Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris

July 30, 2019 by  
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Local architecture practice Benjamin Fleury has completed a residential complex with 26 affordable apartments in Montreuil, a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris. Affordable housing cooperative COOPIMMO commissioned the design and construction of the building as part of its mission to produce social accommodations with a “renting-purchasing system.” Thoughtfully integrated into the suburban context, the contemporary apartment complex also boasts low-energy consumption and has earned the MINERGIE-P label for its energy-efficient features. Located on the Rue des Chantereines, the 26 Apartments in Montreuil is surrounded by a mix of 1960s housing blocks that range from structures that are five to 10 stories in height to smaller, standalone homes with gardens. Creating a building sensitive to these different building typologies was paramount to the design, as was injecting a contemporary morphology. As a result, the architects decided to split the affordable housing complex into two blocks: a street-facing “urban” block that sits opposite the multistory, midcentury housing blocks and a second “residential” block tucked farther back on the block. A communal garden and gathering space planted with deciduous trees occupies the space between the two buildings. Related: A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans “These accommodations where first offered to local families who could not easily afford to be owners,” Benjamin Fleury said in a project statement. “The principle of the social ownership is simple: in addition to the regulation of low prices, families can contract a loan without pre-existing capital, and then become owners after a first step of renting. Because of the economic flimsiness of the buyers, who already have to assume their loans, it appeared essential to reduce effectively the maintenance costs of the building.” In addition to reducing the cost of maintenance, the architects wanted to reduce energy costs. Passive solar principles were followed to take advantage of natural light, ventilation and shading while heat loss and unwanted solar gain are mitigated with triple-glazed windows. Insulation is also built into the double-layered facade. A double-flow mechanical ventilation system and solar hot water heaters help reduce heating demands. + Benjamin Fleury Photography by David Boureau via Benjamin Fleury

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Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris

A Brazilian ‘bear cave’ brewery boasts several passive techniques to stay chill

July 22, 2019 by  
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Summer visitors to searing São Paulo now have a new “bear cave” to cool off in with a cold, frothy craft brewski in hand. Designed by local firm SuperLimão Studio for Brazilian Colorado Brewery, the Toca do Urso Brewery, which is almost entirely embedded underground, uses several passive and vernacular techniques to create a pleasant microclimate achieved through natural ventilation and light, water collection and reuse, permeable floors and plenty of native vegetation. Located in the São Paulo neighborhood of Ribeirão Preto, the Toca do Urso Brewery offers beer-lovers a serene yet vibrant place to test out a wide selection of craft beers. From the start of the project, the architectural team from SuperLimão Studio knew that to create a comfortable spot that was energy-efficient , it would have to battle the extreme heat and humidity common to the region. Related: Eco-minded Melbourne brewery breaks the mold for sustainable beer production The first step in the design process was to create a space that would be partially embedded into the landscape, adding a natural insulating envelope that would cool down the interior throughout the year. Additionally, in going with a circular shape, the team would be able to create a continual system of natural ventilation. The exterior is made out of gabion walls comprised of rocks found on-site that add to the thermal comfort of the structure. In addition, these rock walls reduce sound levels so that when the hall is crowded, noise is directed to the outdoor area. Additionally, it blocks the traffic noise from the adjacent highway. A large, circular hall was buried almost 5 feet underground to create an ultra-tight earthen envelope. The land that was removed in the process was relocated to the front part of the structure and used to create a sloped entryway. Cold air is swept downward into the building to create a cool microclimate , which is enhanced further by the native vegetation that was planted in abundance to provide shade from the searing heat. Visitors enter the building through the sloped walkway, which leads into a covered patio with plenty of seating. Inside the hall, a massive skylight optimizes natural circulation and bathes the interior in sunlight . In the center of the brewery, there is a mirror of water and a set of canals. These canals lead air and water through grates in the floor so that the interior air is humidified by the water and in constant circulation, cooling down the interior significantly in comparison to the outdoor temps. In fact, the building’s various passive measures enable an internal temperature that is approximately 15? Celsius lower than the outside temps. + SuperLimão Studio Via ArchDaily Photography by Maíra Acayaba via SuperLimão Studio

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A Brazilian ‘bear cave’ brewery boasts several passive techniques to stay chill

Artist David Mach designs sculptural building out of repurposed shipping containers

