Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

April 6, 2020 by  
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As one of the most beautiful states in the country, Maine offers an infinite number of advantages. But the state’s notoriously frigid winters often leave new residents desperate to find some respite from the long, cold months. After spending a few years in a drafty home where she and her family lived in multiple layers of clothing, author Jessica Kerwin Jenkins and her husband decided to build their own energy-efficient home. The result is an incredible barn-inspired structure that uses solar power and multiple passive features to keep the stunning interior living spaces warm and cozy throughout the year. Once they set out to build a new home, the couple researched passive house concepts that would suit their family’s needs, which included a comfortable living space where they wouldn’t have to dress in 10 layers of warm clothing for six months out of the year. With the help of a local architect, the couple set out to build an extremely airtight structure that used solar power and passive strategies to create an energy-efficient home with a minimal carbon footprint. Related: Beautiful Maine home uses passive solar principles to achieve near net-zero energy Located in the quaint community of Blue Hill, the beautiful home is tucked into an old blueberry field just minutes away from a secluded cove. The incredibly idyllic setting set the tone for the design, which focused on creating something that would fit the region’s style but also reap the benefits of modern sustainability. As for aesthetics, Jenkins explained that she and her husband were both intrigued by the traditional Japanese practice of shou sugi ban . But they ended up cladding the home in something that would pay homage to the local seaside community — pitch tar. Typically used to weatherproof ships’ masts, the material is durable, low-maintenance and highly insulative. Additionally, the jet-black exterior allows the home to both stand out and blend in with its natural surroundings. “We always wanted to do a black house, which seems really dramatic — but there are so many evergreens here that it disappears into the tree line,” Jenkins said. The house is topped with a 26-panel, 7.8 kW solar array on the pitched roof, generating more power than the home uses. The exterior is punctuated with an abundance of triple-paned windows that, thanks to the home’s southern orientation, provide optimal solar gain to keep the interiors warm. At 2,288 square feet, the four-bedroom home is quite spacious. Plentiful windows and high ceilings add to the modern feel of the living spaces. For an extra touch of warmth, the home is equipped with a radiant floor heating and an air exchanger that pulls in air from outside and passes it through a filter. This stunning, eco-friendly home set in an unbelievable location, not far from Acadia National Park, can be all yours for just $585,000 , as it is currently listed for sale. + Christopher Group Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Bruce Frame Photography via Christopher Group

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Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

Whimsical timber home in England is inspired by oast houses

March 31, 2020 by  
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London-based architectural firm ACME has created a unique home inspired by traditional oast houses used for drying hops as part of the beer brewing process. Surrounded by expansive orchards, the Bumpers Oast House features four rising conical, timber towers, all clad in locally sourced, handcrafted brick tiles. The homeowners of the Bumpers Oast House came close to buying and restoring an old structure when they first came to Kent years ago. Deciding against the idea at the time, they eventually turned to ACME years later to design a new home that would feature a fun, modern twist on the classic architectural style of the area. Related: A circular home in Germany produces biogas for self-sufficiency Placed in a natural setting of orchard trees and lush greenery, the home’s four modules rise out of the ground and become conical at the top. Traditionally, oast houses had open cowls at the very top to let the hot air escape. In the Bumpers Oast House, this idea translated into operational skylights that bring natural light deep into the residence. ACME chose timber as the main building material for its flexibility, resilience and insulating properties. The conical tops of the towers were all manufactured offsite and installed on top of the main bases via crane. For the brick tile cladding, the architects went local, turning to artisans to craft and install the 41,000 tiles that cover the exterior. The exterior features dark red brick tiles at the base that slowly change to a light orange color at the very top of the towers, creating an eye-catching gradient. Inside, the four modules come together to form a very bright and modern dwelling. Clad in plywood, the interior features cylindrical rooms with custom-made, curved furniture. Plentiful windows, plus those gorgeous skylights, brighten the communal areas, including the kitchen, dining and living spaces. Accessible by a helical timber staircase, the second level houses the bedrooms as well as several auxiliary spaces that can be used as offices, playrooms, or guest rooms. Each bedroom features its own private staircase that leads up to the top of its corresponding conical tower, opening up to fun, treehouse -like spaces that overlook the green landscape. + ACME Via ArchDaily Photography by Jim Stephenson via ACME

