Forgotten urban spaces get new lives as beautiful gathering areas on Skid Row

August 16, 2019 by  
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As part of its project to update a 110-unit affordable housing project on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, California architecture firm Brooks + Scarpa has revitalized a couple of unloved service courtyards and a debris-filled alley into beautiful outdoor gathering spaces. Completed on a minimal budget, the Rossmore + Weldon Courtyards will provide a major positive impact on the quality of living for the tenants, who were formerly homeless. Low-cost design strategies were used to transform the neglected spaces into contemporary and welcoming areas. Completed for a cost of $140,000, the Rossmore + Weldon Courtyards include three small spaces measuring 7 feet by 50 feet, 10 feet by 12 feet and 15 feet by 20 feet for a total combined area of less than 850 square feet. These outdoor spaces had been poorly utilized and typically cluttered with debris and tenant bicycles. When the architects discovered these spaces, they convinced the client of their transformation potential on a minimal budget. To keep costs low, most materials were reused, recycled or purchased from a local hardware store. Related: Affordable housing for disabled veterans marries wellness and sustainability in Los Angeles At Weldon, the architects turned a southern courtyard and an alley on the west side into attractive outdoor living spaces. To brighten up the areas, the architects used white paint and an “interactive green wall ” of custom steel pot holders attached to a white CMU wall that holds potted plants, for which the tenants can provide care. Poured-in-place concrete seats and tables provide space to gather and rest, while white gravel and concrete pavers create visual interest and complete the light-toned color palette. In contrast, the Rossmore courtyard features a predominately timber palette. Designed around an existing ficus tree, the updated space features rolling wood-slatted benches mounted on steel-angle track as well as new planters. Bicycle storage has been integrated in all of the courtyard designs.  + Brooks + Scarpa Images via Brooks + Scarpa

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Forgotten urban spaces get new lives as beautiful gathering areas on Skid Row

Sustainable RAUM Pavilion can be continually reused or recycled in Utrecht

August 7, 2019 by  
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Utrecht’s burgeoning cultural hotspot at Berlijnplein (Berlin Square) has recently gained the RAUM Pavilion, a new sustainable meeting space for makers and creatives. Designed by Amsterdam studio Overtreders W , the temporary structure serves as an events venue for exhibitions, lectures and workshops. Following circular economy principles, the movable pavilion can be easily disassembled and rebuilt elsewhere, or the materials can be reused, recycled or composted. The pavilion is constructed from three adjoining timber structures with insulated wooden floor panels set on wooden beams on a foundation of concrete slabs. For a lighter and more durable alternative to glass, the architects installed polycarbonate sheets on the roofs and floors to let natural light in during the day. The sheets are also interspersed by leftover pieces of acrylic glass for pops of color. The polycarbonate panels help trap heat for passive heating, while rooftop solar panels power the pavilion. As with the exterior, the interior is deliberately left in a raw state to leave all the of the construction visible to the eye. The ceiling is defined by exposed timber trusses and their diagonal supports, as well as potted plants with greenery that drape over each truss. For flexibility, the interior can be sectioned off to create differently sized rooms to accommodate various group sizes ranging from two to 80 people. Related: An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrecht’s “circular” pavilion Completed in the fall of 2018, the RAUM Pavilion will stay in its present location for at least three years, after which it may move to a new location. The space regularly hosts events and can be rented by locals and companies for private events. The pavilion is also home to the restaurant Venster, which serves food prepared from locally sourced produce. + Overtreders W Images by Overtreders W

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Sustainable RAUM Pavilion can be continually reused or recycled in Utrecht

