Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

December 7, 2018 by  
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When Sydney-based design studio Anderson Architecture was asked to improve the livability of an old heritage home in the inner western Sydney suburb of Lewisham, the house suffered from a cold and dark indoor environment. Drawing on their experience on sustainable design, the architects rearranged the home in accordance to passive solar design in a light-filled transformation that earned the project its name, Suntrap. The contemporary renovation has even doubled the thermal efficiency of the living quarters from 3.2 to 6.4 stars. With a growing family and a dog, the clients not only sought more living space, but also improved comfort and a stronger connection with the backyard. To bring much-needed natural light and an indoor/ outdoor living experience to the home, the architects tore down an existing old addition and replaced it with a new extension optimized to meet the clients’ requests. Located on a long and skinny lot, the house is mainly organized along a central corridor that connects to three bedrooms, while the open-plan living spaces are located in the rear where they connect seamlessly with the backyard. The new extension also features an expansive master bedroom suite on the upper floor. “But our key move was to introduce an internal courtyard ,” say the architects. “We opened the heart of the home to the sun, where strategically placed eco-friendly concrete walls and hydronic heated flooring brought much-needed heat gain to cold zones. New awnings let in winter sun and we specified heavily insulated prefabricated wall and roof panels, and double-glazed windows, to help maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.” Related: 76-year-old Funkis home in Norway gets a Passive House makeover To keep costs low and reduce waste, the architects repurposed the spotted gum flooring reclaimed from the old addition into cupboard faces and the timber-lined ceiling above the kitchen. The bricks from the old kitchen were also repurposed into a strategic thermal mass wall in the backyard that doubles as a screen for a 1,400-liter rainwater tank used to irrigate the native landscaping. + Anderson Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Nic Bower

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Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

Gorgeous, low-maintenance home comprised of dual farmhouse-style buildings

November 22, 2018 by  
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When architect Tim Sharpe and his wife Rani Blancpai decided to build their own home, they knew they wanted a design that would be low-maintenance in terms of energy and upkeep for years to come. To create their ultra-durable and low-energy home, they combined two extended barn-like volumes, clad in both galvanized steel and Australian spotted gum wood, to create a modern farmhouse installed with various passive features . Located in Byron Bay, Australia, on a large lot surrounded by hoop pines, the two farmhouse-style buildings make up the main four-bedroom home and a “granny flat”. Both structures have large gabled roofs, covered in a bright galvanized steel, which will patine over time. The rest of the structures are clad in a Australian spotted gum wood that contrasts nicely with the steel roofs. Not only were these two materials chosen to give the home a modern farmhouse aesthetic, but they are also known for their low-maintenance qualities. Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The main home is a massive 3,600-square-foot space with four bedrooms. With its large steep-pitched gable ceiling, the interior is spacious and inviting throughout. To make the most out of natural light and solar gains , the main living space and bedrooms in the home were oriented to the north and east, “This results in minimal need for summer cooling and winter heating, and assures a pleasant, light-filled, comfortable space,” says Sharpe. Indeed, the interior living space is bright and modern, flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of large windows and a few strategically-placed skylights. A simple, neutral color scheme and natural materials give the space a contemporary, yet homey and aesthetic. Sharp designed a lot of the furniture himself, including the dining table and chairs. To create a comfortable and cost-effective temperature control year round on the interior, hydronic heating and cooling systems, sustained by a 23 KW solar PV system , were installed underneath the polished concrete floors. There are also multiple fans to enhance natural ventilation throughout the home. + Sharpe Design Construct Via Dwell Photography via Andy Macpherson via Sharp Design Construct  

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Gorgeous, low-maintenance home comprised of dual farmhouse-style buildings

A recycled brick wall runs through this breezy home in Australia

October 19, 2018 by  
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Bright, breezy and surrounded by nature, the Cedar Lane House is a place of peaceful respite on the southern coast of Australia. Sydney-based architect and photographer Edward Birch designed the light-filled residence at the base of a mountain in Meroo Meadow. Spread out across 280 square meters, the linear home is anchored by a recycled brick wall that runs the length of the building and imbues the interior with warmth and softness. The Cedar Lane House is organized into three pavilion-like spaces linked by a central east-west hallway. While indoor-outdoor living is celebrated with ample glazing and a natural materials palette, the views are deliberately obscured from the entrance to create an element of surprise when visitors turn the corner and see spectacular landscape vistas through the living room’s walls of glass. In addition to the whitewashed recycled brick wall, the home interiors are dressed in Australian hardwood, white surfaces and other minimalist materials to keep the focus on the outdoors. The open-plan living spaces — including a living room, dining area and kitchen — occupy the heart of the home and branch off to an outdoor terrace and an indoor lounge on either side. The easternmost side of the home is defined by a master en suite with an outdoor shower and a spa. Three additional bedrooms, a rumpus room and an outdoor courtyard are located on the west side. The arrangement of spaces makes it easy for the homeowner to close off portions of the house depending on the number of people staying. Instead of main water connections, the house relies on recycled rainwater , which is collected in underground tanks and re-circulated around the building. Related: Passive solar home stays naturally cool without AC in Australia “From the recycled bricks, rough oak floor to the zinc bench top in the kitchen, the internal materials are intended to be imperfect, to mark and scratch and to tell the story of the lives lived inside the house,” Birch said in a project statement. “As the timber cladding silvers and the wash on the bricks get eroded away, the house ages gracefully and settles into the landscape around it.” + Edward Birch Via ArchDaily Images by Edward Birch

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A recycled brick wall runs through this breezy home in Australia

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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