Dark Chalet in Utah will generate over 350% more energy than it needs

April 24, 2020 by  
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Los Angeles-based Tom Wiscombe Architecture will be putting the final touches on its “Dark Chalet” by October 2020. Located about an hour north of Salt Lake City on the slopes of Summit’s Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah, the mysterious, net-positive energy building will generate 364% more power than it needs thanks to an integrated commercial-grade solar panel system. Net-positive energy in architecture refers to a building that generates more power than is needed for the structure to operate, going a step further than traditional net-zero energy systems. The extra energy can be utilized for features such as electric vehicle charging and hosting large events or even as a long-term plan to help offset the energy it took to construct the building in the first place. Excess energy can also be returned to the grid. Related: Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech The 5,500-square-foot Dark Chalet is meant to act as both a single-family residence and a venue for the Summit Powder Mountain community events. The main structure, which looks like a massive black diamond against the snowy white backdrop, is fitted to follow the natural slope of the mountain with a lifted section contoured to allow skiers to pass through. The entire exterior is constructed with a woven patchwork of matte and glossy solar panels embedded into each other. This design fades the system into the background unlike traditional solar panels; the arrangement helps draw little attention to the fact that energy is being generated and instead presents a sleek exterior. At the forefront of the interior, a mega-scaled fireplace will connect all levels of the house through a network of strategically embedded staircases, a design meant to inspire images of grand ski chalets and castles. The 28-foot-wide fireplace is made of black steel. Both the staircases and the fireplace will have elements including bookshelves, walkways and storage spaces. The completion of the Dark Chalet in October will mark the first phase of a 10,000-acre Summit Powder Mountain ski resort . + Tom Wiscombe Architecture Via The Architect’s Newspaper Images via Tom Wiscombe Architecture

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Dark Chalet in Utah will generate over 350% more energy than it needs

Contemporary Camp O communes with nature in the Catskills

April 1, 2020 by  
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Humble natural materials and modern sensibilities combine in Camp O, a light-filled house-studio nestled in the middle of the Catskills’ preserve. Designed by New York City-based designer  Maria Milans del Bosch  as a private getaway for herself and her husband, the holiday home pays homage to the local vernacular with a distinctly contemporary twist. The forested landscape also inspired the home, which is wrapped in a cedar rain screen treated with the Japanese charring technique “Shou Sugi Ban.” Carefully placed on an existing clearing to minimize site impact, the 2,190-square-foot Camp O takes cues from the local vernacular architecture for its palette of low-maintenance  natural materials , such as the concrete foundation, wood siding, plywood sheathing, wood stud walls, beams and joists, and metal double-pitched roof. Where the home differs from the neighboring barns and cabins is in how those materials are combined to create a sculptural geometric abode defined by natural light, clean lines and minimalism. The  charred cedar facade  that gives the home its contemporary appeal also protects the building from water, fire and insects and doesn’t require maintenance. Sustainability is further integrated into the design through the strategic orientation of the home for natural ventilation and optimal sun exposure to minimize energy consumption. Insulation was placed outside the building envelope to maximize interior comfort and to allow the interior elements to remain exposed. Bathed in natural light from multiple directions, the airy home appears to change throughout the day and seasons. Related: Beautiful solar-powered minimalist cabins are clad in locally sourced charred timber “At Camp O, the dialogue between the stereotomic and the tectonic together with its haptic qualities transcend the mere appearance of the technical in much the same way as its place-form withstands the passing of time rooting the building into the Nature that surrounds it,” explained the architect in a press release. “The building becomes a resonance box that intensifies the experience of the outdoors indoors : Its insertion into the site, its volumetry and its materiality express the site’s calling into matter.” + Maria Milans Studio Images © Montse Zamorano

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Contemporary Camp O communes with nature in the Catskills

Cross-laminated timber makes this Scottish home climate resistant

January 20, 2020 by  
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Scottish firm Mary Arnold Foster Architects has unveiled a stunning home made out of several timber “pods” and tucked into the idyllic landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Clad in cross-laminated timber ( CLT ) and covered with slats of charred larch, which provide the home with resilience, the Nedd home was built on concrete pillars and set in between two outcrops to minimize damage to the landscape. Located in the remote village of Nedd in the western region of the Scottish Highlands, the eponymous home design was constructed using CLT and covered in burnt larch to give the structure longevity and sufficient durability to stand up to the harsh mountainous climate . Additionally, the charred wood provides the home with an airtight envelope which enables the interior to require very little heating. In fact, a wood-burning stove usually meets most of the home’s heating needs. Related: Waterstudio unveils the world’s first floating timber tower Made up of connected timber cubes , the Nedd House is divided into three separate volumes. One area houses the central living room, while the remaining cubes house an en-suite master bedroom and a guest bedroom. All three sections are linked by a single corridor, which leads to an ultra-large north-facing window that connects the interior spaces with the  idyllic surroundings . According to the architect, the home design was inspired by the area’s breathtaking views. “I wanted to avoid a wall of glass but instead to frame the large view in two key rooms; the living space and the main bedroom, partly due to the topography of the site,” Arnold-Forster explained. “The other windows frame views of the rocks, heather and grasses.” Contrasting with the dark hue of the exterior, the interior of the home is light and airy thanks to the pale timber walls and ceilings found throughout. Within the main living area, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors provide direct access to an open-air deck that looks out over the landscape. + Mary Arnold Foster Architects Via Dezeen Photography by David Barbour Photography