A new eco-minded neighborhood in Utah ski resort emphasizes land stewardship

August 6, 2019 by  
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On a Utah ski mountain, a new neighborhood is bucking the trend of gaudy, environmentally insensitive construction that has long dominated Mountain West resorts. For their first completed project in the United States, Canadian architecture firm MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple recently finished phase one of Horizon, the first pre-designed neighborhood on Powder Mountain, Utah. With eight cabins now complete, the village—which will consist of 30 cabins—has been designed to follow passive solar principles and to allow the majority of Powder Mountain to remain undeveloped as part of the project’s commitment to climate responsiveness and land stewardship. The Horizon village was created to serve as the “home base” for Summit Series , a startup for a conferences comparable to TED. Six years ago, the startup purchased Powder Mountain, the largest ski mountain in the U.S., for the purpose of making the site “an epicenter of innovation, culture, and thought leadership.” To translate the startup’s values of community, environmental responsibility, and social good into architecture, Summit Series tapped MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple to design a village with reduced site impact and an appearance that evokes the traditional mountain vernacular. Located at 9,000 feet elevation, Horizon will consist of 30 cabins of four different typologies ranging in size from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet, a series of strategically placed garages, and a communal lodge called the “Pioneer Cabin.” Every building will be elevated on steel stilts and oriented for optimal passive solar conditions. Moreover, thermal mass concrete flooring with hydronic in-floor heating will help keep energy costs down. Inspired by the region’s cedar-clad barns, the cabins will be wrapped in vertical shiplap cedar and topped with cedar-shingled roofs. Related: Affordable wooden cabin is precariously perched over a cliff in Nova Scotia “The theme and variation strategy, in combination with the dramatic topography, results in a neighborhood that has a powerful sense of both unity and variety,” says the project press release. “The dense neighborhood will allow the majority of Powder Mountain’s 11,500 acres to remain undeveloped, and conserved for future generations.” + MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Images by Doublespace Photography

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A new eco-minded neighborhood in Utah ski resort emphasizes land stewardship

Green-roofed luxury home blends historic Spanish influences with contemporary design

August 2, 2019 by  
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In between the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal mountain range in northern Spain, Tarragona-based architect Guillem Carrera has completed Casa VN, an energy-efficient luxury home that pays homage to the region’s historic heritage. Set on a steep slope, the modern home uses terraces to step down the landscape and is faced with walls of glass to take advantage of panoramic views. To reduce energy demands, the house follows passive solar principles; it is also topped with insulating green roofs and equipped with home automation technology. Casa VN is located in Alella, a village near Barcelona that was historically used for farming and marked by large estates and stonewall terraces. However, in recent years, changes in the economy have led to increased urbanization in the area. Given the landscape history, Carrera strove to conserve the original character of his client’s property while introducing modern comforts. Related: Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption The goal was to “preserve the soul and the morphology, to preserve each one of those things that make it unique and characteristic: the terraces, the retaining walls, the different elements of pre-existing vegetation and the dry stone chapel ,” Carrera said. “These elements are delimited and identified to be preserved in the plant, and once they have been delimited, a respectful implementation of housing directly on the existing land is established, so that the house coexists and interacts spatially and functionally with these elements. The resulting ensemble seeks to be a whole, timeless and heterogeneous, that is part of the place and the landscape.” At 869 square meters, Casa VN recalls the large estates that were once typical in Alella. Locally sourced stone — the same used in the preserved stone chapel — and native Mediterranean landscaping also respect the local vernacular. Meanwhile, the residence features modern construction with a structure of reinforced concrete, steel and glass. Passive solar principles also guided the design and placement of the house to reduce unwanted solar gain and promote natural cooling. + Guillem Carrera Photography by Adrià Goula via Guillem Carrera

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Green-roofed luxury home blends historic Spanish influences with contemporary design

Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

August 2, 2019 by  
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On land, the world is tuning in for Shark Week celebrations, but out in the oceans, the reality for sharks is much more grim. A recent update of the digital database maintained by the Animal Welfare Institute indicates that almost 200 restaurants across the country offer shark fin soup and other shark products despite being banned in more than 12 states. Shark fins are festive delicacies, especially for East Asian communities, but the practice of removing fins from sharks is an abusive tradition condemned by conservationists and animal rights activists around the world. “The United States is a major producer, exporter and trade stop for shark fins,” said Cathy Liss, president of Animal Welfare Institute. “Clearly, the existing patchwork of state laws and uneven enforcement have failed to shut down a lucrative billion-dollar industry. When shark fin soup is on the menu, so is animal cruelty.” Related: Shark fins still being sold in US restaurants amid ban California has the highest number of restaurants offering shark dishes (59 restaurants) despite a full ban on shark fin possession, sale, trade or distribution in 2013. New York passed a similar ban in 2014 but still has 19 restaurants that offer shark products. Bans are also pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Approximately 73 million sharks are killed every year just to harvest their fins. The practice often includes the capture of sharks and the bloody removal of their fins while they are still alive. The sharks are then tossed back in the water, where their chances of survival are nearly impossible. This widespread method is considered inhumane and cruel because of the suffering that the sharks endure during and after the removal of their fins. Despite their reputation, sharks are absolutely essential for healthy marine ecosystems . According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, all species of warm-water flat sharks are considered critically endangered except for one. This year, Canada passed a national ban on shark imports and exports, but in the U.S., legislation is still on a limited state-by-state level. + Animal Welfare Institute Image via Alondav

