Award-winning glass cabin is nestled inside an Australian rainforest

October 9, 2018 by  
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Lifted into the canopy of a lush rainforest, this guest retreat offers spectacular views while paying homage to Australia’s architectural heritage. Retired journalists and homeowners Colleen Ryan and Stephen Wyatt tapped architect Harley Graham and his Byron Bay-based design practice to realize the Hidden Studio, a breezy one-bedroom addition that complements the property’s two existing buildings — the main home and writer’s cabin — both designed by the late “Sydney School” architect Vale Ian McKay. Sustainability was also a key driver in the design of the raised glass cabin, which has no air conditioning and relies solely on natural ventilation . Located on a 20-acre property in Coopers Shoot Bryon Bay, the Hidden Studio offers sweeping views of the hinterland and Pacific Ocean beyond. Measuring nearly 540 square feet in size, the compact dwelling was conceived as a private refuge, concealed from view and “akin to a raised cave or rock shelf, eaten out by waves.” Built with floor-to-ceiling glass and weathered steel, the cabin boasts a low-maintenance exterior that can be easily washed down when needed. Recycled water is used throughout the building. Inside, the guest suite consists of a spacious bedroom on the east end, as well as a bathroom and an open-plan living area, kitchen and dining room that opens up to an outdoor sheltered terrace. The interior is almost entirely clad in blackbutt hardwood save for the ceiling and bathroom floor. The timber helps give the glass cabin a sense of warmth and balances out the tough exterior. Related: Breezy Ecuadorian brick home on stilts embraces cool tropical winds In keeping with the client’s request for an environmentally sensitive cabin , the architects followed passive solar principles during the design process. The elevated guest retreat features northern orientation, while deep roof overhangs protect the full-height glazing from unwanted solar heat gain. The project statement also noted, “The angled ‘crank’ in the portals makes the roof appear to float over the pavilion, forming a large protective plate and further opening the space.” + Harley Graham Architects Images by Andy MacPherson

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Award-winning glass cabin is nestled inside an Australian rainforest

These sustainable sunglasses smell like coffee and decompose into fertilizer

October 9, 2018 by  
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In a world headed toward sustainability at every turn, Ochis Coffee is ahead of the curve with its newly-revealed sunglasses made from natural coffee and flax. Unlike standard plastic frames, this coffee-scented eyewear is biodegradable — according to the company, these sunglasses decompose 100 times faster than traditional glasses and become a natural fertilizer for plants . The only thing better than a morning greeted with sunshine is the smell of coffee , which makes the subtle coffee scent of these sunglasses a win-win. The sleek glasses can be fitted for any prescription lenses, or buyers can select one of four colorful UV options. In an innovative design, the temples flex to comfortably fit all face shapes, and the ear-tips can be bent to further improve the fit. Related: HuskeeCup is an eco-friendly cup made entirely from coffee waste The mastermind behind these eco-friendly sunglasses is Max Gavrilenko, who as a child observed as his dad worked in an optical store. Gavrilenko wanted to do things differently though, and after extensive research and development, he is about to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first five sustainable models of the organic sunglasses. Ochis Coffee isn’t the first to focus on sustainable sunglasses. However, while most other companies tend to focus on bamboo products for the frames, Gavrilenko and his team have developed a process that eliminates all petroleum, opting instead for a biopolymer made from coffee cake (not the breakfast kind, but rather compressed coffee grounds), flax sawdust and a natural glue made from soybean oil. If you garden, you know coffee is good for the soil — these frames will naturally decompose at the end of the wear cycle, taking about 10 years to break down and become fertilizer. The Kickstarter campaign is preparing to launch soon. In the meantime, you can sign up on the Ochis Coffee website to receive notifications and discounts. Glasses are expected to be priced between $69-$120. + Ochis Coffee

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These sustainable sunglasses smell like coffee and decompose into fertilizer

Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

October 8, 2018 by  
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Completed just last year, the eye-catching Barangaroo House has already become a visual landmark for the inner-city suburb of Barangaroo in Sydney, Australia. The competition-winning design is the work of Australian architecture firm Collins and Turner , which created the sculptural building to house a contemporary restaurant and bar of the same name. Located near the waterfront in a high pedestrian-trafficked area, the curvaceous building mimics the appearance of three stacked bowls rimmed with edible and ornament plants for a touch of greenery. Set on a 750-square-meter corner site overlooking waterfront views, the Barangaroo House marks the southern entry point to the Barangaroo South urban regeneration project that was headed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners . In contrast to its angular neighbors, the three-story restaurant and bar features curved facades made with concentrically steam-bent timber dowels that have been charred black to improve the material’s resistance to the elements and as a reference to the “primeval act of cooking.” Ringed with vegetation, the rounded balconies are cantilevered  over the landscape and provide a stellar outdoor dining experience for guests. “The ambition of the project is the creation of a welcoming, timeless, convivial structure, that over time becomes a much loved part of the city ,” the architecture firm said. “The key urban design agenda of a ‘building in the round’ dictated the curvilinear form, which projects curved perimeter balconies outward in each direction. Structural cantilevers up to 8.5 m permit a uniquely outdoor atmosphere to a series of dining spaces on each level of the multi-tiered building.” Related: An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrecht’s “circular” pavilion Frameless glazing was installed on the north and west facades of the ground floor, providing a seamless connection between the streetscape and the indoor bar. Operable glazing also wraps around the upper levels and is shielded from the intense sun by the cantilevered balconies. + Collins and Turner Via ArchDaily Images via Rory Gardiner

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Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

The Clifftop House is dramatically perched atop a challenging cliff edge

September 27, 2018 by  
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When Brisbane design studio Joe Adsett Architects was asked to redevelop a “poorly constructed ‘character house’” in Teneriffe into a modern abode for a family of seven, the team faced several challenges. One was the existing property, which could not be raised or lifted, meaning that the only buildable land left was a small sliver that lay between the existing home and clifftop. Fortunately, the clients were amenable to the idea of building a three-story cliff-edge extension on the challenging site, which led to the creation of the Clifftop House, an energy-efficient home with dramatic views of the river to the northeast. In spite of a landslide that occurred during the design process, the architects said the clients held fast to the idea of a clifftop home, “recognizing the advantages outweighed the risks.” To accommodate the family of seven, the architects began with the floor plan of the existing home and divided it into quadrants — the rear quadrant connects to the extension — and split the bedrooms between the original house and the extension while placing the main communal areas on the ground floor. An additional family room and accessible green roof are located on the third floor. The extension was mainly built of concrete and set on a very thin slab — a feat accomplished thanks to close collaboration with the engineer and 3D modeling software. The concrete facade was deliberately exposed with a weathered finish, while timber window frames and cladding help soften the Brutalist expression. The use of thick concrete also has the advantage of thermal mass. “Clifftop House makes a meaningful contribution to innovation and excellence in environmental sustainability through the concrete structure being used in a manner similar to ‘reverse brick veneer construction’,” the architects said. Related: Modscape’s Cliff House hangs perilously over a cliff’s edge in Australia To minimize unwanted external heat gain, the cladding is isolated from the walls with timber battens and wall wrap. Recessed windows are fitted with low-E glass and solid timber louvers are also shaded with deep concrete eaves. Natural light penetrates deep into the home thanks to central voids, which also allow for cross ventilation. A 22-meter-long swimming pool placed along the cliff edge also promotes cooling breezes. + Joe Adsett Architects Images by Scott Burrows

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The Clifftop House is dramatically perched atop a challenging cliff edge

This tiny home is afforded extra space thanks to a large deck

September 25, 2018 by  
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Barlo Smith and Shona Macpherson are putting a unique twist on the tiny house revolution. The Australian couple has spent the last 20 years in the carpentry world and recently put their expertise to the test building the first  tiny home for their company, Sowelo Tiny Houses. Smith and Macpherson’s new tiny house, called Sowelo, accommodates six people and features dual loft rooms (complete with skylights), a downstairs lounge and 26 square feet of outdoor deck space. According to New Atlas , the structure meets every legal housing standard in Australia . The tiny home is only 26 feet long, 8 feet wide and 14 feet high, but it feels quite spacious. Related: This gorgeous tiny home is perfect for entertaining guests For the couple, maximizing the amount of space and keeping everything environmentally friendly was the top goal in the design. The Sowelo tiny home is powered by solar energy and is made from FSC-certified plywood. The insulation is made out of recycled polyester, and the house is completely free of any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in building materials such as glues and paints. The couple tested the model in a range of climates in Australia, including the sweltering heat and bitter cold. So far, the home has stood up to whatever Mother Nature can throw its way. It also features an outdoor deck that substantially increases the size of the home. Not only does the deck provide more space for entertaining guests, but it also boasts a grow-wall feature complete with its own watering setup. Inside, the Sowelo house includes a living room, two sleeping lofts , a kitchen and a sweet little reading nook. The kitchen has a stainless steel oven, gas stove, fridge and sink. The home also features a pull-out dining table and plenty of storage space. Following the success of this first model, the couple are selling the Sowelo units for about $87,000. If you need a little more space, additional modules are available starting at $22,000 apiece. + Sowelo Tiny Houses Images via Sowelo Tiny Houses

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This tiny home is afforded extra space thanks to a large deck

Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future?

