Modular treehouse concept is inspired by wasp nests

November 27, 2020 by  
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As an entry to the Young Architects Competitions’ Tree House Module contest, the architecture team of Garvin Goepel and Christian Baumgarten have proposed a modular treehouse called Nidus Domum that is made up of two shelters inspired by wasp nests. The modules are designed to sit on the property of Vibrac castle in France to help visitors escape modern civilization. Curved in shape and designed to shelter visitors high up in the trees, Nidus Domum provides a closer connection to nature . The layering, addition and multiplication of individual elements of the modules are inspired by the way that wasps build their nests, in a similar systematic and engineered pattern. With wasps, oval-shaped nests are protected by a layer of chewed wood chips and wasp saliva, like a glue. The insects build layers next to each other in order to strengthen the inner population’s protection. Related: Treehouse hotel in Bali offers maximum views with a minimal footprint The modules interlock through single parts rather than in a continuous large surface, making the production and fabrication of the treehouse highly customizable. Panels can be adapted to specialized contextual arrangements, like tree branches, by exchanging and customizing single panels. Individual elements are designed small enough to be prefabricated in local factories, quickly transported to building sites and easily assembled. Subsequently, the modules are also easy to take apart and move to other locations. The treehouse modules are composed of 24 individual panels with a wooden frame that includes inner bent wood paneling and an outer cladding made of liana tree bark splits sourced from the building site. The first module, Nidus Dolichovespula sylvestris (Nest of a Tree Wasp), suspends from the tree high above the ground. From the shelter, inhabitants gain an elevated view through the forest toward the castle on one side and the remote wild landscape on the other. In contrast, the second module, Nidus Polistinae (Nest of a Field Wasp), has a free-standing construction. The design is elevated by pilings, so it doesn’t require a tree as structural support and maintains space for a sauna . This sauna is built using the same system and connects to a terrace poised over the lake surface. Users can steam in the sauna before dipping their feet in the cold water below. + Garvin Goepel + Christian Baumgarten Images via Christian Baumgarten

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Modular treehouse concept is inspired by wasp nests

A geometric double roof promotes natural cooling at this Tropical Chalet

November 23, 2020 by  
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After three years of design and construction, Singapore-based firm G8A Architecture & Urban Planning has completed the Tropical Chalet, a naturally cooled home with a beautiful and functional “double roof facade.” Located in the Vietnamese coastal region of Danang, the four-bedroom family villa takes advantage of its lakeside location with a porous brick moucharabieh facade that brings in cooling cross breezes and also gives the beautiful home its distinctive appearance. The predominate use of rough brick — which covers the roof, walls and a portion of the open-air interior — is also a nod to Danang’s historic use of baked brickwork that dates back to the fourth century. Set on a roughly rectangular plot facing a lake, the Tropical Chalet lives up to its name with an indoor/outdoor design approach. A lush garden and spacious, landscaped backyard surrounds the L-shaped home, which opens up to the outdoors on all sides. Operable glazing, a porous brick facade and a recessed gallery help bring in natural light and ventilation while protecting against unwanted solar gain and mercurial coastal weather conditions. Related: Lush living plants engulf the green-roofed Pure Spa in Vietnam “Materials were were chosen not only for their sturdiness and climate resistance, particularly bricks with their high insulation qualities,” the architects explained. “But also, their minimal and natural aesthetic, once again blending with the surrounding landscape. A strong presence of wood, textured concrete and rough brick highlight the organic nature of the concept.” The building’s undulating roof is also engineered for natural cooling with a shape informed by site conditions; the geometry of the roof has led to a folded waxed concrete ceiling below that hides the structural framework of the terracotta-lined roof. The 400-square-meter Tropical Chalet rises to a height of two stories and includes a floor that’s partly buried underground and opens up to a sunken sculpture garden. + G8A Architecture & Urban Planning Photography by Oki Hiroyuki via G8A Architecture & Urban Planning

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A geometric double roof promotes natural cooling at this Tropical Chalet