July 12, 2019 by  
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UK-artist and self-proclaimed “accidental architect” David Mach has just unveiled an amazing design for his first ever building. Slated for a new development just west of Edinburgh, Mach 1 is a massive, sculptural building built out of over 30 shipping containers . The building is a collaboration between the developers of Edinburgh Park, Parabola and Stirling Prize-nominated architects, Dixon Jones , who created the project’s master plan. The complex, which is just in the planning stages, is slated for a large 43-acre lot just west of the Scottish capital. The development plan envisions a vibrant community made up of office space, a new public square, sports and leisure facilities, a health center, along with various retail shops and restaurants. Related: David Mach Creates Enormous Sculptures from Coat Hangers and Matches During the planning stages, the decision was made to commission a landmark for the new development, something that would be eye-catching, but also multi-functional. Enter, UK artist, David Mach , who is known for creating immense, dynamic art installations using a wide range of materials. Mach’s vision for the project is what has been named “Mach 1”. The formidable concepts envisions a large building made out of more than 30 shipping containers stacked at various angles. Slated to hold court in the middle of the development, Mach 1 will stand out not only for its large stature, but also its use of repurposed materials . The artist explains that the building is an homage to the way that urban developments can put sustainability at the forefront of new projects, “What we are planning to build, is a substantial building, made from around 30 sea containers. There is quite a dramatic shape to the building, not a regular piece of architecture. It will be something that you really notice. It is a building that really makes a statement about itself.” The shipping container building will house the development’s marketing offices to start, including a display area that will feature a full site model and information about the construction of Edinburgh Park. Mach 1 will also include a large gallery space for exhibitions and a cafe. The interior will be outfitted with various flexible elements in order to be able to host small and large events throughout the year. + David Mach Via Archdaily Images via David Mach , Dixon Jones  and Assembly Studios

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Artist David Mach designs sculptural building out of repurposed shipping containers

Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

July 12, 2019 by  
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What do 4,300 birds, 1,500 reptiles, 10,000 turtles and tortoises, 23 primates, 70 truckloads of timber and 30 big cats all have in common? No, they’re not the residents of a new zoo — all of these critical plants and animals were seized in a major international operation that cracked down on wildlife smuggling. Throughout the month of June, international police and customs authorities united for ‘Operation Thunderball’ and rescued an astonishing number of dolphins, sharks, lions, tigers, birds, tortoises, parakeets, finches, ivory and rhino horns. The operation was carried out in more than 100 countries and hopefully dealt a serious blow to the $19 billion dollar illegal wildlife trafficking industry. Over 600 suspects have been identified, with 21 arrests in Spain and three arrests in Uruguay. Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, said Operation Thunderball “underscores why international cooperation is so important to addressing this deadly criminal activity.” Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Wildlife trafficking is a major industry that not only hurts the environment and targets endangered species , but it also supports a far-reaching, violent criminal network. Much of the illegal wildlife trade has shifted online to an internet-based black market. For example, in April of this year, Indonesian police officers detained smugglers who admitted to using Facebook for selling Komodo dragons. International animal rights advocates, police and conservationists agree that Operation Thunderball was a massive success for the fight against the illegal animal trade. But some argue that national authorities now need to pick up where the international authorities left off and fully prosecute the detained criminals. This will help set an example and further debilitate the illegal network. Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “This massive disruption of criminal networks is key to saving endangered wildlife across the globe, but seizures and arrests are only the first step — governments now must follow up with strong, meaningful prosecutions.” + Interpol Via New York Times Images via © INTERPOL

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Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

Can mass timber reform construction’s carbon footprint?

