Offshore oil platforms are reimagined as self-sustaining homes

March 23, 2020 by  
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As the world looks for sustainable housing solutions to meet the needs of a burgeoning population, Paris-based design firm XTU Architects has unveiled a conceptual design that would convert old oil platforms into plant-covered homes of the future. The project, X_Lands, would not only provide self-sustaining homes to families but would also transform a global symbol of pollution into a beacon of sustainability. In a perfect future world where we have once and for all put an end to oil drilling, the planet’s ocean will be still brimming with large, useless oil platforms that have reached the end of their lifecycles. In a fantastical glimpse into the future, the innovative designers of XTU Architects have reimagined these old beasts as self-sustaining homes . Related: Oil rig off South Korea’s coast to become a floating hotel that operates on tidal energy Although the concept may seem a bit whimsical at first, the need to create new housing solutions is weighing on countries around the world as the global population continues to grow. Creating affordable, green housing is of the utmost importance to create a more sustainable world using what is already in existence. The inoperative offshore oil platforms could potentially provide a very feasible solution, or as the designers put it, “a sustainable path for tomorrow,” to solve the impending housing crisis while also addressing climate change. Massive in scale, the floating structures could easily be adapted to fit a variety of housing needs. Specifically, the X_Lands concept envisions bubble-like housing units covered with lush greenery that provides a natural, healthy atmosphere for residents. The futuristic housing units would be equipped to generate their own clean energy via solar and wind power, creating completely self-sufficient, water-based communities. Additionally, the homes would provide gardening space for residents to grow their own food. + XTU Architects Images via XTU Architects

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Offshore oil platforms are reimagined as self-sustaining homes

A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

March 20, 2020 by  
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In Brisbane’s leafy suburb of Paddington, Australian architectural practice Shaun Lockyer Architects has created a contemporary and sustainable addition that provides a striking contrast to the original cottage it sits beside. Dubbed Sorrel Street, the concrete-clad extension is a deliberate counterpoint to the local vernacular while respecting the scale of the neighborhood. Sustainability and the client’s desire for limited maintenance also informed the design, which features green roofs, substantial thermal mass, LED lighting and low-E glass throughout. Completed in 2016, Sorrel was commissioned by clients who wanted their suburban home reworked to better meet the needs of their children, one of whom has limited mobility. As a result, the architects altered the sloping site to create a flat lawn that opens to the northwest side. The need for flat land also led the architects to place the contemporary addition to the north of the cottage so that the main living spaces could flow out to the level garden. Related: A 1920s cottage gets a new lease on life as an urban barnyard house “The project explores the juxtaposition between historical context and contemporary architecture within a broader subtropical paradigm,” Shaun Lockyer Architects explained. “In a somewhat controversial decision, the call was made to ‘leave well enough alone’ and make a clear distinction between the small, original cottage and the new work, keeping their respective personalities distinct.” The renovated, predominately single-story home is centered on the kitchen and comprises all the main sleeping and living areas on the upper level, while only the garage, storage, offices and media room are on the lower floor. To minimize energy use, the home is equipped with deep eaves and strategically placed windows and skylights for cross-flow ventilation and natural lighting. The insulating green roof and thick concrete walls help maintain stable indoor temperatures, while timber flooring and furnishings lend a sense of warmth throughout. + Shaun Lockyer Architects Photography by Scott Burrows via Shaun Lockyer Architects

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A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

1980s cottage in Melbourne is updated into an energy-efficient retreat

March 19, 2020 by  
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Melbourne-based firm Jost Architects has managed to breathe new life into a rundown 1980s cottage house in the beachside community of St Kilda. The renovation process focused on retaining as much of the building’s original features as possible, with the resulting design boasting several energy-efficient features that reduce the home’s environmental impact. The original home consisted of a one-story layout with two front bedrooms and a bathroom as well as an extension that was previously added to the back of the house. During the green renovation process, the architects decided to remove the addition but retain the original living areas. Related: A Mel bourne worker’s cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home Once the project started, the designers had to work around the local building restraints to add an upper level. The extension had to fit just right on the original, irregular layout without causing a distraction from the street. Working within the restrictions, the team carefully added a second floor with a new master bedroom and en suite at the front of the house. This space also has a front balcony with windows that open completely. From the bedroom, a hallway leads to another east-facing deck with an operable aluminum screen that provides the homeowners with a bit of outdoor privacy as well as protection from the western summer sun . The new area on the ground floor was also transformed into a spacious, open-plan living room. The entrance is now through a lovely outdoor courtyard that leads into the modern living area. Farther past the main space is the kitchen followed by two additional bedrooms. The green renovation not only gave the residents a bigger space that is flooded with natural light, but the home is now much more energy-efficient. Adding new outdoor spaces provided the living areas with optimal natural ventilation, both upstairs and downstairs. New materials, such as double-paned windows and decorative concrete with zoned hydronic heating, help keep the home well-insulated. For energy generation, the home was outfitted with a 2.6 kW solar power system on the roof. + Jost Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Tom Roe and Shani Hodson via Jost Architects

