Elegant net-zero home wraps around a large pond in Connecticut

May 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Cutler Anderson Architects  completed a modern woodland home that fully embraces the outdoors. Built to wrap around a large lake, the Connecticut Residence takes design inspiration from its surroundings with a subdued palette comprised of natural materials. As an “emotionally sustainable” home, the dwelling not only provides a relaxing atmosphere for its homeowners, but also generates all the energy it consumes through renewable sources. Created for a family of five, the Connecticut Residence stretches across a 4.3-acre forested site with a large pond in the center. The architects split the home into three volumes, two of which sit on either side of the pond with a long covered bridge in between. The volume on the west side of the pond houses the entry and the main communal areas including the living room, dining room, kitchen and family room. The volumes to the east and south comprise bedrooms, with the former also housing a garage. Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs Ample amounts of full-height glazing wrap around the house to blur the boundaries between indoors and out. Unfinished cypress clads the exterior, while the interior is mainly finished in Douglas fir broken up by white-painted walls and light-colored furnishings. The net-zero energy home is powered by rooftop solar as well as 14 geothermal wells. + Cutler Anderson Architects Via Dezeen Images © David Sundberg/ Esto

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Elegant net-zero home wraps around a large pond in Connecticut

Parsons School of Design unveils sustainable public seating in New York City

May 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Leave it to the creative minds at the Parsons School of Design to renovate public seating for a more eco-friendly world. The school recently unveiled Street Seats, a sustainably-designed public seating area made from repurposed and biodegradable products for New Yorkers to find respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The public space, which the school unveiled this week, was inspired by the need to create more seating areas for people to relax and take a load off. In a place like New York City , public seating can be quite limited. Students from the school’s architecture, interior design, product design, and food studies departments envisioned and built Street Seats over two parking spaces on the corner of 13th street and 5th Avenue in Greenwich Village. The students crafted the space with a variety of reclaimed materials . They used rot-resistant western red cedar to build tables and stools, which were then covered in repurposed fishing nets . Related: DIY Softwalks Kits Let You Turn Ugly Scaffolding into Fun Pop-Up Parks! The lighting system in the installation is completely off-grid and operates on solar energy . After sunset, a daylight sensor activates LED lights to provide a well-lit atmosphere. The seating area is surrounded by planters to reduce traffic noise and create a pleasant environment. The planters are made with biodegradable coconut fibers and jet webbing  and house herbs and native plants. The Greenbelt Native Plant Center donated seeds for the project. + Parsons New School of Design Images by Rafael Flaksburg via Parsons New School of Design

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Parsons School of Design unveils sustainable public seating in New York City

The Cocoon Smart Home will harvest rainwater, solar energy and organic veggies in the Caribbean

May 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

This self-sufficient home topped with a soaring cocoon -like structure envisions new heights of off-grid living. The Cocoon Smart Home, designed by  Richard’s Architecture + Design (RA+D), will be the first  Minergie -ECO certified building in the  Dominican Republic . With solar panels , a geothermal system and rainwater harvesting, this Santo Domingo home fully embraces sustainable design. RA+D wanted to design the ideal automated house that contributes to the health of its inhabitants and the surrounding environment . Multiple sources of clean energy will power the Cocoon Smart Home, including solar, residential wind turbines and a geothermal system. The five-bedroom home will also be equipped with a Viessmann fuel cell heater that uses hydrogen — RA+D says this will be the first one in the Caribbean. Battery storage keeps LED lighting and a water heating system running, and excess power can be rerouted to the public grid or utilized to charge electric cars. Related: Futuristic power plant concept generates clean power through wind, solar and geothermal energy An organic vertical garden , framed with glass and steel cables, comprises the cocoon of the building and allows plenty of natural light into the home. RA+D included cross ventilation, tilted louvers and strategic landscaping to mitigate heat. Cocoon Smart Home employs rainwater harvesting and boasts an on-site water treatment plant. With rainwater collectors and water purification systems, residents will be able to obtain clean drinking water. There’s even enough water and power for food production — RA+D said there is potential for gardens or greenhouses to thrive here. The goal of the home’s interior is to connect its inhabitants to nature. An open floor plan, natural limestone floors and fir and ash wood walls, floors, ceilings and furniture blend together in what the firm calls a Caribbean-chic aesthetic. “Each of these systems working harmoniously in this house represents a historic achievement for this landmark project,” said Kyle Hubert, part of the RA+D design team. “We feel confident that these synergized renewable energy technologies, along with energetically self-sustainable organic food production and water sourcing, will begin a new paradigm for private residency development, moving from smart homes to smart neighborhoods and cities.” Hubert said Cocoon Smart Home is currently under construction. + Richard’s Architecture + Design Images via Richard Moreta Castillo