September 21, 2018 by  
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The days where plastic straws and their wrappers litter the countertops of restaurants, coffee shops and fast food joints are nearing the end. With several governments, like Australia and the U.K. , banning and taxing single-use plastic items and companies like Starbucks, Disney and Hyatt taking their own environmental stand by rejecting plastic straws, sustainable and reusable varieties of the pipettes have been growing in popularity. Nowadays, it’s no longer about what color straw you’re sporting, but which reusable material you’ll choose. According to the research firm Freedonia Group , Americans reduced their previous consumption of plastic straws by 110 million units in the last year alone. As momentum gains, consumers may now be getting purchase paralysis because of the sheer number of options. Metal, bamboo, silicone, glass — there are many options available when selecting an alternative to single-use plastic straws. The question is, which one is the best? Related: Starbucks ditches plastic straws for the environment There are several factors to consider when selecting a more sustainable option for sipping energizing morning smoothies and indulgent midnight milkshakes. Between lifespan and durability, width and length, taste, feel, shape and cleanliness, there are many variables to reusable straws that could make the leap to convert challenging. Are straws necessary? Before even delving into these seemingly negligible details some may ask, “Are the liquid chutes superfluous altogether? Do I even need straws at all?” Considering the widespread pollution that has been caused by disposable straws, eliminating the meal accessories seems like the best overall option. According to a report by 4Ocean , an organization dedicated to repurposing marine plastics to clear the ocean of pollution, a plastic straw can take up to 200 years to decompose. In the meantime, the harmful microplastics eventually disintegrate and contaminate our planet’s air, water and soil, poisoning wildlife and finding their way into our food. As a result, many people are now swearing by a straw-free lifestyle. But there are many reasons, such as dietary restrictions and health issues, that still call for the existence of straws. Related: UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution Factors to consider when purchasing reusable straws It’s no surprise that size tops the list of considerations when purchasing reusable straws. Both length and width are important depending on what type of liquid one intends to drink and from which assortment of container. Standard straws measure approximately 7.5-8 inches in length. Those who prefer to drink out of small glasses and coffee mugs are better suited with cocktail-sized straws. The miniature varieties span between 5 and 6 inches, while the longest options settle around 10 inches, although more extensive models can be found for tumbler and thermos users. A stress of function over form has become the sustainable-straw-purchasing mantra. Smoothies, bubble teas and shakes warrant straws with wider diameters, while less viscous beverages like water, juice and soda that are not semi-solid or thick can be easily consumed through thinner straws. Popular diameters range from around 7mm to 15mm (between 1/4 and 1/2 inches). Shape also comes into play: straight, bent, retractable, flexible — all of these have become important in the straw trade. Ultimately, most individuals would see these factors as a matter of personal preference. Given that straight straws, short straws and wide-rimmed straws are much easier to clean than their counterparts, they are the most hygienic options for users. It is this quality that makes them the most sustainable choices for new consumers, simply because they have a longer lifespan. Otherwise, unkempt straws get thrown out, and a long-term solution to plastic pollution could turn into another mass consumption (and pollution) trend. Steel straws When considering materials, stainless steel has become the most popular go-to material for reusable straw fans. The metal has odor-resisting properties and is the most durable material available for straws. Steel options are also the most widely available on the market because of their heat conducting properties. A cold drink is best enjoyed through a metal straw, because it maintains a crisp and refreshing temperature for the drinker. Unless consumers are turned off by the metallic flavor that steel can sometimes add to beverages, have sensitive teeth that are disturbed by the hardness of the straw or drink many hot beverages, metal straws serve as the best possible option. Silicone straws Those who prefer softer, more flexible straws may turn to silicone. But according to  Life Without Plastic , this material, which is generally categorized as a rubber, is actually similar to a hybrid between synthetic rubber and synthetic plastic polymer. The organization cites Beth Terry, author of Plastic Free , who said, “First of all, silicone is no more ‘natural’ than fossil-based plastic. It is a man-made polymer, but instead of a carbon backbone like plastic, it has a backbone of silicon and oxygen … the hydrocarbons in silicone come from fossil sources like petroleum and natural gas.” If this isn’t enough of a deterrent, the same silky texture that makes many people gravitate toward the silicone models is also to blame for its difficulty to wash. Silicone can harbor mold-forming bacteria, and it takes on unpleasant odors after continuous use. Bamboo straws With bamboo, consumers may see a reduction in availability. While bamboo straws might not be breakable, they ultimately do not hold up to long-term wear and tear. In addition, bamboo straws are the most difficult to clean of all the materials. Being naturally made from bamboo shoots, there is not a lot of precision in the shape and width to which they are constructed, making it hard to find the right kind of brush to use on them. Sadly enough, because of the chalky texture they leave in the mouth, bamboo straws inevitably fall lower on the enjoyment scale — despite the tropical taste they can generously impart to beverages. Glass straws In the end, there is only one other material that can compete with stainless steel in terms of sustainability: glass . Layered and tempered, glass straws are surprisingly durable and will not break easily if dropped or accidentally mishandled. Glass is a close runner-up to metal’s conductivity, and interestingly enough, it is capable of transferring hot liquids without burning the user. Because the glass is clear, making sure the straw is well-cleaned between uses is as simple as it gets. With no odor and no funny tastes imparted to the drinker, glass straws are a viable alternative to metal straws for the socially-conscious sipper. In the end, whether plastic straws are replaced with metal, glass or any other alternative, this trendsetting movement is turning a new leaf for the environment on a historical scale. Via Time , Going Zero Waste , Get Green Now ,  4Ocean and Life Without Plastic Images via Osha Key , Mark Pazolli , Glass Dharma and Shutterstock

