This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

May 15, 2018 by  
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Brutalist-inspired architecture is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when imagining cozy countryside cabins, but two daring designers have created a 900-square-foot house — made primarily of concrete blocks — in the Catskills. The homeowners, architect Jason Shannon and designer Paola Yañez of J_spy Architecture , created the contemporary home with a cluster of three cubic volumes and a white metal box for the roof. The result is a high-end, modern and eco-friendly retreat that sits on six acres of beautiful grassy landscape. The house was designed to be a serene getaway, a place to escape the city and return to nature. While many people choose to “nestle” their country homes into natural surroundings, this design stands out among the expansive fields thanks to its modern, bold aesthetic. The three cubist volumes made of concrete blocks and large white top floor create a fun juxtaposition to the flourishing, organic background. Related: Prefab Pyrenees cabin minimizes site impact and building costs The interior of the home is contemporary with a welcoming feel. Large windows and doors framed in mahogany provide an abundance of natural light and stunning views. Although the concrete walls were left unfinished on the exterior, the interior blocks feature a polished facade. The main living space has a beautiful 14′ ceiling clad in birch plywood that is interlaced with fabric to help absorb noise. With concrete as the primary building material, the home is extremely energy efficient . A geothermal heat pump is connected to the home’s concrete radiant floor, which emits both hot and cool air. The upper floor, which is clad in white metal, hangs over the dimension of the house for two reasons: to provide passive solar heating and to create high ceilings. In addition to the concrete blocks and radiant heating, the home also has a tankless hot water system and a condenser clothes dryer. To create a tight envelope that reduces energy loss, the house was insulated with a spray foam in the walls and ceilings. According to the architects, the efficient home is not only a reflection of how they live their personal lives, but also depicts their work ethos. Shannon explained, “This was our chance to say, ‘Let’s design the house as modern as we think we would like to be in the rest of our work.’” + J_spy Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Amanda Kirkpatrick

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This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

May 15, 2018 by  
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Inhabitat is thrilled to announce that New York City urban farming group Brooklyn Grange is launching its first location outside the city — at Kearny Point in New Jersey. The location holds its own storied past: a former World War I and World War II shipbuilding yard in an industrial area that’s spiraled downhill, Kearny Point is undergoing redevelopment under recycling corporation Hugo Neu . Inhabitat caught up with Brooklyn Grange COO and co-founder Gwen Schantz and Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Neu to learn about the project’s emphasis on not only economic revitalization but also the restoration of local ecology . At Kearny Point in New Jersey, Brooklyn Grange will help with  landscaping , converting just under three acres of sod into a native meadow. In addition, the group will help transform about an acre of former parking lot space into a demonstration garden, complete with a vegetable patch and children’s play area, as well as host plant sales and educational workshops. Although none of these gardens will be on rooftops, Brooklyn Grange does plan to host green roof workshops using a Kearny Point roof. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Schantz told Inhabitat, “We know what these industrial spaces can become and how they can be reinvented. We’ve seen the evolution of the Navy Yard. When we talked to the people at Hugo Neu about their vision about Kearny Point, we really got it. It resonated with us.” Neu is one of the people behind that vision. She told Inhabitat that Kearny Point, which is between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, was once a main economic driver for the area as “one of the most productive shipbuilding facilities in the world.” During World War II, 35,000 people worked on the 130-acre site. But after the war, the shipbuilding industry died in the United States. Hugo Neu acquired Kearny Point in the 1960s and dismantled ships, but that operation shut down around 1985. Until recently, Kearny Point was an industrial warehouse distribution facility. “ Hurricane Sandy was a defining moment for us because we were approximately four feet underwater. We’d never had any kind of issue with flooding. My late husband and I know climate change is coming and the environment is changing dramatically, and we had to think about what we were going to do with this site,” Neu told Inhabitat. After her husband passed away suddenly, Neu joined forces with Steve Nislick, former Edison Properties CEO, with the goal of doing “something transformative.” The new vision for Kearny Point includes offices for startups, coworking spaces, and a waterfront opened to the public. “The opportunity to take a heavy industrial site like this and integrate all the new technology – wind, solar, stormwater – and be able to show we can have people growing businesses without having to harm the environment but also actually improve it at the same time is, to me, a very compelling opportunity,” Neu said. Brooklyn Grange is “an indication of just what the possibilities are.” The project’s native meadow serves as a prime example. According to Schantz, when people try to convert land into meadows or gardens, they sometimes kill what’s growing there with pesticides . Brooklyn Grange is taking a more natural approach: they’re suffocating grass and enriching the soil with the help of recycled materials , such as leftover cardboard from a nearby shipping company and wood mulch from a local tree service, both of which the urban farming group inoculated with blue oyster mushrooms. Once this process is complete, they’ll plant native flowers and grasses. “Our approach is, let’s take this strip of land which has had a rough history along a railroad track, it has not been loved the way it could be, and give it a new lease on life and make it a place where insects and birds can feed and nest, and restore it the way it might have looked before there was a shipyard here,” said Schantz. How will Kearny Point handle natural disasters in the future? Neu said that not only are they raising the site up two feet, they’re creating at least 25 acres of open space and putting in bioswales to boost the site’s resiliency. “We’ll have underground parking that will serve as reservoirs for water that comes onto the site. We’ll remove as many impervious surfaces as possible, which is huge in terms of the amount that gets discharged into the Hackensack, and we’re going to do everything to improve the quality of what gets discharged,” said Neu. “I want to minimize our impact as much as possible. We have to be able to figure out how to have people prosper without destroying the environment and further degrading it.” Brooklyn Grange’s first plant sale will be Sunday, May 20, from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. “We’re really excited to be reaching out to our neighbors across the river,” Schantz said. “We know there’s already a culture of gardening here in the Garden State, and so we’re excited to bring some of our urban farming techniques and our general mindset of sustainable, organic gardening to the local community and hopefully get people excited about growing their own food .” + Brooklyn Grange + Hugo Neu + Kearny Point Images courtesy of Valery Rizzo

