Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape

April 10, 2018 by  
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Lovers of minimalist architecture will swoon over Innauer-Matt Architekten’s Höller House, a beautiful modern home built mainly of wood in Austria’s picturesque Bregenzerwald valley. Set in a steep hillside, the dwelling combines inspiration from traditional farm buildings with a more contemporary vibe evidenced in its gabled form and restrained minimalist palette. Light timber is used throughout the home, inside and out, and is complemented by the structural framework’s exposed concrete columns. Built of timber felled from the homeowner’s forest, the 1,428-square-foot Höller House celebrates its timber construction with exposed wooden beams and surfaces left unpainted. Natural light fills the home through large openings and skylights , but privacy is also preserved by the slatted wooden facade and intentionally hidden entrance. Related: Handsome Austrian house is clad in a latticed facade made from local spruce To satisfy the client’s desire for a private outdoor space, Innauer-Matt Architekten added covered terraces that wrap around the home, a feature the architects call the “outermost shell.” The light-filled living and dining area serves as the inner “shell” and is organized around a core of exposed concrete comprising the staircase, toilet, and storage room. “This way we created a wide spectrum of translucence and transparency which we gradually and individually adapted to each room, its purpose and the level of desired intimacy, preventing unwanted insights while making beautiful outlooks part of every day life and living,” wrote the architects. + Innauer-Matt Architekten Images © Adolf Bereuter

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Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape

Sustainable circular economy principles inform Amsterdams flexible Circl pavilion

April 10, 2018 by  
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Interdisciplinary design studio DoepelStrijkers designed the interiors of the Circl pavilion, a sustainably minded space founded on the principles of the circular and inclusive economy. Located on the lower floors of Dutch banking group ABN AMRO’s headquarters in Amsterdam, the Circl pavilion emphasizes reusability throughout, from material choice to spatial design. Thanks to multifunctional and movable furnishings, the interior can be adapted for a variety of functions including a day care, performance venue, meetings, indoor market, exhibitions, or film screenings. Open to the public, the Circl pavilion can be tailored for different uses with the rearrangement of its movable walls that are remotely operated with the push of a button. The movable partitions are built of recycled aluminum and expanded metal mesh layered with recycled denim jeans for acoustic insulation. Similar examples of reuse and recycling can be seen throughout the interior. The textile plaster on the basement walls for instance, were made with recycled ABN AMRO business clothing. Select furnishings were sourced from ABN AMRO’s storage, while others were built from recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. Related: World’s first circular-economy business park mimics nature to achieve sustainability “The challenge for us as an office lies in translating our sustainable ambition into objects and spaces that transcend the traditional image of sustainable design,” wrote DoepelStrijkers. “We search for a spatial translation of sustainability criteria into an image that does not directly refer to reuse for example, but rather by incorporating the positive attributes of sustainable building principles into objects, spaces and buildings that reflect our contemporary design idiom.” + DoepelStrijkers Via Dezeen Images by Peter Tijhuis

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Sustainable circular economy principles inform Amsterdams flexible Circl pavilion

How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

March 29, 2018 by  
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Tropical islands might boast pure natural scenery, but their energy sources are often anything but pure. Many power-hungry resorts in the Maldives rely on diesel, a notorious pollutant, for their energy needs. Swimsol , a solar power company based in Austria, is working to change that. Because many of the islands in the Maldives are tiny — you can walk across some of them in under 10 minutes — there isn’t much space for solar power , but Swimsol has solved the problem by turning to the seas. Inhabitat caught up with founder and managing director Martin Putschek to find out more. Sunshine is plentiful in the Maldives; land, not so much. To make matters more challenging, rooftop solar has limited potential – tropical buildings often aren’t made for bearing heavy loads like buildings in colder locations that must withstand snow. “But what you have is huge atolls, around 10 to 20 kilometers wide, roughly. You’ve got the outer reef around this atoll and inside this outer reef, it’s a little like a lake,” Putschek told Inhabitat. After a business trip to the Maldives, the idea came to him while practicing the violin: what if he could install floating solar panels on that water? Related: The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea Swimsol’s SolarSea systems are the result of that spark of inspiration – and their first commercial pilot has been operating for just over three years. Solar panels are mounted atop a patent-pending marine-grade aluminum alloy framework designed to let waves pass through. The system, which the company says will last 30 years or more, can withstand waves of around six and a half feet high and winds of around 75 miles per hour. Each platform, which is about 46 by 46 feet, can power around 25 households. Swimsol says the systems assemble much like IKEA furniture, and three people could build one platform on a beach in under a day — no heavy machinery or welding necessary. And it turns out solar panels drifting on the sea are actually more productive than those on land, thanks to water’s cooling effect. “We measured the temperature difference between solar panels on a roof and on a floating structure which were installed very close to each other, like 200 meters apart, and at lunch time you can see a temperature difference of 20 degrees,” Putschek told Inhabitat. He said they can obtain as much as 10 percent more power from floating panels, depending on the time of day. But do floating solar panels impact marine life? Putschek said they clearly need to keep systems away from coral reefs , which need sunlight. Fortunately, there are swaths of water with sandy seabeds where they can install solar. “Regarding the fish , they actually like it. They like the shade and places where they can hide. The whole thing serves as a fish-aggregating device, which is a term for floating platforms with no purpose other than just attracting fish. Ours are solar platforms, but that’s a side effect,” Putschek said. He said corals even grow on the platforms, turning them into artificial reefs. Right now, Swimsol is not selling the floating systems, but the electricity they produce — and they’re able to sell it cheaper than diesel, without a government-subsidized feed-in tariff. “We installed a little over a megawatt last year. This year we’re probably installing about three or so, and in terms of money that’s between $3 and $6 million,” Putschek said. They’re planning a crowdfunding campaign in Austria and Germany in a couple of months, and are looking for a strategic partner for further growth and to help them get access to more funding. “If you install one kilowatt of solar, so that’s four panels, you can save 400 liters of diesel a year. So 100 kilowatts would be 40,000 liters; one megawatt would be 400,000 liters. The point is, it makes sense to go big,” said Putschek. “The idea would be to install dozens of megawatts because the space is there, the need is there. In 2014, the Maldives spent one fifth of their gross domestic product on fuel. That means every hour you work, 12 minutes you only work for diesel. People talk about tidal energy or wind energy and that’s all fantastic but it doesn’t work in the tropics. In the Caribbean, yes; there you have wind. But in the Maldives or Singapore you don’t have enough wind, and you also don’t have big waves. The renewable energy of choice is solar. Because what they do have is a lot of sun. They also have a lot of sea. We’re just combining the two.” + Swimsol Images courtesy of Swimsol