French housing project I Park has a double-skinned green facade

November 12, 2020 by  
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Located in Montpellier, a historic city near the south of France on the Mediterranean Sea, “I Park” is a housing project with a plant-covered facade that catches the eye even from afar. Developed across the street from the city’s new town hall, the building was designed by NBJ Architectes and completed in 2019. I Park features eight levels of variable layers and 4,000 square meters of space, constituting an urban build front in a dividing line with the busy street. Right next to the project’s site sits a public park that offers unobstructed views of green spaces and a river to the inhabitants. To allow for a distance between the public and private spaces, a landscape band adjoins the project site as well. Related: Architects envision a green, solar-powered skyscraper While the base of the building is treated with stamped concrete, the body of the project is made up on a unified double-facade . This facade consists of two skins to help air flow and support ventilation of the intermediate cavity, while also allowing adaptability to each orientation in connection with the direct environment. The designers came up with a unique composition for the urban facade, a sequence of three structures that interconnect with each other to form a single entity. Strategically placed planter boxes line the front, appearing to climb up the face of the building and scatter throughout the remaining sides sporadically. Trees and green spaces are included on the roof as well, though not as prevalent as the facade. The reflective glass on the neighboring building adds a special aspect to the project by projecting light onto the plants; the green facade and mirrored cladding seem to play off each other to represent the discrepancy between nature and the city. According to the architects, the project will also serve as a base for research and experimentation on Mediterranean climate living conditions. + NBJ Architectes Photography by photoarchitecture via v2com

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French housing project I Park has a double-skinned green facade

Smart home with AI sits above a nature reserve in Prague

November 10, 2020 by  
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Villa Sophia by COLL COLL celebrates the connection between technology and nature. A  smart home  with artificial intelligence, the house sits on the Trója hillside above a nature reserve with stunning views of Prague. The villa’s technological aspects feature blue light eliminating house lights and self-moving doors to aid in natural ventilation, while the green roof contributes to the building’s energetic balance. According to the architects, many of the structural and material construction choices are inspired by sustainability and durability. Samples of materials were tested for strength, elasticity stability, chemical stability and permanence before use. The house includes a  green roof  that is exposed from above, contributing to colorful blooms of plants and flowers throughout the seasons. This roof helps balance the building both energetically and aesthetically. Terraces around the house follow an unfolding star design that dissolves into the overgrown garden, which routinely sees a wide variety of wild animals. Related: Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas The smart home comes completely connected, integrated with a Sysloop system platform and EMPYREUM Information Technologies  artificial intelligence . To aid healthy sleep cycles, all of the house lights operate in the full spectrum of light (RGBW) to slowly eliminate harsh blue light components. For natural air ventilation, the doors operate on linear magnets. One wing of the house is dedicated to music, with a concert room that uses A.I. to play musical pieces or unique melodies to accompany the residents’ musical performances. Apart from the house’s environmental and technological features, the property also enjoys panoramic views of  Prague’s  Dejvice Hotel International. The office looks out on the Libe? Gasholder, while the living room hosts views of the garden, and the bedroom offers a look into the treetops thanks to a descending terrain. To ensure that surrounding homes can also enjoy the panoramic city views, Villa Sophia sits at the shortest possible height. + COLL COLL Photography by BoysPlayNice

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Smart home with AI sits above a nature reserve in Prague

University in Germany designs an alpine hut from reeds

October 28, 2020 by  
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A team of craftspeople and students from the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Building Material, Building Physics, Building Technology and Design have created an alpine hut designed from sustainable, renewable reed material. The project, SkinOver Reed, is meant to research the feasibility of the material as facade and roof cladding for use in high-altitude Alpine regions. Also known as thatch , reed is a carbon-neutral resource, known generationally for its rapid growth, short process chain, low-energy demand, low emissions and lack of pollutants. According to the designers, reed generates better water quality where it grows and helps to provide home to many different animals in the natural environment. It is harvested by cutting off the dead part of the plant, which is replaced by natural growth every year. Using the dead reed as cladding requires no need for any further treatment. At the end of its life, the construction material can be composted, closing the life cycle organically. Related: Prefab alpine shelter boasts phenomenal views and a small footprint The SkinOver Reed project was developed after two years of research, with reed chosen for the facade and roof to help generate a monolithic, three-dimensional design with a single material. The prototype thatched hut was built in Austria using local reed and wood with a foundation of stone from an existing building. The team researched examples of contemporary thatch architecture from France, Denmark and Sweden for inspiration and insight into building with reed. The first hut was completed in 2019, so the team spent summer 2020 monitoring, documenting and analyzing the effects of last winter’s cold weather on the reed. Long-term, they plan to implement both permanent and periodic measurements to monitor the hut’s aging process, hopefully inspiring other architects to see the favorability and quality of renewable materials like reed. The project has already garnered favorable attention, as it was shortlisted in the small building category for the Dezeen Awards 2020. + University of Stuttgart Via Dezeen Images via University of Stuttgart

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University in Germany designs an alpine hut from reeds

