A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

March 20, 2020 by  
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In Brisbane’s leafy suburb of Paddington, Australian architectural practice Shaun Lockyer Architects has created a contemporary and sustainable addition that provides a striking contrast to the original cottage it sits beside. Dubbed Sorrel Street, the concrete-clad extension is a deliberate counterpoint to the local vernacular while respecting the scale of the neighborhood. Sustainability and the client’s desire for limited maintenance also informed the design, which features green roofs, substantial thermal mass, LED lighting and low-E glass throughout. Completed in 2016, Sorrel was commissioned by clients who wanted their suburban home reworked to better meet the needs of their children, one of whom has limited mobility. As a result, the architects altered the sloping site to create a flat lawn that opens to the northwest side. The need for flat land also led the architects to place the contemporary addition to the north of the cottage so that the main living spaces could flow out to the level garden. Related: A 1920s cottage gets a new lease on life as an urban barnyard house “The project explores the juxtaposition between historical context and contemporary architecture within a broader subtropical paradigm,” Shaun Lockyer Architects explained. “In a somewhat controversial decision, the call was made to ‘leave well enough alone’ and make a clear distinction between the small, original cottage and the new work, keeping their respective personalities distinct.” The renovated, predominately single-story home is centered on the kitchen and comprises all the main sleeping and living areas on the upper level, while only the garage, storage, offices and media room are on the lower floor. To minimize energy use, the home is equipped with deep eaves and strategically placed windows and skylights for cross-flow ventilation and natural lighting. The insulating green roof and thick concrete walls help maintain stable indoor temperatures, while timber flooring and furnishings lend a sense of warmth throughout. + Shaun Lockyer Architects Photography by Scott Burrows via Shaun Lockyer Architects

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A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions

March 4, 2020 by  
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In the coastal township of Barwon Heads, Australian architecture firm Peter Winkler Architects has completed the Green Velvet House, a family’s solar-powered home that sensitively responds to the landscape in more ways than one. Positioned for passive solar design and to maximize views over the surrounding tree canopy, the sustainable dwelling was engineered to minimize impact on the existing terrain. In addition to walls of glass that let in natural light and ventilation, the home draws power from a rooftop solar array and minimizes its environmental footprint with rainwater collection tanks for irrigation and toilet-flushing. Nestled into an existing depression in the site, the Green Velvet House rises to a height of two stories with 580 square meters of living space. Its minimalist appearance — a facade of cement sheets and floor-to-ceiling glazing divided by exposed structural timbers — helps to reduce the building’s visual impact on the landscape. “In response to the program, we have minimized the building footprint by efficiently consolidating the form, rather than creating a sprawling building that overtakes the site,” the team explained. Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne To keep the focus on the outdoors, the solar-powered home is surrounded by walls of glass and terraces that invite the owners outdoors on multiple floors. The outdoor spaces and the interiors are protected from unwanted solar gain by generous eaves and horizontal screens. The main living areas and the guest bedroom are located on the ground floor, while the upper floor is reserved for the more private areas, including the master suite and two children’s bedrooms. Plywood walls and a sealed fiber-cement ceiling reference the exterior materials and lend a sense of warmth to the interiors. Recycled “Grey Ironbark” hardwood columns and beams are also featured throughout the building. For energy efficiency, the Colorbond tray deck roof is fitted with a 10.26 kW photovoltaic system . The aluminum sliding doors are also outfitted with double glazing, while the double-hung, sashless windows can be opened for natural ventilation. Three 5,000-liter water tanks were installed beneath the north deck to store rainwater for garden use and toilet-flushing, while other stormwater runoff is retained in bioswales. The home is also equipped with hydronic heating, wood-burning fireplaces and a Sanden heat pump with a 315-liter water tank. + Peter Winkler Architects Photography by Jack Lovel via Peter Winkler Architects

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Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions

