Foster + Partners turn an office tower into Hong Kongs newest luxury hotel

May 25, 2018 by  
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Foster + Partners transformed a former government headquarters tower into a luxury hotel in Hong Kong , and it has just opened its doors to the public. Located on the southern edge of Central with sweeping views of The Peak, the 336-room hotel — named The Murray — not only includes a striking interior overhaul, but also features new street frontage and green space to reconnect the 25-story tower with the urban fabric. The adaptive reuse project preserved the existing self-shading facade to maximize daylight penetration while reducing solar gain. The office tower, known as the Murray Building, was designed in the 1970s during an era that primarily catered to the automobile. To make the site more pedestrian friendly , Foster + Partners created new street frontage and added landscaped parks on the ground level to remove the site’s road-dominated appearance. Inside the building, the architects replaced the former car park with hotel lobbies and restaurants; transformed the plant room spaces into banquet halls, pools and spas; and turned the upper-floor office spaces into guest rooms. Though dramatic, the transformation from office to luxury hotel was sensitively executed in order to preserve the building’s architectural integrity. The architects also took care to retain the original facade, which earned the structure an Energy Efficient Building Award in 1994. The exterior features deeply recessed windows that are carefully positioned to avoid harsh tropical sunlight. Enlarged insulated glazing units improve energy efficiency , while a new suite of luxury materials create the hotel’s sense of grandeur. Related: Foster + Partners unveils sustainable masterplan for India’s new state capital Luke Fox, the Head of Studio for Foster + Partners, said, “Our design for The Murray creates a dialogue between the old and the new – giving the building a new lease of life and a renewed purpose, with a unique sense of character that is embedded within the fabric of the building.” + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners , by Nigel Young and Michael Weber

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Foster + Partners turn an office tower into Hong Kongs newest luxury hotel

Couple builds an ‘Earthship’ tiny home for less than $10K

May 25, 2018 by  
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DIY home builds are never easy, and rarely cheap, but one ambitious couple managed to create a beautiful tiny home for under $10,000. Taylor and Steph Bode from Nomadic Roots created their sustainable 560-square-foot ‘Earthship’ mainly using reclaimed and repurposed materials. Inspired by the design principles of visionary architect Mike Reynolds and his company, Earthship Biotecture , the couple focused on creating a sustainable home that would employ passive and sustainable features to stay comfortable throughout the seasons, without air conditioning or heat sources. Related: Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels Once they found the perfect lot, the couple moved into a 14′ yurt while they slowly started the building process. To begin the project, they planned the home’s perimeters to maximize its potential thermal mass. Built into a south-sloping hill, the east, west, and north walls are buried underground , insulating the home and providing stable indoor temperatures. According to the owners, “The stylistic elements were secondary to creating a functionally competent structure that was well-suited for its environment.” To create the frame for the house, the couple cut down two young redwood trees from an adjacent grove. The siding and trim is crafted from old redwood fence boards. For the rest of the construction materials, Taylor and Steph scoured various sites to find discarded materials that could be reclaimed . They found new uses for countless thrown-away items such as automobile tires, glass bottles and aluminum cans. All of the home’s windows and doors were salvaged or found for free on Craigslist. Although the majority of the walls are buried, the many repurposed windows help flood the interior with an abundance of natural light . The couple created an earthen floor with a mixture of sand, clay, straw and water. After laying the mixture, they finished it with a hemp oil to create a warm, soft look. The Bodes used reclaimed barn wood for the interior walls, and they made or salvaged all their furnishings. + Nomadic Roots Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Taylor Bode via Nomadic Roots

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Couple builds an ‘Earthship’ tiny home for less than $10K

Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

May 25, 2018 by  
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You’ve heard a lot about the ocean plastic crisis, and may even know a fair amount about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . But for many of us, the issue can still seem far away when we drink out of a plastic bottle or tote groceries in a plastic bag. Professional distance swimmer Ben Lecomte aims to offer a fresh, personal perspective on ocean health as he swims 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean . Inhabitat caught up with Lecomte just days before he plans to leave for the potentially record-setting trek. Lecomte could be the first man to swim across the Pacific Ocean, but that’s not his goal for this venture. “My goal is to do something a little bit out there, a little bit extreme, to get the attention on an issue very important to everybody: the state of the ocean ,” he told Inhabitat. He’ll leave from Tokyo and swim to San Francisco, across thousands of miles, in a journey that could take around six months. Related: The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Lecomte’s father taught him how to swim in the Atlantic Ocean . “I remember spending a lot of summers on the beach and never seeing plastic. Within my lifetime, now it has suddenly changed. I cannot walk on a beach where I don’t see any plastic,” he said. “I have children, and I ask myself, how is it going to be for them when they are older and they walk with their kids, is it going to be worse, is it going to be better? The only way to make it better is first of all, we have to be aware of the problem, and second of all, we have to start taking action. And it’s something that we can do. We have a solution, but it means we change our habit, we change our behavior, and then by our collective action, we can make a difference.” A volunteer-staffed, wind – and solar -powered sailboat will accompany Lecomte as he swims for around eight hours a day. He’ll need to consume about 8,000 calories daily, but he said he won’t take breaks on the boat and so won’t each much during those eight hours, just liquids like soup. He’ll eat two large meals in the morning and at night, and eat if he wakes up in the middle of the night. Will the sailboat inadvertently cover some of the distance? Lecomte says they’ll try to keep the boat in the place where he stops, but if they move, they will travel back so he can pick up where he left off. Along the way, they’ll gather over 1,000 samples for 27 scientific partners with two main research focuses: ocean health and human health . Lecomte said that in the past, scientists typically haven’t been able to gather samples from across an entire ocean — that would take too long. But his journey offers a perfect opportunity to do so. Plastic is a primary emphasis; Lecomte will swim right through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Radiation from Fukushima and phytoplankton are among other ocean research areas. To delve into human health, Lecomte will be working with NASA . “Since I’m going to be in low gravity, there are a few things they would like to find out how it’s going to affect me or not. My bone density is going to change; pressure on my eyes is also something that affects astronauts, [and they want] to find out if that’s going to change for me,” he said. The wealth of information Lecomte could collect, and awareness he could raise, has the potential to be immense. But will such a voyage leave its own impact on the Pacific Ocean? Lecomte told Inhabitat renewable energy will generate the power they need. They won’t throw out trash, keeping everything on the boat, and will limit plastic packaging . The team has partnered with several organizations, including Mission Blue , the Ocean Voyages Institute , and the Ocean Institute . “They already have initiatives in place we want to reinforce,” said Lecomte. “For example, the Ocean Institute has 2,500 kids that go to their activities and learn about the plastic problem in the ocean, and that will do some of the data and collect some of the samples we’ve collected, and replicate some of what we do. We’ll try to be in connection with them and interact with those kids so they know what they are doing is being done in the middle of the ocean as well.” Lecomte is scheduled to leave on Wednesday, May 30. Seeker and Discovery are partnering for a project to cover Lecomte’s journey called The Swim , and they’ll produce content with Nomadica Films . Live coverage, mid-form and short-form videos, weekly Instagram stories, and weekly Discovery updates will all be part of The Swim, and the groups plan to release a feature-length documentary next year. You can also see where Lecomte is via The Longest Swim’s live tracker . + The Longest Swim + The Swim Images courtesy of Ben Lecomte

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Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

UNStudio designs cocoon-like pavilion made of 100% recyclable materials

May 25, 2018 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of cocooning yourself in nature, this woven prefabricated pavilion may be right up your alley. Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio has unveiled the Ellipsicoon, a digitally developed and handwoven pavilion that can pop up anywhere as a sculptural and meditative retreat. The curvaceous Ellipsicoon was created as part of the pavilion series for Revolution Precrafted , a collection of limited-edition prefabricated homes and pavilions designed by the world’s leading architects, artists and designers. Inspired by the organic curves found in nature, Ben van Berkel designed the 160-square-foot Ellipsicoon with soft sinuous curves generated from 3D-modeling computer programs. Although the pavilion was designed and developed digitally, production will be done entirely by hand. Highly skilled craftsmen will hand-weave the Ellipsicoon’s continuous sculptural surface using strands of 100% recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The pavilion measures 18.7 feet in length, 13.45 feet in width and 8.53 feet in height. To enter the Ellipsicoon, users must first step over the raised threshold to reach a sunken area with built-in seating that follows the fluid curves of the space. The round openings on either side taper inwards near the top to create the sensation of being simultaneously inside and outside. Gaps in the woven structure let in natural light while the two differently sized elliptical openings frame views of the outdoors. Related: Ron Arad designs the modular Armadillo Tea Pavilion for indoor and outdoor use “I have long been interested in exploring spaces which extend function to replace the reality of the everyday with the potential for more nuanced, reflective experiences,” van Berkel said. “The Ellipsicoon offers a place of temporary disengagement, where the practicalities, duties and interruptions of daily life can momentarily fade and the imagination can take over.” Revolution Precrafted will produce limited quantities of the Ellipsicoon. The price and additional details about the pavilion are available upon request . + UNStudio Images via Revolution Precrafted

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UNStudio designs cocoon-like pavilion made of 100% recyclable materials

