Modern prefab retreat in Italy takes in panoramic alpine views

April 29, 2020 by  
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Perched atop a hill in Aosta Valley’s highest municipality in northwest Italy is the newly completed House in Chamois, a modern, prefabricated home by Torino-based design and build firm Leap Factory . As with all “Leap Houses,” the home’s entire design and construction process was managed by the Leap Factory team and was constructed with a modular system built of natural, recyclable materials to allow for maximum flexibility. All of the components provided by Leap Factory for the House in Chamois were also designed and produced in Italy.  The House in Chamois was created for Barbara and Giorgio, a duo with a deep appreciation for the outdoors. Used as a base for exploring the alpine landscape, the two-story home echoes the traditional vernacular with its gabled shape but is undeniably contemporary as defined by its streamlined form, minimalist design and full-height glazing. Its position above a main road turns the house into a new landmark for the village and has become a local attraction for visiting hikers. Related: LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab As a ‘Living Ecological Alpine Pod’ (LEAP), the House in Chamois was designed to be environmentally friendly. The use of prefabrication helps minimize construction waste, and the installation process was done with minimal site impact. The structure is also “hyper secure” and engineered to resist earthquakes, hurricanes and other extreme climate activities. The modular nature of the home also makes it modifiable. As with all Leap Houses, the House in Chamois was also designed with integrated furniture and finishes. “With its minimal shapes and spaces full of light, the house shows incredible attention to details, lines and materials,” the architects explained. “The layout of the rooms, furnishings and technical systems are fully integrated to give life to spaces where one can fully express their personality and live in harmony with their surroundings.” + Leap Factory Photography by Francesco Mattuzzi via Leap Factory

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Modern prefab retreat in Italy takes in panoramic alpine views

This recycled metal jewelry is inspired by our world

April 29, 2020 by  
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Raised in the countryside of South West England, creative artist Emma Aitchison has developed a jewelry line inspired by and respectful to nature . Furthermore, Aitchison wanted her unique designs to act as a symbol for environmental awareness and to provoke conversations about protecting vital resources on the planet. While Aitchison offers a line of handmade classics, she excels at giving old jewelry new life . This often means turning an antiquated family heirloom into something modern and personal or redesigning a broken piece into something striking. Each product is inspired by and named after our world, from the Current ring and Wave necklace to the popular Polluted bracelet and Magma earrings. Related: This jewelry is made with upcycled gold from Dell computers Sustainable practices have always been at the heart of the company. Emma Aitchison is based in the U.K. and has made a concentrated effort to partner only with other local businesses. This keeps transportation costs for materials and production low and reduces emissions. All items are packaged using eco-friendly filler that is reusable and recyclable. Perhaps the most notable nod to the planet is the company’s dedication to using only recycled gems. That means no virgin gems are mined or created in a lab for these necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings. Instead, Emma Aitchison uses gems from old jewelry, including pieces already owned by customers. All silver necklaces are also made from 100% recycled metal. The company maintained carbon neutrality throughout 2018 and 2019 with these decisions plus its commitment to carbon offsetting. Every successful business looks to the future, but Emma Aitchison’s list of company goals looks different than most. It aims to continue streamlining supply, production and delivery in an eco-friendly way. For example, although the current gold-plating is done in London at a sustainable company, Ella Aitchison hopes to improve this practice by transitioning to solid gold that can be Fair Trade-certified and recycled. The company hopes to become zero-waste , too. In addition to eco-friendly packaging, delivery will employ bike couriers in the local area and carbon-neutral shipping companies elsewhere. A future studio update even includes recycled materials, solar panels and wind power to further reduce Emma Aitchison’s overall impact on the planet. During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, the company has vowed to remain loyal to suppliers who are unable to provide products at this time. Instead, Emma Aitchison is continuing sales with the inventory it has in stock and is taking pre-orders for shipments once it can restock. It is also offering a 25% discount during this time. + Emma Aitchison Images via Emma Aitchison

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This recycled metal jewelry is inspired by our world

