This is how climate change will impact wine

February 14, 2019 by  
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Look at a wine label or chat with a wine connoisseur, and you will find that wine has always been intimately connected to location and climate. Grapes taste different from region to region, and even grapes from the same vineyard taste different from year to year, depending on the weather each season. So it is no surprise that drastically changing weather patterns have a huge and confusing impact on the wine industry. Increasing temperatures and climate volatility not only impact the flavor profiles for wine enthusiasts, but the unreliability also has a negative impact on wine farmers . Climate scientists argue that growers need to start implementing adaptation measures  and experiment with lesser-known varieties of grapes, but these solutions come with risks and expenses that are often too costly for farmers. The last four years have been the hottest on record , a drastic change for grapes that generally thrive in cool, temperate climates. Unpredictable weather, such as droughts, heatwaves and hail can devastate farmers of all kinds, but grapes are a particularly sensitive and vulnerable crop. In Sonoma County, a region in California known for wine production, a record-breaking wildfire devastated the county in 2017, followed by an even more devastating, record-breaking fire in 2018. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley Even in cases of more subtle changes, the impact on sensitive grapes is noticeable. Soil salinity is changing in some regions as a result of sea level rise, and many farmers struggle with increased pests and diseases. Typically, winter frost kills off pest larva, reducing the population in spring, but when temperatures no longer reach below freezing, the populations continue to grow. Wine’s climate connection The wine industry is highly dependent on subtle climate and soil characteristics. In fact, enthusiasts argue that wines are made from four ingredients: the weather, the soil, the topography and the grape. Wine is often defined by its terroir , a word derived from the Latin word terra , meaning earth. It is used to describe a wine’s “sense of place” — in other words, the very specific microclimate and soil of a particular area. To understand the specificity with which soil and temperature characteristics impact the wine, it is important to note one vineyard alone might contain many different microclimates. For example, the slope and orientation of a row might dictate how much sun the grapes receive. Weather affects the grape’s sugar content, acidity and tannin content. As temperatures increase, grapes are ripe and ready to harvest sooner than usual. If left on the vine, the sugar and alcohol content will rise past acceptable (and delicious) levels. Unfortunately, harvesting grapes earlier means they also lose their complexity and the quality that successful vineyards and their customers rely on. In New Zealand, for example, where 85 percent of exported wine is Savignon Blanc, the world renowned “acidic gooseberry” flavor profile is becoming more of a “mellow tropical fruit.” Climate-smart agriculture for wine growers Many farmers have begun to implement climate-smart agriculture practices on their land; however, broad changes and new technology are still unattainable for some growers. Examples of adaptation measures include cover cropping and drip irrigation to conserve soil and water , nets to protect vines from hail and limiting the height of vines. Other farmers are planting on south-facing slopes to reduce sun exposure, while some farmers are going so far as to relocate their entire vineyards to cooler climates and higher altitudes. Even the more modest solutions require significant costs in terms of new equipment and additional labor. One frost fan alone, which controls the temperature variation on the vines, can cost $40,000 . Researchers suggest lesser-known grapes Researchers argue that experimenting with lesser-known varieties of grapes is one solution that farmers should invest in. In a recent Harvard University publication , assistant professor Elizabeth Wolkovich explained, “There are more than 1,000 varieties — and some of them are better adapted to hotter climates and have higher drought tolerance than the 12 varieties now making up over 80 percent of the wine market in many countries. We should be studying and exploring these varieties to prepare for climate change .” Farmers, however, are hesitant to experiment, because new varieties come with risk as well as changes to their brand. In Europe, only three varieties of grapes can legally be labeled as champagne. Champagne farmers are therefore uninterested in testing other varieties, because they will lose their name and their market share. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change In other regions, like the U.S. and Australia, labeling requirements are less strict; therefore, farmers have more freedom to experiment. Still, customers largely buy based on grape name recognition, such as “pinot noir.” Changing the grape means introducing new names and flavors to customers, which is a marketing challenge many vineyards are not excited to take on. In addition, experimentation is a risky and long-term solution. Christine Collier Clair,  director of Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon, explained , “When you plant, you won’t get your first crop for four years, and your first wines in six years. And you won’t know if it’s a really great site for maybe 20 years.” The wine industry is in a difficult and critical moment of decision. Growers must decide now to risk investing land and money into new practices and uncertain grapes or else risk serious problems from an uncertain future. Via New Zealand Herald Images via Qimono , Chee Hong , Bernard Spragg and Tjabeljan

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This is how climate change will impact wine

Can the Caymans save the Caribbean’s remaining coral reefs?