LEED Platinum-seeking home in Cincinnati asks $3.25 million

October 14, 2020 by  
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Near the border of Ohio and Kentucky, a stunning sustainable home has hit the market for $3,249,000. Designed by local architect Jose Garcia , the home was built with natural materials, from the exterior cladding of cedar and cypress wood to the interior use of century-year-old reclaimed Douglas fir. The Douglas fir was sourced from a demolished cotton mill and used for the ceiling and walls. The Cincinnati home is in the process of obtaining LEED platinum certification and boasts 38 solar panels on the roof, a geothermal energy system and a smart home system for optimizing energy efficiency. Located at 1059 Celestial Street, the custom, single-family home in the city’s Mt. Adams suburb spans 6,778 square feet on a quarter-acre lot with four bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and a three-car garage. The home’s elevated location allows for stunning views of downtown Cincinnati as well as the Ohio River, which marks the boundary between Ohio and Kentucky. A rooftop deck with a fire pit and a vegetable garden bed takes advantage of these panoramic views. The main bedroom, which is bathed in light by a skylight, connects to a bridge that leads directly to the rooftop deck.  Related: Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas Natural light and a sense of spaciousness define the interiors of the modern home, which is centered on an atrium . The atrium allows for direct sight lines from the entrance to the pocket sliding glass doors, which open up to a 45-foot-long balcony along the entire side of the home. Full-height windows, a natural materials palette and a courtyard garden also help to usher the outdoor landscape indoors, while tall ceilings and an open-plan layout direct views toward downtown Cincinnati. The abundance of wood that lines the interior is complemented by exposed brick and concrete in parts of the home. The kitchen cabinetry, designed by the architect, is bleached European White Oak and paired with white quartzite countertops. To meet LEED Platinum standards, double-pane windows imported from Luxembourg were installed throughout the residence. Two geothermal wells were drilled beneath the driveway to provide an additional energy source to solar, which collected from the solar array on the front part of the roof. In addition to home automation, the building is equipped with an air-purifying system that filters air in the entire home. The property is listed with Coldwell Banker . + Jose Garcia Design Images via Coldwell Banker

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LEED Platinum-seeking home in Cincinnati asks $3.25 million

Disney World McDonald’s to be first net-zero fast food restaurant

October 7, 2020 by  
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Chicago-based  Ross Barney Architects  has given the iconic McDonald’s at Walt Disney World Resort a sustainable makeover. This revamp aims to make McDonald’s Disney flagship the first net-zero energy quick-service restaurant. Topped with a canopy clad in solar panels, the energy-efficient building takes on a new, contemporary form that strategically responds to Orlando’s hot and humid climate. In addition to generating renewable energy on-site, the restaurant reduces its energy footprint by using natural ventilation and operable windows that open and close in response to outdoor humidity and temperature sensors.  “We were really interested in taking advantage of the climate in Florida , which is most of the year is fantastic,” said Carol Ross Barney, design principal at Ross Barney Architects. Completed earlier this year, McDonald’s new solar-powered Disney location represents the company’s commitment to building a better future through “Scale for Good,” an initiative that seeks to minimize McDonald’s building impact and embraces the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s operates over 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries around the world and serves 69 million people every day. The company has pledged to prevent 150 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2030 — a reduction of 36% from a 2015 base year.  Related: Cantilevered Green Shield Protects McDonalds’ Customers from Adjacent Fuel Station The renovated McDonald’s Disney restaurant serves as an inspiring sustainable steward with its thoughtful architectural design and educational focus. Interior wall graphics, interactive video content and games unique to McDonald’s Disney World location help teach visitors of all ages how to become more dedicated environment stewards at a variety of levels. To meet  net-zero  energy targets, the eatery features 18,727 square feet of photovoltaic panels, 4,809 square feet of glazing integrated photovoltaic panels (BiPV) and 25 off-grid parking lot lights that, in total, provide more energy than the restaurant uses. The building and kitchen systems have also been optimized for energy efficiency, while natural ventilation is prioritized for roughly 65% of the year.  + Ross Barney Architects Images by Kate Joyce Studios

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Disney World McDonald’s to be first net-zero fast food restaurant

Preparing COVID-19 vaccine could kill half a million sharks

October 7, 2020 by  
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Scientists are racing against time to create a COVID-19 vaccine, but the effects of this venture may cause irreversible harm for sharks . Conservationists estimate that preparing a coronavirus vaccine will require at least half a million sharks. Such numbers would push some shark species to extinction. Squalene, a compound that regulates shark buoyancy in water, is primarily found in shark liver oil. Vital for boosting the human body’s immunity, this compound factors heavily into vaccine preparation. Since 1997, squalene has been used to prepare flu vaccines, and the CDC recommends squalene due to its safety record. The compound also helps reduce the amount of vaccine needed per individual. Additionally, a  Science Times  publication reports that squalene makes vaccines more effective.  Although squalene also occurs in plants, humans and other animals, sharks contain the highest volume of this important compound. For this reason, hundreds of thousands of sharks risk losing their lives to the vaccine cause. According to shark advocacy group  Shark Allies , five of the top COVID-19 vaccines being prepared use shark squalene. The organization has petitioned vaccine developers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration , China and Europe to exclude the compound from their vaccines. The organization encourages developers to use shark-based squalene alternatives. According to a  Sky News report , a leading British pharmaceutical company that uses shark squalene plans to harvest a billion doses of the compound for use in potential coronavirus vaccines by May 2021. Stefanie Brendl, executive director of Shark Allies, says that the process of harvesting this compound is killing sharks. “It’s called harvesting , but really you’re not growing it, you’re taking it from the wild,” Brendl said. “It’s a limited resource.” If the compound is used to prepare a COVID-19 vaccine, the world could pay a serious ecological price. “It’s something we need to get ahead of ASAP, because we are facing many years of vaccine production, for a global population, for many more coronavirus vaccines to come,” Brendl said. “The real danger is in what this can turn into in the future. A reliance on shark oil for a global vaccine — it’s truly insane. A wild animal is not a reliable source and cannot sustain ongoing commercial pressure.” Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Preparing COVID-19 vaccine could kill half a million sharks

