Carbon-neutral home in Australia conceals its energy efficiency with minimalist design

November 6, 2018 by  
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Perth-based firm  Whispering Smith  has unveiled a beautiful, concrete home that combines the best of brutalist architecture with sustainable materials. Built on a very compact infill lot outside of Perth, House A is an affordable and carbon-neutral  home that was built with concrete, reclaimed brick, solar power and an underground water collection system. The 753-square-foot home was strategically designed to make the maximum use out of limited building space. Where many architects would have taken a complicated route to create more out of less, the Whispering Smith team focused on creating a design that would use simple, sustainable materials to create a beautiful space with understated elegance. Related: This super-insulated concrete “cabin” hides a surprisingly cozy interior The home is clad in concrete made out of 65 percent slag, a byproduct of steel manufacturing. Along with the concrete walls, the home was built with reclaimed bricks , which were also incorporated into the surrounding landscape. Concealed from view, a water collection tank is underground and solar panels are installed on the roof. The home’s volume from a distance cuts a stoic figure, with light gray, gabled parapets reminiscent of a traditional barn but covered in concrete. Breaking up the concrete facade is the large,  charred timber entryway topped with a polycarbonate screen. The minimalism  continues throughout the interior, where an extremely neutral color palette was used to enhance the soft, natural light that illuminates the rooms. According to the architects, the interior design was meant to be “raw, but not without warmth, texture and flourish.” The firm further explained, “We made a conscious decision to choose materials that would age well, were simple to understand and construct and didn’t require cladding or extra finishes. We used limepaint, soap finish and linseed oil, because the interior materials were the largely the ‘finish’ themselves. The concrete will never need painting, [it] will only get better as it ages. At dusk, the concrete panels absorb the evening colors and the light and the house almost disappears into the sky, and there’s something really nice about that.” To maximize the compact floor plan, the interior rooms flow seamlessly from one space to another. The main living area is open and airy, with a built-in sofa and white-tiled bench. From this room, large doors slide open to an outdoor courtyard with plenty of space for dining, entertaining and relaxing. A wooden staircase leads up to the second floor, which houses the bedroom and en suite bathroom, the only room in the home with a door. + Whispering Smith Via Dwell Photography by Ben Hosking via Whispering Smith

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Carbon-neutral home in Australia conceals its energy efficiency with minimalist design

A couple builds a fairytale-like rental cabin near a volcano for $30K

November 6, 2018 by  
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When Caroline and Julien traveled across South America in their Volkswagen Kombi, the couple noticed a dearth of quality accommodations and decided to fill that hospitality gap by building a beautifully crafted rental cabin in Chile . After 19 months of construction, the couple realized their dream on the slopes of the Calbuco Volcano in Ensenada. Designed and constructed for an approximate cost of $30,000, the cozy, handcrafted home — dubbed Casa Nido — has been listed on Airbnb starting at $116 a night . Designing and building Casa Nido was a big adventure for the couple, given that they didn’t know anything about construction before starting. Yet all parts of the cabin , from the design and interior finishes to the electrical wiring and water systems, were carried out by the duo without any outside help. “We are offering tourists and travelers high quality, fully handmade accommodation, somewhere to relax and contemplate far away from consumer society,” said Caroline and Julien. “It is also the ideal place to rethink one’s priorities and experiment, for a given time, what is ‘going back to the essential.’” Inspired by images of fairytale cottages , Casa Nido spans two floors, with a ground floor of 290 square feet and a smaller second level of 129 square feet. The curved roof beam is constructed from plywood, and all the other timber materials are locally sourced, native species. For instance, Patagonian Cypress was used for the windows, doors and furnishings while Manio was used for the outside siding, interior lining and flooring. In addition to a bedroom that sleeps two, the cabin comes with a living room overlooking Calbuco Volcano vistas, a fully equipped kitchen that frames views of Osorno Volcano, a ground floor terrace and a wood-fired hot tub. Related: Award-winning glass cabin is nestled inside an Australian rainforest The cabin is powered by a photovoltaic solar system that provides enough electricity to meet daily needs, while the water is sourced from a nearby natural spring higher up in the valley. Wastewater is treated with a photo-purification system. The couple also plans to build a homemade biodigester to replace the use of gas cylinders for the cabin’s gas system. To wake up to volcano views at Casa Nido, check out the listing on Airbnb . + Casa Nido

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A couple builds a fairytale-like rental cabin near a volcano for $30K

