Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

January 15, 2020 by  
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To empower a marginalized community in Brazil’s Maranhão state, São Paulo-based architecture firm  Estudio Flume  has completed Castanha de Caju, a new headquarters for a women’s agricultural cooperative that doubles as a welcoming community hub. Constructed on a limited budget and a tight timeline, the inspiring project included the refurbishment and extension of a small house as well as the inclusion of traditional construction techniques and materials to reduce costs. Low-cost passive thermal control strategies and considerable community input helped shape the project, which also includes permaculture principles, a biodigester, and rainwater harvesting. Located in Nova Vida, a small impoverished community in Bom Jesus das Selvas, the new agricultural co-op headquarters was primarily built to serve a group of women who make their living by collecting and processing a type of oil-rich Brazilian nut. As a result, the layout of the building was informed by the co-op’s workflows and includes nut cooking and breaking areas as well as an internal courtyard for drying foods. In light of the lack of  public spaces in the town, the architects also added facilities to the project, such as the sun-room and concrete bunch, to encourage community cohesion and knowledge sharing. In addition to  reusing  as much of the original building as possible, the new headquarters is constructed with perforated bricks and ‘brise-soleil’ pivot doors made with traditional techniques to allow for cross ventilation, natural light, and views. Since the area lacks a sewage system and a constant supply of potable water, the architects added a rainwater harvesting system and a septic tank biodigester for sewage treatment as well as a banana circle to filter gray water. The architects hope that through continued use and maintenance, the community will gradually begin to adapt these systems into other buildings in the town. Related: This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint “This project is part of a wider plan for renovation works for small cooperatives and associations in the interior Maranhão and Pará states, in the north and northeast of Brazil ,” the architects said. “In a country with enormous continental diversity and cultural richness, it represents the opportunity to defend some sense of social justice, to ensure job security, comfort in the routine of a group of women. This was an opportunity to work with those who produce food on a small scale and with respect for the environment and, in the end, these products are eaten in the big cities.” + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

Planned community embraces luxe, eco-conscious design in Bocas del Toro, Panama

December 25, 2019 by  
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More than 12 years in the making, the 457-acre planned community of Casi Cielo has just begun sales for its first phase. Located on Panama’s northern province of Bocas del Toro, the high-end resort will emphasize a sustainable, low carbon footprint with site-specific architecture informed by passive solar principles and the natural environment. Led by developer Circular Strategy Group, the Casi Cielo development was created with help from Mario Lazo & Unidad Diseño, WATG and XOC2 to create a “future-forward” masterplan on an undeveloped peninsula next to the ocean within close proximity of the 45,000-acre protected San San-Pond Oak natural reserve. The mixed-use site will include a grid of 75 turn-key sites with 118 hotel suites and 77 branded luxury residences designed by Zurcher Arquitectos, Wimberly Interiors and GOCO Hospitality. Related: This private island resort in Panama promises sustainable luxury “Being from Panama , I felt this was a golden opportunity, not only to preserve Bocas and make positive impact in the region but also introduce a new way for conscious communities to be built,” said Moshe Levi, co-developer of Casi Cielo. “With the infrastructure already in place, Casi Cielo essentially serves as a blank canvas that will continue to evolve, while remaining a true haven for those seeking a different way of life.” Indoor-outdoor living will be celebrated at Casi Cielo, which will also emphasize its connection with nature by offering outdoor-oriented wellness and eco-tourism programs that take advantage of the site’s proximity to world-class surf and a tropical jungle landscape. To optimize the energy performance of the community, the architects have taken passive solar strategies into account when placing and orienting the buildings. Solar thermal and rainwater collection systems are expected to be integrated into the design as well. Casi Cielo is slated to open in 2021. + Casi Cielo Images via Casi Cielo

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Planned community embraces luxe, eco-conscious design in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Minimalist home in the Brazilian countryside is made from mining waste