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1980s cottage in Melbourne is updated into an energy-efficient retreat

Cheops Observatory frames views of the Great Pyramid of Giza

March 13, 2020 by  
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Earth bricks , upcycled materials and local craftsmanship combine in the Cheops Observatory, a new residence designed by Paris-based architecture firm Studio Malka. Located within the ancient village of Nazlet El Samman at the gateway of the desert, the artist’s residence thoughtfully weaves elements of the regional vernacular — including local materials and labor — into its contemporary and sculptural form. The design and orientation of the building was also informed by sight lines to the Great Pyramid of Giza and the trajectories of the sun and moon. Taking cues from the ubiquity of informal architecture in Cairo , the architects followed suit by designing the residence “orally, without any plan, just a few sketches drawn on the desert sand.” The architects’ commitment to environmentally friendly design also led them to emphasize the use of local construction techniques and labor. Raw earth bricks were used for the facade. Traditional windows and shutters were recycled from the village; the operable triangular roof was handcrafted by a Giza desert tribe. Other materials were upcycled or diverted from the landfill wherever possible. Related: Local earth bricks form this inspiring co-working space in Ouagadougou To frame views of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Cheops Observatory was positioned east to west in alignment with the pyramid. This view becomes the focal point of the home’s Time Room, a meditative observation space that opens up to the sky through the folding textile roof. The orientation of the home is also conducive to observational astronomy and cross ventilation. “A vertical stratification inscribes this architecture in a temporal process linking the vernacular, the contemporary and the nomad in one main building,” the architects explained. “This architecture with variable geometry allows both specific or integral protection system, effective against the sun rays, as well as optimal air-cooling flow on the levels.” + Studio Malka Photography by Rayem via Studio Malka

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Cheops Observatory frames views of the Great Pyramid of Giza

Solar-powered Harvard ArtLab to meet net-zero energy targets

March 13, 2020 by  
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Harvard University  has added yet another sustainable building to its campus — the Harvard Artlab, a contemporary art space projected to meet net-zero energy targets. Designed by Berlin-based architecture studio Barkow Leibinger  in collaboration with Boston-based  Sasaki Associates , the 9,000-square-foot facility was created for students, teachers, visiting artists and the wider community. Rooftop photovoltaic panels power the building, which features a steel frame clad in transparent insulated glass and lightweight, high-insulating polycarbonate panels for easy assembly and disassembly. Located on Harvard University’s Allston campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard Artlab is an  adaptable  space with a design that takes inspiration from its industrial surroundings. The boxy one-story building features a pinwheel-like plan centered on a common “Hub” space. A series of large sliding partitions can expand or close off the Hub to cultivate interactivity and enable a wide range of performances and exhibitions. The surrounding spaces house recording studios and sound-editing stations, as well as rooms for rehearsal, improvisation and other performances.  “The ArtLab encourages and expands participants’ engagement with interdisciplinary arts-practice research, serving as a collaborative activator for the school and the greater Allston and  Cambridge  neighborhoods,” explained the architects in a project statement. Like its industrial appearance suggests, the art space will serve as an incubator for producing and experimenting with different art forms.  Related: Harvard unveils Snøhetta-designed HouseZero for sustainable, plus-energy living Built to meet Massachusett’s high energy efficiency standards, the solar-powered Harvard Artlab was built using insulated glass and polycarbonate panels that range from transparent to translucent to opaque. The panels allow natural light to fill the building during the day while creating a glowing “lightbox” appearance at night. Since the building needed to be engineered for possible relocation in the future, the architects constructed the building with lightweight steel columns and open web steel trusses on a concrete slab on grade for easy and efficient disassembly.  + Barkow Leibinger Images by Iwan Baan