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Whimsical timber home in England is inspired by oast houses

Nearly 20 living trees support this lush garden arbor in Japan

March 31, 2020 by  
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After nearly 20 years, Tokyo-based architecture firm APL design workshop recently returned to the Maezawa Garden House in Kurobe, Japan to update the grounds for the Theater Olympic 2019 international drama festival. In addition to updating the outdoor amphitheater that they had completed in 1989, the architects created the new White Flower Arbor, a stunning open-air pavilion, supported by 17 living oak and cedar trees, that blurs the boundaries between nature and architecture.  Located near the Japan Sea, the Maezawa Garden House was created by Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Maki Fumihiko in 1982 for global Japanese company YKK. Surrounded by forest on all sides, the vast property stretches from northeast to the southwest with the house on the east end, an outdoor amphitheater on the west side and a long, undulating lawn with a natural garden in between. The amphitheater , also known as the Open Air Theater, comprises a circular, grassy mound and a semicircular slope with timber steps; the open layout and the long adjacent lawn allows for events that can accommodate anywhere from 300 to 1,000 spectators. Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France When the outdoor amphitheater was selected as one of the venues for the Theater Olympics 2019, APL design workshop was asked to add stage lighting to the steps — built from reclaimed railroad ties — and temporary dressing rooms, which the architects created from repurposed shipping containers lined with timber.  To provide a rest space for visitors, the architects also designed the new White Flower Arbor, an open-air pavilion with a lightweight roof supported by 26 pillars that include 17 living trees and 9 steel columns. The pavilion, which was meant to be temporary, has now become a permanent feature of the grounds due to popular demand. The architects said, “As this gazebo sits on the foot of a slope covered by a forest — almost like a Japanese Shinto shrine — its entity sinking into the forest looks like a part of nature from the outside, while on the inside, its chilly air and darkness bring the people in the gazebo to a world of myth.” + APL design workshop Photography by Kitajima Toshiharu / Archi Photo via APL design workshop

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Nearly 20 living trees support this lush garden arbor in Japan

Volkswagen revamps classic 1960s microbus into a cool electric ride

March 25, 2020 by  
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Volkswagen campers have been the choice of many road warriors since the 1950s. Now, the iconic car manufacturer has just unveiled an electric option of the classic T1 Samba Bus. Although the new-and-improved microbus still boasts its original hippie-era coolness, the revamped e-BULLI is now powered by a 61kW electric motor. Since the 1960s, the T1 Samba Bus has been a symbol of road adventures across the globe. With enough seating to fit a large family or group of friends, the iconic microbus has been a top VW model for decades. Related: These campers made from 1970’s VW Bugs are the cutest things ever Now, the German car manufacturer has decided to bring the Samba into the 21st century by electrifying the beloved van. While keeping the recognizable shape of the 21-window body, VW added a 61kW electric motor. And lest you think that the new electric system will slow the van down, not to worry. The state-of-the-art electric motor actually provides twice as much power as the original engine. The new version of the VW classic was made possible by a collaboration with eClassics , a firm specializing in electric car conversions. Working closely with VW, the company replaced the engines in the Samba Bus models Type 1, 2 and 3 to run on 82-horsepower electric motors instead of the Sambas’ original 43-horsepower four-cylinder motors. The motors work with a 45-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which can charge from empty to 80% in less than an hour. The e-BULLI comes with an estimated range of 124 miles. As far as speed, it can reach a top speed of 81 miles per hour. The new electric system provides drivers with an extra-smooth ride. According to the company, “Compared to the T1, riding in the e-BULLI feels completely different. This is further enhanced by the chassis, which has also been redesigned: multi-link front and rear axles with adjustable shock absorbers and coilover struts, plus a new rack-and-pinion steering system and four internally ventilated disc brakes contribute to the new dynamic handling being transferred to the road with serene poise.” With its eight seats and convertible fold-back top, the van still retains its classic style with a few twists. The exterior is painted in a mix of “Energetic Orange Metallic” and “Golden Sand Metallic Matte”. Inside, the seating and the central driver console area have been restored with modern materials, and the interior lighting systems were updated with LED lighting . If you’d like to get one of these electric VW vans to hit the open road, it will cost $69,500. Unfortunately, they are only available in Germany at this time. + VW Via Dezeen Images via VW