December 6, 2019 by  
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Brazilian architectural firm Gustavo Penna Arquiteto e Associados (GPA&A) has unveiled a tiny, minimalist home with a small stature that conceals a powerhouse of sustainable design. Located in a former mining region, the architects decided to build the 484-square-foot Sustentable House out of bricks manufactured from mining sludge waste. The family home is also installed with solar panels and a wind turbine to produce energy and heat water. Additionally, the residence is almost completely zero-waste thanks to an integrated waste water treatment system and organic waste incinerator. The small home is located in the pristine, mountainous area of Ouro Branco, once an important base located on the transportation route from the mines of Minas Gerais to the coast. Paying homage to the region’s history, the architects were able to construct the Sustentable House with bricks made out of the byproducts of mining . Related: Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada Tucked into an open lot surrounded by forest, the house sits on a small, flat plot of a sloping hill. The volume has a cube-like base topped with a slanted rooftop. The sloped roof was an important factor in protecting the interior from direct sunlight . The roof was also installed with a small solar array that heats water for the residence, although it will eventually power the entire home. At the front of the building, a wall rises up past the slanted rooftop. The cutout space in this section is outfitted with a wind turbine that generates energy for the home. The design also incorporates an organic waste incinerator that produces energy through hot air and an integrated, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system that can be used as an additional power system. All of these sustainable features are wrapped up in one gorgeous design. The two-bedroom house’s brick walls wrap around the exterior and interior, except for the front facade, which is made out of floor-to-ceiling glass panels. The wide glass doors slide open completely, opening up the living room to the great outdoors. This allows the homeowners to enjoy unobstructed views of the mountains and valleys that stretch out across the horizon. + GPA&A Via ArchDaily Photography by Jomar Bragança via GPA&A

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Minimalist home in the Brazilian countryside is made from mining waste

Families in China create an eco-community of timber, A-frame cabins

December 6, 2019 by  
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Spanning more than 20 acres in China’s Mogan River Valley, Wiki Tribe Park consists of multiple A-frame cabins made out of cross-laminated timber. The impressive project was conceived by local architecture firm Wiki World  that wanted to create a collaborative eco-community tucked into an idyllic, natural landscape. The Wiki Tribe Park complex was planned and designed by architects, but the project was organized in a way that would let entire families take part in the construction process. Using a modular system enabled not only the adults to take part in building the cabins, but it even allowed young children to learn the basics of green building. Related: Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater The cabins’ walls were cut through a high-precision, prefabricated construction method, which enabled a faster building process. In fact, the A-frame cabins were finished in just about one month, especially thanks to the families that were involved in the construction. Elevated off of the ground to protect the landscape, the timber cabins are covered in a waterproof , reflective material in order to better blend the structures into the landscape. This coating also keeps the cabins resilient to the climate. From the interior, the families can take in the beautiful views through the large window located on each side of every cabin. Built in collaboration with UN-habitat, World Children Campaign and 7 Billion Urbanists, the Wiki Tribe Park project was conceived by Wiki World with the aim of creating a collaborative eco-community . By allowing the residents to participate in the construction process, not only do they feel a strong bond with their own cabins but with the natural world as well. Plus, the children who were involved were able to learn more about sustainable building practices for the future. + Wiki World + Advanced Architecture Lab (AAL) Via ArchDaily Images via Wiki World

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Families in China create an eco-community of timber, A-frame cabins

A fairytale-like school lab for math and sciences takes over a tiny London "turret"

November 25, 2019 by  
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Proving that inspiring design can be achieved in small spaces and on a budget, British architecture firm Hayhurst & Co recently transformed an existing two-story “turret” on top of a Queen Anne-style primary school in London into an award-winning learning space for children. Awarded with a RIBA Regional Award, the new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) Activity Lab is a welcome addition to the Torriano Primary School that provides flexible, hands-on learning opportunities for its 420 students. The new, dynamic lab emphasizes creativity and playfulness from its shiny, whimsical, shingled roof to its cathedral-like interior framed with curved laminated plywood portals. Created in collaboration with the teachers, students and Artist in Residence Jack Cornell, the Torriano Primary School STEAM Activity Lab was made possible thanks to Section 106 funding by Camden Council. To make the most of a limited budget, the architects turned their eyes to reuse and low-technology solutions, such as the stack effect to promote natural ventilation and a large skylight that also lets in plenty of natural light. A new thermal envelope was also created for the extension to meet Camden Council’s sustainability criteria. Related: BIG’s LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces The adaptable interior is designed for flexible use and carrying out practical experiments. The framework of laminated plywood portals doubles as a learning apparatus; students can drape over, attach to or project onto the portals using floor projection IT equipment. The space also includes fold-down demonstration desks, a black-out area for light-based experiments and a mezzanine level. In the rear of the lab, a large, timber-framed, glazed door opens up to a small, south-facing roof terrace with an external living wall and cactus planter. There, students can also get a glimpse of the extension’s eye-catching roof dressed in mirror-polished, stainless steel shingle tiles that reference the clay tiles and lead-clad dormers of the existing building. + Hayhurst & Co Photography by Kilian O’Sullivan via Hayhurst & Co