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Solar-powered Harvard ArtLab to meet net-zero energy targets

A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun

March 10, 2020 by  
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The French city of Nîmes recently welcomed the Ada Lovelace Secondary School, Occitania’s first-ever clean-energy school that’s earned both BEPOS energy level certification and a sustainability rating of Silver-level BDM (Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens). Opened in the fall of last year, the eco-friendly school is the work of French design firm A+ Architecture . In addition to its energy-saving and -producing features, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School features a bold and contemporary design to help boost the neighborhood’s ongoing urban revitalization efforts. Crowned winners of a 2015 design competition for the project, A+ Architecture was tasked to reconstruct the 400-student secondary school to a new site that would also include space for housing for half of the student population, sports facilities, a race track and three staff houses. The 5,898-square-meter school also needed to be held up as a positive sign of urban renewal in the Mas de Mingue district. Related: New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels “Beyond the environmental basics, we have produced a contemporary, bold, powerful and dynamic architectural structure,” the architects explained. “We wanted people to be drawn to this place of education in this difficult neighborhood. Shapes collide, as stainless-steel panels make it seem as though the facades are empty, which are broken up by rows of windows.” Topped with 800 square meters of solar panels, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School is clad in locally sourced stones that vary in size for visual interest and to help give the volume a more human scale. For stable indoor temperatures, the architects insulated the walls with wood and hemp and installed wood boilers for supplemental heating. Students have also been invited to learn about the school’s energy-saving systems through a digital building model accessible through a game and website managed by Citae. + A+ Architecture Photography by Benoit Wehrle via A+ Architecture

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Low-impact summer retreat boasts solar panels and a green roof

March 9, 2020 by  
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Seattle-based firm Heliotrope Architects has just completed work on a gorgeous summer home located on Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington state. Not only does the North Beach house boast a stunning aesthetic, but it is low-impact and uses several sustainable features, such as solar power and a green roof , to enable the home to be almost completely self-sustaining. The stunning, 2,400-square-foot North Beach home is located on the island’s stunning waterfront, tucked between a natural forest of fir trees on one side and an open meadow on the other. Framed in wide steel columns, the single-story house sits quietly in the landscape, clad in walls of glass that open the residence up to amazing views. Related: Green-roofed beachfront home fully embraces its coastal surroundings The house features a contemporary but cozy interior design. White walls and wooden flooring run throughout the dwelling. Walls comprised of sliding glass doors bring in natural light while also enabling the homeowners to truly feel connected with the outdoors. Several outdoor spaces, such as an open-air deck with a large dining table, further embed the home into its surroundings and promote indoor-outdoor living. Intended to be a summer home used from May through October, the design uses several sustainable features to make it self-sustaining for those months. A solar array was installed above the adjacent vegetable garden shed in order to provide energy to the home, while solar collectors on the roof are used to heat hot water and provide hydronic heating. Additionally, a lush green roof was installed with a rain harvesting system that collects rainwater to be used for irrigation. According to the architects, these systems have been designed to “zero-out” electricity use over the course of a full year. + Heliotrope Architects Photography via Sean Airhart via Heliotrope Architects

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Home on a sloped ravine uses natural materials to blend into the landscape

February 20, 2020 by  
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Built by Chicago-based firm Wheeler Kearns Architects , the Ravine House is a beautiful home that sits tucked into a natural forest setting just outside of Highland Park, Illinois. Working directly with the nature-loving homeowners, the architects strategically focused on blending the minimalist home, which was built with natural materials , into the idyllic surroundings while reducing its impact as much as possible. The Ravine House comes in at more than 4,500 square feet across a single-story, rectangular volume. Sitting adjacent to a deep ravine, the home’s layout was designed to include the native vegetation that covers the area.  In fact, one corner of the volume is “broken” and set apart in order to create an entrance courtyard, where the vegetation is first incorporated into the living space. The courtyard’s local stones and birch trees pay homage to the homeowners’ love of nature. Related: The low-impact Bridge House hovers over a stream in Los Angeles In addition to incorporating the native plants and trees into the design, the home uses a variety of natural materials to blend into its natural forest backdrop. The exterior cladding is comprised of dark metal siding and a vertical rain screen made out of panels of American Black Locust, which was chosen for its durability. On the interior, walls of American Walnut and continuous white oak floors run throughout the living space. Large expanses of glass wrap around the Ravine House, further blending the exterior with the interior. A minimalist, yet cozy, interior design deftly puts the focus on the surrounding views while providing a comfortable living area for the family. In addition to the various uses of wood for a more sustainable design, protecting the landscape was also an essential element to the Ravine House project. During the construction process, the homeowners began to restore the adjacent ravine, which was being damaged by invasive species. They planted no-mow meadows to surround the home as well as multiple beds of vegetable gardens. + Wheeler Kearns Architects Photography by Tom Rossiter via Wheeler Kearns Architects