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Cross-laminated timber makes this Scottish home climate resistant

NAWA reveals hybrid electric motorcycle at CES 2020

January 20, 2020 by  
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It’s not the first electric motorcycle on the market, but the NAWA Racer is currently the most talked about after a big reveal at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The new tech kid on the block, a French firm called NAWA, has developed a prototype with a body style based on London’s speedy cafe motorcycles from the 1960s. While the sleek design is eye-catching, the innovation hidden within the outer appearance is what makes this motorcycle so unique. Where most electric vehicles rely on lithium-ion for power, NAWA has developed an ultracapacitor that improves performance on nearly every level. For starters, the ultracapacitor can charge and discharge quickly, endless times over. This propels the bike from 0 mph to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. While the ultracapacitor provides stellar power, it works in conjunction with conventional lithium-ion batteries and allows a 93-mile ride per charge. Related: Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle debuts at CES The hybrid ultracapacitor system can reduce the size of the lithium-ion battery by up to half or extend the range by up to double. This is exciting for city riding, which is where the NAWA Racer really excels in efficiency. With the ability to recharge in seconds by recycling energy from the stop-and-go braking of driving in traffic, the energy can last up to 186 miles without recharging. Regenerative braking produces a lot of energy, up to 80% of which is reused for power. The ultracapacitor also provides a fast recharge, allowing the bike to reach 80% of full charge within an hour from a home supply outlet. NAWA fully intends to scale the hybrid technology to other vehicles in the near future. “The NAWA Racer is our vision for the electric motorbike of tomorrow — a retro-inspired machine but one that is thoroughly modern,” said Ulrik Grape, CEO of NAWA Technologies. “It is lightweight, fast and fun, perfect for an emission-free city commute that will put a smile on your face. But it also lays down a blueprint for the future. NAWA Technologies’ next-gen ultracapacitors have unleashed the potential of the hybrid battery system — and this design of powertrain is fully scaleable. There is no reason why this cannot be applied to a larger motorbike or car or other electric vehicle. What is more, this technology could go into production in the very near future.” + NAWA Images via NAWA

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NAWA reveals hybrid electric motorcycle at CES 2020

Modern farmhouse in Italy pays homage to its agricultural surroundings

January 20, 2020 by  
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Tucked into the rolling wheat fields of the Italian region of Le Marche, the Border Crossing House is a private residence that pays homage to the area’s rich agricultural history. Designed by Italian firm Simone Subissati Architects, the project manages to skillfully blend a traditional barn volume with several contemporary features, creating a light-filled family home that fits respectfully into its idyllic setting. Located in Polverigi, just outside of Ancona, the Border Crossing House is set on a ridge looking out over expansive fields of wheat. According to the architects, this bucolic location set the tone for the design, which deftly manages to “border” the vernacular aesthetics of both urban and rural architecture. Related: Old Belgian barn is transformed into a gorgeous contemporary home The home’s rectangular volume with an asymmetrical, double-pitched roof, runs from east to west, creating a strong silhouette up on the hill. The exterior cladding, which is made primarily of steel , separates the white upper floor from the ground floor, which was painted in a deep red coating. The home’s classic barn-like volume is broken up, however, by various slatted openings on the roof. These eye-catching slats of different shapes and functions were installed throughout the design as a way of creating a seamless connection between the home and its stunning landscape, which includes fields of wheat, barley, beans and sunflowers. Lead architect, Simone Subissati explained, “The idea was to overflow, to break the boundaries, without following conventions whereby the private living space is separated from the agricultural workspace.” Throughout the two-story home, the layout was designed to be what the architect refers to as a “straightforward simplicity, a true essentially that is very different from today’s trendy poetic of minimalism .” According, the home is functional, efficient and comfortable while maintaining a vibrant, contemporary feel. The ground floor comprises an open-plan living area with a spacious living room, kitchen and spa . A wooden staircase leads to the upper floor, which houses the bedrooms. Protected by a simple chicken coop net, an indoor balcony leads to a central area, where a winter garden and a second living room are located. The second floor is covered with a micro-perforated membrane that allows natural light to brighten the house during the day. At night, the upper part of the home appears to glow from within. The home was also built to passive and bioclimatic standards that created a tight thermal mass for the winter months and a natural cooling system in the warm, summer months. The various openings provide ample cross ventilation, so much so that the home needs no air conditioning to stay cool. A rainwater collection system was also installed and includes several underground storage tanks. + Simone Subissati Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Alessandro Magi Galluzzi via Simone Subissati Architects