Ivory Ella raises $96K to help animals affected by the Australian wildfires

February 27, 2020 by  
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Lifestyle brand Ivory Ella recently announced a generous donation of over $96,000 to Animals Australia, an animal protection organization giving aid to wildlife displaced and injured from the devastating bushfires that ravaged the country from September 2019 to February 2020. After the news broke about the bushfires in Australia and the heartbreaking effects on wildlife, Ivory Ella decided to slightly shift its platform to include an Australia Wildlife Rescue collection of organic cotton T-shirts, with 100% of profits going to Animals Australia. The brand sold more than 3,500 shirts on the first day after the collection was released and over 10,000 by the 10th day. Related: Koala-sniffing detection dog, Bear, helps save Koalas from Australian bushfires Now, just three weeks after the collection was released on January 10, 2020, enough profits were generated to donate $96,768.35. Ivory Ella is currently working on expanding, distributing 11 new colors to wholesale retailers (that Ivory Ella has encouraged to donate 100% of profits to Animals Australia as well) and offering a variety of short- and long-sleeve styles in an effort to bring in even more donations. “At Ivory Ella, we are champions for elephants and all they represent. We believe strongly in fostering a healthy global environment for humans and all the wildlife with whom we share our home,” said Cathy Quain, CEO of Ivory Ella. “We were overwhelmed with sadness as we learned about the impact of the devastating wildfires that are killing and displacing millions of wild animals in Australia and became compelled to help where we could. We are looking to our expansive community to help spread awareness and support for the survivors. It will take time to restore their environment, and we are inspired by the work done by Animals Australia to get expert wildlife vets into fire-devastated areas, where they are helping any surviving animals.” The eco-minded fashion company has had success in the past by donating 10% of its profits to organizations that support elephant conservation, which has become the main focus of its business model. The brand boasts $1.8 million donated since its initial launch in 2015. Visit Ivory Ella’s website to support the cause and view the Australian Wildlife Rescue collection of graphic T-shirts. To learn more about the non-profit Animals Australia, visit AnimalsAustralia.org . + Ivory Ella + Animals Australia Images via Ivory Ella

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Ivory Ella raises $96K to help animals affected by the Australian wildfires

Reintroducing the Eurasian Lynx to Scotland

February 27, 2020 by  
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The Eurasian lynx is so-called because it has been found in  forests  that stretch from Europe to central Asia, thus distinguishing it as the widest-ranging cat on our planet. Despite this, the species disappeared from Great Britain during the Middle Ages due to habitat loss and excessive hunting, according to the  Journal of Quaternary Science .  Now British scientists, spearheaded by the conservation group  Lynx UK Trust , are pushing to have the Eurasian lynx reintroduced into the British Isles, especially in the Scottish wilds.  Jo Pike, Chief Executive of the  Scottish Wildlife Trust , shared, “Returning the lynx to our landscape as a top predator could help restore the health of Scotland’s natural  ecosystems .” A quartet of lynx species exist worldwide: the bobcat ( Lynx rufus ), the Canada lynx ( Lynx canadensis ), the Iberian lynx ( Lynx pardinus ) and the Eurasian lynx ( Lynx lynx ). Largest of them all is the Eurasian lynx. With acute hearing and eyesight, Eurasian lynx are highly skilled hunters. They dine on wild ungulates, or hoofed animals, like deer . They also supplement their diet by preying on foxes, rabbits, hares, small forest animals and even birds. Interestingly, the Eurasian lynx is Europe’s third-biggest predator by size, just behind the brown bear and the grey wolf. As an apex predator, Eurasian lynx are valued by  conservationists  and ecologists for significantly influencing the distribution of other organisms in an ecosystem. In this way, Eurasian lynx can effectively help in the control of deer populations, culling the old and the weak. Eurasian lynx were eradicated from the British Isles due to hunting. Populations of roe deer, their preferred prey, were vastly diminished by the 19th century, hence destabilizing lynx livelihood. Lynx fur was also in high demand during previous centuries. This fur trade, understandably, had catastrophic consequences on lynx populations in the Britain of old. Across continental Europe and into central Asia, where the Eurasian lynx still exists, there are many threats to their survival in the wild. For example, the  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List  cites human activity (agriculture, mining and quarrying, roads and railroads, logging and  deforestation , hunting and trapping) as adversely affecting Eurasian lynx populations through increasing urban sprawl, habitat loss and human-induced climate change. These are followed closely by disease and competition from  invasive species . In the United Kingdom today, legislation frowns upon the commercial hunting and trading of lynx fur in the British Isles, so these felines are now better protected. Besides, with contemporary Scotland as the home to the majority of British forests, the Eurasian lynx is likely to thrive there in the available  habitat . Even more favorable, Scotland has an abundance of roe deer and other types of ungulates that are in drastic need of natural culling, which is how the Eurasian lynx can play a vital role in the natural ecological processes. The  Woodland Trust  has documented that roe deer had almost been eradicated from Britain due to overhunting, up until the 19th century. But roe deer have since made a strong  recovery  in population numbers after their reintroduction into Britain. Now, their population density has since become exceedingly high, from a lack of natural predators and the absence of large carnivores in the UK. No surprise, then, that these roe deer have become a pest, overgrazing and thus unhinging the regeneration of the  woodlands . The habitat damage these roe deer bring requires that a large carnivore — their natural predator, the Eurasian lynx — be brought in for ecosystem equilibrium. Of course, there is opposition to lynx reintroduction, particularly from farmers who worry about their livestock. Scientists and stakeholders allay these concerns via reminders that the primary prey are roe deer, whose populations are bountiful in the Scottish countryside. These elevated numbers of roe deer would keep the lynx too occupied (and full) to meddle with farm animals. As for the uneasiness on whether these predatory felines would harm humans, the counterargument, once more, is that these cats prefer rural areas and tend to avoid encounters with humans, instead opting, by nature, to focus on the roe deer. There are some Brits who are apprehensive about the Eurasian lynx becoming a competitor to the Scottish wildcat, Scotland’s only native cat, for it, too, is a denizen of the woodlands. Scottish biologists have been striving to alleviate these qualms, pointing out that both the Eurasian lynx and Scottish wildcat can coexist peacefully, mainly because their prey selection is different. As Lynx UK Trust explained, the lynx reintroduction program is in the early stages, directed towards selecting reintroduction sites via careful evaluation and modeling approaches, as outlined in  Biological Conservation  journal. The reintroduction will be “soft releases” of the Eurasian lynx, meticulously monitored during trial runs before the program goes full-tilt. This transitional period will help scientists and conservationists work closely with local landowners, farmers and citizens of Scotland through education programs to help make the reintroduction initiative sustainably successful. Overall, the Eurasian lynx reintroduction plan holds great promise. Only time will tell what their long-term impact shall be on the Scottish and overall British landscape. Images via Flickr