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The Cocoon Smart Home will harvest rainwater, solar energy and organic veggies in the Caribbean

Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade

May 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Brick may often be seen as boring and traditional, but that’s not the case when the material falls into the hands of KIENTRUC O . The Vietnamese architecture studio creatively used the ancient building block to breathe life into Ho Chi Minh City’s new Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten located in the city’s District 2. The building is made entirely from bare brick arranged in patterns to form an eye-catching and playful facade that also promotes natural ventilation. Likened to a “giant Lego building,” the Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten features perforated brick walls with sections painted vibrant yellow for a spectacular effect. While a playful atmosphere conducive to exploration was crucial in the design, the architects also wanted to create a space that felt calm and relaxed. To that end, the building is organized around a central active core that branches out to serene  classroom settings. “Instilled within the school is an openness with a spark of curiosity that allows people of all ages to venture and explore the space in a relaxing and calming atmosphere,” the architects wrote. “As we have engaged in numerous educational projects, we recognize that these experiences are equally as important as the responsibility of nurturing the kids. It invokes a sense of pride, and interests within the teacher and the staffs. It inspires and embraces them, for they have chosen to dedicate their life for the education and the well-being of the children on a daily basis.” Related: This stunning brick “cave house” in Vietnam is open to the elements Each floor features alternating patterns that encourages children to become more attuned to their surroundings. The walls are punctuated by large windows for continuous views inside and out. Access to daylight , cross breezes and a natural material palette help promote a healthful environment. A rooftop garden tops the building with panoramic views of the Saigon River. + KIENTRUC O Via ArchDaily Images by Hiroyuki Oki

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Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade

The all-natural ‘Wellness Kitchen’ includes a beautiful living herb wall

May 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Kitchens are often the heart of any home, and now an innovative company is giving our beloved cooking space a healthy and sustainable makeover. Interior design company  Finch London recently unveiled its beautiful bespoke rose-colored “Wellness Kitchen” that’s built with various chemical-free and eco-friendly materials  and features a stunning herb wall. The London-based company’s Wellness Kitchen — which recently took home the grand prize at the Grand Designs Live event for its spectacular design — offers a glimpse into the future of eco-friendly kitchen design . The space includes a number of wellness features such as incandescent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) light bulbs, a doTerra essential oil diffuser, a steam oven, an alkaline water purifier and much more. The countertops are made of Jesmonite, a water-based material that, unlike cast concrete, does not release volatile organic compounds . Related: Artisan Moss ‘plant paintings’ are maintenance-free alternatives to living walls The flooring is made from natural cork  harvested through an environmentally-friendly process. Resistant to dust and toxic absorption, cork is an ideal choice for people who suffer from allergies. It’s also antimicrobial and water-resistant, which helps to combat mold. A major feature of the kitchen is its verdant living herb wall installed on the kitchen island. In addition to various air-purifying plants found hanging throughout the space, the indoor herb garden allows homeowners to grow their own herbs and spices organically. + Finch London Via Household Beautiful Images via Finch London

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The all-natural ‘Wellness Kitchen’ includes a beautiful living herb wall

A storage shed is transformed into a bespoke light-filled home in London

May 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

London-based architecture firm De Rosee Sa has given an old storage shed a new lease on life by converting it into a bright, bespoke family home. Sandwiched between terraced gardens and a row of 16 West London garages, the shed — renamed the Courtyard House — was brilliantly renovated, despite challenging regulations that included height limitations and the requirement that any new form must match the existing gable outline. Divided into two floors, the Courtyard House organizes the communal areas and the first bedroom on the ground floor, while the basement level houses a second bedroom that opens up to a private external courtyard . The architects solved the challenge of bringing light into the narrow 121-foot-long site by adding three external courtyards accessed through Crittal-style steel and glass doors. The home achieves its bright and airy atmosphere with crisp white walls, balanced by timber floors and black steel framing. Related: Fairytale-inspired lakeside cabin is made from locally felled and milled timber Western red cedar battens line the internal walls of the courtyards in a nod to the site’s history as a timber yard. The wood is also used inside to frame small spaces including the bathroom, study and utility room. “We worked very hard in the initial stages to convince the clients that developing this house was a risk worth taking,” said Max de Rosee, Director of De Rosee Sa Architects. “The most satisfying aspects of the project is the top light that pours into the interiors and the long views through the courtyards. Once inside, you forget that this house is in London.” + De Rosee Sa Via Dwell Images by Alex James Photography

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A storage shed is transformed into a bespoke light-filled home in London