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Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future?

BIGs massive Lanescraper building may become Australias tallest tower

August 10, 2018 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled designs for the Lanescraper, a supertall building proposal that has been shortlisted for Melbourne’s Beulah Tower competition. Envisioned with a footprint of over 2.5 million square feet, the Lanescraper aims to serve as a bustling mixed-use destination housed in what could be the tallest tower in Australia. The $2 billion project would see a dramatic redevelopment of the post-industrial Southbank neighborhood, so-named after its location south of the Yarra River. Selected as one of six shortlisted designs, the Lanescraper reinterprets the concept of Melbourne’s laneways and block neighborhoods into a giant “vertical block” made up of a series of stacked and staggered volumes with laneway-inspired gaps in between. Rising to a height of nearly 1,200 feet, the Lanescraper will feature a mixed-use program with car parking, food and retail, interactive/discovery spaces and the BMW Experience Center at its lowest levels. Stacked above will be the entertainment and cultural options in addition to office and commercial space, childcare facilities and a hotel. The bulk of the building will be reserved for residential use, which occupies the uppermost levels. The design is developed around the idea of two cores—one large and one smaller—which lends itself to an optimized walking layout and circulation. The stacked and staggered boxes also help break down the mass of the building to a more human scale. The design was created in collaboration with Fender Katsalidis , ARUP, Jan Gehl, GTA Consultants, bloomimages, and Brick Visual. Related: BIG and CRA break ground on greenery-infused Singapore skyscraper “The stacked blocks between the cores extend upwards and interlock to provide connectivity and structural rigidity, appearing as a zipper of diverse programmatic functions that step back respectfully from Southbank Boulevard and Power Street,” explains Bjarke Ingels Group. “In doing so, the tower tapers inwards and negotiates the space between the surrounding buildings, minimizing vis-à-vis at the top and overshadowing of the public realm below. An evolution of the skyscraper beyond the proverbial ‘village-in-the-sky’ to a tower uniquely Melburnian: the LANESCRAPER.” + Bjarke Ingels Group Images via BIG

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BIGs massive Lanescraper building may become Australias tallest tower