New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

April 29, 2020 by  
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Koto Design has teamed up with Plant Prefab to create two new incredible net-zero energy homes. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 are modular homes that incorporate sustainable living systems of the future. Under the ethos of creating great architecture that is more sustainable, the dwellings are powerhouses of energy-efficiency, with passive elements to reduce energy demand and active systems that allow homeowners to reduce electricity consumption through an app. Ranging in cost from $419,000 to $830,400, the new homes are available in two modular models, Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2. Both homes are designed with a Scandinavian aesthetic. With clean lines and solid materials, they are built to have strong connections with the natural world through a variety of passive and active features that also keep energy needs to a minimum. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island The larger of the two homes, nicknamed Piha (Finnish for “courtyard”), spans 2,184 square feet and features a spacious courtyard that melds the interior and exterior. The second home, dubbed Yksi (Finnish for “first”), is a smaller, two-bedroom residence. Designed to be ultra-resilient to various climates, the homes can be built in virtually any landscape, from frigid mountainous regions to warm beachfront properties. Both designs count on using an abundance of natural light and air ventilation to keep the interior spaces cool and cozy without the need for artificial systems. Although most prefab homes already feature a relatively small carbon footprint, the Koto homes meet net-zero energy targets and are built with eco-friendly materials, such as recycled insulation. The designs also incorporate efficient heating and cooling systems, low-flow water fixtures and LED lighting. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 have monitoring systems accessible via smartphone to ensure all systems are operating at maximum efficiency. + Koto Design + Plant Prefab Images via Koto Design

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New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

April 29, 2020 by  
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Europe just gained its second and third coal-free countries. Sweden and Austria have both shut their last coal-fired plants in late April, joining Belgium in going coal-free in favor of renewable energy sources. “With Sweden going coal-free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear,” Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, told PV Magazine . “Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies.” Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 Sweden had originally planned on going coal-free in 2022, but it was able to achieve this goal two years early. A mild Swedish winter meant that energy utility Stockholm Exergi’s last coal-fired plant, located in Hjorthagen, eastern Stockholm, didn’t need to be used this year. The plant opened in 1989. In addition to environmental awareness that decreased the popularity of coal, market forces have driven the operational costs up. Statistics from the U.K.-based think-tank Carbon Tracker show that 40% of EU coal plants ran at a loss in 2017. In 2019, it cost almost 100% more to run a coal plant than to rely on renewable options. More European countries plan to join the coal-free future: France is aiming to be coal-free by 2022; Slovakia and Portugal by 2023; the U.K. by 2024; and Ireland and Italy by 2025. Stockholm Exergi CEO Anders Egelrud told PV Magazine he hopes the utility will eventually go carbon-negative. “Today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels , therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan,” Egelrud said, according to TheMayor.eu . “Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependence and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy.” Image via Steve Buissinne

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Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

Prefab alpine shelter boasts phenomenal views and a small footprint

October 31, 2019 by  
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On the border between Italy and France, a new alpine shelter with breathtaking views has been gently placed atop a remote landscape. Paolo Carradini and his family tapped Michele Versaci and Andrea Cassi to craft an all-black mountain hut to honor the memory of their son, Matteo, a passionate mountaineer. Named the Bivacco Matteo Corradini, the sculptural dwelling was prefabricated off-site in modules, transported by helicopter and reassembled on the construction site to minimize site impact. Located a few meters from the Dormillouse summit in the upper Valle di Susa, the Bivacco Matteo Corradini — also known as the black body mountain shelter — is placed at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters. The hexagonal dwelling is wrapped in a black metal shell engineered to protect the alpine building from extreme weather conditions, shed snow and absorb solar radiation, while insulation ensures comfort in both winter and summer. Its angular form also takes inspiration from the landscape and mimics the shape of a dark boulder. The interior is constructed from Swiss pine , a material valued for its malleability and scent that is typically used in Alpine communities for crafting cradles and surfaces in bedrooms. The compact interior is organized around a central table with three large wooden steps on either side. These steps serve as sleeping platforms at night and function as seating during the day. Two large windows frame views of the outdoors and funnel light into the structure.  Related: This Norwegian alpine cabin fits together like a 3D timber puzzle “The volume rests on the ground for a quarter of its lower surface so as to adapt to the slope, while limiting soil consumption,” explain the designers of the prefab shelter in a press release. “Reversibility and environmental sustainability are key points of the project: a light and low-impact installation. The optimization of weights and shapes made assembly at high altitudes quick and easy and minimized helicopter transport.” + Andrea Cassi + Michele Versaci Images via Andrea Cassi and Michele Versaci

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Sculptural wood cabin is an alpine retreat with magnificent views

