.” Related: This space-saving tiny home offers sustainable housing atop garages in Sydney The Comox Infill consists of six rental suites of varying sizes. The ground level comprises a one-bedroom suite facing Comox Street, courtyard access, service rooms, bicycle storage and a two-bedroom suite in the rear that opens up to the lane. Above are a one-bedroom suite, a double-story two-bedroom suite and a double-story three-bedroom suite; all units overlook a long green roof. The third level includes an additional one-bedroom suite while the double-story units enjoy access to a shared rooftop courtyard . + Haeccity Studio Architecture Images via Haeccity Studio Architecture

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Green-roofed infill rental fills a gap in Vancouvers housing crisis

LEED Platinum home generates net-positive energy in Oregon

March 15, 2019 by  
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Built for clients who wanted a home with minimal site impact, the Live Edge residence is an environmentally friendly beacon that boasts not only LEED Platinum certification, but also generates  net-positive energy, as it produces more energy than it consumes on an annual basis. Nestled into a bluff among rock outcroppings and juniper trees in Oregon’s Deschutes County, the luxury dwelling is the work of Salem-based firm Nathan Good Architects . Drawing inspiration from the rugged landscape, the architects fitted the contemporary house with a natural materials palette and an earth-toned color selection that tie the architecture to its surroundings. Spanning an area of 4,200 square feet, Live Edge features an L-shaped layout informed by its environment. The northern wing houses the sleeping areas, including the spacious master suite, and two offices that are connected with the south-facing open-plan living areas by a long entrance hall. Floor-to-ceiling glazing floods the interior with light and views of the outdoors, while exterior terraces extend the living spaces to the outdoors. As an energy-positive home, the building is all-electric and is equipped with a 22-kW solar array that powers everything from the all-LED lighting to the 15 kW Tesla “Power Wall” battery back-up system. In 2018, the house was recorded to have generated 21,765 kWh of electricity, yet only used 17,287 kWh. Self-sufficiency is also secured with a 1,800-gallon potable water cistern, attached greenhouse for growing vegetables, an amateur radio tower, and a wood-burning fireplace. The project’s embodied energy was lowered with the repurposing of reclaimed shipping crates as interior flooring. Related: Solar-powered Noe Hill Smarthome is an eco-friendly dream in San Francisco To give the clients the ability to comfortably age in place in the home, Live Edge follows Universal Design principles. Every bathroom includes zero-threshold showers, grab bars, 36-inch door openings, and wash-let toilets. The home is also equipped with an elevator as well as ergonomic door and cabinet hardware. + Nathan Good Architects Images by Rick Keating

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LEED Platinum home generates net-positive energy in Oregon

Geothermal-powered forever home targets environmental and social sustainability

December 27, 2017 by  
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Japanese influence weaves throughout the stunning Pound Ridge Residence, a luxurious forever home in rural New York designed by Tsao & McKown Architects for an acclaimed international clothing designer and her husband. The strong architect-client relationship spanning the course of 20 years granted the architects design control not just over the architecture, but the landscape, interiors, and custom furnishings as well. Built to target environmental and social sustainability, the timber-framed house minimizes its energy and resource footprint and is designed for aging in place. Set on 30 acres of forested land, the 2,900-square-foot Pound Ridge Residence opens up to the outdoors through ample full-height glazing and covered walkways. “The structure is formed of exposed heavy timber construction , a rarity today, which, in addition to its natural beauty, has the added advantage of reducing the need for interior walls,” wrote the architects, adding that timber frame construction was built of local wood . “The load-bearing timber beams span the interiors and, with their darkened hues, recede from view as they frames the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the gardens and surrounding woods.” With design control over the architecture, interiors, furnishings, and landscaping, the architects achieved a customized and “holistically conceived environment” reflecting needs and preferences of the clients, whom they knew well. “With full awareness of how they live, work, and entertain, we conceived the furnishings simultaneously with the architecture,” said the architects. Related: Solar-powered forever home is a modern take on the rustic farmhouse The single-story home mainly features open-plan layouts that take advantage of natural ventilation and light through sliding glass doors, windows, and operable timber panels. Light is also let in through two large asymmetrically shaped skylights. Radiant geothermal heating and cooling regulate indoor temperatures and are complemented by two hearths with sculptural custom bronze chimneys. Low-energy materials were used in construction and all excavated stone was reused in the gardens and landscape. The exterior spaces and landscaping feature native species and minimize impermeable paving to capture runoff water. + Tsao & McKown Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Simon Upton

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Geothermal-powered forever home targets environmental and social sustainability

Cities in Scotland to start universal basic income trials

December 27, 2017 by  
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Select residents of  Glasgow , Edinburgh, Fife, and North Ayrshire will soon begin receiving unconditional monthly payments as part of a Scottish universal basic income experiment. Universal basic income (UBI) is a policy that offers direct unconditional income for all citizens to ensure that everyone benefits from a basic standard of living. UBI is currently being tested in Scotland, as well as countries like Canada and Finland, and has attracted £250,000 (~$334,500) in public funding for feasibility studies. The selected cities must submit their plans for locally implementing the basic income program by March 2018. Proponents of a basic income claim that it will be necessary to implement UBI in some form in order to compensate for the major economic disruption and potential job losses from increasing automation due to advanced artificial intelligence . While the idea is still controversial, it is being increasingly taken seriously in cities and countries around the world. “It might turn out not to be the answer, it might turn out not to be feasible,” said Scotland ‘s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. “But as work changes as rapidly as it is doing, I think its really important that we are prepared to be open-minded about the different ways that we can support individuals to participate fully in the new economy.” Related: Wind power supplied 124% of household electricity needs in Scotland from January through June Scotland is not alone in its endeavor to understand how UBI might feasibly function. California , the Netherlands, Ontario, India, Italy, and Uganda all took steps in 2017 towards someday being able to implement a UBI system. In California, this work is being supported by companies like Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s largest start-up accelerator. “In a world where technology eliminates jobs, it will mean that the cost of having a great life goes down a lot,” tweeted Sam Altman, president at Y Combinator. “But without something like basic income, I don’t think we can really have equality of opportunity.” Via ScienceAlert Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Cities in Scotland to start universal basic income trials