Delhi High Courts new expansion taps into green building principles

November 1, 2018 by  
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New Delhi-based architecture practice Design Forum International has completed the New Courts Complex, a modern extension to the Delhi High Court. The new project was completed as part of the Delhi High Court’s ambitious expansion plan to increase capacity by 60 percent by the year 2020. Designed with energy efficiency in mind, the building was informed by passive solar principles to ensure comfortable indoor temperatures, while smart water management is practiced using sensor-operated fixtures and recycled water systems. Located in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, the New Courts Complex mimics its predecessor with grand steps that lead to a high podium fronted with a large fountain  focal point. The complex includes 15 courtrooms across four floors as well as nine registrars’ courts on the ground level. Moreover, there are 16 new chambers for judges, nine new chambers for junior registrars and additional work spaces for judicial officials. Discussion and sitting rooms for members of the bar, as well as a women-only sitting room, were also integrated into the plan. Since security was also a paramount concern, open sight lines and transparency were stressed throughout. “The task was to somehow create a visual vocabulary that could bridge 500 years of discordance with a harmonious note,” Design Forum International said. “The principles of green building design have been employed with a tilt toward passive techniques that require the basic design starting from the envelope and massing to be correct. In the overall analysis, the New Courts Block is a fine example of how to build a green building that is both energy-efficient , functional and aesthetic.” Related: Architects transform a derelict lot into an urban oasis in New Delhi The outer walls of the building are built from A.E.C. blocks chosen for their thermal properties, and the roof was built with heat reflective tiles. In addition, high-performance coated glass and solar panels help reduce dependence on air conditioning. As a result, the total energy demand has been reduced by approximately 20 to 25 percent. Natural light is optimized in the entire building, even in the basement, thanks to carefully placed skylights. + Design Forum International Images via Design Forum International

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Delhi High Courts new expansion taps into green building principles

Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

October 31, 2018 by  
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When asked by a long-time friend to build a garden-facing retirement home in Hobart, Australia, Brunswick-based architectural practice Archier created the Five Yards House, a timber-clad abode that takes its name from the numerous “yards,” or gardens, integrated into the design. To minimize onsite waste and to ensure rapid installation, the design firm turned to SIP (structural insulated panel) construction, a high-performing methodology that “provides structural, insulative and aesthetic solutions in one,” according the the architects. High performance and environmentally friendly materials were also specified for the rest of the design, from operable double glazing to recycled timber to  LEDs . Strong connections with the garden were a priority in the 131-square-meter Five Yards House’s project brief. Rather than design a simple glass house for enjoying views of one garden, the architects designed the home around a series of unique gardens, each with its own distinct appearance and framed by full-height walls of double glazing. The entrance on the east side is flanked by two gardens, or “yards,” and opens up to a mud room, a library and a long hallway that extends to the far west end of the home. At the heart of the building is an  open-plan living room, dining space and kitchen that connects to the outdoors on both ends; a smaller garden is to the south, and a more spacious yard is to the north. The bedroom is located at the far end of the house and overlooks a small garden as well. Related: Industrial modern Sawmill House is built from recycled concrete blocks Because the house was constructed with SIPs, the building boasts high thermal performance, and the operable walls of glass allow for natural ventilation in summer to negate the need for mechanical cooling. A restrained palette of natural materials helps strengthen the indoor-outdoor connection. Recycled Tasmanian Oak timber was used to line the interior, and the exterior is painted matte black. + Archier Photography by Adam Gibson via Archier

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Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

October 30, 2018 by  
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San Francisco- and Oslo-based firm  Mork Ulnes Architects has unveiled a black  timber home tucked into a forestscape in Norden, California. To connect the home with its stunning scenery, the chalet-inspired Troll Hus was clad in pine tar-treated wood and elevated off the landscape with large concrete pillars for minimal site impact. The massive, 3,300-square-foot family home holds court in the middle of a pine forest , just an hour and a half outside of Sacramento. To blend the home into its pristine natural environment, it was clad in dark wood. The black, timber structure sits high up near the tree canopies, giving off a sense of peaceful solitude among the soaring trees. Related: A cypress tree grows through this hillside home in Los Angeles According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a family home where the residents could reconnect with nature, whether inside or outside the home. They explained, “The design is driven both by the extreme environmental conditions found at a 6,800-foot elevation and a California sensibility of generous indoor-outdoor living.” While the elevation of the home certainly affords stunning views, the pillars are also a strategic feature that provides resilience and passive temperature control . The concrete legs were meant to reduce the impact on the environment and protect the home from snow fall, which can reach up to 800 inches during winter. Additionally, putting extra elevation to the home allows for optimal solar exposure in the winter and shading from direct sun in the summer. The orientation of the house also shields the building from strong winds. On the interior, the living space is clad in light wood paneling, creating a soothing vibe. An abundance of large windows brighten the interior with natural light . The open living and dining layout was designed to offer ample room for entertaining or simply enjoying the views in solitude. A large terrace wraps around one side of the home, further enhancing the design’s strong connection to the outdoors. + Mork Ulnes Architects Via Freshome Photography by  Bruce Damonte

