Indoor-outdoor living drives this design for VAVA House

January 20, 2022 by  
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Architecture takes a variety of forms and serves many purposes, but most people would agree that the best home is one that meets the family’s needs and lifestyle goals. To this end, VAVA House was designed to emphasize indoor-outdoor living through shared space and a connection to the outdoors.  Designed by Fivedot Architects, this Seattle , Washington home caters to the client’s desire for a space that reinforces family connection within the home and community relationships outside the home. Unlike most residential homes that open into the backyard, VAVA House opens outdoor living into the front yard where it can be shared with neighbors.  Related: Brutalist home in Puerto Rico is resistant to weather Inside, cozy coves beneath the staircase and in a narrow TV viewing area provide space for reflection and relaxation. Larger areas are equipped for group gatherings, whether that be family , neighbors or friends. In all, the house features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an open floor plan throughout the main living area, a home gym, lounge, office and bonus room in a 3,643-square-foot space.  Out front, the home features an expansive patio with gathering areas, a custom-made wood swing, and heat sources such as a firepit and heater for year-round entertaining. The swing incorporates  recycled  roof joists from the previous home and souvenir hardware the clients brought back from India.  Plants  and landscaping surround the home, including a green roof and beds along the front yard and street. The theme continues with a custom plant rack for hydroponic growing. Previous concrete on-site is fashioned into the design to minimize water runoff and waste. Extensive solar panels produce renewable energy for the home. Fun, custom additions adorn the home. Prints of the children’s first steps are imprinted into the floor, and mural prints by Mario de Miranda decorate the walls. + Fivedot Images via Mark Woods

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Urban Sequoia is a blueprint for sustainable architecture

January 13, 2022 by  
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This past fall, COP26 opened the door for discussions about many  environmental  issues. However, few presentations addressed one elephant in the room — the fact that the construction industry contributes up to 40% of ongoing carbon release. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) used the COP26 platform to offer a sustainable architecture proposal that could reduce the impact of the built environment and implement systems that will result in a carbon-negative initiative. SOM’s prototype is a high-rise building meant to act as a model for high carbon-contributing cities. The concept takes its cues from the natural process of photosynthesis and forests sequestering and storing carbon . Urban Sequoia, as the model is called, stands to mirror these benefits by creating “forests” of buildings that could be part of a solution to the climate crisis. Related: Students design a house that revolutionizes urban design SOM’s concept isn’t delivered as a single and inflexible blueprint. Instead, the prototype incorporates a broad array of innovations and technology in a sustainable architecture design that can be built today.  With forecasts for continued urban growth,  green design  elements are more important than ever. SOM’s proposal takes action against the damaging aspects of the construction industry with buildings that not only reduce material emissions but actually absorb carbon.  Chris Cooper, SOM Partner, explained the strategy, saying, “We are quickly evolving beyond the idea of being carbon neutral. The time has passed to talk about neutrality. Our proposal for Urban Sequoia – and ultimately entire ‘forests’ of Sequoias – makes buildings, and therefore our cities, part of the solution by designing them to sequester carbon, effectively changing the course of climate change.” By transforming a building into an environmental solution, the prototype high rise can sequester as much as 1,000 tons of carbon per year, equivalent to 48,500 trees. This is achieved by streamlining materials for maximum efficiency with minimal resources and includes the use of biomaterials such as bio-bricks, hempcrete,  wood , and biocrete to replace concrete and steel. SOM’s proposal radically rethinks the traditional processes for design and construction in more ways than one. In addition to material selection, the construction blueprint incorporates carbon capture technologies, estimating it could reduce construction carbon emissions by 95%.  According to SOM, the prototype could absorb up to 400% more carbon than it would emit during construction . “This is a pathway to a more sustainable future that is accessible today. Imagine a world where a building helps to heal the planet,” said Kent Jackson, SOM Partner. “We developed our idea so that it could be applied and adapted to meet the needs of any city in the world, with the potential for positive impact at any building scale.”  In addition to the building model, SOM addresses aspects like replacing hardscaping with  plants  and even capturing carbon from streets. Collecting carbon isn’t the end of the process though. Once captured, carbon can be converted into a variety of products for roads and pipes.  “If the Urban Sequoia became the baseline for new buildings, we could realign our industry to become the driving force in the fight against climate change,” said Mina Hasman, Senior Associate Principal. “We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighborhood – feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally with surplus distributed more widely.”  + Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Images via © SOM | Miysis

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Basketball museum is meant to be viewed from all angles