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How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

Alpine meadows extend onto the roof of the renovated Lanserhof Lans health center

November 2, 2016 by  
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Nestled at the foothills of Tyrolean Alps, the luxurious Lanserhof health facility offers a serene environment with stunning views of the mountainous landscape. Undergoing major expansion helmed by international firm ingenhoven architects , the complex will soon include a beautiful new oval building will 16 rooms, topped by a terraced alpine meadow on the roof. Image by bloomimages The Lanserhof Lans combines the luxury of a hotel and modern patient care on par with the most advanced medical facilities in the world. The three-part complex comprises a main building and several annexes and extensions . According to the design, a brand new building will replace one of the guest houses, while several structural adjustments will be needed for the entrance building which houses the reception, restaurant, shop, fireplace lounge and library. The addition will include a bathroom area with saunas , showers, expanded medical rooms in addition to an indoor and outdoor swimming pool . Related: Prefabricated green residential building is slated for Berlin’s new ‘live-work city’ Image by bloomimages Natural materials and simple forms dominate the design of the extension. Its facade will feature balconies of varying depths that create an interesting rhythm and offer optimal wind protection. A green roof featuring seven private terraces will extend the surrounding Alpine meadow to the roof of the new building. + ingenhoven architects Images by bloomimages and Alexander Schmitz

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Alpine meadows extend onto the roof of the renovated Lanserhof Lans health center

Blackened timber home draws energy from a large wood-burning stove

August 26, 2016 by  
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The House Bäumle 2 was built on a slender strip of land next to a steep incline that falls away to a small stream. Its arresting blackened timber facade is a nod to the traditional vernacular of sunburned agriculture houses that the architects say have largely disappeared in Vorarlberg’s Rhine Valley. Large square windows of varying sizes with unpainted timber frames punctuate the dark facade. A large reinforced concrete mass sits at the heart of the home to help absorb and retain heat during the day and release it during cool nights. Heat is provided through a large black wood-burning stove and heat pump. The home’s highly insulated frame also helps prevent heat from escaping. Related: Prefab C/Z House is clad in blackened timber on the island of Pico Aside from the concrete core, the interior of the home is largely lined in untreated wood for a cozy appearance. “The classic theme of a solid characterful center of the house is operated, which includes the stove, the kitchen and the bathrooms,” write the architects. “Opposite, towards the windows it becomes continuous wooden, more tender, lighter. The spatial compression of the interior widens softly, with differentiated transitions, to the exterior.” + Bernardo Bader Architekten Via ArchDaily Images via Bernardo Bader Architekten

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Blackened timber home draws energy from a large wood-burning stove

Researchers discover evidence of supernovae on the sea floor

August 26, 2016 by  
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After a long and dedicated search, scientists believe they have discovered trace elements from supernovae settled on the sea floor. Iron isotopes created from a supernova explosion 2.2 million years ago have found their way into fossilized bacteria taken from a sample of the sea bed floor – the only place they could still be found after all this time. Astrophysicist Shawn Bishop from the Technical University of Munich , Germany, published a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailing his findings and following up on the hunch he has been following for several years. According to Gizmodo , he used accelerator mass spectrometry to analyze bacteria found in core samples from the ocean floor , counting each and every iron-60 isotope atom he found. Related: NASA captures shockwave of a massive supernova for the first time ever Iron-60, or 60Fe, is one of many elements produced by supernovae during an explosion. After being dispersed around space, these elements eventually settle onto planets. Because of 60Fe’s short half-life, none of it should still be around on Earth. However, traces have been found in fossilized bacteria thought to have picked up the crystals from the sea bed long ago. When the bacteria die, 60Fe remains preserved in the fossil record . Australian National University’s Anton Wallner also published a study  in Nature earlier this year, solidifying the case for supernovae depositing 60Fe on Earth. He and his team estimate the closest explosion occurred about 326 light years away. It is thought that either this event or Bishop’s findings are related to the onset of the Pleistocene, which triggered a period of global cooling. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia , Wikipedia

