A series of tiny, geometric cabins in an overgrown slate quarry are a truly secluded retreat

April 17, 2019 by  
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Architectural firm New British Design has unveiled four tiny cabin retreats located in Britain’s North Cornwall coast. The Kudhva Wilderness Cabins are compact, angular huts elevated off the landscape by turned pine poles, providing stunning views of the surrounding wilderness. Inside, the compact spaces offer guests all the basics needed for a truly off-grid getaway. Located in an old slate quarry that has been overrun by lush natural greenery, the huts are a project between New British Design founder Bill Huggins and long-term collaborator Louise Middleton. Working with boat-builder-turned-furniture-maker Toby Sharp, the designers created the tiny cabins to be the ultimate retreats for travelers to the North Cornwall coast. Although the region is a popular destination for tourists looking to explorer the expansive coastline, this specific area is extremely remote and, as such, is a perfect place to completely disconnect. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The word “Kudhva” comes from the Cornish word for “hideout,” which was the driving factor behind the cabin design. Elevated high up into the tree canopy by a series of cylindrical pine columns, the secluded retreats let visitors enjoy incredible views of the surrounding wilderness and local wildlife . Working directly with the architects, Toby Sharp designed and built the timber cabins with a small team of master craftsmen in a local workshop. This system allowed the construction process to reduce the project’s environmental impact . Once fully constructed, the cabins were then transported to the site and carefully placed onto their cradle bases by crane. Made out of insulated, paged-pine panels with an EDPM rubber membrane covering, the cabins are clad in a series of larch slats. The natural exteriors, along with sharp, angular lines, seamlessly blend the cabins into the forestscape. Accessed through a ladder, the interiors feature an open layout with enough space for a sofa, a sleeping loft and a wood-burning stove. Various triangular windows and glazed facades look out over the surroundings, further embedding the rustic retreats into the tranquil landscape. + New British Design Via Archdaily Photography by George Fielding and Roy Riley via New British Design

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A series of tiny, geometric cabins in an overgrown slate quarry are a truly secluded retreat

Architects create light-filled home extension clad in cork walls inside and out

April 16, 2019 by  
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London-based firm, Nimtim Architects have unveiled a beautiful and unique home extension to a family’s modest Victorian home located south of the city. Working closely with the home owners, the architects created a rear extension that is almost entirely clad in cork. Blending in nicely with the existing home’s brickwork on the exterior, the unique cork cladding provides a strong insulation while on the interior, the cork absorbs noise, is breathable, free from harmful materials and completely recyclable. The architects designed the building in complete collaboration with the family who were looking for additional living space. To create a seamless connection between the existing structure and the new extension, the designers created a simple box-like structure with a pitched roof and an extra large pivot door that frames an uninterrupted view of the garden. Subtle in its volume, the design managed to be both practical, sustainable and slightly whimsical– thanks to its interior and exterior cork cladding . Related: Two energy-efficient cork homes are elevated off the landscape in northern Spain Sustainable, chemical-free and recyclable, cork is a practical building material in that it is also naturally water resistant, something important in this particular design considering London’s wet climate. Additionally beneficial, cork naturally absorbs sound and is also thermally efficient, meaning that no additional insulation was necessary. In addition to its sustainable qualities , using cork allowed the new building to find its place without overshadowing the existing home. Project runner Allie Mackinnon told Dezeen , “The form is a playful response to the roof, openings and levels of the existing house. The materials were also chosen to respond to the existing house as a subtle counterpoint to the original brickwork. The pitched elevation needed a consistent material and the cork provided an unbroken, textured surface.” On the interior of the new building, the space is flooded with natural light , from the large windows to series of skylights on the roof. A two-level structure, the kitchen holds court on the top floor over an ample dining space and informal seating area. Throughout the space, dark cork walls contrast with the all white ceiling to create a modern, fresh aesthetic. + Nimtim Architects Via Dezeen Photography by Megan Taylor

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Architects create light-filled home extension clad in cork walls inside and out