January 12, 2022 by  
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The Lithuania House of Basketball Museum is a focal point in the town of Kaunas. The museum sits near the medieval Kaunas castle and Santaka park, where the two largest Lithuanian rivers converge. Designed by G. Natkevicius & Partners, the project stands out as a contemporary building in the urban fabric of the old quarter of the city. Because of the museum’s location, the architects had to consider that the building façade would be like a sculpture all around. Meaning: It would be visible from all sides. The museum can even be seen from above, from nearby multi-story buildings, church towers and from the slope of the Aleksotas hill across the Neman River. Related: Gleaming copper-colored steel wraps this solar-powered Dutch sports campus The House of Basketball’s sculptural façade consists of three primary materials. The front elevation allows for views in and out of the museum through alternating thin, vertical sheets of glass and aluminum framing. Other parts of the façade are more opaque and clad with large, diagonal strips of copper sheets. As the copper will patina over time, the oxidation process will cause the metal to transform to a richer, reddish-brown shade, alluding to the red brick masonry buildings in the city. The museum’s horseshoe form creates a courtyard space at the center. The building wraps around the 100-year-old oak tree that serves as the building’s central axis. Its centrality allows it to be visible from inside the building, while its branches stretch over the rooftop and is visible to passersby. All internal elevations of the courtyard consist of the same vertical glass ribbons and dark aluminum framing as the entry façade. In the near future, the museum plans to erect a statue of James Naismith, the Canadian that invented basketball in 1891. The statue will be placed alongside the central oak tree to emphasize Naismith’s legacy and reinforce the axis around which the building is centered. Although the exterior of the building incorporates simple and elegant materiality, the interior pushes this to an extreme and favors ultra- minimalism . It features concrete structural elements and black and white finishes, which serve as a backdrop for the exhibitions and events. + G. Natkevicius & Partners Images by Lukas Mykolaitis and Martynas Plepys

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Affordable solar homes are lifting homeowners out of poverty

January 3, 2022 by  
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Carbon-negative, self-financing and scalable are just a few words to describe BillionBricks and Architecture Brio’s PowerHYDE. PowerHyde solar homes are models aiming to help solve both the global housing and climate crises. The PowerHYDE housing model was created by Prasoon Kumar and Robert Verrijt of Billion Bricks from India and Singapore. The housing model won a  Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction . Related: Living conditions rise in an Indonesian village PowerHYDE house explores sustainable means and solutions to empowering and facilitating growth opportunities to people without homes around Southeast Asia. These homes are now being used to create entire sustainable communities that help to lift homeowners out of poverty. “A BillionBricks Community is the world’s first carbon negative solar home  community to bring families out of poverty within one generation,” the designers said. The project presents an opportunity to shape the future of how houses are built. It helps both people to become homeowners and building projects to create their own renewable energy, aiding in the climate crisis. It is a radical concept in housing designed for energy sufficiency and extreme affordability. A BillionBricks PowerHYDE home is built via an indigenous prefabricated assembly technique that makes it easy to assemble in remote locations. The home has a solar array installed on the roof, and the homeowner can sell excess power generated back to power companies, generating a profit that helps to pay off the cost of the home. “BillionBricks homes are plug-and-play modular homes that do not need any connection to services and could be made functional from the day of completion of construction,” BillionBricks explained. The houses produce their energy, and also harvest 100% of the rainwater , clean their sewage and potentially grow their own food. Future BillionBricks homes will be integrated with smart technologies to improve their performance even more. Sample homes have been built in Mathjalgaon Village in India and in the Philippines. BillionBricks is now planning a full community of 500 homes near Manila , Philippines that will generate 10 megawatt of power.  + BillionBricks and Architecture BRIO Photography by Photograhix

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How to bring biophilic design inside your home in 2022