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Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

Interstellar cabins ring Snhettas otherworldly planetarium in Norway

May 3, 2018 by  
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An out-of-this-world design upgrade is coming to Solobservatoriet, the world’s largest solar observatory north of the Alps in Harestua, Norway . Snøhetta just unveiled their designs for the site’s new planetarium and visitor center as well as seven “interstellar cabins” arranged like orbiting planets around the planetarium’s golden dome. The astronomical facility is located 28 miles of Oslo at an elevated site 1,900 feet above sea level. The star of Snøhetta’s new designs is undoubtedly the Planetarium , a half-sunken structure designed as the first thing visitors see when they arrive to the facility via the forest footpaths. At the heart of the Planetarium is the 100-seat “celestial theater” housed in a golden orb engraved with constellations that appears to emerge from the earth and is visible from outside. Skylights as well as a sloping and accessible green roof planted with grass, wild heather, blueberry, and lingonberry bushes wrap around the golden dome. In addition to the theater, the Planetarium’s lower level includes a reception, cafe, exhibition area, and a ramp that leads up to an exhibition mezzanine and outdoor green roof. Outside, seven “interstellar cabins ” are arranged around the Planetarium like unique orbiting planets. Six of the planets alternate between 27 and 33 feet in diameter and accommodate up to 10 to 32 people respectively, while the smallest planet, Zolo, measures nearly 20 feet in diameter and houses just two guests. The new visitor’s center will be placed near the original solar observatory. Related: Snøhetta unveils plans for world’s first “energy-positive” hotel in the Arctic Circle “The new Planetarium and cabins represent an ambitious expansion of the current and modest facilities, turning the entire site into a publicly accessible and international knowledge hub while also providing expanded support spaces for activities such as teambuilding, lectures and seminars,” wrote the architects. + Snøhetta Images via Snøhetta

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Interstellar cabins ring Snhettas otherworldly planetarium in Norway