February 13, 2019 by  
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A rehabilitation program for coral reef species has proven to be successful for an ongoing project to combat a massive disease spreading throughout the Cayman’s pillar coral species, according to the Department of the Environment in the Cayman Islands. The rapidly spreading disease, called “white band disease”, was first noticed on a famous dive site called the Killer Pillars in February 2018. It has ravaged pillar coral throughout the Caribbean and destroyed almost 90 percent of the species along the Florida coast. Scientists in the Cayman Islands removed diseased coral from the reef and selected healthy fragments to grow in a nursery. They later planted healthy coral back onto the reef, in hopes the fragments became resilient enough to resist the disease and build back the reef. Though the project is still an experiment, the results look promising thus far and can have wide implications on how other islands respond to this disease throughout the region. The Caribbean already lost 80 percent of all coral reefs Throughout the world, coral reefs are seriously vulnerable and rapidly dying. Reefs are thought to host the most biodiversity of any ecosystem in the world– even more than a rainforest . Despite their importance, reefs are critically vulnerable to small changes in the environment. Slight increases in ocean temperature cause widespread die-off throughout Caribbean and Pacific reefs. Additional threats include pollution, over fishing and run-off of nitrogen from farms that fertilize algae and causes it to smother reefs. Abandoned fishing gear also wreaks havoc on reefs and creates an opportunity for disease. “Fishing line not only causes coral tissue injuries and skeleton damage, but also provides an additional surface for potential pathogens to colonize, increasing their capacity to infect wounds caused by entangled fishing line,” says Dr. Joleah Lamb from the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs are home to nearly 25 percent of all marine species and sustain the fishing industry. They are paramount to Caribbean economies and are an important defense for small islands and coastal communities during hurricanes . Evidence shows their structures reduce damaging wave energy by nearly 97 percent . Also, reefs attract dive tourists and help build beaches by breaking down into sand. Experiments such as the one in the Cayman Islands are critically important for ensuring the reefs that do remain, are healthy and functioning. How does the project in the Cayman Islands work? Along with marine scientists from the U.K. and U.S., coral experts from the Department of the Environment removed diseased coral from the reef in order to stem the alarming spread of the disease. They then cut segments of healthy coral to regrow in nurseries. Coral nurseries, a growing trend in coral restoration, are structures constructed in clean, sandy sections of the ocean floor. Scientists attach healthy coral fragments to the simple structures, often made out of PVC pipe, and monitor them as they grow in a safe environment. Once the corals are strong, healthy and considerably larger in size than the original fragments, the scientists plant them back onto the original reef or select new sites to start a reef. Related: Using nature to build resilient communities Coral nurseries are popping up around the Caribbean Impressively, 100 percent of the coral fragments in the Department of Environment’s nursery survived. Coral nurseries are a restoration technique popular throughout the Caribbean basin, including Bonaire, Curacao, Grenada, the Virgin Islands and many restoration and research laboratories in Florida. Disease is still a threat After their successful growth in the nursery, 81 percent of the fragments re-planted were still alive after five months. This is a considerable success rate given the threats these corals face. However, 23 percent of the planted fragments also showed signs of the relentless “white band disease” (Acroporid white syndrome). Researchers have not given up hope and recognize that if kept contained, disease can be a natural part of ecosystems. “We do know that diseases have their seasons, they come and go, they are vigorous for a while and then they die back, and at that point we have to see some kind of coral colony recovery,” Tim Austin, Deputy Director of the Department of Environment, told Cayman 27 News . “We are monitoring it and we are hoping to have a better handle on how this disease progresses.” In addition to techniques such as reducing marine debris, pollution and establishing protected conservation zones around reefs, coral salvage projects are an important technique to ensure that Caribbean’s the remaining corals survive. “If longer-term monitoring results prove equally successful, the salvage, relocation and restoration of actively diseased coral colonies could become an everyday tool in the restoration toolbox of coral reef managers,” the Department of Environment reported . Via Yale 360 Image via Shutterstock

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Can the Caymans save the Caribbean’s remaining coral reefs?