January 3, 2022 by  
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Design trends come and go, often as a reflection of the country’s zeitgeist. So, it’s really not too surprising the events of 2020 and 2021 have driven design trends towards a connection with nature. So much so, there’s a label for this type of architectural and decorating style. Biophilic design is the primary design trend for 2022. What is biophilic design? At its core, biophilic design connects inhabitants with nature. It not only emphasizes natural elements such as cross-ventilation and natural lighting , but also places a focus on creating a healthy and productive space. That’s something we all seem to crave as the work-from-home trend extends.  The prefix bio- means life, making it clear why the movement involves a lot of plants and other greenery. This would be both inside the space and within views out windows and doors. In addition to vegetation , other natural materials such as branches and water are introduced.  Related: Verdi creates home décor from natural fibers and metal Origins of biophilic design  Stephen Kellert, professor of social ecology at Yale, is credited with the early foundations for the design style. He developed a guiding set of principles aimed at bringing outdoor experiences into the home environment . Lighting If you’re at the construction (or remodeling) stage, the best way to develop the design is to invite in natural light at every possible avenue through skylights, big windows and glass doors.  If a remodel isn’t on the docket, incorporate surfaces that reflect light, such as glass tables and large mirrors. For interior lighting, use natural and energy-efficient bulbs and give yourself options with teardrop, can and chandelier lighting. Provide additional task lighting with under-cabinet lights, floor lamps and table lamps.  Think about how light moves through your space from morning to night and how you use the space. Place your desk or couch near a window. Put a dining table where it will receive evening sun.    Colors Nature has acted as a template for interior design since the time the term was phrased. Color holds a lot of power in setting the tone of a space. When leaning into biophilic interior design, keep the color palette subtle and natural. Think creams and beiges. Also look at soothing shades of blue and green. These colors can create a backdrop as paint or fill the interior on furniture, curtains, carpets and throw pillows.  Provide airflow Fresh air creates an invigorating reaction. It flushes out stale air in the space and brings an instant connection with the outdoors. With this in mind, rely on open doors and windows with screens. Cross-ventilation allows air to tunnel through the space without relying on the central HVAC system. If you don’t have a natural air source, use a ceiling fan instead. Consider airflow options when placing your furniture. Plants Bringing living bits of nature into your space sets the tone for a connection with the natural world. Plus, since plants naturally filter the air, they provide a healthier environment. Research has also shown caring for plants reduces stress. Look to every level when displaying plants . Use ceiling hooks to hang plants, mantles, window sills, half-walls and multi-tiered plants stands.  Water Few natural elements elicit a response quite like flowing water. You can achieve this benefit through a tabletop or wall fountain. Large or small, the movement of water is calming and naturally connects to the other elements of water and air.  Fire The addition of a wood or gas-burning stove or fireplace brings another natural element into the mix. The crackle of the wood, the smell and the look of flames climbing upwards all trigger memories of camping, childhood summer camp and backyard gatherings.  Keep edges soft Look to Mother Nature when selecting furniture and décor pieces. She doesn’t have sharp edges. Instead of rectangular, square or other rigid shapes, choose curved and rounded pieces instead. Curved couches, round tables, circular lamp shades and carpets all bring softness to the space.  Texture and balance Every decision you make in your biophilic design has the potential to add to or detract from the cohesion of the look. To achieve balance in the space, make sure all elements are working together. For example, bulky curtains can block out natural light so consider a transparent and flowing fabric instead.  Rely on natural materials throughout the space for an immersive dive into a connection with the planet. Jute, wood, cotton, bamboo, natural yarn, stone and wool all bring the look. Although a calm vibe is the goal, it doesn’t mean your space has to be a blank slate of off-white, smooth surfaces. Use texture to bring depth in throw pillows, window covering, upholstery fabric or rugs. Too much and the space will feel overly busy. Too little and it can feel cold and sanitary. Go for a blend with small accents instead. As a form of indirect biophilic elements, gather up framed or canvas art that highlights natural aspects of fire, water, air, mountains, oceans, rivers, trees, plants and animals too. Via Modsy Images via Unsplash

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Students design a house that revolutionizes urban design

December 16, 2021 by  
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VIRTUe, a student team from the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands has created a housing scheme to transform urban living. The self-sufficient housing model called Ripple strives to create a ripple effect through its innovative design that encourages residents to adopt a sustainable-living mindset. VIRTUe has developed Ripple for the Solar Decathlon Europe 2021/22 (SDE21) in Wuppertal, Germany , where they will be competing against 17 other teams in summer 2022. The theme for SDE21 is “solutions for the cities of tomorrow.” Projects can fall under one of three categories: those that renovate pre-existing buildings in Wuppertal, those that serve as an infill between gaps in the urban fabric or those that attach to an existing building and serve to sustainably increase urban density. Ripple falls into this final category. Related: Eco-friendly housing redefines Tanzanian urban architecture The Ripple house is primarily constructed using repurposed wood. On the roof, colored solar panels that match the tone of the wood are used to harness solar energy. Depending on the site, the solar panels can be moved or oriented differently in order to best capture sunlight. By primarily capturing photovoltaic energy from the exterior walls, the rooftop is freed for urban farming and can be used to create a microclimate to foster the region’s biodiversity. Each unit consists of modules centered around a stationary technical core. Two apartments are bridged together by a communal space that consists of the living room and kitchen. An interface is included to control the house’s integrated systems. Based on the program of the interiors and the requirements of inhabitants, modules for the kitchenette and bathroom can be moved around as needed, while larger furniture pieces contain in-built storage compartments to maximize the small space. To streamline maintenance, the house has self-sufficiency systems, including the solar-powered hot water system, heat pump, ventilation and the smart home system EQUI. EQUI ensures energy is distributed as efficiently as possible throughout the day. The system uses weather forecast information to calculate approximately how much energy will be stored each day. Additionally, residents can use the system to power amenities when solar energy peaks to maximize the use of passive energy sources. Alongside systems within the house, VIRTUe has developed an app called Recapp that connects with systems in the house and facilities in the city. The app is used to encourage Ripple housing residents to achieve various sustainability goals. This playful approach connects individuals to their urban environment and pushes them to start making small eco-friendly lifestyle changes that have significant impacts over time. Overall, Ripple embodies three tenets for multifaceted success: attractive, adaptive and active. The design incorporates beautiful architectural details alongside innovative technology, while remaining flexible to suit the needs of the site and residents. Furthermore, the integrated technology systems actively focus on positively shifting the inhabitants’ mindsets, thus encouraging them to build more environmentally-savvy habits. +VIRTUe Images via VIRTUe