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Modern farmhouse in Italy pays homage to its agricultural surroundings

Urban Earth House exemplifies off-grid living in the city

December 16, 2019 by  
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When Craig Byatt Architecture was approached by eco-minded clients who wanted a home that was off-grid in an urban context and built with a combination of natural, reclaimed and locally sourced materials, the plans for the Urban Earth House were born. What’s more, because the clients’ children recently moved out, the resulting 70-square-meter structure in Melbourne, Australia was to become their “forever home.” The greatest challenge arose when the building site was examined. Privacy was an issue because access was constrained through a shared driveway. The site was also surrounded by neighbors, which worried the clients as they expressed eagerness for natural light. This, combined with a steep, small property block and a limited budget, led to a difficult time finding the right builder. After turning to four different building companies, all of which turned down the project, the clients decided to build the home themselves. Related: Phoenix Earthship features a food garden and jungle in off-grid fashion The Urban Earth House has many green design features. Double-glazed windows, recycled glass bulk insulation batts in the roof and ceiling spaces, mud bricks and recycled concrete walls help the home maintain a comfortable temperature year-round. A north-facing glasshouse was built onsite to help utilize the sunlight for winter vegetables and seed propagation for the clients’ organic farm. The skeleton of the house was constructed with recycled and reclaimed hardwood from an old road bridge, and the project used local tradespeople and suppliers as often as possible. To make the Urban Earth House even more exceptional, the clients commissioned local artisans to add unique touches. The kitchen backsplash was designed by a local painter and printed onto glass. A local metal worker crafted the door handles using tools owned by the grandfather of one of the clients. According to the architect’s statement, “This project’s recipe called for experimentation and adventure.” By “working with the laws of nature” and using “what’s already there” as much as possible, they were able to create a unique, off-grid home that respected the building site and supported the clients’ sustainable ambitions. + Craig Byatt Architecture Photography by Meredith O’Shea via Clean Energy Nillumbik

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Urban Earth House exemplifies off-grid living in the city

$87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions

August 23, 2019 by  
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Mountain lions in Southern California will have a safer place to roam by 2023 thanks to an $87 million bridge being designed northwest of Los Angeles and spread out above the busy 101 Highway. California is the only state in the country where shooting the creatures for sport is banned . But a March study published in the journal Ecological Applications suggested mountain lions could be extinct within 50 years if changes to their environment don’t happen. Related: Utah plans $5 million wildlife bridge over deadly I-80 highway “ Animals were able to move around through different parts of the mountains until humans cut them off with giant roads,” said Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation. “GPS tracking shows that the animals are largely isolated in their own small areas, unable to mingle. Segmentation impacts animals both large and small: lizards and birds up to mountain lions.” Once the project is completed, the wildlife bridge will connect various sections of the Santa Monica Mountains, hopefully giving mountain lions and other wildlife better protection. It is designed to blend into the scenery, so the creatures won’t know they are on a bridge. Pratt stressed this ecological environment needs to be rebuilt for the sake of all animal welfare and thinks the wildlife bridge is a good idea. “This is an animal that is particularly beloved in California ,” Pratt said. “We want these animals on the landscape, and the population will go extinct if we don’t do something soon.” The project has been 20 years in the making, with the National Park Service closely studying the area during this time. It wasn’t until about a decade ago the idea became a reality; funds totaling $13.4 million have been raised by private contributors, according to The Guardian. The project has caught the attention of actor Leonardo DiCaprio , who has been a supporter of the project, as well as other big names around the world. About 9,000 comments were posted in favor of the project, and only 15 were against it when the public was given the opportunity give feedback. “We’re doing this in LA, a city of 4 million people,” Pratt said. “If LA can do it, it can work anywhere. Even in a giant city , we’ll make a home for a mountain lion.” + Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains + Clark Stevens Via The Guardian Design and images via Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and Clark Stevens Architect/Raymond Garcia Illustrator

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$87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions

Tesla solar panels now available to rent

August 23, 2019 by  
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If you’re looking to cut your electric bill by installing solar panels but are looking for an affordable option, Tesla may have the answer– rent them. Hoping to offer homeowners a better money-saving option by renting the streamlined panels, Tesla offers renters monthly payments, no installation costs, no long-term contracts and the ability to cancel monthly rental payments anytime. However, the company will charge a $1,500 fee to remove the system from your roof and return it to its original condition. Related: Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US If customers were to sell their homes, Tesla offers a convenient contract transfer option that can be set up under the home’s new owner. The solar panel rental program is currently available to rent in six states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Mexico. The Tesla panels come in three sizes starting at a small 3.8 kilowatt solar panel at $50 per month which generates an average of 10 to 14 kilowatt hours of energy per day; a medium 7.6 kWh for $100 per month, generates between 19 to 28kWh per day; or the large 11.4kWh option for $150 per month producing 29 to 41kWh per day. Keep in mind that the average U.S. household uses about 28 kilowatt hours of electricity per day While Tesla expects the solar panel renting to be a big hit, energy experts say the company wants to give customers the chance to rent panels as way to boost its struggling solar business. Earlier this year the company reportedly cut its solar panel prices and also allowed customers to purchase residential systems in increments. +Tesla.com Via Yale Environment 360 Image via Tesla

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Tesla solar panels now available to rent

A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

August 19, 2019 by  
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Built largely from recycled materials, the home that architect Daniel Moreno Flores recently completed for an artistically inclined client in Ecuador oozes playfulness and creativity as well as a reduced environmental footprint. Located in the town of Pifo less than an hour’s drive east from Quito, the House of the Flying Tiles is strategically sited to embrace views. The house is named after its massive installation of hanging tiles — reclaimed and new — placed at the entrance to create visual interest and help shield the glass-walled home from unwanted solar heat gain. When deciding where to place the home, Flores began with a site study. Along with the client, he arrived early at the site to observe the direction of the sunrise and the best positions for framing landscape views. To make the home look “as if it had always been there,” Flores also let the site-specific placement of the home be informed by the existing trees and fauna. No trees were removed during the construction process. Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito “The house is oriented to the view, for the contemplation of the mountain, of the neighborhoods, and of all the plants and trees of the place,” Flores explained. “These spaces seek an intensification in the relationship with some externalities such as the mountain, the low vegetation, the sky and with the Guirachuro (a kind of bird of the place).” Using a mix of new materials and reclaimed wood and tiles from three houses in Quito , the architect created a 130-square-meter home with three main spaces: a double-height living area that opens up to an outdoor reading terrace and connects to a mezzanine office space; the bedroom area that overlooks mountain views; and the ground-floor bathroom that is built around an existing tree. The roofs of the structure are also designed to be accessible to create a variety of vantage points for enjoying the landscape. + Daniel Moreno Flores Photography by JAG Studio , Santiago Vaca Jaramillo and Daniel Moreno Flores

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A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

Certified Passive House in New York generates all of its own energy

August 13, 2019 by  
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In New York’s Hudson Valley, a beautiful new beacon for sustainable, net-zero design has taken root. New York-based North River Architecture & Planning recently added another energy-efficient build to its growing portfolio of environmentally friendly projects — the Accord Passive House, a modern home that has not only achieved PHIUS+ Certification but also boasts no net energy costs annually. Located in the hamlet of Accord, the contemporary house is sensitive to both the environment as well as the local culture and history. The architects drew inspiration from the rural farm buildings for the design of a gabled , barn-like house that emphasizes connection with the outdoors and flexible living spaces accommodating of the homeowners’ changing needs. As with traditional farm buildings, the construction materials were selected for longevity, durability and low-maintenance properties. Related: Architect designs and builds his dream Passive House in New York Galvanized corrugated steel siding wraps the exterior, while a trowel-finished concrete slab is used for the floor inside and is visually tied to the xeriscaped pea gravel patio that requires no irrigation. “Trim materials inside and out were chosen for their adaptive reuse and low resource extraction properties, including the use of engineered lumber for trim work, salvaged white oak slats and carmelized cork throughout the project,” the firm added. “The cork was used inside and out for its sustainable harvest and broad utility for acoustics, water resistance and insulation value.” Topped with a 9kW photovoltaic array, the impressive net-zero energy build was also created to show how Passive House design can be beautiful, resilient and comfortable without incurring sky-high costs. The firm said it has achieved “a competitive price per square foot relative to regional costs for this market niche.” During construction, the architects hosted open-house learning events to promote open-source sharing of energy-efficient design methods and solutions with the local community. + North River Architecture & Planning Photography by Deborah DeGraffenreid via North River Architecture & Planning

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Certified Passive House in New York generates all of its own energy

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