ODA to transform Rotterdams historic post office into a vibrant destination

February 13, 2019 by  
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After sitting vacant for over a decade, Rotterdam’s former Central Post Office, the Postkantoor, will soon undergo an extraordinary transformation into a vibrant, mixed-use destination. Designed by ODA New York , the adaptive reuse project will span 58,000 square meters and sensitively restore the building’s early 20th century architecture while injecting new programming ranging from retail to a five-star hotel. ODA will work in close collaboration with local architecture firm Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau in addition to Omnam Investment Group to create POST Rotterdam, a civic hub that’s slated to begin construction in 2019. Built in 1916, Rotterdam’s former Central Post Office is one of the only original structures left standing after the 1940 Rotterdam Blitz that decimated much of the city’s historic core. ODA New York was tapped to revive the building with a mixed-use design that mixes new construction with preservation efforts, from the new 150-meter tower that will rise at the rear of the Postkantoor to the restoration of the dramatically vaulted 1916 Great Hall, which will serve as the project’s public heart. Public amenities will reactivate the building’s curbside appeal and include retail, gallery spaces, restaurants and cafes woven throughout the hall and courtyard spaces. A five-star hotel operated by Kimpton will take over the upper floors that formerly housed the Post Office’s telegraph and telephone services. The renovated Postkantoor will be accessible from every side and not only offer open sight lines to the Coolsingel and Rodezand streets, but also serve as a bustling city hub and connection between Rotterdam Centraal to Markthal. Related: This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste “We believe that it’s time for the POST to stand not only as a memory, but also as an expression of the strength of Rotterdam today as a vibrant, connected, center of culture, renewal, and quality of life. We believe that the hidden treasures that it holds should be shared by all citizens,” says Eran Chen, Executive Director at ODA. “The POST tower is a reinterpretation of both urban living and the Post Office’s architectural assets, extending the elegance of the main hall through to the tower. This modern addition to the Ensemble Buildings in the Coolsingel district is based on an extremely rigorous investigation combined with the expertise gained over two years working with city partners.” + ODA New York Images by Forbes Massie via ODA New York

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Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution

January 25, 2019 by  
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With ocean habitats being degraded by plastic pollution and replaced with seawalls, more than half of the shoreline in Sydney, Australia , is now artificial. Scientists say that the amount of plastic waste in the ocean is so massive, removing it all simply isn’t possible. So, instead of hosting more beach clean-ups or tearing down seawalls, Volvo is taking a more modern, creative approach to the problem — a Living Seawall. Volvo has teamed up with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create the Living Seawall. The Living Seawall is designed to recreate the structure of native mangrove trees and provide a habitat for marine life , according to the company’s website. The automaker also claims that Living Seawall will aid biodiversity and keep the water clean by attracting filter-feeding organisms that can absorb and filter out pollutants such as heavy metals. Related: Nestle ditching plastic straws, water bottles to reduce plastic waste Volvo’s commitment to sustainability goes far beyond the Living Seawall and Volvo Ocean Race, a beach clean-up initiative, as the company is also in the process of removing all single-use plastics from offices, cafeterias and events and replacing them with sustainable, eco-friendly options by the end of the year. It also has the goal of “putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2025” and wants its manufacturing operations to be carbon neutral.  Volvo says that when it designs its cars, reduction of environmental impact is a top priority. The sales revenue from the Volvo V90 Cross Country is what funds the Volvo Ocean Race and Science Program, which measures ocean microplastics levels with sensors on boats. Volvo said it will continue to support research and thrive with its “radical and divergent style of thinking” that isn’t just what the company focuses on, but rather what defines it. + Volvo Images via Volvo

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Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution

Clyde Mews eco-village champions sustainable housing alternatives in Melbourne

January 23, 2019 by  
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Melbourne recently became home to Clyde Mews , an inspiring “eco-village” that champions sustainable, community-focused living in close proximity to the city center. Created as an alternative to resource-intensive, car-centric developments, Clyde Mews features attractive, pedestrian-friendly design and energy-efficient housing. Designed by local architecture firm Six Degrees Architects for property development company Excelon Group, the eco-friendly development includes eight contemporary townhouses fitted out with sustainable elements — such as solar panels and water-efficient appliances — inside and out. Located in the center of Thornbury near a mix of services and amenities, Clyde Mews includes eight dwellings clustered around a shared green space with an urban garden and a  reclaimed timber boardwalk. As a medium-density development, the project consists of six double-story, family-centric townhouses and two apartment units ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. In addition to the tight-knit community atmosphere, the design also stresses resident privacy through the careful consideration of layouts and window placements. Clyde Mews’ contemporary yet grounded appearance is achieved through a material palette consisting of recycled brickwork, black steel, stained glass, cyclone fences and sustainably harvested natural wood. All dwellings benefit from a 30,000-liter underground rainwater storage tank that collects and stores rooftop runoff for reuse in flushing toilets, filling washing machines and irrigating the communal garden. Each house is equipped with Canadian Solar photovoltaic solar panels as well as Fronius solar inverters. Related: Zaha Hadid unveils futuristic designs for “New Moscow” Inside, the Clyde Mews homes are outfitted with Aerotron ceiling fans, hydronic heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioners that work in tandem with passive design features to minimize energy use without compromising on comfort. Examples of passive heating and cooling include high thermal mass exposed concrete floors that absorb sunlight during the day and dissipate the heat at night; cross ventilation; an abundance of natural light through double-glazed windows; and a pitched roof design with operable roof vents to allow hot air to escape. Energy-efficient fixtures range from LED lightbulbs and high-star-rating V-ZUG or Miele appliances. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Alice Hutchison via Six Degrees Architects