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Solar off-grid cabins in Romania uses locally sourced timber

December 13, 2021 by  
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Canton House Romania by Marc Thorpe Design shows just how many options there are for going off-grid with cabins . The Canton House Romania project used solar panels, locally sourced timber and unique rooflines to create a trio of unique hotel cabins. Designer and architect Marc Thorpe takes a holistic systems thinking approach to architecture . Thorpe wanted to match the traditional architectural style of the Carpathian mountains while reflecting a modern aesthetic with these tiny hotel cabins. Related: ANNA is a stunning prefab cabin with off-grid potential The fact that they are a trio makes them even more beautiful. If you look at the profile, it has an angular triangular roofline that points to the sky , almost reminiscent of a church spire and yet completely modern . This is the result of an open collaborative design process that prioritizes listening to a broad set of client needs. When the Canton House cabins are viewed from the end, the viewer sees the more expected square roofline of a sleek, modern, off-grid cabin that is complete with heavy overhangs. Every side of the house is different. It’s an exploration in what off-grid cabins can be in technology and design. The cabins are completely covered in gray shingles on the outside, both walls and roof. Inside, however, a spacious living area and small kitchen with a passthrough complete one end of each cabin that exit to the outdoors via sliding glass door. While the other more private end has an ultra-modern bedroom with platform bed, recessed lighting and a large pane window. We love how much space has been fit into these tiny cabins in the interior through the careful use of storage and elevated ceilings. Check them out to get ideas for your off-grid solar cabin project. + Marc Thorpe Design Images via Marc Thorpe Design

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AMA centers sustainability and well-being through design

December 6, 2021 by  
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Atelier Monarque Architecture (AMA) is leading in the spatial design realm through its mission to holistically design spaces that help enrich the human experience. In March 2020, the four founding partners came together to achieve this goal by combining their diverse backgrounds and breadth of experience within the domains of architecture and interior design. Based in Montreal, the team’s workflow is augmented by the rich socio-cultural diversity and innovative spirit of the city. Two weeks after the founding of AMA, the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into lockdown. Despite this setback, the team began working with several clients to adapt living, working and public spaces to become more flexible, taking into consideration the varying challenges brought about by the pandemic. The designs focus on reflecting the values of the inhabitants of the spaces and provide versatile solutions to spatial concerns. Related: A LEED Gold-targeted office will enhance worker wellbeing Alongside the various design projects the team embarked on in 2020, they were also successful in launching their new website. The site showcases their work, theoretical projects, and hot topics in the design world. AMA seeks to educate its clients about design and encourage them to explore their aesthetic preferences. This creates a dialogue between the team and the clients and allows the individuals to foster a sense of ownership in the design of their spaces. For AMA, design affects every aspect of daily life, including the spaces and objects we interact with. Because of this, the team seeks to explore the genius loci, a classical Roman concept that references the spirit or character of a place. With the knowledge that construction is one of the most unsustainable industries in the world, AMA incorporates sustainable solutions that benefit users and the environment . By using the site’s characteristics, adopting eco-friendly solutions and considering the clients’ spatial needs, the designers focus on longevity and use multifaceted sustainable approaches that organize the spaces to best serve their users. Most of the team’s projects are offices or public spaces that vary in scale. Regardless of the project, the AMA team’s vision is to create the maximum impact on inhabitants while maintaining a minimal impact on the environment. In doing so, AMA’s spaces are designed to encompass aesthetics, functionality, and wellbeing of both clients and the planet at large. + Atelier Monarque Architecture Images by JALQ Photography and François LeClair