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A fairytale-like school lab for math and sciences takes over a tiny London "turret"

These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses

November 25, 2019 by  
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What were once 28 unused canal-side bridge houses are now a series of hotel suites reused by Dutch architecture firm Space&Matter for the SWEETS hotel. The hotel concept is that of adaptive reuse , essentially reusing an old building for something that it originally was not used for. More importantly, this approach gives new life to existing structures rather than deploying the extensive resources needed for new construction. Originally built spanning a time frame between 1673 and 2009, the old structures were used for the city’s bridge keepers, those who were responsible for the opening and closing of the bridges as boats and water traffic came through. In modern times, where the bridges are now controlled electronically, the houses eventually became vacant and unused. Related: Studio Puisto transforms an old bank into a modern hostel in Finland To avoid the structures falling into dangerous disrepair, the architects gave new life to the buildings. Even better, the hotel suites continue to respect the early architecture by each representing the history of the specific building through different architectural styles. Interiors of each house distinctly match the exterior in terms of style and architectural period. The suites became, in essence, tiny homes, marked by a distinctive minimal footprint with some floors originally as small as 21 square feet in size. The designers were forced into unique creativity, accomplishing tasks such as transforming small structures with just a few square feet of floor space into two-person, multilevel suites with a bathroom, a double bed, a seating area and a pantry. As of 2018, 11 of the homes were available to book, with the 17 remaining structures set to be remodeled in the coming years. Because the suites are connected through the canals, as the original bridge houses were, the concept is new to both visitors and locals alike. The project is an ode to the industrial and cultural heritage of Amsterdam and brings to light the importance of water to the area. The suites, spread all throughout the city, are a love letter to Amsterdam architecture, from Amsterdam School to Modernism. + SWEETS hotel + Space&Matter Via Dezeen Photography by Mirjam Bleeker and Lotte Holterman via SWEETS hotel

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These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses

Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

November 21, 2019 by  
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When designing the House of Three Trees, Seoul-based architecture practice Jae Kim Architects & Researchers (JK-AR) started with a question: What would Korean architecture look like if timber remained the dominant construction material from ancient times until today? To answer this alternate-reality proposition, the architects conceived a project representative of “the rebirth of East Asian timber architecture of the 21st century” that blends digital design and fabrication with traditional Korean architecture. Built with sculptural, tree-like structures that employ the iconic wooden bracket systems of ancient times, the experimental home also relates to the local vernacular with low-cost materials commonly used in rural Korean buildings. During the late Joseon Dynasty of Korea in the 17th and 19th centuries, timber resources were mostly exhausted until globalization led to the import of cheaper wooden materials from around the world. Due to the popularization of reinforced concrete structures and the high cost of timber construction, development of timber architecture slowed. Using algorithmic tools, JK-AR envisions how timber architecture could have evolved had timber resources continued to be readily available with The House of Three Trees. The experimental home features tree-like supporting structures solely composed of wooden joinery — using more than 4,000 timber elements — constructed with traditional techniques and zero additive fasteners. Related: Moon Hoon’s funky new home captures sunlight on Jeju Island “The house criticizes today’s application of traditional buildings that is superficial, merely imitating traditional expressions in architecture, or too abstract,” the architects explained. “Rather, the house redefines the virtue of East Asian timber buildings in its tectonic aspect which is a combination of structure and ornamentation. Moreover, the house serves as an example of how contemporary technology, such as design computation and digital fabrication, can reinterpret traditional architecture. Technology can give East Asian timber construction the potential to evolve in a new direction.” The home takes on a hexagonal shape, influenced by the irregular building plot, with an interior defined by three tree-like columns that support the roof. Covered in asphalt shingles, the butterfly roof is raised to provide a glimpse of the trees inside. Polycarbonate corrugated panels wrap around the home in a nod to rural Korean construction; these panels also create a double-skin around the plywood facade to improve the building’s insulation performance and water resistance. + Jae Kim Architects & Researchers Photography by Roh Kyung via Jae Kim Architects & Researchers

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Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