Tent cabin clusters perfectly blend into the Californian forests

July 11, 2017 by  
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This family retreat hidden in the forests of Northern California is very different from your typical weekend home. Berkeley-based Envelope Architecture + Design designed the Forest House, a holiday retreat broken up into nine minimalist boxes hoisted off the ground for minimal site impact . Clad in stained timber, the cluster of one-room cabins blends into the heavily wooded landscape. Located in Mendocino County a few hours from San Francisco, the Forest House was built for a couple and their three young children. The structure’s nine tent cabins are organized within four clusters, all hooked up to plumbing and electricity, and spread out across two acres around a central concrete-paved plaza. The buildings are raised several feet off the ground on 4×4 posts for a treehouse -like effect and are carefully placed to preserve existing trees. A network of wooden paths connects the raised cabins. Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact The roofs are topped with treated Army canvas anchored with nylon ropes. “The tented roofs and walls allow a connection with the natural setting—its sounds and changing seasons—while large clear and mirrored-bronze glass windows frame views of the landscape and neighboring ‘rooms,’” wrote the architects. “Wood-framed walls and floors lend warmth and support the comforts of modern living, deep within the forest. Here, the forest and house are one with indoor and outdoor rooms suspended between the treetops and canopy floor.” + Envelope Architecture + Design Via Gessato Images via Envelope Architecture + Design, © Richard Barnes

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Tent cabin clusters perfectly blend into the Californian forests

Tent cabin clusters perfectly blend into the Californian forests

July 11, 2017 by  
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This family retreat hidden in the forests of Northern California is very different from your typical weekend home. Berkeley-based Envelope Architecture + Design designed the Forest House, a holiday retreat broken up into nine minimalist boxes hoisted off the ground for minimal site impact . Clad in stained timber, the cluster of one-room cabins blends into the heavily wooded landscape. Located in Mendocino County a few hours from San Francisco, the Forest House was built for a couple and their three young children. The structure’s nine tent cabins are organized within four clusters, all hooked up to plumbing and electricity, and spread out across two acres around a central concrete-paved plaza. The buildings are raised several feet off the ground on 4×4 posts for a treehouse -like effect and are carefully placed to preserve existing trees. A network of wooden paths connects the raised cabins. Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact The roofs are topped with treated Army canvas anchored with nylon ropes. “The tented roofs and walls allow a connection with the natural setting—its sounds and changing seasons—while large clear and mirrored-bronze glass windows frame views of the landscape and neighboring ‘rooms,’” wrote the architects. “Wood-framed walls and floors lend warmth and support the comforts of modern living, deep within the forest. Here, the forest and house are one with indoor and outdoor rooms suspended between the treetops and canopy floor.” + Envelope Architecture + Design Via Gessato Images via Envelope Architecture + Design, © Richard Barnes

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Tent cabin clusters perfectly blend into the Californian forests