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Methane leak data and campaign to cut emissions

December 6, 2021 by  
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Ten major oil companies will now be required to disclose more methane emissions data from the Permian Basin. The House Science Committee decided that the companies must do more to track and decrease the amount of methane contaminating this part of Texas and New Mexico. Already, more than a hundred other countries have promised to slice 30% off their methane  emissions  by the decade’s end. It’s time for the U.S. to catch up. “The United States cannot achieve its targeted reduction in methane emissions under the Global Methane Pledge without a swift and large-scale decline in oil and gas sector methane leaks,” Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, wrote in a letter to the companies’ CEOs, according to the Washington Post. “The existence of these leaks, as well as continued uncertainty regarding their size, duration, and frequency, threatens America’s ability to avoid the worst impacts of  climate change .” Related: Little-known firms lead America’s list of top methane polluters ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum are a few of the bigger operators in the Permian Basin who have been put on notice regarding methane. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that “more than 70 percent of current emissions from  oil  and gas operations are technically feasible to prevent.” The agency estimated that about 45% of leaks could be resolved at no net cost since companies often capture and sell natural gas, which could otherwise escape. Methane is the predominant component in natural gas, which comes just behind  carbon dioxide  as a top contributor to climate change. Methane dissipates faster than carbon dioxide but is 80 times more powerful when first released into the atmosphere — and for the next 20 years. To successfully capture escaping methane, companies need more accurate data to determine whether they need to build new  pipelines , storage and processing centers. Johnson is concerned about the accuracy of current leak detection and repair programs, worrying that oil and gas companies “may not be designed and equipped to comprehensively monitor and detect methane leaks, particularly the intermittent, ‘super-emitting’ leaks that are responsible for much of the sector’s leak emissions.” Via Washington Post Lead image via Pixabay

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Methane leak data and campaign to cut emissions

UK research center at the University of Leeds is completed

December 3, 2021 by  
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ADP Architecture has completed the Sir William Henry Bragg Building at the University of Leeds. It’s a new center for engineering and physical sciences that is designed to support research in robotics and artificial intelligence. The design was thoughtfully intended to create top-of-the-line facilities that enhance the student experience and opportunities for collaboration. The focus of the project is accommodating the way people work in a research center. Thus, the Sir William Henry Bragg Building has adaptable spaces for a variety of purposes. The building itself encourages integration between disciplines by removing branding from individual departments and replacing that with multi-disciplinary spaces at the center of the building, including equipped laboratory spaces within short distance of those collaboration hubs. It’s an interesting take similar to open-concept corporate offices. Related: Research center sits lightly near turtle nesting grounds in Australia Surrounding public spaces include landscaping and a Grade II listed heritage building, creating an impressive new gateway to the  campus . The building is a major part of a wider campus master plan by ADP intended to establish Leeds as one of the U.K.’s top ten research universities. The center is named after a former Nobel Prize-winning physics professor from Leeds, and combines the School of Physics and School of Computing into a 16,000 square-meter research facility. The atrium is glazed and features a series of vertical glass and stone seams to reference the Portland stone architecture surrounding the center that characterizes the campus. The building achieved BREEAM Excellent rating for sustainability. Timber-paneled walls and ceiling fill out the center of the building with perforated bronze aluminum screens and an engineered concrete and steel staircase with timber slats creating a warm and yet clean design for the professional space. The central atrium connects the center through a series of high-level bridges with a café. “By encouraging a participatory and forward-thinking briefing and design process, the University has delivered a truly collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research facility ,” said Jon Roylance, higher education sector director at ADP. “The center links a significantly large and technically complex new building with the sensitive re-purposing of a listed building and the re-imagining of new public realm.” “The opening of the Sir William Bragg building will bring so much to the University community,” Steve Gilley, director of estates and facilities added. “It will be a thriving hub of research and education for the faculty of engineering and physical sciences , a new home for the schools of computing and physics, and the location for the new Bragg Centre for materials research. It will also be a welcoming, accessible and modernized gateway into campus.” The low-carbon complex will replace outdated facilities and includes seven stories of high-tech teaching rooms and laboratories. It’ll also have a 3,000 square-meter basement, a hermetically sealed negatively pressured electrostatic environment designed so that vibrations from passing traffic do not interfere with sensitive  laboratory  instruments. This includes advanced electron microscope technology for investigating and fabricating new materials. + ADP Architecture Images via ADP Architecture

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