This smart furniture features solar-powered charging ports

November 21, 2019 by  
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Budapest-based design studio Hello Wood has unveiled a collection of outdoor smart furniture designed for schools and universities. The furniture is outfitted with solar panels to generate clean energy for charging USB ports. The sleek designs include extra-long, undulating lounge chairs and a funky “fluid cube,” all made out of solid wood. Over the years, Hello Wood has created all types of innovative wooden installations, from LED Christmas trees built from reused wooden boxes to a solar-powered pop-up park to a colossal tiger stature made out of reclaimed timber . Now, the crafty wood artists have created a new collection of outdoor wooden pieces slated for the community spaces at local educational institutions. Related: 14 amazing timber structures explore the future of wood as a building material Already installed in four Hungarian educational institutions, the outdoor pieces add a bit of whimsy to the open spaces found on campuses. The outdoor furniture collection includes two vastly different designs. One is a long lounge chair/bench that stretches out in a zig-zag shape with large curvatures marking the seating areas. The second design is what the designers call a “fluid cube.” The wooden cube is open on three sides, with a built-in bench on the interior. In addition to their unique shapes, the furniture pieces are also sustainable. The wood used in Hello Wood’s latest installation is all certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which guarantees that the timber comes from responsibly managed forests. Both pieces have been equipped with solar panels, which were manufactured using recycled plastic waste . The solar energy is used to generate enough power to charge the multiple USB ports the students can use while they relax in the fresh air. + Hello Wood Photography by Zsuzsa Darab and Hello Wood

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This smart furniture features solar-powered charging ports

Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Spain’s Rías Baixas area is a picturesque part of the country. Now, in this idyllic region sits a highly energy-efficient home designed by local firm ARKKE . The architects incorporated several bioclimatic features into the design, taking advantage of the local climate and landscape to help reduce the building’s energy use. The Small Bioclimatic House is a compact, two-bedroom home that sits elevated on a steep hill side overlooking the Ría de Arousa, the largest estuary in Galicia. The area is known for its picturesque landscape dotted with quaint fishing villages, so the architects wanted to create an energy-efficient home that harmonizes with the surroundings and complements the existing vernacular. Related: Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint The home is just over 900 square feet and is surrounded by natural landscaping. According to the architects, the layout and size of the house was inspired by the limited building space as well as the stunning views. The firm explained, “The essential premise of the commission was to design a small, highly efficient and healthy house capable of making the most of a very narrow plot but with delicious views of the Arosa estuary.” The architects created a simple, one-story design with two bedrooms, a living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The front wall is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a front deck; this helps the family to enjoy optimal natural light as well as unobstructed views year-round. To create a strong thermal envelope for the home, the architects chose to build with CLT . The porch extends laterally, forming eaves that shade the interiors from direct solar radiation, again reducing the home’s energy use. Additionally, the entire envelope has been insulated with a unique exterior insulation system (SATE) to withstand both the region’s frigid winters and the searing summer months. + ARKKE Via ArchDaily Images via ARKKE

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Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

November 15, 2019 by  
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London-based architectural firm Mæ has completed the second phase of Brentford Lock West, a urban regeneration masterplan that is providing quality homes — 40 percent of which are designated for shared ownership — designed to engage the waterfront environment and community. Taking inspiration from the site’s industrial past, the architecture complements its historic setting with distinctive sawtooth roofs that help funnel light into the buildings and the material palette of blond brick, in-situ concrete and reconstituted stone. In addition to designing for optimal daylighting, the architects have included mechanical ventilation heat recovery systems and high levels of thermal insulation to ensure energy efficiency . Completed at the end of 2018, the second phase of Brentford Lock West introduces an additional 157 homes to the mixed-use masterplan and includes a combination of lateral apartments, duplexes, penthouses and townhouses. All homes are “step-free” and follow the Lifetime Home Standard , a set of design principles that emphasize inclusivity, accessibility, adaptability, sustainability and good value. Each home is carefully oriented to maximize privacy as well as views, whether of the canal to the north or the city to the south. Related: RRA unveils mountain-inspired ski resort that emphasizes nature and community In designing the development, the architects worked with the local community and other stakeholders. As a result, community values have been embedded into the design of Brentford Lock West. One such example is the new “neighborhood street” — a shared space for pedestrians and cyclists that is landscaped and paved with herringbone brick — that knits the two phases together. Also at the heart of the development is a landscaped communal garden. Large cantilevered balconies engage the street below. “Continuing the architectural language of phase one, the second phase builds upon scale and massing, alongside the benchmark it set in terms of quality and sense of place,” the architecture firm added. “Holding the corners of each plot, six pavilion buildings are linked through rows of private townhouses and bridge structures that form entrance portals and house further accommodation above.” + Mæ Images via Goodfellow Communications

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Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

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