New apartments bring sustainable architecture to the Upper West Side

March 2, 2021 by  
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New York’s Upper West Side has long been a coveted area of the city, but few new developments have risen on the horizon in recent decades. However, 470 Columbus and West 83rd Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is about to get some new, Passive House-certified apartments that will put sustainability front and center on the block. Designed by award-winning BKSK Architects, Charlotte of the Upper West Side, as the complex is named, will house seven apartments, each with four bedrooms with en suite baths and a separate primary bedroom wing. The full-floor residences incorporate craftsmanship with innovative technology for upscale living with a low environmental impact. Related: MIA Architecture’s office blends into the landscape with a mirrored facade In maintaining the look of traditional Upper West Side architecture, the building’s façade features surfaces of red brick and Italian-made terracotta louvers that filter and make optimal use of natural lighting. Airtight seals around windows and doors keep the spaces comfortable and quiet, buffered from the thrumming city. Triple-paned windows and comprehensive insulation on exterior walls and between residences add to the comfort. In addition to buffering the noise, these practices reduce energy consumption . The builders aimed to exceed the highest standards of a German sustainability rating called the Passive House Standard , which focuses on dramatically reducing a home’s energy consumption for heating and cooling while providing exceptional air quality. Targeting clean air in a city of millions, Charlotte of the Upper West Side features Swiss-engineered energy recovery ventilation systems that deliver freshly filtered outside air to each apartment and the building lobby. “Charlotte of the Upper West Side sets an extraordinary new benchmark for sustainable architecture with an emphasis on wellness and luxury in New York City,” said John Roe, principal of Roe Corporation, the real estate company that is selling the units. “Our vision was to create an intelligently-engineered residential building, with integrated state-of-the-art systems designed to foster an exceptionally healthy and comfortable living environment.” Selections inside the basic floor plans and the duplex penthouse include handcrafted cabinetry made from FSC-certified white oak by Seattle’s Henrybuilt. Countertops, backsplashes and bathroom surfaces are created from hand-selected, full-slab Olympian White Danby marble. Appliances are chosen with energy savings in mind, too. In addition to the individual living spaces, the building features public areas aimed at healthy living for all members of the family. This includes multiple garden terraces , a fitness room with high-end equipment and a pet spa. In addition to the independent ventilation systems that introduce fresh air and exhaust stale air, a UV light further treats the air to eliminate nearly all viruses, bacteria and mold. Roe Corporation expects the first apartments to be ready for purchase in early 2021. If you’re in the market, the starting price is listed at $11 million. + Charlotte UWS Images via Depict

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New apartments bring sustainable architecture to the Upper West Side

A modern cabin in rural Washington celebrates indoor/outdoor living

February 23, 2021 by  
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Eager to relax and unwind from city living, a retired aerospace engineer reached out to Seattle-based David Coleman Architecture to design a modern, energy-efficient cabin on a 10-acre rural site in Sultan, Washington. Located about an hour outside of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the idyllic meadow property inspired the client’s vision for a playful home deeply connected to the land with an emphasis on indoor/outdoor living. As a result, the architects created a dynamic, single-story dwelling — dubbed Field House — that embraces nature from multiple directions and sits lightly on the land with a small energy footprint. In addition to sweeping panoramic views, the client had a long list of design features he wanted for his new home. One of the more unusual requests was the organization of the cabin on an offset grid with acute angles to create “dynamic spatial experiences” enjoyed both inside and out of the home. To strengthen its relationship to the surroundings, the cabin features an exposed wood structure that pays homage to the region’s timber heritage as well as an indoor courtyard surrounded by glazing that blurs the line between indoors and out. Three sheltered porches extend the footprint of the 1,500-square-foot Field House to the outdoors, with the most dramatic of the three topped by a triangular roof punctuated with a large, open oculus.  Related: ÖÖD prefab glass cabin immerses you in nature while you work To meet high-performance energy standards, the home features well- insulated glazing and walls, an on-demand water system and a mini-split heat pump system. “The resulting building is essentially a platform for viewing the rise and fall of the sun, the change of the seasons , and the natural beauty that flows by and through the site,” the architects explained in a project statement. Approximately 50 horses and 20 ponies roam the open pasture lands surrounding the home. + David Coleman Architecture Photography by Lara Swimmer via David Coleman Architecture