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Researchers discover evidence of supernovae on the sea floor

Giant gleaming Orb deploys solar and wave energy to make clean water for California

August 26, 2016 by  
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“Now, more than ever, energy and water are intertwined. As California faces severe water shortages in the coming years, the amount of energy required for water production and transmission is sure to increase,” LAGI writes on their website about this year’s competition for Santa Monica Pier. “For this reason we expanded our definition of sustainable infrastructure artwork to include proposals in 2016 that produce drinking water—either in addition to, or in place of—clean electricity.” Related: Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California The Clear Orb is designed to be accessible from the Santa Monica Pier via the beach boardwalk. The pathway to the gleaming sphere gently tips toward the water’s surface, the outer walls harvesting wave energy from the existing breakwater. The inner walls depict a list of animals that have gone extinct, inviting visitors to reflect on humanity’s impact on its fellow inhabitants. About 130 feet in diameter, the glass orb’s surface is comprised of transparent solar concentrators that supply the energy required to circulate water into the Orb. Inside, a solar still converts seawater into fresh water through evaporation and condensation. The resulting clean water pours through a step fountain that supports the structure. The designers say this becomes “an artful interpretation of the power of light and water to give life.” Energy produced by the oscillating water column along the “contemplation walk” would supply further power to the solar distillation pumps and the grid, though, compared to some of the other designs we’ve seen this year, such as The Pipe , the design’s energy and water production goals are relatively small. For example, The Pipe would be able to produce 1.5 billion gallons of water for Santa Monica, while The Clear Orb would only have capacity to generate 3,820 MWh solar energy to distill 500,000 gallons of water. Still, if a primary goal of the design competition is to educate the community and visitors about sustainability, The Clear Orb definitely has potential to bring the conversation mainstream. A frequently-visited site, the Santa Monica Pier would be forever transformed with such a vibrant work of art – demonstrating that energy and clean water production can complement the city, both here and abroad. + LAGI 2016: Santa Monica + Heerim Architects and Planners

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Giant gleaming Orb deploys solar and wave energy to make clean water for California

Beautiful timber office sequesters carbon in Austria

August 19, 2016 by  
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Located in Mödling, Austria, 52 Cubic Wood is mostly clad in vertical strips of timber carefully crafted and joined together. In addition to its beautiful appearance, timber was chosen over concrete and steel because of its advantage as a “carbon sink” thanks to trees’ absorption of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. That carbon is not released until the timber decomposes or is burnt. Aside from the timber cladding, a mirrored facade partially covers the ground level. The angled mirrors reflect the foliage of the outdoor gardens. Large windows also frame views of the outdoor landscape and bring in natural light to illuminate the interior. Related: World’s tallest hybrid timber tower by Shigeru Ban coming to Vancouver The office spaces span two floors and are similarly clad in light-colored wooden surfaces and complemented with timber furnishings. “52 cubic wood – produces carbohydrate (glucose) from carbon dioxide CO2 (which equates to 260.000km by car) with the help of the sun,” write the architects. “Additionally oxygen is released in the form of breathable air for 100 years per person. This happens interference-free without waste and emissions, it‘s quiet and fully automatic. This is the beauty of the factory called ‘The forest’.” + JOSEP + Atelier Gerhard Haumer Via ArchDaily Images via JOSEP , © Bernhard Fiedler

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Beautiful timber office sequesters carbon in Austria

World-famous architects design seven stunning bus stops for a tiny Austrian town

July 15, 2016 by  
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Part architecture and part sculpture, BUS:STOP takes the humble transit hub to new heights–literally. Sou Fujimoto’s bus stop, for instance, looks like an elevated roofless treehouse nestled within a white birch forest. While the other designs offer more protection from the elements, they are also artistic and unconventional. Related: Tessellated Tree-Like Transportation Shelters Offer Unique Shade for Local College Students In total, architects from seven countries and three continents were represented in the final designs. BUS:STOP was largely funded by private donors and the finished bus stops opened this month. + BUS:STOP Via Fast Company Images via BUS:STOP , © Adolf Bereuter

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World-famous architects design seven stunning bus stops for a tiny Austrian town

The Louvre and Muse dOrsay have shut their doors amid Paris floods

June 3, 2016 by  
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Significant flooding in France has prompted the evacuation of thousands of people. Now both The Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay have closed their doors in order to protect invaluable art from the rising River Seine, which is at its highest level in 30 years.

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The Louvre and Muse dOrsay have shut their doors amid Paris floods

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