Solar-powered home cuts a bold and sculptural silhouette in Melbourne

August 10, 2018 by  
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When Melbourne and Paris-based architecture firm Ola Studio was tapped to create a suburban single-family home in Melbourne , it based its design around the clients’ love for art as well as the industrial loft-like spaces of converted warehouses they were accustomed to. The end result is a partly gabled home that pays homage to its surrounding local and historic context while exuding an undeniably contemporary appearance. The house, named Ross, is powered using a solar photovoltaic array and also follows passive solar principles to minimize energy use. Set on a long rectangular lot in a diverse heritage precinct, the Ross house comfortably fits a family of five, their dog and an art collection. The home is split into two floors with the primary living spaces and a single bedroom on the ground floor, while the master bedroom, two secondary bedrooms and a sitting area are stacked above. Outdoor decks flank both sides of the home to encourage indoor-outdoor living; the family also has access to lawn space and a spacious pool. Ross’ sculptural roofline takes cues from its neighboring structures, both of which are white-painted, single-story period bungalows. The monochromatic color scheme and minimalist material palette is carried over from the exterior to the interior, which serves as a gallery for the client’s art collection. Related: A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience “The house is a bold sculptural piece; elegantly defined by its divisible realms,” explain the architects in a project statement. “This includes the public façade and entry, the living area within a secluded garden , and the private realm upstairs, each providing uniquely evocative environments for the public and residents. Upstairs is wrapped in black vertical aluminium angles and is a study in dealing with domestic privacy within the urban environment.” + Ola Studio Images by Derek Swalwell

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Solar-powered home cuts a bold and sculptural silhouette in Melbourne

The Goldtree House is designed for sustainable family living

August 3, 2018 by  
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When kids hit their teens, your house suddenly feels smaller. The atmosphere is hectic, groups of friends traipse in and out, and parents often retreat to a bedroom for peace and quiet. However, one clever family with teenage twins got ahead of the curve, asking Hartree and Associates Architects to remodel their home to accommodate these changes and create a private apartment for the parents down the road. The owners of the Goldtree House, a 1950s home in East Fremantle, Australia, wanted the renovation to include ample space for their children to entertain guests, as well as help the house withstand frequently inclement weather. They also needed a revamp that adhered to their firm budget while providing the best views of nearby Fremantle Harbor. The first step was removing the existing roof and constructing a new top story. The added level includes a new master bedroom, plenty of living space, and a kitchen with sweeping views all around. The owners envision this level as their private “apartment” many years in the future. The ground level is devoted to the needs and tastes of teenagers and their friends. The internal spaces were simplified and revamped to include ample views of the surrounding landscape as well as optimum sunlight and a current of internal breezes. The floor plan easily flows from the entryway to the great room for adolescent games and socializing. It also provides easy access to the terrace, thriving garden and pool, the latter of which was designed to eliminate the need for a privacy fence. Related: A 1950s house receives a bioclimatic renovation in Mexico Besides a photovoltaic solar panel array , the home also includes eco-friendly water and energy management through natural air ventilation, energy-efficient fixtures and equipment, and native garden plants that require minimum watering. Two wind turbines and storage batteries for power are also part of the home’s green technology. The twins were involved in the renovation from inception through completion, which gave them a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. They proudly share the outcome with their friends. + Hartree and Associates Architects Images via Robert Frith

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The Goldtree House is designed for sustainable family living

University of Queensland wants to drop "bommies" on the Great Barrier Reef

July 25, 2018 by  
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Experts at the University of Queensland are experimenting with a new way of saving Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – one of the most endangered natural environments on the planet – and their strategy might surprise you. Researchers in the university’s Civil Engineering and Biological Sciences department have been salvaging portions of dead coral and recycling them into new structures. They hope that the project will not only protect still-active parts of the reef, but restore it with new life as well. University scientists are collaborating with engineering, science and technology consulting firm BMT to create netted structures that contain unstable rubble made up of dead coral, with the goal of transforming them into bombora. Bombora, or “bommies” as Australians have dubbed them, are large pillars of coral that serve as a habitat for myriad fish species and – when strategically positioned – may help repair the reef in a natural, non-invasive manner. Related: Australia is investing over $377 million to save the Great Barrier Reef The team has received funding from the Australian and Queensland governments that will allow it to commence pilot testing on the project. If the reef is not aided by external forces, it may not be able to survive the coral bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. While other projects have been suggested, including using giant fans in an attempt to cool down reef waters or developing films to shield the coral from increased sunlight exposure, the bommies would represent a more sustainable and natural endeavor. Professor Tom Baldock, who is working on the project, explains, “on a healthy reef, the wave energy is reduced by the coral structure, enabling broken coral to naturally bind to form a stable layer, initially through the growth of crustose coralline algae, or CCA. CCA helps bind coral rubble together to create the framework for reefs and releases chemicals which attract free-swimming coral larvae.” The research team is working hard in their race against the clock to establish this organic foundation and protect one of the Earth’s most beautiful yet endangered habitats. +University of Queensland Via NewAtlas

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University of Queensland wants to drop "bommies" on the Great Barrier Reef

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