Historic White House tree to be chopped down

December 27, 2017 by  
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The Jackson Magnolia that has adorned the White House South Lawn since the 1800s is coming down. Brought by President Andrew Jackson from Tennessee, and said to be planted in memory of his wife Rachel who died not too long after his 1828 election, the tree is slated for removal later this week. According to CNN , First Lady Melania Trump made the call as the tree is reportedly too decayed to stay in place. The Jackson Magnolia is the oldest on White House grounds, reported CNN. There have been many efforts to preserve it over the years, such as a cabling system. United States National Arboretum specialists came in at the request of the White House to assess the tree, and CNN obtained documents that said, “The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support. Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago. Presently, and very concerning, the cabling system is failing on the east trunk, as a cable has pulled through the very thin layer of wood that remains. It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail.” Related: Washington DC’s national monuments are getting slimed White House officials fear the tree could fall when President Donald Trump’s helicopter takes off nearby. The First Lady’s director of communications Stephanie Grisham told CNN, “After reviewing the reports, [Mrs. Trump] trusted that every effort had been made to preserve the historic tree and was concerned about the safety of visitors and members of the press who are often standing right in front of the tree during Marine One lifts,” adding the First Lady asked that wood from the Jackson Magnolia be preserved. CNN reported offshoots of the tree have grown to around eight to 10 feet tall at an undisclosed location nearby, and there are plans for a new Jackson Magnolia to be planted in place of the old. Via CNN Images via U.S. Pacific Command and achuertas on Flickr

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Historic White House tree to be chopped down

Double whirlpool spotted in nature for the first time

December 27, 2017 by  
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Scientists at the University of Liverpool have observed “double whirlpools” in the natural world for the first time. Until now, the unusual fluid dynamics phenomenon had only been theoretically envisioned. While eddies, whirlpools that can span hundreds of miles in the open ocean , are not uncommon, two connected eddies spiraling in opposite directions was previously unheard of. “Ocean eddies almost always head to the west, but by pairing up they can move to the east and travel ten times as fast as a normal eddy, so they carry water in unusual directions across the ocean,” said Chris Hughes, study lead-author and University of Liverpool oceanographer. The double-whirlpools are known as modons and were suspected to exist for decades, though scientists had never acquired hard evidence of their existence. This changed when Hughes began to closely study satellite footage of the ocean surrounding Australia . “I happened to notice one little feature down in the Tasman Sea [between Australia and New Zealand] that was behaving very strangely compared to everywhere else,” Hughes told Popular Science . “Almost all these eddies drift slowly westwards, but this little feature was going quickly eastwards.” Related: Scientists find the Earth’s constant hum is coming from the ocean floor After further investigation, Hughes and his team learned that modons are not actually as rare as once thought. Satellites had been recording images of the phenomenon for decades, though scientists had not known where to look for them. Although there is still much research to be done, scientists believes that a double-whirlpool may form when two whirlpools collide with each other in the ocean. It is also possible that modons emerge as a result of friction impacting a whirlpool close to the coast. After formation, a modon casts a U-shaped underwater vortex and can endure for up to six months. Given their size and speed, modons may play an important role in ocean ecology. “My thinking is that these linked, fast moving eddies could ‘suck-up’ small marine creatures and carry them at high speed and for long distances across the ocean,” Hughes said. “You would get particular blobs of water where the biology and the conditions are totally different from the surrounding area. It’s quite possible there are shoals of particular types of fish following these eddies for their special conditions. Fish would actually actively follow the eddies by choice because of what’s in them.” Via ScienceAlert Images via DepositPhotos , NASA , University of Liverpool and Depositphotos

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Double whirlpool spotted in nature for the first time

Cypress home embedded in the landscape lets rainwater flow underneath

May 17, 2017 by  
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O’Neill Rose Architects designed a home for a nature loving couple that maximizes the experience of the outdoors. Located in the countryside of Sheffield, Massachusetts, the Undermountain home covers a spacious 3,000 square feet across a linear footprint. The elevated home also allows rainwater to flow underneath through a boulder-strewn rain garden and out to the meadow beyond. Built for a couple who wanted a home where they could age in place, Undermountain was conceived as a single-story building so that the occupants could live comfortably without fear of future mobility issues. To mitigate slope changes on site, the long and rectangular building is anchored into a hill on one side, while stone blocks support the other end above marshy wetland . A boulder-strewn rain garden occupies the gap between the stone blocks. Related: Beautiful Maine home uses passive solar principles to achieve near net-zero energy Inspired by the rural vernacular, Undermountain is clad in vertical strips of ebony-stained cypress and punctuated with large windows that frame key vistas. Rural inspiration and cypress can also be found in the interior, which is contemporary with clean lines and light-filled spaces. The addition of a screened porch allows enjoyment of the outdoors year-round. + O’Neill Rose Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Michael Moran

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Cypress home embedded in the landscape lets rainwater flow underneath

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