Fossil fuel companies denied seismic blasting permit renewals

October 7, 2020 by  
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On October 1, a status conference on seismic litigation ruled in favor of the environment by prohibiting fossil fuel companies from using seismic airguns in offshore oil exploration. Fossil fuel companies have long disrupted marine life and coastal communities by using such airguns while exploring offshore oil sources. But the new decision means that once current permits expire on November 30, companies will not be allowed to renew them. The decision now hands victory to environmental organizations, marine species and coastal communities. There has been an ongoing battle surrounding seismic blasting permits, also known as as Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs). These permits allow fossil fuel companies to use seismic testing in search of oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean. Related: Nine more states join seismic blasting lawsuit against the Trump administration During the hearing, the lawyers representing the federal government recognized that IHAs expire next month with no room to extend them. Michael Jasny, the director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, applauded the decision. He termed the use of seismic blasts as “senseless” actions that harm the environment. Seismic blasts are fired as regularly as every 10 seconds. For weeks or even months, these sounds disrupt marine species, including whales and many types of fish, that depend on sound to navigate and hunt. Long periods of seismic blasting make it challenging for such species to find food for survival. The news revives hope within scientific and conservation communities. In recent years, scientists have warned that continued seismic blasting combined with other threats, such as ship strikes, could lead to the extinction of North Atlantic right whales. Due to such risks, the Obama administration denied seismic blasting permits to fossil fuel companies in 2017. In November 2018, the Trump administration issued fresh IHAs. This move was met by backlash from NRDC, 10 states and several businesses and coastal communities, who collectively took the matter to court. Although the ruling ended in a victory, Jasny says that more efforts still have to be made to seal any loopholes and end seismic blasting once and for all. Via CleanTechnica Image via Amy Humphries

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Fossil fuel companies denied seismic blasting permit renewals

UNStudio designs sculptural, driverless metro stations for Doha

October 1, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has completed the first 37 stations for Qatar Railways’ Doha Metro, one of the most advanced and fastest driverless metro systems in the world. With phase one and three metro lines — Red, Green and Gold — now complete, citizens of Doha who previously relied primarily on cars now have access to an efficient and reliable public transit service that will grow over time. To create a strong station identity for the new metro network and encourage public transit habits, UNStudio tapped into urban design principles to turn the eye-catching stations into attractive public spaces rooted in Qatari architecture and culture. In collaboration with the Qatar Rail Architecture Department, UNStudio has created a vision for all stations in the new Doha Metro Network based on an extensive set of design guidelines, architectural details and material outlines as laid out in the newly developed ‘Architectural Branding Manual.’ The comprehensive manual provides a framework for the design of different station types that respond to local contextual differences while integrating visually cohesive elements shared across all stations, including wayfinding , passenger flow and daylight penetration.  Related: Zaha Hadid’s 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar adapts for future use The concept design for all of the Doha Metro stations are rooted in the notion of Caravanserais, a type of roadside inn for travelers (caravanners) historically common across the Middle East, including in Qatar . With dramatic vaulted ceilings, a rich mother-of-pearl effect interior and uniquely Qatari ornamentation and material palette, the Caravanserai-inspired stations strengthen Qatari identity while encouraging social interaction within beautiful public spaces. “We are going to move differently in the future,” said Ben van Berkel of UNStudio. “Mobility is changing fast, from the introduction of autonomous vehicles to urban cable cars and the Hyperloop . The mobility hubs of the future have to respond to and cater to these changes. In order to encourage the use of more sustainable forms of transport, these stations not only have to ensure smooth passenger flows, but they need to truly appeal to the public; to be places they want to visit and return to.” + UNStudio Photography by Hufton+Crow via UNStudio

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UNStudio designs sculptural, driverless metro stations for Doha

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