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A modern cabin in rural Washington celebrates indoor/outdoor living

Water-powered shower head speaker made from recycled plastic wins honors at CES

February 23, 2021 by  
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Whether it’s podcasts,  music  or audiobooks, humans are streaming audio content now more than ever. Now, thanks to wireless tech company Ampere, the sound doesn’t have to stop when it’s time for a shower. Audiophiles, meet Shower Power, the water-powered showerhead made from recycled plastic. This hydropower speaker syncs with  Bluetooth  to deliver high-quality sound straight to your showerhead, automatically turning on and off with the water. Skip tracks, play or pause with the touch of a button on the showerhead itself, or use the waterproof remote control. The device’s design features a cylindrical shape with a South Wave amplifier to provide excellent listening quality, despite its small size. Related: 8 ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly If the 360-degree sound wave diffuser isn’t enough, Ampere has also designed a “Droplet” mini Bluetooth speaker that connects to the Shower Power so you can fill your entire  bathroom  with music. The company also has plans to develop a LED light edition of the speaker that syncs music with a light show inside the shower. So how does it work exactly? The patent-pending proprietary hydropower system turns water flow into energy as the water spins an impeller housed inside the device, like a watermill. That system is connected to a small generator that charges an internal  battery , turning the Shower Power on as the water turns on and storing power even after the shower turns off — enough for 20 hours of listening time on a full charge. The device is made to fit onto any showerhead, resulting in an easy one-minute installation and the ability to take it with you while traveling. Energy  isn’t the only thing Shower Power saves. The speaker is made out of a compound using 100% recycled ocean plastic developed specifically for shower use. Each device reuses 15 ocean-bound plastic water bottles. With all these unique features, it’s no surprise that Shower Power was named as an honoree for the 2021 CES Innovation Awards. The suggested retail price is $99, but it is still available for preorder through Indiegogo or Kickstarter at a limited discounted price. + Ampere Images via Ampere

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Water-powered shower head speaker made from recycled plastic wins honors at CES

This Colombian modular home is surrounded by Monkeypod trees

February 10, 2021 by  
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Located in Valle del Cauca, Colombia , the Mon Paradis House is made up of two spacious modules connected by a wooden deck and center pergola. Colectivo Creativo Arquitectos designed this modular home to highlight circular economy principles and other concepts that the architecture firm already strives to embody, such as sustainable construction methods and materials. Apart from the series of massive monkeypod trees that protect the exterior of the home, the landscaping also features a verdant philodendron  garden . Additionally, the region in which the home was built is famous for its stunning sunsets; so stunning, in fact, that the modules are constructed especially to respect the original environment of the site and complement the existing landscape rather than impact it. Related: An indoor-outdoor home in Colombia is remodeled with local reclaimed wood One module exists as the main living space, with floor to ceiling windows, a kitchen and an adjoining side porch for lounging or entertaining. The large windows look out onto the swimming pool to the back and another grove of  native monkeypod trees  to the front. The neighboring module houses private sleeping quarters with a smaller deck near the pool. Both modules feature sustainable wood panels in their walls and ceiling. Meanwhile, the entire structure is slightly elevated off the ground to keep the land as undisturbed as possible.  Inside, the spaces are decorated with soft tones of light gray and beige, complemented by houseplants and  wooden  furniture. The square, clean-lined style of the outside continues inside as well through simple, straightforward design choices. Every area of the home lets natural materials shine. In the center of the two modules sits the flowering plants garden and enough room for an outdoor furniture space where inhabitants can fully embrace the mountain views in the distance. This center terrace’s pergola makes use of black anodized  aluminum , a highly sustainable and recyclable material.  + Colectivo Creativo Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Photography by Andres Valbuena

