Modern, self-sustaining home blends into a rocky landscape

November 13, 2018 by  
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Zagreb-based architectural office PROARH completed Issa Megaron, a family retreat in Croatia that’s disguised inside a rocky hillside with a zigzagging road. Due to its remote location and lack of surrounding infrastructure, the modern home operates off the grid by necessity and includes self-sustaining technologies from rainwater collection tanks to solar photovoltaic panels. Going off grid, however, hasn’t compromised the architect’s pursuit of luxurious living, made evident by the contemporary interior design, large pool and spacious footprint of 420 square meters. Completed in 2016, Issa Megaron began with the conceptual combination of a cave, a megaron (a great hall in ancient Greek palaces) and stone dry walls. “The house is envisioned as a dug in volume, a residential pocket between the stretches of space forming walls, an artificial grotto, a memory of a primitive shelter,” explained the architects, who split the house into two floors. The upper floor contains six bedrooms and bathrooms organized around a central living room and book-ended by two offices. The master bedroom and bath, the  open-plan dining room, lounge and kitchen, the game room, the gym and storage are located on the lower floor, which opens up to the pool and outdoor terrace. The traditional stone dry walls have been reinterpreted as reinforced concrete retaining walls topped with rocky green roofs . When viewed from above, Issa Megaron appears to blend into the steep terrain. “The design that emerges from such conditions is subtle, creates a symbiosis with the new/old stonewall topography,” the firm noted. “The newly built structure is man-made but unobtrusive in intent, material and ultimate appearance.” Related: Croatian freshwater aquarium by 3LHD is built right into the hillside In addition to green roofs and solar panels, the house minimizes its energy footprint by following passive solar design principles that promote natural cooling. A concentrating solar power system is used for heating, while harvested rainwater is filtered and reused in the house and for the pool. + PROARH Via ArchDaily Photography by Damir Fabijani? and Miljenko Bernfest via PROARH

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Modern, self-sustaining home blends into a rocky landscape

Hydroponic gardens and a mini mountain promote fun and well-being in this creative office

November 6, 2018 by  
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A running track, elevated hydroponic gardens and a miniature “mountain” combine in this fun, new office headquarters for the non-profit Leping Foundation in Beijing , China. Designed by the prolific local design practice People’s Architecture Office (PAO), the mostly open-plan office landscape was created to foster health and wellness. Covering an area of 1,100 square meters, the Leping Social Entrepreneur Foundation Headquarters unites four of the company’s departments with a suspended vegetated loop and a running track underneath. Known for its social innovation work, the headquarters of the Leping Foundation covers four distinct fields: job training for migrant workers, agricultural research, preschool education and microfinance. To cultivate a sense of community among the different fields, the People’s Architecture Office created an office that fosters collaboration and interaction. The activity loop track that snakes through the various departments encourages office workers to take breaks and walk laps around the office. In addition to the open kitchen, dining area and lounge, the architects also added a “mini mountain” integrated with stairs to give workers a way to “hike” up to the mezzanine level. The office also includes a separate gym, a meditation space and a meeting room. “The wall design reminds users of the importance of staying active and changing positions,” the architects explained. “Gradating bands of blue span the height of the walls and columns at 60-cm intervals. Recommended periods of time spent at each height are given and each of these correspond with certain postures and activities, which include laying down, sitting, walking and climbing.” Related: China’s rival to AirBnB opens new Beijing office with cutting-edge interior design The suspended hydroponic gardens that are filled with edible plants and aromatic herbs not only add beauty and a source of food for the office, but they also help clean the indoor air. The gardens are complemented with an advanced air filtration system — an important addition given Beijing’s notoriety for severe air pollution . Indoor air quality data is regularly collected, monitored and displayed in real time above the running track. + People’s Architecture Office Photography by Jing Weiqi via People’s Architecture Office

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Hydroponic gardens and a mini mountain promote fun and well-being in this creative office

A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

November 1, 2018 by  
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The sustainable builders at ArtisTree are known for creating some seriously beautiful and green structures. The company has just unveiled a charming treehouse located in a remote eco-retreat in Texas. Perched 25 feet in the air between two cypress trees, the Yoki Treehouse is an exceptional example of the company’s artistry and deep respect for nature. Located in central Texas, the Yoki Treehouse is Austin’s first treehouse resort at Cypress Valley. Designed to be a luxury retreat, the  treehouse sits 25 feet above a creek, which served as the inspiration for the design and name (Yoki is the Hopi Native American word for rain). According to Will Beilharz, founder of ArtisTree, “Water is life — one of our most precious resources, and ArtisTree treehouses are designed to let people experience nature’s resources more intimately.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home — and you can stay overnight Built with sustainable woods such as elm, cypress and spruce, the treehouse holds court high up within the tree canopy.  The retreat is comprised of a 500-square-foot suspended treehouse and a separate bathhouse, which sits on solid ground. The two buildings are connected by a 60-foot-long suspension bridge with various platforms to provide plenty of open spaces for enjoying the surrounding nature. In the main house, this strong emphasis on nature is apparent at every angle. The entrance is located on the roof, which doubles as an observation platform perfect for enjoying the lush green forest views and the babbling brook. There is also an open-air porch where the branches grow through the floor, further connecting the structure into its environment. Inside, the walls of the treehouse are clad in a warm birch wood, creating a cabin-like aesthetic. Again, an abundance of windows, including an all-glass front wall, allows guests to reconnect with nature. The interior design and furnishings were inspired by Japanese minimalism, while touches of Turkish decor add a sense of whimsy. The separate bathhouse was built with solitude in mind. It features a spa-like atmosphere, complete with a large Onsen-style soaking bathtub. Ample floor-to-ceiling windows offer guests a serene spot to enjoy a bit of bird watching or stargazing. + ArtisTree Via Dezeen Photography by Smiling Forest via ArtisTree