This off-grid retreat in Ohio was inspired by a treehouse

April 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

With features like a natural ventilation system to cool the home and rainwater collection to supply plumbing, The Hut is completely eco-friendly in addition to being off-grid . There is no access to main electricity or water, so the minimalist structure relies exclusively on solar power. Rather than constructing on top of the building site as most projects do, the architects built the home to harmonize with its surrounding environment. While the sustainable and eco-conscious design is worth commendation alone, The Hut was also born from a unique emotional place as well. Architect Greg Dutton of Midland Architecture wanted to build a quiet retreat in his family’s forested property on their Ohio cattle farm, within an area filled with happy childhood memories of hiking and exploration. The land, which he and his family have owned and operated for 40 years, holds a nostalgic value that helps connect the home with the building site. Related: Eco-friendly “treehouse” in French pine forest boasts surprisingly chic interiors Designed to appear as a treehouse , The Hut is elevated within the trees overlooking a lake through the use of concrete pillars at the edge of a small cliff. The position takes full advantage of exposure from the southern sun, helping to keep the home powered by solar energy. The floor-to-ceiling windows behind the wood-burning stove add to the lofted-in-the-trees effect. Though the natural cedar that tops the roof initially sticks out, with time and weather, the color will blend in perfectly with the surrounding forest. Inside, the floors are made of white pine and the wall/ceiling paneling of yellow pine, an homage to the Scandinavian and Danish architecture style that inspires a cozy atmosphere . The interior utilizes mostly organic light brown and white colors, with touches of black to add natural accents. There is a simple living space that connects to a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area. The architect drew inspiration from the rustic and straightforward designs he grew up with in his farming background. + Midland Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Lexi Ribar via Midland Architecture

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This off-grid retreat in Ohio was inspired by a treehouse

Vincent Callebaut wins bid to sustainably revive Aix-les-Bains ancient thermal baths

April 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The defunct National Baths of Aix-les-Bains will receive a vibrant and sustainably minded revival in the hands of the Paris-based practice Vincent Callebaut Architectures . Selected as the winner of a competition following the popular vote, the firm’s proposal — dubbed “The Foam of Waves” — will not only restore the ancient thermal baths, but also introduce a sustainable, energy-producing paradigm that follows the carbon-neutral guidelines as recommended by COP 21. The project will adopt a mixed-use program that incorporates residential, commercial, tourist, educational and urban agriculture spaces. The Foam of Waves focuses on the renovation of the Pellegrini, Revel and Princes buildings while staying respectful of the existing Roman remains. To inject new energy into the space, the architects have created a mixed-use program designed to attract locals, tourists and business investment. The scope includes a tourist office, a Center of Interpretation of Architecture and Heritage, a wellness center, a teaching space for the Peyrefitte School, a wellness-focused shopping center with restaurants, coworking spaces, 185 “green apartments” and parking. An urban educational farm integrating permaculture and aquaponics will be located on the green roof . “The whole architectural project is the carrier of the new paradigms of our society,” the architects said. “It offers future residents and visitors the opportunity to adopt new lifestyles that respect the environment, health and urban well-being in order to simply live better. It is a resilient architecture, innervated by nature. It is an ode to biodiversity, renewable energies and the circular economy that advocates the construction of post-carbon, post-fossil, post-nuclear and even post-insecticidal cities.” Related: Historic Luxembourg building is metamorphosed into an eco-friendly powerhouse In addition to an expansive green roof, the buildings will feature updated wave-like facades with balconies large enough to accommodate trees and private garden spaces for residents. The building envelopes will be also be optimized for airtightness, insulation and passive solar conditions . The project aims to produce more energy than it consumes and will include a solar photovoltaic and thermal roof, a mini-biomass plant on-site and a co-generation system with rapeseed oil. Rainwater harvesting systems and gray water recycling will also be implemented. + Vincent Callebaut Architectures Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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Vincent Callebaut wins bid to sustainably revive Aix-les-Bains ancient thermal baths

A 1920s cottage gets a new lease on life as an urban barnyard house

April 12, 2019 by  
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When a family of four outgrew their 1920s cottage in Melbourne and were about to embark on an extensive renovation, they asked Australian design studio Inbetween Architecture for a second opinion on the blueprints. Impressed by the consultation, the clients ended up scrapping their plans and instead put their faith in Inbetween Architecture to lead the redesign, one which would be more sensitive to the family’s lifestyle — and their chickens and honey bees. Affectionately called the “Urban Barnyard House,” the renovated and expanded residence combines rustic influences with contemporary elements into a comfortable home for the family and their beloved animals. Before expanding the original house, a two-bedroom Edwardian weatherboard cottage, the architects first sat down with the family to understand their daily routines and needs so as to create a responsive and flexible design solution. The clients’ answers informed the layout of the Urban Barnyard House. For example, the kitchen is placed in the heart of the home and the dining area is located to the east to take advantage of morning light as well as the embrace of indoor-outdoor living . The existing building was reconfigured to house three bedrooms and a new entry hall while the communal areas were relocated to the new rear extension. To minimize the time the family had to spend outside the home during renovation and construction, the architects built the extension with simple construction and a truss roof and also added a small “link” space that serves as a transition zone from the existing structure to the new building. An outdoor deck was inserted between the new extension and an existing timber shed in the south side of the property. Large windows and a natural materials palette tie the house to the landscape, which includes a productive urban backyard for beekeeping and raising chickens. Related: Modern farmhouse-inspired dwelling in Melbourne is largely self-sufficient “Free and easy indoor-outdoor living (and a productive urban backyard!) suggested that while the home needed to be robust, there was an element of playfulness that could be accommodated,” said the architects, who designed the home with humans and animals in mind. “The contemporary extension sits comfortably within its more traditional context. Sentimental elements of the original house, such as the fireplace bricks, solid timber paneled doors and a stained glass window, were salvaged and reused in new locations.” + Inbetween Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Nic Granleese via Inbetween Architecture