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Adaptable home brings together multiple generations under a solar roof

January 16, 2019 by  
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When local design studio Jost Architects was approached to design a home in Kew East, Melbourne , the firm not only navigated a challenging, complex site, but it also designed for multigenerational living that wouldn’t feel claustrophobic. The result is an adaptable 358-square-meter home spread out across three floors and designed to harmonize with its surroundings. Moreover, the Kew East House was also crafted with a reduced energy footprint thanks to the use of passive solar principles and solar photovoltaic panels. The clients, a couple with teenage children and a dog, Timba, asked Jost Architects to create a multigenerational home in anticipation of when the grandparents, who currently live overseas, move in in the future. To accommodate the clients’ elderly parents, the architects designed an internal granny flat on the ground floor next to the garage. Above, the first floor houses the master bedroom and main living areas. The two children’s bedrooms and a rooftop balcony with sweeping views of the park to the city are located on the top level. Strict council setbacks and a steep terrain informed the design of the house, which is recessed into the slope. The architects also took cues from the neighborhood and landscape to knit the Kew East House into its surroundings. “The banded fascias fold and rake, vertically and horizontally, braiding the building into the streetscape. The functional spaces are layered within this fabric,” the architects said. “Externally, the materials are selected for their robust and tonal hue responding to the huge eucalyptus enveloping the site and the other beautiful native flora around the Kew Billabong and Yarra River beyond.” Related: Fabulous multigenerational home allows owners to comfortably age in place Natural light floods the interior through thermally broken windows and multiple skylights, while Melbourne’s intense heat is kept at bay with deep eave overhangs, external sliding and fixed timber batten screens as well as operable glazing that allows for cross ventilation. The Kew East House is powered with a 4.95 kW photovoltaic system . + Jost Architects Photography by Shani Hodson – Zoso via Jost Architects

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Dangerous jellyfish have invaded Australian beaches

January 14, 2019 by  
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Bluebottle jellyfish have invaded Australia’s Gold and Sunshine Coasts. This past weekend, the jellyfish (also known as the Portuguese man-of-war) stung more than 5,000 people, and many of the victims weren’t even in the water. Just walking on one bluebottle jellyfish on the beach can bring intense pain, and because of strong north-easterly swell conditions, the jellyfish have been pushed to shore. Meanwhile, the deadly Irukandji jellyfish are bombarding the eastern coasts because of warming waters. “I have never seen anything like this — ever. Not everyone reacts the same way, but there have been very serious reactions,” said Jeremy Sturges, Surf Life Saving duty officer. The bluebottle jellyfish species travels in groups. Lifeguards have now closed several beaches, because during the month of December and the first week of January, more than 22,000 people have sought treatment for bluebottle jellyfish stings. Related: Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the US According to Queensland Ambulance, people that are stung should “pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with seawater, place the affected area in warm water and, if needed, apply ice packs.” Luckily, there have not been any fatalities as a result of the bluebottle jellyfish stings. But on Australia’s east coast, experts say that deadly Irukandji jellyfish are spreading, and their stings are so severe they can cause brain hemorrhages and an intense feeling of impending doom, a condition known as Irukandji syndrome. These stings are the most concerning, especially near Queensland’s Fraser Island, because the sting rate has been growing steadily as the waters get warmer . This jellyfish likes to live in higher water temperatures and are normally found in the northern tropics. Recently, there have been two confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji, and the mysterious deaths of three other tourists have also been linked to the jellyfish. If waters continue to warm, the Irukandji will inevitably move farther south. In three years, they could hit the Gold Coast. “In Queensland alone, we put more people in hospital due to Irukandji stings than shark attacks, crocodile attacks and snake bites combined,” said Jamie Seymore, a professor at James Cook University. “This is something that we need to address now. I can see a time when we have to shut major beaches on the Sunshine Coast. It is going to happen.” Via Matador Network and The Guardian Image via GondwanaGirl

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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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