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A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

Architects recycle shipping containers into a breezy Dhaka home

October 30, 2018 by  
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In Dhaka, Bangladesh , local architecture firm River & Rain transformed four shipping containers into a light-filled, three-story house spanning 134 square meters. Completed in 2017, the cargotecture dwelling doesn’t hide its shipping container roots yet manages to exude a welcoming and livable atmosphere through strategically cut openings, terraces that emphasize indoor-outdoor living and greenery that grows up, around and through the building. Recycled materials were also used throughout the home, which is named Escape Den after its tranquil setting on the outskirts of the city. Spread out across three floors, the Escape Den organizes the kitchen and dining spaces on an elevated ground floor and places the living room and bedroom areas on the upper levels. Accessed via a side gate off of a dirt road, the property features an entry sequence that begins with a short flight of stairs from the parking pad to a sheltered deck. The deck consists of the dining area and other seating options oriented to face views of the lawn, which takes up approximately two-thirds of the site. The covered deck also connects to a shipping container converted to house a small media room, kitchen and bathroom. The caretaker’s room is located in the back. A flight of stairs traverses the central atrium space — anchored by an almond tree and a veil of green vines that hang from the ceiling — and connects to a glass-enclosed living room. Another flight of stairs leads up to the third floor, where a third shipping container, housing the two bedrooms, is set perpendicular to the bulk of the building in a dramatic cantilever and is topped with a green roof . One of the bedrooms also connects to an outdoor terrace . The green-roofed shipping container can be reached via a spiral staircase. Related: German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces “The hefty look of those containers has become dramatically airier with some skillful ensemble of architectural details,” the architects explained. “The floated platforms of the house, intertwining stairs and diverse direction of container placement have made the project more visually eye-catching.” + River & Rain Photography by Maruf Raihan , Hasan Saifuddin Chandan  and Snahasis Saha via River & Rain

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Architects recycle shipping containers into a breezy Dhaka home

A lakeside sauna boasts mystical views and a gleaming facade

October 29, 2018 by  
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Norwegian design practice Feste Landscape / Architecture recently completed the Soria Moria sauna , a sculptural, shingle-clad structure on Bandak Lake in Dalen, Norway that overlooks breathtaking mountain and water views. Developed as part of the ‘Tales of the Waterway’ art initiative for the Telemark Canal, Soria Moria is one in a series of projects that use art, architecture and lighting design to celebrate the natural beauty of the local landscape and traditions. In addition to the use of locally sourced building materials, the sauna features a wooden facade that’s integrated with gleaming golden shingles to reference local folklore. Covering an area of roughly 420 square feet, Soria Moria consists of a covered seating area, a sauna, a changing room and pine decking. Feste Landscape / Architecture found that — unlike much of the area around the lake — the Sigurdsevja inlet offered deep enough water for bathing at the shoreline. As a result, Soria Moria was elevated on stilts along the inlet and is connected to the lakeshore to the west by a long, zigzagging boardwalk that also links to an existing network of footpaths around the lake. The building takes on a striking, angular silhouette, which was inspired by the steep mountains that surround Bandak Lake. The dramatic mountains and lake are framed with massive panels of glass that blur the boundary between indoors and out. In keeping with the traditional vernacular, the structure is clad in Øyfjell Sag wood shingles that reference local building techniques. Gold-colored Nordic Royal metal shingles are also embedded into the facade to evoke the “mythical and outlandish.” Related: Floating sauna with charred timber cladding boasts minimal site impact “It also references the obvious contrast which arose between the uncultivated people of Telemark and lavish upper-class foreign travelers during the establishment of the nearby Dalen Hotel at the end of the 19th century,” the architects added. Completed this year, Soria Moria was developed by the Telemark Canal Regional Park in collaboration with Tokke municipality. + Feste Landscape / Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Dag Jenssen via Feste Landscape / Architecture

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A lakeside sauna boasts mystical views and a gleaming facade