This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

May 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Brutalist-inspired architecture is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when imagining cozy countryside cabins, but two daring designers have created a 900-square-foot house — made primarily of concrete blocks — in the Catskills. The homeowners, architect Jason Shannon and designer Paola Yañez of J_spy Architecture , created the contemporary home with a cluster of three cubic volumes and a white metal box for the roof. The result is a high-end, modern and eco-friendly retreat that sits on six acres of beautiful grassy landscape. The house was designed to be a serene getaway, a place to escape the city and return to nature. While many people choose to “nestle” their country homes into natural surroundings, this design stands out among the expansive fields thanks to its modern, bold aesthetic. The three cubist volumes made of concrete blocks and large white top floor create a fun juxtaposition to the flourishing, organic background. Related: Prefab Pyrenees cabin minimizes site impact and building costs The interior of the home is contemporary with a welcoming feel. Large windows and doors framed in mahogany provide an abundance of natural light and stunning views. Although the concrete walls were left unfinished on the exterior, the interior blocks feature a polished facade. The main living space has a beautiful 14′ ceiling clad in birch plywood that is interlaced with fabric to help absorb noise. With concrete as the primary building material, the home is extremely energy efficient . A geothermal heat pump is connected to the home’s concrete radiant floor, which emits both hot and cool air. The upper floor, which is clad in white metal, hangs over the dimension of the house for two reasons: to provide passive solar heating and to create high ceilings. In addition to the concrete blocks and radiant heating, the home also has a tankless hot water system and a condenser clothes dryer. To create a tight envelope that reduces energy loss, the house was insulated with a spray foam in the walls and ceilings. According to the architects, the efficient home is not only a reflection of how they live their personal lives, but also depicts their work ethos. Shannon explained, “This was our chance to say, ‘Let’s design the house as modern as we think we would like to be in the rest of our work.’” + J_spy Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Amanda Kirkpatrick

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This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

May 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Inhabitat is thrilled to announce that New York City urban farming group Brooklyn Grange is launching its first location outside the city — at Kearny Point in New Jersey. The location holds its own storied past: a former World War I and World War II shipbuilding yard in an industrial area that’s spiraled downhill, Kearny Point is undergoing redevelopment under recycling corporation Hugo Neu . Inhabitat caught up with Brooklyn Grange COO and co-founder Gwen Schantz and Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Neu to learn about the project’s emphasis on not only economic revitalization but also the restoration of local ecology . At Kearny Point in New Jersey, Brooklyn Grange will help with  landscaping , converting just under three acres of sod into a native meadow. In addition, the group will help transform about an acre of former parking lot space into a demonstration garden, complete with a vegetable patch and children’s play area, as well as host plant sales and educational workshops. Although none of these gardens will be on rooftops, Brooklyn Grange does plan to host green roof workshops using a Kearny Point roof. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Schantz told Inhabitat, “We know what these industrial spaces can become and how they can be reinvented. We’ve seen the evolution of the Navy Yard. When we talked to the people at Hugo Neu about their vision about Kearny Point, we really got it. It resonated with us.” Neu is one of the people behind that vision. She told Inhabitat that Kearny Point, which is between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, was once a main economic driver for the area as “one of the most productive shipbuilding facilities in the world.” During World War II, 35,000 people worked on the 130-acre site. But after the war, the shipbuilding industry died in the United States. Hugo Neu acquired Kearny Point in the 1960s and dismantled ships, but that operation shut down around 1985. Until recently, Kearny Point was an industrial warehouse distribution facility. “ Hurricane Sandy was a defining moment for us because we were approximately four feet underwater. We’d never had any kind of issue with flooding. My late husband and I know climate change is coming and the environment is changing dramatically, and we had to think about what we were going to do with this site,” Neu told Inhabitat. After her husband passed away suddenly, Neu joined forces with Steve Nislick, former Edison Properties CEO, with the goal of doing “something transformative.” The new vision for Kearny Point includes offices for startups, coworking spaces, and a waterfront opened to the public. “The opportunity to take a heavy industrial site like this and integrate all the new technology – wind, solar, stormwater – and be able to show we can have people growing businesses without having to harm the environment but also actually improve it at the same time is, to me, a very compelling opportunity,” Neu said. Brooklyn Grange is “an indication of just what the possibilities are.” The project’s native meadow serves as a prime example. According to Schantz, when people try to convert land into meadows or gardens, they sometimes kill what’s growing there with pesticides . Brooklyn Grange is taking a more natural approach: they’re suffocating grass and enriching the soil with the help of recycled materials , such as leftover cardboard from a nearby shipping company and wood mulch from a local tree service, both of which the urban farming group inoculated with blue oyster mushrooms. Once this process is complete, they’ll plant native flowers and grasses. “Our approach is, let’s take this strip of land which has had a rough history along a railroad track, it has not been loved the way it could be, and give it a new lease on life and make it a place where insects and birds can feed and nest, and restore it the way it might have looked before there was a shipyard here,” said Schantz. How will Kearny Point handle natural disasters in the future? Neu said that not only are they raising the site up two feet, they’re creating at least 25 acres of open space and putting in bioswales to boost the site’s resiliency. “We’ll have underground parking that will serve as reservoirs for water that comes onto the site. We’ll remove as many impervious surfaces as possible, which is huge in terms of the amount that gets discharged into the Hackensack, and we’re going to do everything to improve the quality of what gets discharged,” said Neu. “I want to minimize our impact as much as possible. We have to be able to figure out how to have people prosper without destroying the environment and further degrading it.” Brooklyn Grange’s first plant sale will be Sunday, May 20, from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. “We’re really excited to be reaching out to our neighbors across the river,” Schantz said. “We know there’s already a culture of gardening here in the Garden State, and so we’re excited to bring some of our urban farming techniques and our general mindset of sustainable, organic gardening to the local community and hopefully get people excited about growing their own food .” + Brooklyn Grange + Hugo Neu + Kearny Point Images courtesy of Valery Rizzo