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Volkswagen revamps classic 1960s microbus into a cool electric ride

The fruit of the future is 3D-printed and packed with vitamins and minerals

December 20, 2019 by  
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With global bee populations dwindling at an astonishing rate, there is a risk that produce supplies will be diminished at some point in the near future. A new generation of innovators, such as Bezalel Academy of Art and Design graduate Meydan Levy , are coming up with food alternatives to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Levy designed Neo Fruits, a collection of artificial fruits made out of 3D-printed cellulose skins and filled with a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals. According to Levy, the inspiration to design the artificial fruit stemmed from the need to explore new and feasible ways to feed the world’s burgeoning population. The idea was to create an appealing alternative that would serve two purposes: to create an ecological food producing sector and to improve nutrition. Related: Innovative orange juicer 3D prints bioplastic cups out of leftover orange peels To kick off the experimental culinary project , Levy first worked with several nutritionists to develop blends of vitamins and minerals for each fruit concept. The resulting combinations are intended to fully meet the human body’s wide range of nutritional needs. Once the nutritional impact of the fruit was conceived, the next step was creating the fruit itself. Using innovative, 3D printing techniques, Levy created the outer shell of the fruit from translucent cellulose, an organic compound that gives all plants their structures. The cellulose skins are printed in a flat, compressed form, but once the nutrient-rich liquids are added via built-in arteries, they take on a plump, fruit-like appearance. In an interview with Dezeen , Levy explained that the process is actually quite sensible and sustainable , because when the dry fruit is flat, it is lightweight, meaning that it has a long shelf life and can be easily transported. “Adding the liquids and activating the fourth dimension gives the fruit life, because from that moment, it can be eaten,” Levy explained. “The liquid becomes the biological clock of the fruit and gives it a certain life, meaning it will remain at its best for a limited but pre-planned time.” Currently, Neo Fruit is comprised of five distinct fruits. One is made up of a series of small pods strung together like molecules. Much like an artichoke leaf, the eater has to open it up and scrape the contents out with their teeth. There is also a passion fruit-inspired option. Divided into three segments, this fruit’s interior pulp is held together by a colorful outer skeleton. Each fruit has a distinct taste depending on its contents. To create the unique flavors, Levy worked with several chefs that specialize in molecular cooking to create the fruits’ colors, textures and tastes. + Meydan Levy Via Dezeen Images via Meydan Levy

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The fruit of the future is 3D-printed and packed with vitamins and minerals

Striking, sinuous home outside of So Paulo is inspired by the shape of native pine trees

December 3, 2019 by  
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Rio de Janeiro-based Mareines Arquitetura has unveiled a striking home tucked into the mountainous region near São Paulo. The Pinhão House boasts a unique, elliptical volume with various levels and a leaf-shaped roof that juts out over a covered swimming pool, which is also integrated into the home’s curved shape. Located in Campos do Jordão, the Pinhão House is a gorgeous design with a curvaceous volume surrounded by nature, and it was also built by local craftsmen using locally sourced, natural materials . The massive home spans four levels, with a garage and wine cellar on the ground floor and the main living area on the first floor. Related: Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls The main floor comprises a large social area that is enclosed by a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass panels to provide stunning views of the nature that surrounds the home. Various glass doors open up to a wrap-around, open-air porch. Below the main living space, a winding ramp leads to an indoor spa area with a massive swimming pool and sauna. Four bedroom suites and a home office with 180-degree views of the mountains and native Araucaria trees are located on the highest level. These trees were essential to the design , because they inspired the structure’s unique, curving volume. According to the architects, “The building shape sprouted like a fallen Pinhão, one of the many particles that form the fruit of the local Araucaria trees. An organic, sinuous form that seems to weave through the trees and winds. Instead of stairs, ramps. Instead of corridors, compressions and expansions of the internal sculptural contiguous spaces. This manipulation of the spaces together with the use of ramps enhances the importance of the sensorial experience of the architecture.” Bold curved walls, windows and cabinetry flow throughout the space, creating fluid connections between each level, which are joined via a long, winding ramp. Natural materials, such as wood walls and stone accents, create a cozy and warm atmosphere. These materials were all crafted by local artisans of Campos do Jordão. + Mareines Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Photography by Leonardo Finotti via Mareines Arquitectura