Translucent concrete walls dramatically light up Jordans Capital Bank

May 23, 2018 by  
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Translucent concrete walls add drama and beauty to a recently completed Capital Bank in Amman, Jordan. Located on ritzy Cairo Street in Abdoun, the new Capital Bank VIP branch marks the first worldwide use of LUCEM Lichtbeton , a type of concrete with translucent properties. When backlit with LEDs or sunlight, the LUCEM translucent concrete panels create a stunning display of light and shadow for an elegant effect befitting the bank’s “boutique” character. Architect Saja Nahashibi , founding partner of PARADIGM DH, Amman, collaborated with German company LUCEM to develop the Capital Bank VIP branch. Taking inspiration from the surrounding architecture, the building sports a contemporary design and is clad in Taffouh stone. The architect minimized openings in the facade to preserve the privacy of the neighbors as well as the bank employees and customers. Transparent concrete panels were applied to the 46-foot-tall stairwell, which is made up of 30-millimeter-thick LUCEM light concrete panels mounted on a steel structure above undercut anchors. “The design was based on the idea that nature flows through the staircase in the form of light and shadow plays,” says LUCEM. “With the use of translucent light concrete, the architects and lighting planners are setting a striking example of how external walls can dissolve the contradiction between massiveness and lightness through translucency .” Related: Casa Bruma’s blackened concrete pavilions create a serene retreat in Mexico The concrete’s translucent feature comes from the integration of millions of embedded optical fibers, which transmit light through the material. When sunlight or LEDs shine on the material, the light that passes through makes the concrete appear translucent, creating a dramatic play of light and shadow. The silhouettes of people in the building are also projected through the panels. When not backlit, the LUCEM translucent panels look like light concrete or natural stone to match the color of the bank facade. The translucent LUCEM light concrete panels were also paired with LUCEM PURE concrete panels without optical fibers in order to maintain a consistent appearance. + PARADIGM DH + LUCEM Images via LUCEM

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Translucent concrete walls dramatically light up Jordans Capital Bank

These gorgeous tiny art studios are surrounded by New England forest

May 23, 2018 by  
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New York-based Fiedler Marciano Architecture has unveiled a pair of gorgeous artist studios set on 450 acres of idyllic forested landscape. Created for students of the I-Park Foundation ‘s in-residence art program, the design concept is a modern take on the local New England vernacular of pitched roofs and wood siding. The studios emit a strong sense of serenity and privacy and are strategically crafted for contemplation and creation. Located just outside of East Haddam, Connecticut, the cabins host students who are enrolled in the I-Park Foundation’s live-in residential program. The architects worked with the foundation’s organizers to design a private, tranquil work environment for young artists . According to the program description, “From May through November, artists of every stripe come for a month to live, work and commune with colleagues — and all in a much cherished, serene and ‘distraction free’ environment. The place affects the work, and the work most certainly affects the place, with the ephemeral art that populates the woods, fields, trails and pond creating a perpetual sense of discovery and delight.” Related: 6 Brilliant Studios Perfect For The Eco Artist Each artist studio is approximately 1,000 square feet. The exterior is clad in dark cedar siding and topped with galvanized metal roofs that slant to pay homage to the pitched roofs traditionally found in the area. Both studios have wide front porches, which offer residents a quiet place for contemplation. They are also steps away from a network of walking paths that lead through the forest. Inside, an expansive north-facing glass wall creates a strong connection with the bucolic surroundings. Both studios take advantage of  natural light , which fills the interior from early morning until late afternoon. The designers intentionally left the walls blank, so the students could display their works of art. + Fiedler Marciano Architecture + I-Park Foundation Photography by Chris Cooper via Fiedler Marciano Architecture

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These gorgeous tiny art studios are surrounded by New England forest

Multi-family timber home perches atop a Norwegian slope

April 25, 2018 by  
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Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter recently completed their latest residence: a multi-family dwelling set atop a steep slope in Oslo , Norway. As with the Norwegian architecture firm’s many other projects, the home is primarily clad in vertical planks of natural timber which helps tie the building into its wooded surroundings. Named the Two-in-One House, the residence houses two families as well as an independent apartment. When the client came to Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter with the project, the brief asked for a house that could comfortably accommodate two families while appearing as a single, unified home. In response, the architects crafted a slender and rectangular cedar -clad volume that emerges from a concrete base. To give the monolithic building a sense of lightness and to take advantage of surrounding views, the building is wrapped in glazing on the lower and top-most levels. Related: Norwegian-inspired timber cabins unveiled for a landscape hotel in France “The main task was for the project to appear as a unify house despite its duality, and still ensure the privacy of both units,” wrote the architects. “The ground floor integrates the main public functions of the homes and elegant windows frame the landscape scenery and invite nature into the building. On the contrary, the first floor protects the intimacy of the families and provides a more introvert area, with windows subtly appearing behind the cedar cladding.” The contemporary home also connects to a series of outdoor terraces on the east. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images by Ivar Kvaal