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This Colombian modular home is surrounded by Monkeypod trees

Stockholm offices repurposed into apartments with green roof

February 9, 2021 by  
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When it comes to sustainability,  reusing  something that already exists is usually better than creating something new. The same goes for architecture, a fact that a local Stockholm firm exemplified with its newly unveiled project, which turned a 1990s office building into a series of apartments with a green roof. Dubbed “Vintertullstorget,” the project was able to preserve the existing concrete  structure rather than knocking it down and starting from scratch, reducing the need for excessive construction materials and labor. Instead, they chose to remodel the building and add three new stories, a first-level grocery store and a parking garage meant for both cars and bicycles. Related: A disused factory becomes an office with a landscaped bamboo roof terrace The result was a transformed building with 77 new apartments. The green roof combines wood, grass and plants to create a hidden oasis for residents. Inside, the main lobby hallway highlights black and white tiles and ample lighting with glass entrance doors. Individual apartments feature a shared portion of the wrap-around outdoor balcony as well as spacious, dark  marble  bathrooms, massive windows and a full kitchen. To give residents a better view, the balconies face a green courtyard. The exterior is painted in neutral shades of beige and dark gray, though the unique shape of the cascading  terraces  and windows helps give it a contemporary look. According to the architects, they responded to challenges from the recent coronavirus pandemic by allowing future residents to influence designers with custom features for individual apartments.  The project also  recycled  existing elements of the building. Designers found ways to disassemble and reuse marble from the tiles, iron from the railings, glass from the doors and lighting fixtures in multiple applications throughout construction. Apart from the repurposed character of the project, however, the sustainability aspect is most apparent in the building’s green roof; it works as an outdoor space, but also as a rainwater buffer for the building.  + Urban Couture Arkitekter Photography by Johan Fowelin

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Hoefling House achieves near net-zero status

February 4, 2021 by  
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Located on a main street in Boulder, Colorado , Hoefling House flaunts craftsmanship while disguising a nearly net-zero existence. While appearing massive to the street-side visitor, the home includes meticulous attention to detail that compresses a lot into 3,100 square feet. Built in collaboration between Rodwin Architecture and Skycastle Construction, the project’s goal was to compose a “clean, bold, and original modern design.” Furthermore, the client requested the highest levels of sustainability. The house earned a LEED Platinum certification and a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) of 14 (scale of 0 to 150), ranking exceedingly high for  energy efficiency  and green construction. Hoefling House delivers this without sacrificing aesthetics or function.  Related: A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold Rodwin and Skycastle obtained these accolades (along with the clients’ praise) by using a combination of  passive solar design , a 10kWh solar PV array tucked onto the roof, a ground source heat pump and boiler, radiant flooring with high thermal mass, foam insulation, Energy Star “tuned” windows, all LED lights, Energy Star appliances, EPA Watersense plumbing fixtures, and a heat recovery ventilator. To ensure the team met marks along the way, a LEED Manager and engineers consulted on the project.  The welcoming and functional exterior uses board-form concrete, stucco and clear Douglas fir, creating a “distinctly Colorado” style. Meanwhile, warm modernism defines the home’s  interior design . To achieve this vibe, co-project managers and designers Jocelyn Parlapiano and Cecelia Daniels served up a thoughtful color and material palette and all finishes. Design elements range from radiant heated Travertine tiles to the antique bureau in the entrance. Other features include a live roof garden located on a second-floor balcony and an acoustically tuned concert room inside. Nature was a central element for both the interior and exterior design plans. At Parlapiano’s suggestion, the team decided to take advantage of passive  solar energy  by rotating the structure. This allowed the windows to face south, not only providing sunlight in the winter but roofline protection in the summer. This orientation also allows the clients to take in “southwestern views of the Flatirons, sky, and several towering specimen Ponderosa Pines on the property, along with plenty of natural light.” Features throughout blur the line between indoor and outdoor spaces, making use of massive windows and sliding doors that open up to create a massive open-air lounge area. The surrounding area is equally equipped for outdoor living with a built-in BBQ grill, integrated planters, gas fire pit, dining table, raised-bed veggie garden  and fruit tree orchard.  Embracing the elements of sustainability, innovation and function, Hoefling House is, as the architects state, “as smart and efficient as it is modern and chic.” + Rodwin Architecture a nd Skycastle Construction Via Modern Architecture + Design Society Images via Modern Architecture + Design Society 