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A 1920s cottage gets a new lease on life as an urban barnyard house

LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

April 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has recently become home to a new, contemporary fire station that’s also a beacon for sustainability. Certified LEED Platinum, Fire Station 22 was designed by local architectural practice Weinstein A+U to harvest solar power, as well as rainwater , which is used for all of the station’s non-potable water uses. The building also has an enhanced civic presence with a super-scaled and illuminated “22” on its facade and large walls of glass that invite the neighborhood in. Due to its location on a long and narrow corner lot confined by two freeways and a heavily trafficked road, Fire Station 22 forgoes the conventional back-in configuration in favor of a drive-through layout for better visibility and safety. However, this configuration and the constraints of the space meant that the two-story support and crew spaces needed to be put at the front of the site, thus blocking views of the fire station’s apparatus bay, which has always traditionally been visible to the public. To reengage the community, the architects added a public plaza at the main entry, a super-scaled “22” sign on the concrete hose-drying tower and a glazed lobby and station office. “The station needs to mediate this complex site while maintaining rigorous programmatic requirements and balancing users’ desire for privacy,” said the architects , who completed the project as the last full-building replacement project under the 2003 Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. “It does so with a sculptural facade along E. Roanoke Street, which provides privacy for the building’s users while creating pedestrian interest and texture. The station opens up to the future 520 Lid at the northeast corner, with a fully glazed lobby, the iconic Apparatus Bay egress doors, and a hose tower that acts as a landmark on the singular site.” Related: LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle Built to meet current program standards, Fire Station 22 features highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems in addition to a solar PV system and rainwater harvesting systems. The project has earned three 2018 AIA Merit Awards. + Weinstein A+U Images by Lara Swimmer

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LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico

April 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

On the edge of Lake Avándaro in the Mexican town of Valle de Bravo is House A, a beautiful, contemporary home that’s designed by Mexico City-based architectural firm Metodo in collaboration with Ingeniería Orca to embrace views of the lake. Named after its sharply pitched A-frame construction, the three-story home is built with walls of glass and folding glazed doors to create a seamless connection with the outdoors. A palette of natural materials complement steel and glass elements to create a modern and warm ambiance. Spread out over three floors with an area of 3,523 square feet, House A was created with large gatherings and entertaining in mind. The ground level, which opens up through folding glazed doors to an outdoor patio and lawn, comprises an open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen; a TV room; service rooms; and a guest suite. The main entrance and parking pad are located on the second floor, where the first master suite and children’s room can be found. The small third floor features a second master suite, a yoga terrace and a secondary children’s room. “The intention of House A is precisely to be able to appropriate its surroundings and give its inhabitants a way to ‘live’ the lake,” the architects said in a project statement.” The ‘ A-frame ’ shape is used to its fullest potential to make this possible. Therefore, it was very important that the structure was present in every space of the house. Additionally, we wanted the structure to be a coherent element with the house’s functionality.” Related: Ruins of Sweden’s oldest church sheltered by a new A-frame building The architects built the dwelling with a contemporary steel structure along with local construction techniques and materials . The house is oriented toward the north for views of the lake while lateral balconies, inspired by boat decks, let in solar radiation in mornings and evenings. + Metodo + Ingeniería Orca Photography by Tatiana Mestre via Metodo

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Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico

Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear

April 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Brazilian company Insecta is defying the stereotype that eco-friendly fashion can’t be stylish with its line of “ecosexy” vegan shoes. In addition to being completely void of animal-derived materials, the company also uses sustainable materials like recycled rubber and recycled plastic to construct its footwear. Insecta has been around since 2014 in Brazil, but the company recently announced it will be making an expansion into the United States. In addition to its flagship stores in Porto Alegre and São Paulo, Brazil, the company is conducting an international launch with a new distribution center in April 2019. The new distribution center, located in North America, will help Insecta distribute shoes to even more customers. Related: VEJA unveils vegan sneakers made from corn waste The shoes are handcrafted from materials like recycled bottles, recycled cotton, recycled rubber, upcycled vintage clothing and reusable fabrics. According to the company, it has recycled more than 6,000 plastic bottles and almost 400 square meters of upcycled fabrics in the past year alone.  Nothing is wasted, even when it comes to already-recycled materials. For example, the “Beetle” shoe design uses recycled plastic for its toe caps, and the cushioned insoles are made from recycled rubber and fabric scraps from the company’s own production. One dress has the ability to produce five pairs of Insecta shoes. All of the vegan shoes are comfortable flats sized from 35 to 47 European — or sizes 4 to 14 in U.S. sizes, meaning almost everyone will be able to find a shoe in their proper size. Don’t worry if you’re unsure about European sizes, because the website offers a handy sizing table to help you pick the perfect fit. There are eight different styles to choose from, ranging from boots to sandals, and they’re all creative and stylish. There are classic, natural colors available, like beige and charcoal, but also bright prints for those looking to make more of a statement. What’s more, all of Insecta’s shoes are unisex. Insecta strives to “pollinate the world with color and mindful awareness,” according to the website . The company believes that no living thing should be sacrificed in the name of fashion or other aesthetic purpose. + Insecta Images via Insecta

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Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear

Inspiring zero-energy church in Iowa embraces nature in more ways than one

April 5, 2019 by  
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An inspiring new church in Coralville, Iowa is lifting spirits and bringing people closer to nature — while generating all the energy it needs on site . Iowa City-based firm Neumann Monson Architects designed the church for the Unitarian Universalist Society; the solar-powered building embodies the Society’s core principles with its organic architecture emphasizing sustainability, accessibility and flexibility. The energy-efficient building is currently on track to achieve Zero Energy Building (ZEB) certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). Located on an existing open clearing so as to minimize the building’s impact on the forest, the Unitarian Universalist Society was built to replace an old structure that had multiple levels and many steps. In contrast, the new building was designed for greater accessibility to create more inclusive spaces, and it radiates an uplifting feel with its high ceilings and sloped roof that culminates into a peak in a far corner. The 133,592-square-foot church includes seven religious classrooms and six offices. It was also designed with input from the congregation’s 300 members. Designed for net-zero energy, the church is an all-electric building powered with a geothermal heat pump system and solar photovoltaic panels located on the building’s west side. To further reduce the building’s environmental impact, the architects installed bioretention cells for capturing and filtering all stormwater runoff. The landscaping features native grasses and woodland walking trails that engage the surroundings and are complemented with accessible food gardens. Materials from the property’s existing residence — deconstructed by volunteers — were donated to local nonprofits. Visitors also have access to charging stations. Related: Canada’s largest net-zero energy college building opens in Ontario “The Unitarian Universalist Society facility harmonizes with its natural landscape to provide reflective spaces for worship, fellowship, religious education and administration,” the architects explained. “Beyond fully-glazed walls , the forest provides dappled intimacy. The sanctuary’s prow extends south, a stone’s throw from a mature evergreen grove. Services pause respectfully as deer and woodland creatures pass.” + Neumann Monson Architects Photography by Integrated Studio via Neumann Monson Architects

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Inspiring zero-energy church in Iowa embraces nature in more ways than one

President Trump attacks wind turbines, claims the noise causes cancer

April 5, 2019 by  
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Speaking at an event for the National Republican Congressional Committee, President Trump took a shot at wind power as he continues his war against renewable energy. In a surprising statement, Trump claimed that having a wind turbine near your home will devalue the property and cause cancer. “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value,” Trump told his fellow Republicans. “And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay? Rerrrr rerrrr!” The allegation that wind turbines cause cancer is simply false. According to EcoWatch , some studies have looked into the issue but have found no link between wind turbines and health-related issues; this includes strokes and heart attacks. Simply put, the only real issue with wind turbines is that they might be a minor annoyance and create about as much noise as traffic. Trump also doubled down on his previous claims that wind power results in massive bird deaths. Although wind turbines do kill birds on an annual basis, they do so at a much lower rate than traditional energy sources. A study conducted in 2009 discovered that fossil fuel facilities kill almost 15 times the amount of birds as wind turbines. If wind turbines do not cause cancer or kill birds on a large scale, then why is Trump so against them? Turns out, Trump has a history with fighting wind turbines that dates back to 2006. At the time, Trump had purchased some land in Scotland that he intended to turn into a golf course. A nearby farm ruined those plans when it decided to put up a wind turbine. Trump sued the farmers but lost in court. Trump’s stance against wind power also sits nicely with the Republican party’s policy on energy. His administration has initiated plans to boost fossil fuel production in the United States and has made it clear that renewable energy is not high on its priority list. Exactly how this will affect the future of wind turbines in the United States is unclear. Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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