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Multi-family timber home perches atop a Norwegian slope

Colorado meth lab transformed into a minimalist artist retreat with rammed earth walls

April 23, 2018 by  
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A former meth lab in North Boulder, Colorado has received a new lease on life as an artist retreat with a beautifully minimalist design. Denver-based tres birds workshop designed the Swoon Art House with a careful eye on environmental stewardship, using “100 percent renewable resources” including rammed earth walls and geothermal wells. Created as part of the Swoon/ Boulder Museum Contemporary Art International Artists Residency , the 7,000-square-foot Swoon Art House merges forward-thinking design and technology with ancient construction techniques. Designed like a sculpture in itself, the artist retreat features two long structures set at an angle to one another. Round metal roofs top the building and contrast with the 30-inch-thick rammed earth walls created using soil from the site. Four vertical geothermal wells power the building’s heating and cooling system. Related: Tattoo shop-turned-distillery renovated using materials reclaimed on-site The first building houses two lofted bedrooms with bathrooms and a full kitchen for artists in residency. A small glass-walled passageway leads to the second building, which serves as an art studio. Energy-conserving windows line the studio walls, while hidden storage spaces add to the clean, minimalist feel. “The structure, from the physical design to the flow of energy, is based on the circle,” the architecture firm said. “The circle holds particular significance in ancient and modern culture, symbolizing that which is without a beginning or an end.” + tres birds workshop

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Colorado meth lab transformed into a minimalist artist retreat with rammed earth walls

Emojis become modern-day gargoyles on a Dutch mixed-use building

April 13, 2018 by  
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Emojis have worked their way into our everyday lives—and now they’ve infiltrated the built world as well. Over 20 expressive emojis have been cast in concrete and used as modern-day gargoyles on the facade of two mixed-use buildings in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. Designed by Attika Architekten , “Emoji Architecture” taps into the world of social media to create a subtle and unusual embellishment to otherwise ordinary brick-and-concrete architecture. Set on a street corner in Vathrost, the Emoji buildings are mostly residential with shops located on the ground floor. To match the surrounding architecture, Attika Architekten designed the two connected buildings with a traditional brick design gridded by white concrete. Hoping to inject a bit of whimsy to the staid structures, architect Changiz Tehrani of Attika Architekten enlisted the help of masons at Millro to cast 22 emojis (from the WhatsApp messaging app) in concrete . “In classical architecture they used heads of the king or whatever, and they put that on the façade,” Tehrani told The Verge . “So we were thinking, what can we use as an ornament so when you look at this building in 10 or 20 years you can say ‘hey this is from that year!’” The expressive ornaments were left unpainted and are only installed on the building facades that face the town square, which includes a library , theater, and school. While some architecture critics may be dismissive, Tehrani says the response from the community has been mostly positive, with perhaps the most enthusiastic support coming from social media-savvy students of the nearby school. + Attika Architekten Via The Verge Images © Bart van Hoek

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Emojis become modern-day gargoyles on a Dutch mixed-use building

This sinuous, green-roofed Media Library in France looks like it floats in mid-air

March 28, 2018 by  
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With a sinuous, meandering form that blurs the line between interior and exterior, the new Media Library in Thionville, France , is a unique  public space . Dominique Coulon & Associates designed the building by combining irregular, typically independent systems, creating tension in the space and in how it is read. The building aims to promote a new kind of media library – one that allows members of the public to create and curate their own experiences. It offers a variety of activities and spaces that blend into each other, including music studios, a café and restaurant, and exhibition areas . Related: Gorgeous LEED Gold library was designed with the help of Facebook and Twitter The façade resembles an opaque ribbon that rises and falls to conceal or reveal the building’s interior. At the point closest to the street, the ribbon reaches ground level, then rises up again at points that sit further back on the plot. This construction not only plays with the idea of interior and exterior space, but also brings natural light all the way into the heart of the project, where it’s most needed. Taken as a whole, the project questions the physical and psychological limits of what constitutes public space and follows a design that eludes the Euclidean interpretation of built space. A garden ramp offers another connection to the outside, leading upwards to a summer bar that serves as a culmination of the architectural promenade . In addition, the presence of multiple routes offers constantly renewed viewpoints. The “bubbles” within the building contain specific parts of the library, such as a storytelling area, language laboratories, places for playing video games, and a plastic arts room. + Dominique Coulon & Associates Lead photo by  Eugeni Pons

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This sinuous, green-roofed Media Library in France looks like it floats in mid-air

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