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Hoefling House achieves near net-zero status

LEED Gold apartments provide supportive housing in Los Angeles

January 22, 2021 by  
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In November 2020, the Westlake / Rampart Village neighborhood of Los Angeles welcomed the Rampart Mint Apartments, a new permanent supportive housing project that provides secure and sustainable housing for people who are experiencing homelessness. Designed by Santa Monica-based firm KFA Architecture in collaboration with the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. (WHCHC) and Affordable Living for the Aging (ALA), the six-story building provides 23 fully accessible studio apartment units, one of which is used as a manager’s unit. The timber-framed building is also designed to meet LEED Gold certification and aims to exceed Title 24 energy standards by 15%. Located on a former city-owned vacant lot between 3rd Street and Beverly Boulevard, the 15,400-square-foot Rampart Mint Apartments provides 22 units of housing for residents who earn less than 30% of the area median income. All units are equipped with kitchenettes and full bathrooms and include Energy Star appliances, low-flow plumbing, VOC-free interior paints and formaldehyde-free wood materials. Landscaping features drought-tolerant plantings. Related: LEED Platinum-targeted Santa Monica apartments are powered by solar energy “KFA has long specialized in designing affordable housing throughout the Los Angeles region, and we are very pleased to be a part of another project with WHCHC,” KFA Architecture partner Lise Bornstein said in a press release. “In addition to providing new, high quality, affordable urban infill housing with an emphasis on design and sustainability, Rampart Mint will also breathe new energy into an abandoned site that had been underutilized for more than 30 years.” Residents will have access to a variety of building amenities including a spacious community room that opens up to a rooftop deck with a community garden and city views, a computer lab, laundry facilities and an office space for social services. Voluntary on-site comprehensive services will also be made available free of charge to all residents by ALA and WHCHC residents services’ staff. + KFA Architecture Photography by Jim Simmons via KFA Architecture

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LEED Gold apartments provide supportive housing in Los Angeles

Stefano Boeri Architetti designs prefab COVID-19 vaccination centers for Italy

January 15, 2021 by  
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Stefano Boeri Architetti — the Milan-based architecture firm best known for the Vertical Forest skyscrapers — has partnered with a team of consultants to design and develop the architectural and communication concepts for Italy’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. All aspects of the project, which was completed free of charge, are united by a floral logo of a pink primrose and the motto “With a flower, Italy comes back to life.” The campaign also includes the design of solar-powered, prefabricated pavilions that are designed to pop up with speed across Italy’s squares and public spaces to serve as vaccination distribution centers.  The COVID-19 vaccination campaign was commissioned by Domenico Arcuri, the Italian Special Commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency. Arcuri unveiled the conceptual designs to the public in mid-December. In addition to the designs of a campaign logo and temporary prefabricated pavilions, the project also includes proposals for informational totems and communications strategies for combating vaccine skepticism. Related: Modular Emergency Hospital 19 pops up in Italy in just 3 months “With the image of a springtime flower, we wanted to create an architecture that would convey a symbol of serenity and regeneration,” Stefano Boeri said in a press release. “Getting vaccinated will be an act of civic responsibility, love for others and the rediscovery of life. If this virus has locked us up in hospitals and homes, the vaccine will bring us back into contact with life and the nature that surrounds us.” Circular, prefabricated pavilions would be set up in public places to administer the vaccine; these pavilions are designed for easy dismantling and reassembly. Each timber-framed structure would be wrapped in textiles made of different recyclable, naturally biodegradable and water-resistant materials. Self-supporting fabric partitions would also be used to organize the interior. The circular roof, which would feature a large-scale floral logo, would also be topped with enough photovoltaic panels to generate all of the building’s electricity needs. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Stefano Boeri Architetti designs prefab COVID-19 vaccination centers for Italy