9 eco-friendly ‘man caves’ for dudes and dads to get away from it all

June 29, 2017 by  
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Ah, the “man cave” – a place for dudes and dads to find solitude, tinker, build or read. Although the term may conjure up images of dank basements and wood-paneled rec rooms, the modern man cave has much more to offer. From prefabricated backyard pods and minimalist A-framed cabins to a futuristic voice-activated sphere in the sky, we’ve rounded up 9 inspiring ideas for men looking to get away from it all and recharge their batteries. 1. Prefabricated, versatile backyard getaway The Backyard Room is only available in Australia at the moment, but, logistics aside, it’s the perfect solution for creating a separate space without the need for moving or funding a pricey (and intrusive) home renovation. The prefabricated structure is built from renewable materials with high standards including LEDs and insulated roof and walls. It only takes a week to install this space-maximizer; calculate another few days to add on a green roof for the ultimate backyard eco-haven. 2. Man cave for a man-in-training For the young at heart, this man cave features pinball machines, a pool table, and a skateboarding bowl as well as a fully loaded tv and movie-viewing area. Designed and built for a very fortunate Cape Town teen, this space is a dream for men who want to go from shredding on their skateboard to playing video games to lounging with friends. There’s no need to leave the premises, especially when Mom and Dad’s stocked kitchen is just a few feet away. 3. Solar-powered, voice-activated Skysphere Image via Jono Williams Because having a regular, old man cave isn’t sufficient, Jono Williams concocted one of the craziest ones we’ve ever seen: a solar-powered sphere in the sky with electronics that operate on voice command. Williams designed and built the Skysphere himself (with a little help from friends), taking classes and learning a variety of topics to ensure that the Skysphere would be safe and structurally sound. While it’s awesome that he can say the word and custom LED lights change color or motorized doors open to cool the space down, it’s even more impressive that these awesome features are a result of educating himself and working until he had the dream space he wanted. 4. Cabin by the lake with a 55-year history This lakeside retreat isn’t truly tiny, but it began that way 55 years ago when an 18-year-old commenced construction on a 14-square-foot bunk house. That teen with a vision grew up to be Jim Olson, an accomplished architect . Over more than five decades, the cabin grew too, continually and gradually transforming into the picturesque getaway that it now is. Olson took care to build his outdoor deck around three trees to allow for their continued growth; a palette of woods used in the cabin’s interior as well as floor-to-ceiling windows make the space appear integrated into its gorgeous surroundings. Related|Build your own tiny home or treehouse with these stackable wooden micro-units 5. Modern micro-cabin made from recycled parts We love this 3-D printed micro-cabin , and we hope you will too. Dutch architects created the “Urban Cabin” using mostly recycled components and a sustainably produced and sturdy bioplastic frame. There’s enough room for a bed, which can also be folded into seating to leave room for Dad to tinker with other projects (or even set up a little table to serve as a mini office). A 3-D printed tub doesn’t fit inside the structure itself, but can be placed just outside. 6. Book nook nestled in nature For bibliophiles, this timber cabin is a green dream come to life. Felled oak trees that were left over from a separate construction project were repurposed into the bones of this tiny retreat, which was crafted using a Lincoln log-like method that created natural internal bookshelves and window spaces. This sublime upstate New York space is perfect for every season, although the wood-burning stove makes it the ideal place to snuggle up for a long winter’s nap. Image via Rok Pezdirc 7. Cabin among the trees This cozy cabin on stilts reminds us of a kiddie treehouse all grown up and elevated (literally). Inside there’s everything one would need for some R & R including a chair, storage units that double as a bed foundation, and a table. An outdoor deck offers optimal views, but between the skylights and numerous windows, the divide between inside and outside is minimal. Untreated timber forms the interior and exterior, but the space is surprisingly refined and could even serve as an office space. Image via Carolyn L. Bates 8. Wheelchair accessible tiny home with a mobile base Wheelchair accessibility is unfortunately not typically high on the list of specifics when designing tiny homes; the struggle to use every nook , cranny, and spare inch often supersedes an effort to make the space friendly to persons with mobility issues. Wheel Pad , designed with input from home health nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and doctors, aims to change that precedent. The home maximizes the available 200 square feet with a spacious and accessible bathroom, a wheelchair-level desk set-up and fixtures, and large windows to fill the home with natural light. 9. A-frame eco hut with a tiny footprint A-frame cabins by Lushna are reminiscent of human-sized bird houses, and they even come ready for some up-close-and-personal nesting: each has a king-sized mattress and was designed with four season living in mind. The prefab cabins are comprised of locally sourced larchwood and can be customized to include an outdoor wooden hot tub , curtains, or even a luxurious suite version with bathroom facilities and a mini kitchen.

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9 eco-friendly ‘man caves’ for dudes and dads to get away from it all

This green-roofed castle home in England is cooled by the ocean breeze

June 29, 2017 by  
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With its thick undulating walls and green roof , this villa in England translates the architecture of traditional Celtic fortifications into the language of sustainability. Tonkin Liu Architects ‘s Ness Point House is a castle-like structure that protects its occupants from the elements while achieving a high level of energy efficiency. The house occupies a cliff top site in Dover, South East England, and functions as an airtight shelter that utilizes passive and active sustainable design features. It utilizes heat recovery and solar thermal renewable systems to maximize energy efficiency in the winter, while the long gallery skylight and eco-vents enable passive cooling during the hot summer. Related: A green-roofed Hobbit home anyone can build in just 3 days The undulating plan and inclined sections create a cavernous internal space that offers flexibility of use and captures changing lighting conditions. As if growing out of the land, the house is covered in a vegetative roof that slopes downward at the rear of the site. + Tonkin Liu Architects Via Plataforma Arquitectura Lead photo by Nick Guttridge

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This green-roofed castle home in England is cooled by the ocean breeze