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Striking, sinuous home outside of So Paulo is inspired by the shape of native pine trees

A decaying shop in Cambodia gains a new life through adaptive reuse principles

May 23, 2019 by  
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Phnom Penh-based firm  Bloom Architecture has unveiled a beautiful renovation of a decaying building in Kampot, Cambodia. Ages ago, the building housed a family-run store, but the space had been abandoned for years. To preserve its historical significance in the riverside town, the architects focused on maintaining the building’s original features as much as possible while turning it into a home and restaurant. The result is 3,444 square feet of breezy interior spaces with an  adaptive reuse strategy that blends the best of traditional Chinese shophouse typology with modern day comfort. Located next to the city’s river, the building is a local landmark for the community. When the owners wanted to adapt the structure into a new family residence on the top floors and a restaurant on the ground floor, they tasked Bloom Architecture with the job of preserving the building’s historical character through adaptive reuse. To bring the older building into the modern age, the firm focused its renovation plans on retaining the original features. Starting with the exterior, which is marked by two floors of large arched openings, the facade was put through a deep cleaning and fresh paint job with a natural exterior that blurs the boundaries between the old and the new. A new wooden roof overhang juts out over the top floor, providing shade for the upper balcony . Related: An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant After years of decay, much of the interior was in pretty bad shape, so the firm went about gutting everything that was not salvageable. However, the team was able to reuse wooden panels from the original house; these panels were repurposed into custom furniture and windows. The ground floor is open and airy with various seating options. Wooden tables and chairs of all shapes and sizes fill the dining area, which boasts double-height ceilings with exposed wooden beams. The original brick walls were lightly coated in white paint, letting the various red-hued tones shine through to offer contrast to the all-white columns and wooden door frames. A large metal spiral staircase runs through a central courtyard all the way up from the restaurant to the private living quarters. This stairwell was essential to the design, as it allows  natural light  to reach the lower levels and aids in natural ventilation, cooling the interiors off during the searing summer months. At the top of the staircase is what the architects call “the nest” — an open-air terrace that provides stunning views of the mountainous landscape of Kampot. + Bloom Architecture Images via Bloom Architecture

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A decaying shop in Cambodia gains a new life through adaptive reuse principles

Ultra-rugged, off-grid motorhome is built to go just about anywhere

May 10, 2019 by  
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The bulky BUMO RV might not be the sleekest ride on the market, but its robust design is built to be one of the toughest. Built by a family-owned German company, the all-terrain tiny home is made out of natural materials and can go completely off the grid, allowing those who want to explore the world to do so sustainably. Clad in a warm larch wood facade, the RV is equipped with solar power and a composting toilet, and it can be customized to include a rainwater treatment system and a wood-burning stove. Part tiny home , part cabin, the BUMO’s rugged exterior makes it easy to imagine exploring off the beaten path through deep forests and past soaring mountains. Built with a full aluminum frame, the RV features larch wood cladding that offers strong protection from the elements. Its robust aesthetic conceals a stealthy, self-sustaining system built into its body. Related: Tiny home clad in burnt wood packs a ton of luxury into just 240 square feet Built to be a durable, off-grid expedition vehicle, the BUMO runs on solar power and has plenty of sustainable features that make it 100 percent self-sufficient. In addition to its natural materials, the RV can be custom-equipped with a composting toilet, rainwater treatment systems and a wood-burning stove. Designed to be a comfortable home while on the road, the RV’s floor and roof are sustainably insulated with sheep’s wool, while wood wool made from wood shavings was used in the walls. The living space is clad in stone pine, giving off a cabin-like aesthetic. According to the company, pine was chosen for its claimed abilities to reduce heart rates , eliminate bacteria and promote a general sense of well being. The interior living space of the tiny home on wheels is compact but sufficiently furnished with all of the basics. The living room features a custom, L-shaped sofa that wraps around a dining or working table. There is a spacious kitchen with all of  the typical appliances. A sleeping area and the bathroom are also a tight squeeze, but they get the job done. Oak furniture was used throughout, once again forging a strong connection to the outdoors. + BUMO Via New Atlas Images via BUMO  