July 11, 2019 by  
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A new technique for building wooden mid- and high-rise buildings may unlock a critical strategy for reducing the construction industry’s massive carbon footprint. Although forestry, construction and climate experts disagree on the extent of its benefits, mass timber is a promising substitute for concrete and steel, materials that contribute 5 percent of global carbon emissions each. Buildings in general are responsible for 40 percent of all emissions and architects are calling this new green building technique “the next great disruption to the construction industry.” What is mass timber? In order to be considered ‘mass timber,’ buildings must use wood products (typically engineered panels) as the primary load-bearing structure. More than just wood-framed houses, mass timber is a more extensive building style that can be used for mid- and high-rise buildings. Builders can use a variety of woods, often from small trees, to create a strong structure where the wood grain is stacked perpendicularly to further fortify the building. Because of its versatility in terms of wood types, mass timber projects can be sourced sustainably by capitalizing on small and diseased trees that are cleared to manage forests and prevent wildfires. It also means that sourcing can be localized to further reduce carbon emissions during transportation. Although deforestation is a major concern around the world, forests in the United States are sustainably managed . A collaboration between the mass timber and sustainable forestry industries has the potential to support this budding construction industry niche with profound implications for fighting climate change. The benefits of mass timber The primary benefit of using wood instead of concrete and steel is the reduction in carbon emissions. Since concrete and steel emit greenhouse gases during production and transportation, it is believed that using locally sourced wood will reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building’s construction. In addition to a lower emission profile, wooden panels, posts and beams also sequester carbon . The wooden panels are lighter and stronger than steel and potentially could be made to be fireproof. Wooden interiors are naturally warming, so they also encourage energy efficiency and reduce heating bills. With rising popularity, especially in Europe and the northwestern U.S., the wooden interiors are also increasingly sought after as an aesthetically pleasing and trendy look. “Say the typical steel and concrete building has an emissions profile of 2,000 metric tons of CO2; with mass timber, you can easily invert so you are sequestering 2,000 tons of CO2,” architect Andrew Ruff said. “Instead of adding to climate change, you are mitigating climate change . That’s the goal.” Related: NYC passes landmark bill to cut carbon emissions of big buildings by 80% Furthermore, the construction process has multiple benefits when compared to traditional concrete and steel. For example, the construction process itself is quicker and quieter (making for happy neighbors during construction!), and the materials are less sensitive to weather fluctuations during building. “Mass timber is the future,” said Russ Vaagen , a fourth generation lumberman in Washington. “It has a lighter carbon footprint ; is at least 25 percent faster to build with and requires 75 percent fewer workers on the active deck; comes from forests that are renewable and that, in many cases, need thinning to reduce the danger of wildfire and disease; holds great promise as affordable housing; and even increases homeowners’ health and well-being, according to several studies of wood’s biophilic attributes.” Is mass timber just a passing trend? Not everyone is sold on mass timber’s benefits, or at least the extent to which this technique can impact climate change. Its trendiness has re-opened sawmills in Oregon and sent loggers back to work, but is it really all that it is cracked up to be? “We want to debunk the myth that mass timber is in any way, shape or form related to some kind of environmental benefit,” said John Talberth, president of the Center for Sustainable Economy in Portland. Related: 5 key benefits of green buildings on the environment and your lifestyle Most researchers agree that there is simply not enough data to make such large claims about the benefits of mass timber — nor enough data to prove it false. For example, the carbon sequestration calculations need to take into account the transportation, manufacturing and logging of all wood materials when making comparisons to concrete and steel emissions. According to a recent paper on forestry and climate mitigation, the forest product industry is Oregon’s No. 1 contributor of carbon emissions, so it is not exactly a clean industry. Furthermore, the wooden beams would need to be reused beyond the predicted life of the building itself in order for the carbon sequestration benefits to be realized, because the decomposition of wood also emits carbon dioxide . Mark Wishnie of The Nature Conservancy explained, “To really understand the potential impact of the increased use of mass timber on climate, we need to conduct a much more detailed set of analyses.” Living up to sustainability promises Forestry experts contend that the rapid growth in popularity of the mass timber industry must be married with sustainable forestry initiatives, such as certification standards, to ensure that the harvest, manufacturing and transportation processes are environmentally friendly, transparent and included in more accurate cost-benefit analyses. Major environmental advocates, including the Audubon Society and Sierra Club, wrote a letter of concern to government representatives in Oregon, expressing doubts and recommending more cautious support. The letter also explicitly endorsed the need for certification standards. The letter said, “Without such a requirement, the city may be encouraging the already rampant clear-cutting of Oregon’s forests … In fact, because it can utilize smaller material than traditional timber construction, it may provide a perverse incentive to shorten logging rotations and more aggressively clear-cut.” Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Shutterstock

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Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