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Home on a sloped ravine uses natural materials to blend into the landscape

Green-roofed brick home ‘disappears’ into the landscape

February 18, 2020 by  
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Antwerp-based studio Studio Okami Architects has unveiled a design that masterfully blends a home into its surrounding landscape. Built into a sloped hill, the brick-clad and aptly named Sloped Villa uses an expansive green roof to help the house “disappear” into its serene natural setting. Located in an idyllic area of Mont-de-l’Enclus in Belgium , the Sloped Villa came to be after the homeowners, who purchased an expansive, sloping plot of land, met with the architects and explained their vision of building an “invisible house” into the rolling terrain. “We love the view too much to be constricted by predefined window sizes,” the clients said. “We love the way nature shifts through the seasons on this plot. We love the tranquility … It would be mostly for the two of us enjoying the sunrise over the valley, but make sure our four adult kids can stay over anytime.” Related: Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape To bring the clients’ dream to fruition, the architects came up with the idea to partially embed a simple, one-story volume into the sloped landscape so that it would slightly jut out on one side. With a rooftop covered in greenery , the home “vanishes” from sight from one angle while providing unobstructed views over the valley from the other. The resulting 3,000-square-foot house features a wrap-around porch made out of locally sourced bricks . The walls boast floor-to-ceiling glass panels that create a seamless connection with the outdoors and let in plenty of natural light and the landscape vistas that the clients adore so much. Inside, an open-floor plan makes the most of the main living space, which features a minimalist design . Throughout the home, neutral tones and sparse furnishings keep the focus on the views. The bedrooms are “cave-like” yet still benefit from views and light, and a soaking tub next to a glass wall offers an additional space to relax and unwind. + Studio Okami Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Filip Dujardin via Studio Okami Architects

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Green-roofed brick home ‘disappears’ into the landscape

LEED Gold-targeted Ottawa library will honor local history

February 13, 2020 by  
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After nearly a year of public input by Canadians from coast to coast, Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects has finally revealed renderings for the new Ottawa library and archives. Designed in collaboration with KWC Architects , the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility will be an innovative landmark representative of all Canadians. The building will target, at minimum, LEED Gold certification and will reflect the region’s rich history and natural beauty with its organic and dynamic design oriented for unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills in Quebec. The recently unveiled designs for the Ottawa library are the result of an unprecedented public co-design process called the “Inspire555 Series” after the building’s address at 555 Albert Street, on the western edge of downtown Ottawa . The process, which began in February last year, asked residents, indigenous communities and Canadians from across the country to participate in a series of design workshops, pop-up events, expert lectures and online activities to shape the design and direction of the public institution. More than 4,000 people contributed to the library’s major design themes, which include accessibility, a sense of welcoming for diverse groups and needs, site-specific elements and a connection to nature.  Related: Henning Larsen’s energy-efficient Kiruna Town Hall opens to the public As a result, the final design takes cues from Ottawa’s environment with an undulating form that references the nearby Ottawa River. The stone and wood exterior grounds the building into the nearby escarpment landscape, while the top floors, rooftop and abundance of glazing frame views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills. The five-story building will be organized around a large town hall at its heart and will include exhibition and collections spaces, reading rooms, a creative center, a children’s area, a genealogy center and a cafe. “The location at a cultural crossroads of a route that traces the three founding peoples — French, English and Indigenous — underscores the spirit of confluence in the building’s design and the possibilities for these memory institutions in a modern facility to advance the Canadian story,” said Donald Schmitt, principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects. The joint facility has a CA $193 million ($145 million) budget and is scheduled to open in 2024. + Diamond Schmitt Architects Images via Diamond Schmitt Architects

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