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Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

Nomad Pavilion is a woven goat hair desert shelter that collects its own water

May 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Architects Dina Haddadin and Rasem Kamal have teamed up to create the Nomad Pavilion, an innovative structure that serves as both a desert shelter and a water tower. Inspired by indigenous Bedouin tents, the pavilion uses multiple layers of tightly-woven goat hair to insulate the structure from the harsh desert climate. A water collection cone at the top of the  shelter  collects dew and fog to fill the underground water tank. The hybrid shelter and water tower is made from 96 Corten steel rods and knotted ropes. Inspired by the national flower of Jordan, the Black Iris, the shelter boasts an intricate geometric formation. The steel rods rise from the circular base and slope inward. At the top, accordion-like “petals” open to the sky. Related: Tiny Papay Fire Shelter Inspired by Nomadic Tents Pops up in the Orkney Islands To create an extra layer of resilience and insulation, the architects wrapped the shelter in multiple layers of coarsely woven hairs . Residents can leave the cloth open to encourage air ventilation when needed, or they can close the cloth completely to protect the interior from extreme heat. The goat hair also traps heat during the day and releases it throughout the night to keep the shelter warm. When it rains or snows, the fibers swell, and the exterior tightens. As a water collection system , the pavilion is equipped with a “self-sustained drinking fountain” that will harvest dew and fog for water. A collecting cone — made of natural fabrics with hydrophilic and hydrophobic qualities — is located in the aperture at the top of the structure. These natural materials collect water, then funnel it through pipes to an underground tank. The Nomad Pavilion is meant to be a more resilient version of the traditional Bedouin tent design. The architects said, “The main vision is to create a new interpretation of the authentic tent, a structure that blends with its surroundings, yet stands out as a calling sanctuary for visitors in the nomads’ land; to become a shaded oasis, a gathering rest spot and a source of fresh drinking water.” The tent, which is in the prototype stage, is designed to leave no footprint on its surroundings . Haddadin and Kamal said, “As a result of using local natural materials, water collection and energy efficient space, the pavilion attempts to create a closed loop of existence — one that leaves no footprint, one that gives nature time to heal, to regrow and to flourish.” + Dina Haddadin + Rasem Kamal Via Dezeen Images via Rasem Kamal

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Nomad Pavilion is a woven goat hair desert shelter that collects its own water

The secret behind the Leaning Tower of Pisa’s resilience is revealed

May 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A team of engineers has finally solved the mystery of how the seemingly unstable Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy has managed to stay standing for more than six hundred years, even in a seismically active region. A team led by Roma Tre University concluded that the tower’s height of 183 feet, the soft soil in which it stands, and the structural strength of the its marble all contribute to its remarkable resilience. This phenomenon is known as dynamic soil-structure interaction (DSSI). “Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the Tower to the verge of collapse, can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events,” said University of Bristol researcher George Mylonakis in a statement . Construction on Pisa’s bell tower began in 1173, and the tower reportedly started to lean when builders reached the third story. Even then, engineers understood that the site’s unique soil mix was responsible for the leaning. After religious wars and conflict interrupted construction, the tower was finally completed in 1370. Though the tower’s lean appears to be stable, efforts throughout the 20th and 21st century have decreased its severity over time. Related: Building Inspectors Deem Tilting Shanghai Towers Safe to Live In The research team expanded on previous studies by examining structural and seismic data records over time. They also engaged with a deep analysis of the physical, mechanical, and chemical properties of the materials used to build the tower, as well as the rock and soil in which it was anchored. Because of DDSI, the ground in which the Tower stands is insulated from seismic shocks, protecting it from the frequent and powerful earthquakes that have historically affected Pisa. These findings will be presented at the 16th European Conference in Earthquake Engineering in June. Via IFLScience Images via Depositphotos (1)

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The secret behind the Leaning Tower of Pisa’s resilience is revealed

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