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Ultra-rugged, off-grid motorhome is built to go just about anywhere

Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

April 24, 2019 by  
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São Paulo-based firm Studio MK27 has unveiled a spectacular home made out of a beautiful blend of natural and prefabricated materials. The Catuçaba House is tucked into the remote rolling hills of Catuçaba, its horizontal volume sitting almost 5,000 feet above sea level. Wanting to forge a strong relationship with its stunning natural surroundings, the architects designed the home with a number of sustainable features to be completely off-grid and low-impact. In fact, the home’s sustainability profile is so impressive that it is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification. The 3,300-square-foot home is a beautiful study in eco-friendly minimalism. The residence, which is a wooden prefab structure , is comprised of an elongated form that sits on a series of pillars. These wooden pillars were carefully embedded into the landscape to reduce the impact on the terrain. Related: This off-grid home on a Greek island provides ‘cinematic frames’ of the sea A wooden deck cantilevers over the hilly topography, creating a large platform that is book-ended by two adobe walls made from local soil. As a passive feature , sliding shades made out of eucalyptus branches cover the floor-to-ceiling front facade and filter light through the interior, offering a vibrant movement of shadows and light in the living space. Further integrating the design into its natural surroundings, the architects covered the home’s roof in native greenery. Like the home’s exterior, the interior is marked by wood finishes throughout, all of which are certified as sustainably-sourced lumber . The living and private spaces are designated by interior wooden frames filled with eco-friendly wool insulation. The rustic decor continues with exposed wooden ceilings, clay flooring, white walls and wood-burning stoves. Because of its remote location, the house has no access to grid electricity or water; therefore, it operates completely off-grid. Solar panels on the roof, along with a nearby wind turbine, generate enough energy for the residence’s needs. Drinking water is collected from a nearby spring. Additionally, the house was installed with an integrated rainwater collection system which routes gray water to irrigate the garden. The sustainable Catuçaba home was completed in 2016 and has since earned a number of accolades. It is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification from the Green Building Council. + Studio MK27  Via Dezeen Photography by Fernando Guerra via Studio MK27

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Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

Rammed concrete home in Portugal boasts passive design features and a green roof

March 26, 2019 by  
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Portuguese firm  Atelier 1111 has unveiled a gorgeous home designed to strategically blend into the rural region of Grândola in southern Portugal. The Cottage House is an angular design embedded into a small hillside, putting part of the home underneath the arid landscape. This technique provides the house with a strong thermal envelope, which — along with additional passive cooling strategies such as a green roof and thickened stone walls — boosts energy efficiency. Using the idyllic setting as inspiration for the design, the exterior of the home is clad in a rammed concrete, which gives the exterior a textured, neutral color that blends in with the arid soil. According to the architects, the rammed concrete was part of the structure’s many passive features, which also include a green roof and thick, insulative walls. Related: This breezy, green-roofed home in Singapore embraces nature from all angles “Thermal comfort was one of our biggest concerns, especially in the summer, because it is a region with high temperatures,” the architects explained. “We avoid mechanical systems, because we have a green roof and considerable thick walls.” Although angular in form, the contemporary home manages to subtly and respectfully blend in with its surroundings. Using the rolling topography to their advantage, the architects created a main open-air corridor that weaves through the structure, leading to the interior living space as well as various cutouts that frame the incredible views. Throughout the interior, the home’s walls and ceilings are also made out of concrete , but in a polished version. Locally-sourced marble was used for the flooring, and the design is enhanced with brass features on the interior doors. The Cottage House is actually part of a bigger plan that is set to be built on the same site, including a garage and a swimming pool. The design of the home, as well as the remaining buildings, was almost entirely inspired by the surrounding landscape, which is characterized by protected stone pine, olive and  cork  trees. The sloped land at its highest point provides a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean. + Atelier 1111 Photography by Nuno Pinto via Atelier 1111

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Rammed concrete home in Portugal boasts passive design features and a green roof

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