February 15, 2019 by  
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Perched high on weather-beaten mountain is the Hooded Cabin, a sculptural wood cabin with a rugged exterior and a sleek interior. The contemporary building is the work of Arkitektværelset , a Norwegian architectural practice that embraced the many environmental and building challenges that the project posed. From the high altitude mountain conditions of Imingfjell, Norway to the strict building regulations, the limitations not only shaped the iconic form of the retreat but also encouraged “playful creativity” from the designers. Set at an altitude of 1,125 meters within an area close to, but not within, the danger zone of avalanche activity, the 73-square-meter Hooded Cabin is surrounded by a wild and windblown snow-covered landscape. The architecture team wanted to take advantage of the sublime landscape and oriented the little wood cabin to face panoramic views of the lake. A “hood” element was created to protect the glazed opening and comply with building codes, which stipulated gabled roofs angled at 22 to 27 degrees. “We kept the original idea of a ‘protecting hood’ from the initial project sketches,” head architect Grethe Løland of Norwegian studio Arkitektværelset said in a project statement. “The ore pine roof protects the ‘eyes’ of the cabin in the front and prevents rain to dribble down the main entrance in the cabin’s ‘neck’. The building becomes an understated iconic sculpture in an area that most cabins look alike, and our clients really liked its form.” Related: This Norwegian alpine cabin fits together like a 3D timber puzzle For a more striking visual effect, the cabin’s outer shell is built from angled unpainted pine paneling that contrasts with the black-painted main cabin “body.” Norway’s strict building codes also called for sectioned windows, standing wood paneling and triple bargeboards. Large windows bring nature and plenty of natural light into the sleek and modern interior, which is lined with oak floors and paneling. Built to sleep up to 12 people, the wood cabin houses a kitchen and living room at the view-facing front of the building, while the rear consists of the master bedroom, bathroom, a sauna that doubles as a guest room and an open attic that fits eight. + Arkitektværelset Images by Marte Garmann via Arkitektværelset

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Sculptural wood cabin is an alpine retreat with magnificent views

This Norwegian alpine cabin fits together like a 3D timber puzzle

February 7, 2019 by  
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A new treat awaits hikers in Hammerfest, Norway — perched high on a mountain is a contemporary hiking cabin engineered to provide comfort, views and architectural beauty above the Arctic Circle. Designed by Norwegian design studio SPINN Arkitekter and U.K.-based FORMAT Engineers , the recently completed cabin on the mountain Storfjellet is one of two Hammerfest Hiking Cabins—the second will be built on Tyven in 2019 — created to promote hiking in the mountains around the region. The wooden structure features a cross-laminated timber shell comprising 77 panels that the architects say “fit together like a 3D puzzle.” Commissioned by the Hammerfest chapter of The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) and brought to life by crowdfunding and community support, the Hammerfest Hiking Cabins were designed to not only provide a warm and weather-resistant rest stop, but also a beautiful wooden structure that could serve as an attraction in itself. SPINN also wanted the cabin to blend in with the local terrain and based the building’s appearance off of a large boulder, hence the double-curved shape. Computer modeling and mapping technology were used throughout the design and construction of the project, from the 3D site mapping carried out with a drone and photogrammetry software to the assembly of the prefabricated CLT panels in a controlled warehouse environment. The design team also used Sketchup, Rhino and customized scripting tools to optimize the cabin’s shape. Snow and extreme wind simulations were performed to test the resiliency of the design, while 3D printing was used to test assembly and cladding options. Related: Snøhetta designs healing forest cabins for patients at Norway’s largest hospitals Volunteers built the first Hammerfest Hiking Cabin in 2018, with the 15-square-meter  prefabricated CLT cabin structure assembled in over four workdays. After prefabrication, the cabin was split into two pieces and transported on a flat bed lorry to Storfjellet, where it was then lifted into place and winched together. The full-height window, fireplace, ramp and interior furnishings were fitted into place on site. The estimated budget per cabin is 100,000 Euros. + SPINN Arkitekter + FORMAT Engineers Images by Tor Even Mathisen

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This Norwegian alpine cabin fits together like a 3D timber puzzle

A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming alpine village getaway