July 11, 2019 by  
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Airbnb has any number of unique properties, but this luxurious cottage in an idyllic French village looks scrumptious enough to eat. Perhaps that’s because the luxury tiny home rental, now listed on Airbnb , was once an ancient bread cottage. Owner James Roeves and his wife renovated the old building with the utmost of care, recycling and incorporating reclaimed materials whenever possible to convert the structure into a boutique retreat. Located east of Toulouse, Vallée de Gijou is tucked into the region’s Haut Languedoc Park, an idyllic area comprised of rolling hills and lush forests. The area is perfect for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while enjoying an authentic French agritourism experience . Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Formerly a structure used for its bread oven, the compact cottage has been renovated carefully to update its living space while retaining the structure’s original features. According to the owner, James Roeves, he and his wife renovated the structure, doing most of the work themselves. From the start of the adaptive reuse renovation, the project was focused on reclaiming as many materials from the original structure as possible. In the end, the bed, window sills, sideboards, shutters, bedroom floor tiles, wardrobe and front walls were all part of the original building. However, to bring the cottage into the 21st century, the process also required some modern touches. To keep the interior warm and cozy during the winter months, the structure is tightly insulated , and the windows are double-glazed to reduce heating costs. A bright, modern kitchen has all of the amenities a home chef could need. Beyond the kitchen, a comfortable living room features a sofa and chair along with a flat-screen television. This space also includes a small table that was made out of recovered wood planks . At the heart of the living area is a wood-burning Esse Bakeheart that has its own oven, a cooking plate and a grill that slides into the firebox for char-grilling. Of course, for those guests who prefer to leave their oven mitts at home, the owners are former restaurateurs who are happy to provide full catering prepared with fresh local produce. The rest of the home is just as lovely, with a spiral staircase leading up to a spacious bedroom. A queen-sized bed sits in the middle of the room, which has a spacious vaulted ceiling with exposed wooden beams for an extra dose of charm. + Converted Bread Oven Tiny Home Via Tiny House Talk Images via James Roeves

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Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

Twisting brick facade fronts an innovative courtyard house near Chicago

June 12, 2019 by  
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In a Chicago suburb full of traditional gabled rooflines, California-based architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa has inserted a modern dwelling that puts a sculptural twist on a humble and overlooked building material: Chicago “Common” brick. Historically considered unattractive and only fit for unseen areas such as chimney flues, Chicago “Common” brick is given renewed attention in a recently completed courtyard house , dubbed the Thayer Brick House. Not only does the contemporary home use the brick for almost its entire facade, but it also shines the spotlight on the local resource with a sculptural, street-facing facade that’s made with twisting columns of stacked brick. Made from indigenous Michigan clay, Chicago “Common” brick has long been considered undesirable and cheap due to its variations and irregularities. Instead of the classic red color, the prosaic material takes on a more yellow hue and has been traditionally used for areas hidden from the street, such as the side and back walls, chimney flues and structural support behind the facades. In making Chicago “Common” brick highly visible in the Thayer Brick House, Brooks + Scarpa is celebrating a local material and inviting passersby to reconsider unexpected uses for everyday materials and concepts. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork “By using the familiar in an unfamiliar location and application, the material becomes perceptually both old and new at the same time,” the firm said. “This makes one more aware of not just the building, but also our sense of place. There is a sense of discovery, something spontaneous and unexpected. The object is important, but it’s the experience that has a profound impact and leaves something that lasts well beyond the mere physical and visual existence of the building. This gives us the opportunity to not only learn about design but also about ourselves, our collective cultures and our place in society.” The use of Chicago “Common” brick helps contextualize the building and gives the building an unexpected appearance. The street-facing facade is made up of columns of brick rotated at varying degrees to make the courtyard look open or closed depending on where the viewer stands. Passersby can see the full effect of the facade, which has a moire-like pattern that appears to move as one walks past it. The sculptural facade also has the added benefit of reducing glare and providing privacy to the fully glazed interior volume. + Brooks + Scarpa Photography by Marty Peters and Brooks + Scarpa

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A decaying shop in Cambodia gains a new life through adaptive reuse principles

May 23, 2019 by  
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Phnom Penh-based firm  Bloom Architecture has unveiled a beautiful renovation of a decaying building in Kampot, Cambodia. Ages ago, the building housed a family-run store, but the space had been abandoned for years. To preserve its historical significance in the riverside town, the architects focused on maintaining the building’s original features as much as possible while turning it into a home and restaurant. The result is 3,444 square feet of breezy interior spaces with an  adaptive reuse strategy that blends the best of traditional Chinese shophouse typology with modern day comfort. Located next to the city’s river, the building is a local landmark for the community. When the owners wanted to adapt the structure into a new family residence on the top floors and a restaurant on the ground floor, they tasked Bloom Architecture with the job of preserving the building’s historical character through adaptive reuse. To bring the older building into the modern age, the firm focused its renovation plans on retaining the original features. Starting with the exterior, which is marked by two floors of large arched openings, the facade was put through a deep cleaning and fresh paint job with a natural exterior that blurs the boundaries between the old and the new. A new wooden roof overhang juts out over the top floor, providing shade for the upper balcony . Related: An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant After years of decay, much of the interior was in pretty bad shape, so the firm went about gutting everything that was not salvageable. However, the team was able to reuse wooden panels from the original house; these panels were repurposed into custom furniture and windows. The ground floor is open and airy with various seating options. Wooden tables and chairs of all shapes and sizes fill the dining area, which boasts double-height ceilings with exposed wooden beams. The original brick walls were lightly coated in white paint, letting the various red-hued tones shine through to offer contrast to the all-white columns and wooden door frames. A large metal spiral staircase runs through a central courtyard all the way up from the restaurant to the private living quarters. This stairwell was essential to the design, as it allows  natural light  to reach the lower levels and aids in natural ventilation, cooling the interiors off during the searing summer months. At the top of the staircase is what the architects call “the nest” — an open-air terrace that provides stunning views of the mountainous landscape of Kampot. + Bloom Architecture Images via Bloom Architecture