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Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

UNStudio designs terminal for worlds first cross-border cable car connecting Russia with China

August 1, 2019 by  
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After completing cable car designs in Gothenburg and Amsterdam, UNStudio has won a competition to design the Blagoveshchensk Cable Terminal for the world’s first cross-border cable car that will connect Russia and China. Presumably powered by electricity, the new form of public transport has been described by UNStudio’s founder Ben van Berkel to be “sustainable, extremely fast, reliable and efficient.” The new cross-border cable car line will connect the northern Chinese city of Heihe with the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk. Separated by the Amur River that has formed a boundary between Russia and China since the mid-19th century, the two cities belong to a free trade zone and have historically been trading partners, particularly when the Amur River freezes over to allow passage by foot. The frozen Amur river as a platform for trade and commerce inspired UNStudio’s winning Cable Car Terminal design, which aims to build social connections between the two cultures. As a result, the terminal will feature diverse programming and curated views of both cities. The angular building will also comprise a series of landscaped terraces to create a new shared urban space — dubbed the Urban Tribune — that will serve as a cultural focal point on the waterfront for Blagoveschensk. Related: The “world’s first vertical cable car” will climb to a height of 138 meters in the UK “As it crosses the natural border of the Amur River, the Blagoveshchensk – Heihe cable car will be the first ever cable car system to join two countries and cultures,” van Berkel said in a project statement. “This context provided rich inspiration for the Blagoveshchensk terminal station, which not only responds to its immediate urban location but also becomes an expression of cultural identity and a podium for the intermingling of cultures.” The cable car line will comprise two lines and four cabins — each with a capacity of 60 passengers and extra space for luggage — and can whisk passengers from one city to the other in less than eight minutes. + UNStudio Images via UNStudio

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UNStudio designs terminal for worlds first cross-border cable car connecting Russia with China

Contemporary barn-inspired home adheres to passive house principles

July 31, 2019 by  
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Delivering a modern twist to local historic building practices, London-based architectural practice Bureau de Change has recently completed a new home that takes inspiration from traditional farm structures in the Cotswolds, a rural area of south central England. A pair of timber chicken sheds, nearly 100 feet long each, was used as the starting point of the design for the Long House. In addition to respecting the local rural vernacular, the thoughtfully crafted home also follows passive house principles to reduce energy use without sacrificing comfort year-round. Located near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, England, the Long House spans approximately 5,400 square feet across three gabled volumes that have been given two different exterior treatments. The single-story volume to the front is built from stone, while the volume in the rear—split into two parts—is sheathed in natural larch that will gain a natural patina over time. The contrast adds visual richness and the materials selected will naturally develop a patina over time to blend the buildings into the surroundings. “The front barn has been built in dry stone wall by a local craftsman, chosen not only for its local relevance but for its inherent qualities of mass and muscularity,” explains Bureau de Change Architects co-founder Katerina Dionysopoulou. “This facade is monolithic, with fewer openings to produce a heavier, solid volume at the front. As a counterpoint, the taller barn in the back is clad in lighter-weight natural larch which has been charred to a deep leathery black at each window recess. This charring has then been brushed away to gently blend it into the natural larch—creating an ombre effect which emphasizes the rhythmic push and pull of the window indentations.” Related: British farmer plants heart-shaped meadow in honor of his late wife Inside, the front volume hides an inner courtyard that’s hidden behind the elevation and serves as a light-filled focal point for the home. To meet passive house principles , the architects constructed the building with an insulated concrete formwork system to create an airtight thermal envelope. Openings are limited on the south-facing facade and triple-pane glass was installed to minimize unwanted heat gain and loss. Air quality is maintained with a heat recovery ventilation system. + Bureau de Change Images by Gilbert McCarragher