December 17, 2018 by  
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Bolzano and Berlin-based design practice NOA (network of architecture) recently renovated and expanded the Zallinger Refuge, a holiday guesthouse in the Dolomites that prides itself on its eco-friendly features. Located in Seiser Alm at 2,200 meters with breathtaking mountain views, the updated hotel comprises a cluster of structures that reference the site’s history and South Tyrolean architecture. The project has been certified under Climahotel, a certification program by the Climate House Agency of the Province of Bolzano that recognizes eco-tourism development. The Zallinger Refuge traces its beginnings to the mid-nineteenth century. Seven barns once surrounded the structure, however were later replaced by a single large building near the turn of the century. In a nod to the early site history, the architects constructed seven new chalets arranged in pairs to “bring back the charm of an alpine village.” Crafted to reflect the structure of the ancient barns with a modern twist, the chalets are built using prefabrication methods with stacked wooden blocks and wood shingle roofs to achieve a contemporary “log cabin” appearance. “In this project we have also tried to bring out that strong relationship between architecture and context, which characterizes all our works,” said architect Stefan Rier. “We want to propose new models of life and hospitality that on the one hand recover traditional forms and materials, on the other hand express quality of design, high levels of comfort and sustainability. The alpine environment is a complex and fascinating system that must be understood and respected. We think it’s important to think of new spaces and ways to inhibit it: environments on a human scale, comfortable, welcoming, but above all unique and authentic.” Related: Luxury lakeside hotel promises a return to nature in Italy In addition to the original 13 rooms in the central guesthouse, the Zallinger Refuge has added 24 rooms in the new mini-chalets. Timber lines the interiors for a cozy feel, while an energy-efficient pallet boiler provides the heating and hot water supply. The historic lodge was redesigned to include the reception, the lobby, the lounge and the restaurant. A new metal-clad building introduced to the site houses the wellness area with a sauna overlooking stunning views. + NOA Photography by Alex Filz via NOA

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A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming alpine village getaway

Origami-like alpine cabin brings contemporary style to Chile’s mountains

March 22, 2017 by  
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Alpine architecture has evolved far beyond traditional chalets, as can be seen in this contemporary cabin perched high above in Chile’s Valparaíso Region. Architect Gonzalo Iturriaga completed the blackened pine cabin, named RF C9, on a rocky site near the commune of San Esteban. Like a piece of origami, the angular refuge has numerous folds, some of which are turned into glazed openings that frame spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Elevated off the uneven ground, the 60-square-meter RF C9 cabin comprises two bedrooms and a bathroom at one end of the home, while an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen are located on the other in the larger part of the building. The pine-clad retreat features an asymmetrically pitched roof that evokes the image of a tent evolved into a timber form. The steep angles of the roof shed snow effectively and the retreat is designed to handle the extreme climates. Related: Century-old WWI bunker is reborn as a contemporary alpine shelter “Using a ventilated facade on all sides and a system of piles, the shelter functions as a hermetic element suspended on the ground which, from specific openings, uses the rising current of the mountain to ventilate its interior,” wrote the architect. The interior is clad in untreated pine contrasted with black window frames, blackened pine cabinetry, and a black wood-burning stove . Large windows of varying shapes punctuate the retreat, with the largest panes set on the east façade where they frame stunning views of the mountain enjoyed from the master bedroom and the living area. + Gonzalo Iturriaga Via Dezeen Images via Gonzalo Iturriaga

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Origami-like alpine cabin brings contemporary style to Chile’s mountains

Tiny alpine hut is a cozy refuge in the harsh yet spectacular Slovenian Alps

October 14, 2016 by  
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Engineer and mountaineer Karlo Korenini designed the original 1936 bivouac shelter, which impressively withstood the elements for 80 years despite its simple construction. The new upgraded and improved Bivouac II is a replica of the old hut, which was airlifted and donated to the Slovenian Mountaineering Museum , and is located in the same wild area in the Julian Alps. The new bell-shaped hut was airlifted into place and was built to be as easy to maintain as possible and is capable of withstanding hurricane force winds and heavy snow loads. Related: Exceptional prefab alpine shelter overlooks mind-boggling mountain views Laser-cut and pre-bent aluminum plates were used to clad the steel-framed building and chosen for their aesthetics and durability. Specialty REFLEX glass with superior insulation was installed to let light into the hut. The less than nine-square-meter wood-lined interior fits six people and includes a folding table, overlapping bench, storage, and other elements for a cozy and relatively comfortable experience. + Bivak II na Jezerih Via ArchDaily Images via Anze Cokl

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Tiny alpine hut is a cozy refuge in the harsh yet spectacular Slovenian Alps

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