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A decaying shop in Cambodia gains a new life through adaptive reuse principles

Little Caesars debuts vegan sausage

May 23, 2019 by  
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Vegetarians have finally pushed Little Caesars past its tipping point. After years of clamoring for better vegetarian and vegan pizza options, Little Caesars is now offering a plant-based sausage, or impossible meat, made by California-based Impossible Foods . This is the first time a national pizza chain has offered a vegan meat substitute. Before vegans get too excited, note that initially only three markets will feature the faux sausage: Fort Myers, Florida, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Yakima, Washington. However, the new Impossible Supreme Pizza will still not be 100 percent vegan as it’s topped with dairy cheese. Little Caesars is not the first place most vegans would look for a meal. But as demand for plant-based products grow, even meat-heavy restaurants are taking notice. Last year sales in plant-based products increased 17 percent, compared with a 2 percent overall growth rate in the grocer sector, according to Nielson. “It’s here to stay,” said Little Caesars CEO David Scrivano. Impossible Foods’ vegan sausage is made from similar ingredients to their burgers, such as legume hemoglobin derived from soy. According to the company website, “Although heme has been consumed every day for hundreds of thousands of years, Impossible Foods discovered that it’s what makes meat taste like meat. We make the Impossible Burger using heme from soy plants — identical to the heme from animals — which is what gives it its uniquely meaty flavor.” Even meat eaters might want to try the pizza made with this impossible meat. According to Medical News Today , a recent study showed that eating red meat even occasionally could shorten your life. Red and processed meat consumption has been linked to diabetes, coronary heart disease and some types of cancer. So the less meat you eat, the better for you, and the better for animals. Impossible Foods reports that more than 7,000 restaurants now offer their products, including such traditionally vegan-unfriendly chains as White Castle, Burger King and Red Robin.  The company is increasing its production capacity at its Oakland, California manufacturing plant. This summer a second production line will double its output. Via CNBC Image via Michael Rivera

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Little Caesars debuts vegan sausage

Geometric pine cabins house nature-minded workspaces in Vietnam

May 20, 2019 by  
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Nestled in a misty pine forest, the Ta Nung Homestay Executive Office offers employees an environmentally sensitive space to work along with breathtaking views of Vietnam’s Central Highland landscape. Ho Chi Minh City-based architectural firm MyAn Architects designed the workspace to look like a cluster of geometric cabins that have been elevated on stilts to reduce site impact and to preserve mature pine trees. Floor-to-ceiling windows sweep an abundance of natural light and views of the mountainous landscape indoors. Located in Ta Nung Valley about 11 miles from the city of ?à L?t, the Ta Nung Homestay Executive Office was designed to foster collaboration and an appreciation of the site’s natural beauty. The nearly 5,400-square-foot construction was built from locally sourced pine to tie the architecture to the landscape, while full-height windows create a constant connection with the outdoors. Oriented east to west, the building’s intimate workspaces and meeting areas, as well as two secondary bedrooms, are located on the east side. To the west is a spacious bedroom suite that is connected to the offices via an outdoor community terrace, which serves as the main entrance to the office and gathering space. “The views and abundant daylight are celebrated and democratized,” the architects explained. “Bottom-to-top large panels of glass are lined up and combined with such vernacular, rich, textured material like pine wood for the rhythmic-formed roof, diffuse strong southern and northern sunlight while maintaining views and creating indistinguishable boundaries between indoor and outdoor space .” Related: A “green veil” of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat The undulating roofline consists of two alternating gabled forms of different heights that give the project its sculptural appeal without detracting from the surroundings. Pine continues from the exterior to the interior, where it lines all the walls, ceilings and floors and is also used for furnishings. At night, string lights are used to illuminate the building to create an ethereal lantern-like glow in the darkness. + MyAn Architects Images via MyAn Architects

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Geometric pine cabins house nature-minded workspaces in Vietnam

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