An autism-friendly hospital emphasizes nature for resiliency and healing

January 13, 2021 by  
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Charleston, South Carolina has raised the bar for inclusive healthcare design with the opening of the new Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion. Designed by Perkins and Will in collaboration with associate architect McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, the new, 625,000-square-foot facility aims to be one of the country’s most autism-friendly hospitals with its welcoming design that emphasizes access to natural light, a warm materials palette and an abundance of greenery indoors and out. The building also prioritizes resiliency by placing all patient care areas above the designated flood elevation and integrating flood-proof panels, an absorbent native planting plan and a series of flood walls into its design.  Using feedback from parents with children who are on the autism spectrum, the architects crafted calming interiors that take into account the full-sensory experience — from the removal of automatic flushers and hand dryers in bathrooms to the minimization of visual clutter — as a means of avoiding potential triggers. The biophilic design also taps into the healing power of nature by creating connections between the indoors and out wherever possible. Fresh air, natural light, indoor greenery and nature-inspired artwork by local artists create a joyful indoor atmosphere. Related: Biophilic campus provides a safe haven for children with autism The rich culture and history of Charleston also inspired the interior design, from the two-story main lobby with recycled cypress paneling that takes cues from historic Charleston’s Courtyard Garden to a large-scale, stained glass artwork that evokes Angel Oak, an approximately 400-year-old Southern Live Oak. Timber-lined patient bedrooms mimic local beach houses and come with simple furnishings and customizable features to encourage children to decorate their own spaces. The 10-story, 250-bed facility is set back from the street to make room for an “urban green space” in a nod to Charleston’s famous civic gardens. Defined by a low seat wall that can help mitigate low-level flooding events, the landscape is planted with native species for low maintenance. Outdoor terraces on the seventh and eighth floors also connect the hospital with the outdoors.  + Perkins and Will Photography by James Steinkamp and Halkin Mason via Perkins and Will

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An autism-friendly hospital emphasizes nature for resiliency and healing

Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

January 7, 2021 by  
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A combination aviary and bird-watching platform in China’s Suzhou Taihu Lakeside National Wetland Park, this stunning conceptual design by Margot Krasojevi? Architecture utilizes piezoelectric energy to move parts of the structure, mimicking birds in flight. At the heart of the dome, a high tensile steel loom acts as a gallery for birds, while the primary structure is made from stainless steel spine beams that move and sway like feathers. Piezoelectric cells are connected to a motor that harnesses movement to produce an electrical current, making the entire structure self-sufficient. The cells then respond to the overall mechanical stress generated by the structure and create an electric charge, which in turn runs through a dichroic filtered electrochromic glass modifying the transparency and luminosity of the facade. Responding directly to the density of bird movement, the facade appears to “flutter” as the environment changes. Related: Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou Thanks to the reflective, fluttering facade, the structure appears to partially disappear into its wetland surroundings. The dome protects birds from flying into the glass cladding by projecting ultrasound signals from the surface. Extra electrical energy generated by the piezoelectric cells is used to control the dome’s temperature, humidity and building filtration, allowing the structure to essentially dictate its own ecosystem. The humidity is filtered and ecologically purified to be pumped back into the surrounding wetlands through the aviary’s dome.  Visitors are led into the wetlands and connected to the building entrance through a helical ramp that unfolds across the aviary. This hydraulic runway ramp glides along within the building, rather than touching the building envelope, to guide visitors as they walk among the birds. The ramp can lower and raise to take visitors to different heights within the interior; this can offer clearer views. The pile grid is anchored through concrete to enable it to rise and fall according to the substructure movement, all while maintaining equilibrium inside the aviary. + Margot Krasojevi? Architecture Images via Margot Krasojevi?

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

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