New map provides clues into 500-million-year mystery in Earth’s past

June 29, 2017 by  
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1,000 to 520 million years ago, Earth’s climate was undergoing dramatic changes. From icy extremes in what some have termed Snowball Earth , to warmer conditions as an increase in oxygen led to the Cambrian explosion of biodiversity , it’s a period of the planet’s climate history we knew little about – until now. Scientists recently created the first ever global map of plate tectonics during this time, shedding light on their influence on other Earth systems. Tectonic plate movement helps researchers understand how life evolved and how Earth’s climate changed. But there was around a 500-million-year gap that a group of 12 researchers in Australia and Canada just filled in with their new map, which they describe as the “first whole-Earth plate tectonic map of half a billion years of Earth history .” Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion years old The researchers were able to draw up the map by studying rocks that formed near where tectonic plates meet or where they ripped apart. The rocks came from Brazil, Ethiopia, and Madagascar. The scientists said the work took them a few decades. Their map offers new details, further back in geological time, than we had before. Two of the co-authors on a paper in press at the journal Gondwana Research wrote a piece for The Conversation detailing their map and the role of plate tectonics in our planet’s climate and the evolution of life. Andrew Merdith of the University of Sydney and Alan Collins of the University of Adelaide said the lack of ancient tectonic maps has made it difficult for researchers trying to unravel the mysteries of the past. They wrote, “Understand ancient plate tectonics and we go someway to understanding the ancient Earth system. And the Earth as it is today, and into the future.” Via The Conversation Images via Andrew S. Merdith, et al.

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New map provides clues into 500-million-year mystery in Earth’s past

Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil

January 4, 2017 by  
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Couples looking for a romantic escape can unplug in comfort at these off-grid eco-cabins hidden away in the remote coastal mountains of Brazil. Surrounded by nature and captivating views, these solar-powered getaways are the latest installments of Minimod , a prefabricated modern home designed by MAPA Architects. Cozy and dreamy, these Minimod Catuçaba dwellings are the first of their kind in Brazil and are even available to rent on AirBnB. Located on the five-hectare estate of a former coffee plantation that dates back to 1840, the two Minimod Catuçaba cabins border the Serra do Mar State Park and overlook a verdant landscape of trees and mountains. The two 45-square-meter units are placed 1,000 meters apart and were built with different viewpoints and different layouts—one is cross-shaped while the other is rectangular. Both cabins were prefabricated offsite in a factory using cross-laminated timber and are equipped with solar panels and full-height glazing. “We invited Minimod to join the Fazenda Catuçaba community because we believe it is a revolutionary concept in Brazil, that shares in our vision of natural living,” write Casas de Catuçaba , the operators of the eco-cabins. “The Minimod is a primitive refuge with a modern twist. It´s not just a living space, it is an experience. It is a technological experience applied to the natural landscape, an invitation to live on the border between of the natural and the man-made. The Minimod incorporates a silencing system to enhance the experience between the inhabitant and the landscape.” Related: MAPA Architects’ Tiny MINIMOD House is a LED-Lit Prefab Home for Off-Grid Living Each cabin accommodates four and includes two beds, bathroom, kitchen, and living area with an indoor fireplace. Guests have access to trails through the woods that lead to a lake and floating deck, as well as an outdoor fire pit. The cabins are available to rent on AirBnB for $267 per night. + Minimod Catuçaba Via ArchDaily Images via Minimod Catuçaba and © Leonardo Finotti

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Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil

Tesla extends free charging at Supercharger stations

January 4, 2017 by  
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As of two weeks from now, there will be no more free lunch for Tesla car buyers, as the company will be cutting off free access to its Supercharger network of charging stations as of January 15, 2017. Engadget reports that this is actually somewhat of a reprieve for Tesla customers, as the cutoff was initially supposed to be January 1, 2017. According to Engadget , Tesla announced this change was coming a few months ago, telling customers they were soon going to have to pay for their own electricity. Given the recent announcement, potential buyers have just a short period in which to get unlimited free electricity for their Tesla car, which amounts to a huge bonus for anyone buying before January 15. Cars bought after that date will be limited to just 400 kilowatt hours of free power per year, and owners will have to pay for the rest. According to Tesla, that’s roughly enough power to drive for about 1,000 miles. Related: Tesla’s next Supercharger could charge electric cars in mere seconds Tesla says charging beyond that amount will be available at an additional fee, the amount of which has yet to be announced. They have said it “won’t be too expensive” and will cost drivers “less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.” So if you’re thinking about a Tesla, now could be the time to buy. This announcement comes shortly after CEO Elon Musk hinted that a new generation of Superchargers could charge a Model S in just seconds. Near the end of December 2016, Musk hinted in a tweet that the Supercharger V3 would have an ouput of at least 350 kilowatts, or more than double the output of the current Superchargers in Tesla’s network. Via Engadget Images via Tesla Motors, Joseph Thornton and Steve Jurvetson , Flickr Creative Commons

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