A family’s unique tiny home uses wool and hemp for insulation

October 29, 2018 by  
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Tiny homes come in many shapes and sizes, but for a wandering family of three, the Valhalla tiny home is just the right fit. Built by French tiny home builder  Baluchon , this wood-clad tiny home on wheels is a lightweight structure that measures just under 20 feet long; however, a stunning space-strategic interior, which includes two bedrooms, makes you forget all about its itsy-bitsy size. Clad in red cedar with white and teal accents, the Valhalla tiny home emits a modern cabin feel from the outside. Three porthole-style windows along with a series of clerestory windows on each side give the design a contemporary edge and brighten the interior naturally. To create an energy-efficient shell, the home is insulated with sustainable materials such as sheep’s wool for the floor, cotton, linen and hemp in the walls and wood fiber in the ceiling. Related: The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes The interior is clad in light spruce panels, which help to make the compact space feel larger. The front door opens to the fully-equipped kitchen area complete with custom cabinets, a fridge, a sink and a two-burner propane stove. On the adjacent wall, a narrow desk serves as a work or dining space. The master bedroom, which has enough space for a a double bed, is located on a sleeping loft reached by a set of floating stairs above the desk. On the other side of the home, another elevated platform houses the living room. Underneath the living area on the ground floor, a small room is located right next to the kitchen. Separated from the communal space by curtains, this compact area is well-lit and perfect for a child’s room, guest quarters or extra storage. + Baluchon Via Tiny House Talk Photography by Vincent Bouhours via Baluchon

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A family’s unique tiny home uses wool and hemp for insulation

Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

October 25, 2018 by  
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Located mere steps away from idyllic white sand beaches on one side and a coconut grove on the other, this beach house designed by Studio Saxe is giving us major home envy. Situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, the spacious 3,250-square-foot Villa Akoya’s beautiful aesthetic hides several passive strategies designed to reduce the home’s energy use and impact on the environment. The breathtaking location serves as the principal inspiration for the design. Built using traditional cinder block construction, the one-story home was was raised off the ground to create a continuous sight line with the ocean views. This feature also helped reduce the footprint on the landscape . Related: Triangular beachfront home is a dreamy retreat buried in the earth The beach house’s dimensions are divided into four separate horizontal roof planes that slant slightly upward, covering each of the three bedrooms plus the main living area. This strategy creates distinct volumes within the structure. Additionally, the flat wooden roofs extend out over the exterior walls to create large overhang extensions that shade the interior while creating several indoor-outdoor living spaces around the exterior. The interior layout includes several spaces that are open to the exterior, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. All of the bedrooms have their own outdoor spaces, and an all-glass wall in the living room slides completely open, leading to a wooden deck and a swimming pool . Concealed within the design are several passive features to create an energy-efficient beach house. The “elevated” roof lines create a natural system of air ventilation, cooling the home in the hot summer months. The abundance of windows and glass doors brighten the interior during the day, further reducing the need for electricity. The home also operates on solar-generated hot water and has a gray water system. + Studio Saxe Via Archdaily Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

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Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

A curved tunnel provides an unexpected connection in a renovated, mid-century home

October 24, 2018 by  
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When a well-traveled couple tapped Australian design practice Nic Owen Architects to renovate and expand their modest 1940s home in Hampton, the architecture firm channeled the clients’ love of adventure into a design that boasts elements of mystery and surprise. Connecting the original clicker brick structure to a new extension is a dark tunnel that’s curved to obscure views of either end and to create what the architects call a “surprising adventure,” giving rise to the project’s name, the Journey House. The project brief called for greater living spaces, updated amenities and a strong connection with the outdoors to complement a more tranquil and relaxing home environment. To respect the neighborhood’s character, the architects preserved the existing building and tucked the contemporary extension into the rear away from view of the street. Obscuring the extension creates a “voyage of discovery” for visitors who enter the mid-century home and then travel through the black timber-clad, curved tunnel that opens up to the surprisingly bright and airy destination: the new timber-framed extension housing the open-plan living spaces. Large,  double-glazed windows and sliding doors provide the close connection to nature that the homeowners wanted. “Filled with natural light, vaulted ceilings and the abundance of space, this new extension adds modern life to a tired mid-century classic,” the architects said in a project statement. “The project was a great opportunity to explore the idea of journey, the path one takes exploring the environment, to create an enticing, stimulating, workable space. I enjoyed challenging the perception of a typical family renovation/extension.” Related: A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience Updated to 166 square meters, the renovated and expanded house also boasts improved energy efficiency. In addition to the double-pane glass windows and doors oriented to the north to capitalize on solar gain, the architects installed custom CFC solar shades and used recycled materials and LED lighting throughout. + Nic Owen Architects Photography by  Christine Francis via Nic Owen Architects

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A curved tunnel provides an unexpected connection in a renovated, mid-century home

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