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Reintroducing the Eurasian Lynx to Scotland

Award-winning Owl Woods Passive House playfully mimics birdhouses in Australia

January 24, 2020 by  
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Australian design studio Talina Edwards Architecture recently completed the Owl Woods Passive House — the first certified Passivhaus project designed by a woman architect in Australia. Located in the Victorian town of Trentham, the sustainable home not only follows Passivhaus standards for an extremely energy-efficient build, but it also adheres to biophilic principles with its pitched roofs in the shape of unique “bird beaks” for solar shading. The project also won the Sustainability Medal at the 2019 Architeam Awards and was an official finalist in the New Home Category at the 2019 Sustainability Awards. As the 20th certified Passive House project in all of Australia, the Owl Woods Passive House is designed and constructed to meet strict Passivhaus standards that translate to an airtight building envelope for comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, energy efficiency, durability, controlled ventilation and adherence to passive solar design principles. Due to the building envelope specified for the site, the high-performance home is oriented slightly northwest but includes extended roofs along the western sides to protect the interiors from the afternoon summer sunlight. Related: This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere Inspired by the farmhouses of a Scottish village, where the clients previously lived, the home is organized into four interconnected gable-roofed pavilions. The easternmost wing houses two bedrooms and a shared bath. The central wing, which is topped with two pitched roofs, contains the open-plan living area and service rooms. The wing to the west comprises the master en suite with a sitting room. The home also includes an outdoor deck on the north side and is punctuated with large windows and glazed doors throughout for a constant visual and physical connection to nature and natural light. In addition to Passive House certification, the timber-framed project has also earned a NATHERS 7.4-star rating and is solar -ready. The interiors continue the exterior’s palette of natural materials and are finished with low-VOC paints for a healthy home environment. “The Owl Woods Passive House is a unique blend of biophilic design and Passivhaus standards of construction — a balance of creative design outcomes, which focus on how the occupants will feel in their home, along with the integration of building science, which delivers a high-performance home,” the architects explained. “In this aspect, it really is a pioneer project for Passivhaus homes in Australia.” + Talina Edwards Architecture Photography by Tatjana Plitt via Talina Edwards Architecture

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Award-winning Owl Woods Passive House playfully mimics birdhouses in Australia