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A Scandinavian nature resource gains a playful and modern barn-shaped building

July 30, 2019 by  
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One of northern Europe’s largest protected areas for wildlife has recently gained a new entrance building with an unexpectedly playful facade. Designed by Stockholm-based architectural office sandellsandberg , the modern structure, dubbed Outdoor Eriksberg, is the first of many new buildings planned for Eriksberg Hotel & Nature Reserve in southeastern Sweden’s Blekinge County. As a blend of contemporary and traditional influences, the entrance building references the traditional architecture of Blekinge with its barn-inspired shape and “Falu copper red” paint, while its curtain-like facade creates a decidedly modern vibe. Nicknamed the “Scandinavian safari,” the Eriksberg Nature Reserve is home to a wide variety of animals—including red deer, fallow deer, European bison, wild boar and mouflon— that roam the grounds spanning nine square kilometers. In recent years, the nature reserve has undergone further development to accommodate its growing number of visitors that average around 50,000 people every year. Currently, the estate includes a restaurant, hotel and event spaces. Although sandellsandberg was tapped to bring modern buildings to the nature reserve, the Swedish architecture firm didn’t shy away from taking inspiration from local traditional forms. The entrance building is reminiscent of the region’s traditional longhouses with its barn-shaped form, large windows and thatched roof. However, the two-story barn-shaped building’s contemporary feel comes through in its asymmetrical roof line that’s topped with a long and large skylight that allows the interior to become illuminated with natural light, while the curtain-like facade gives the building a cartoonish appearance. “Previously there was no distinct entrance to the nature reserve, which at times made visitors turn at the gates in confusion,” say the architects in their project statement. “Hence, the biggest challenges were to strengthen the site’s identity and give presumptive visitors a welcoming first impression of the reserve. These needs gave birth to the idea of a textile look where an unexpected curtain-shaped façade surprises and welcomes the visitor and like a curtain open up to the nature reserve.” Related: Farmhouse-inspired family home combines salvaged and sustainable materials Spanning an area of 600 square meters, the entrance building is a multipurpose space that not only welcomes guests to the Eriksberg Nature Reserve, but also hosts events space, office areas, storage, as well as retail and restaurant space. The ground floor houses a series of back offices , a cafe and a shop that sells homegrown produce. Above is a spacious exhibition area with additional retail space and storage. + sandellsandberg Images by Åke E:son Lindman

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A Scandinavian nature resource gains a playful and modern barn-shaped building

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

Energy-efficient house embraces panoramic views of Puget Sound

July 30, 2019 by  
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Uninterrupted panoramic views of the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountain Range are ushered indoors at the House on the Cove, a contemporary home where the line between the outdoors and indoors is blurred. Seattle-based architecture firm Stephenson Design Collective designed the energy-efficient house for a client who not only wanted a home with a view but also sought space for a small metal fabrication shop and studio. The two resulting structures — a two-story main house and a separate garage/shop with a studio on top — are clad in natural steel and black-stained cedar to blend into the landscape. Located in the city of Bellingham just north of Seattle, the House on the Cove is set at a high elevation and backs into a conifer forest. “This project is study of environment and experience,” the architects explained. “The home itself is secondary. With views to the west that are uninterrupted Puget Sound , San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountain Range, the experience exists regardless of the home.” Related: A solar-powered luxury home blends into a Pacific Northwest landscape In addition to minimizing impact on the landscape , the house also boasts energy-efficient features and durable materials to meet the clients’ desire for sustainable housing. The house is heated with radiant concrete floors that double as a thermal mass to naturally cool the home on hot summer nights. Zola Windows open the house up completely on the west side and let natural breezes blow straight through. In winter, fireplace pipes are used to warm the air. The main house spans an area of 2,504 square feet. The ground floor includes the open-plan layout with the living room, dining area and kitchen as well as an office and a bedroom. The second floor comprises a spacious, west-facing en suite master bedroom, a third bedroom, a “Nest” refuge and a reading room. The separate 765-square-foot studio houses the garage, a west-facing metalworking space, and a studio space above the metalworking shop. + Stephenson Design Collective Photography by Andrew Pogue via Stephenson Design Collective

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