Off-grid home is inspired by the iconic Australian Akubra hat

January 22, 2020 by  
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The Australian Akubra hat is one of the many symbols of the country, and one architectural team has used the hat’s recognizable form as inspiration for a spectacular off-grid home in the small NSW town of Nundle. Designed by architect Alexander Symes, the Upside Down Akubra House, which is located on a bull farm, features a massive flat roof that is about 2.5 times the size of the building’s footprint. But the unique volume isn’t all about whimsy. In fact, the structure is actually a powerhouse of passive and active design features that allow it to operate completely off the grid . Throughout the design process, the architect worked closely with the homeowners, who are bull farmers. Set in a large grove of eucalyptus trees, the owners requested that their new house not only provide unobstructed, 360-degree views of the stunning landscape but also offer them the off-grid lifestyle required by the remote location. Related: Off-grid farmhouse on Australia’s remote French Island runs on solar energy Accordingly, the resulting home features wide windows and sliding glass doors that lead out to a wrap-around deck, allowing the interior to have a strong connection to the outdoors. Additionally, this outdoor space is shaded by the oversized roof. This shading strategy provides a lovely open-air place to hang out with friends and family and keeps the house nice and cool during the searing-hot summers. The interior of the three-bedroom home boasts sleek concrete flooring and walls that contrast nicely with natural wood accents. The main living area has a spacious layout that opens up to the decks, which feature ample room for dining and lounging. A cozy fire pit welcomes the homeowners and their guests to gather together at the end of the day. The beautiful design lets the residents take full advantage of its breathtaking setting and enjoy the perks that come with living off the grid. An adjacent 800-square-foot carport is covered with solar panels , which allow the house to generate and store all of its own energy. Additionally, the rooftop also has a catchment system to reroute rain into water tanks for reuse. + Alexander Symes Architect Via ArchDaily Images via Alexander Symes Architect

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Off-grid home is inspired by the iconic Australian Akubra hat

Fires in Australia create dangerous weather conditions

January 8, 2020 by  
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Authorities warn that the unprecedented ferocity of Australia’s wildfires can produce extreme  weather  systems — dangerous and unpredictable conditions known as cumulonimbus flammagenitus, or pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds. These pyroCb are associated with fire clouds, ember attacks, fire-driven tornadoes and lightning storms that could create further wildfires. Australia’s Climate Council advisory says that these occurrences are likely to become more common as  climate change  persists and  greenhouse gas emissions  increase. Even more worrisome, pyroCb can make firefighting efforts more difficult. “A fire-generated thunderstorm has formed over the Currowan fire on the northern edge of the fire near Nowra. This is a very dangerous situation. Monitor the conditions around you and take appropriate action,” the New South Wales Rural Fires Service (NSW RFS) recently shared via social media. Related: Half a billion Australian animals, even 30% of koala population, likely lost to wildfires NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons brought attention to the situation when an RFS firefighter died because of the wildfire-associated bizarre weather phenomena. “That extraordinary event resulted in a cyclonic-type base flipping over a 10-tonne truck. That is the volatility and danger that exists,” Fitzsimmons explained. According to a  Climate and Atmospheric Science journal study, wildfire-triggered thunderstorms, or pyroCb, have been observed before in other regions of our planet and were first discovered in the early 2000s. They were originally thought to have been precipitated by volcanic eruptions until they were reclassified as being wildfire -induced. The study of wildfire-associated pyroCb is still a nascent science, yet to be systematically researched. In recent years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s  Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) has monitored pyroCb in cooperation with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). CIMSS classifies pyroCb as a “deep convective cloud…generated by a large/hot fire.” CIMSS has been monitoring the pyroCb formations above Australia as the wildfires continued to grow in quantity and magnitude. Several factors make pyroCb a formidable atmospheric force. The speed at which they form and change, coupled with heat from wildfires, can cause rapid, massive temperature swings. In turn, this fosters unpredictably severe winds that exacerbate wildfire intensity. The dynamics of pyroCb and their destructive power can, therefore, put the lives of both firefighters and the public at risk. “PyroCb storms are feared by firefighters for the violent and unpredictable conditions they create on the ground,”  The Guardian  reported. Not only are pyroCbs capable of creating lightning strikes and hail, but they can also engender embers that are “hot enough to start new fires…at distances of 30km from the main fire.” Dr Andrew Dowdy, a meteorologist at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology,  adds that the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resultant  climate crisis facing our planet makes conditions favorable for pyroCb. As Simon Heemstra, manager of planning and predictive services at NSW RFS, said, “What’s happening now is that we are noticing an increase in incidence of these sorts of events. With a changing and heating climate, you are going to expect these effects.” Via Reuters , HuffPost , The Guardian Images via Harry Stranger and Rob Russell

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Fires in Australia create dangerous weather conditions

Chic B&B in New South Wales is inside a shed made of upcycled materials

December 4, 2019 by  
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Australia was recently voted the destination of the year for 2020 . If you are thinking about going down under for a vacation, make sure to check out this beautiful B&B located in a shed in New South Wales. Made almost entirely from upcycled materials , The Shed is an old machinery shed that has been converted into a unique, eco-friendly accommodation. Guests to The Shed will take comfort in not only staying in a unique hotel but also one that has been crafted from reclaimed materials. Walking into the spacious living area through a set of vintage doors, guests will find that the building materials, such as reclaimed wood and timber ceiling beams, were left exposed. Related: These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials The living space of the fun hotel consists of a large lounge area with vintage sofas centered around a fireplace. An open kitchen with a breakfast bar comes with all of the typical amenities. A family-style dining table provides a great place for everyone to gather around and eat or play games together. The Shed sleeps up to seven guests among its three bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms have spacious, king-sized beds, while the third room is home to bunk beds. The full bathroom has a free-standing bathtub, a walk-in shower, a sink and a toilet. There is also a half bathroom. Just over two hours away from the NSW capital , Sydney, the Shed is set on an idyllic plot of land with chickens and an herb garden. Visitors can enjoy dining al fresco in the outdoor dining area, which comes complete with a barbecue grill and a pizza oven. The location offers all types of activities for nature-lovers, including hiking and biking trails. + Glamping Hub Images via Glamping Hub

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Chic B&B in New South Wales is inside a shed made of upcycled materials

Mirrored outhouse disappears into a lush river valley landscape

November 13, 2019 by  
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In Australia’s Kangaroo Valley, Paddington-based design studio Madeleine Blanchfield Architects carefully crafted a freestanding bathroom that all but vanishes into its surroundings. Designed for minimal impact, the compact outhouse is wrapped in one-way mirrors to blend into the lush landscape. Its use of solar energy and gray water recycling helps reduce the building’s carbon footprint . Moreover, the mirrored building is elevated off the ground and can be easily assembled and disassembled with limited site impact. Built to service a small cabin for overnight stays, the freestanding bathroom is set on a privately owned hillside about 30 meters from the accommodation. Its secluded location helps to enhance the feeling of being immersed in nature. The mirrored facade camouflages the structure by reflecting the lush landscape. When the space is used at night, the interior lighting makes the bathroom visible from the outside; the building orientation and remote location ensure privacy. Related: Mirrored home in the woods is hidden in plain sight The bathroom contains a bathtub and shower at the center that look out to unobstructed views of nature in all directions to give guests the sense of bathing outdoors. The architects also equipped the building with sustainable technologies, including solar-powered lights and a gray water recycling system with septic tanks. The landscape was minimally altered, and the bathroom can be easily removed without harm to the site. “The client’s desire to create a haven that not only provided connection to the landscape but a place to truly escape and unwind was met through the design,” the architects explained. “By avoiding the temptation to create a visually intrusive folly, the brief for the outhouse was met both visually and experientially. The outhouse heightens the sense of place, makes one consider their location.” + Madeleine Blanchfield Architects Photography by Robert Walsh via Madeleine Blanchfield Architects

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Mirrored outhouse disappears into a lush river valley landscape

Architects reveal winning design for Western Sydney Airport

November 6, 2019 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects and Sydney-based Cox Architecture have won the international design competition for the Western Sydney International Airport, a new travel hub that is slated to become the largest international gateway to Australia by 2060. Located in Sydney’s new western Parkland City region, the greenfield airport draws inspiration for its form and material palette from the unique local flora and nearby mountains. In addition to referencing the natural landscape, the architecture will emphasize energy efficiency through daylighting, natural ventilation and water recycling. Selected from a shortlist of five competitors narrowed down from 40 entries, Zaha Hadid Architects and Cox Architecture’s winning design mirrors the surrounding terrain with its wavy roof and gold-toned color palette. The Western Sydney International Airport — also known as the Nancy-Bird Walton Airport after the famous Australian aviatrix — aims to catalyze the city’s western expansion and cement Parkland City’s position as the third urban hub of Sydney . Related: Zaha Hadid Architects completes futuristic, energy-saving airport in Beijing Under the direction of Zaha Hadid Architects and Cox Architecture, who will jointly serve as Master Architect for the entire airport precinct, the project will be constructed in four phases. The initial phase will accommodate 10 million annual passengers and is slated for completion in 2026. The project will be completed in its entirety by 2060 and is expected to accommodate 82 million annual passengers. The architecture follows sustainable design and construction principles for an energy-efficient, modular build. “We are honored to have been selected for this amazing project,” said ZHA Project Director Cristiano Ceccato in a press statement. “The design is an evolution of Australian architecture past, present and future. It draws inspiration from both traditional architectural features such as the veranda as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding bushland.” + Zaha Hadid Architects + Cox Architecture Images via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Architects reveal winning design for Western Sydney Airport

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