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A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

October 31, 2018 by  
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When asked by a long-time friend to build a garden-facing retirement home in Hobart, Australia, Brunswick-based architectural practice Archier created the Five Yards House, a timber-clad abode that takes its name from the numerous “yards,” or gardens, integrated into the design. To minimize onsite waste and to ensure rapid installation, the design firm turned to SIP (structural insulated panel) construction, a high-performing methodology that “provides structural, insulative and aesthetic solutions in one,” according the the architects. High performance and environmentally friendly materials were also specified for the rest of the design, from operable double glazing to recycled timber to  LEDs . Strong connections with the garden were a priority in the 131-square-meter Five Yards House’s project brief. Rather than design a simple glass house for enjoying views of one garden, the architects designed the home around a series of unique gardens, each with its own distinct appearance and framed by full-height walls of double glazing. The entrance on the east side is flanked by two gardens, or “yards,” and opens up to a mud room, a library and a long hallway that extends to the far west end of the home. At the heart of the building is an  open-plan living room, dining space and kitchen that connects to the outdoors on both ends; a smaller garden is to the south, and a more spacious yard is to the north. The bedroom is located at the far end of the house and overlooks a small garden as well. Related: Industrial modern Sawmill House is built from recycled concrete blocks Because the house was constructed with SIPs, the building boasts high thermal performance, and the operable walls of glass allow for natural ventilation in summer to negate the need for mechanical cooling. A restrained palette of natural materials helps strengthen the indoor-outdoor connection. Recycled Tasmanian Oak timber was used to line the interior, and the exterior is painted matte black. + Archier Photography by Adam Gibson via Archier

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Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

October 30, 2018 by  
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San Francisco- and Oslo-based firm  Mork Ulnes Architects has unveiled a black  timber home tucked into a forestscape in Norden, California. To connect the home with its stunning scenery, the chalet-inspired Troll Hus was clad in pine tar-treated wood and elevated off the landscape with large concrete pillars for minimal site impact. The massive, 3,300-square-foot family home holds court in the middle of a pine forest , just an hour and a half outside of Sacramento. To blend the home into its pristine natural environment, it was clad in dark wood. The black, timber structure sits high up near the tree canopies, giving off a sense of peaceful solitude among the soaring trees. Related: A cypress tree grows through this hillside home in Los Angeles According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a family home where the residents could reconnect with nature, whether inside or outside the home. They explained, “The design is driven both by the extreme environmental conditions found at a 6,800-foot elevation and a California sensibility of generous indoor-outdoor living.” While the elevation of the home certainly affords stunning views, the pillars are also a strategic feature that provides resilience and passive temperature control . The concrete legs were meant to reduce the impact on the environment and protect the home from snow fall, which can reach up to 800 inches during winter. Additionally, putting extra elevation to the home allows for optimal solar exposure in the winter and shading from direct sun in the summer. The orientation of the house also shields the building from strong winds. On the interior, the living space is clad in light wood paneling, creating a soothing vibe. An abundance of large windows brighten the interior with natural light . The open living and dining layout was designed to offer ample room for entertaining or simply enjoying the views in solitude. A large terrace wraps around one side of the home, further enhancing the design’s strong connection to the outdoors. + Mork Ulnes Architects Via Freshome Photography by  Bruce Damonte

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A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout

October 26, 2018 by  
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When a family of six approached Indian architectural practice Wallmakers for a low-cost home, the architects saw the limited budget as an opportunity to innovate and experiment rather than as a drawback. To keep costs low, recycled and natural materials were prioritized in the design of the Debris House, an approximately 2,000-square-foot dwelling that makes the most of its compact site. In addition to locally sourced materials, the environmentally sensitive home includes a rainwater harvesting and recycling system as well as passive air circulation. Located in Pathanamthitta of Kerala in the south of India, the Debris House derives its name from the site that was peppered with the remnants of many demolished buildings, elements of which were recycled into the new construction. Although smaller towns like Pathanamthitta have increasingly looked to building homes out of glass, concrete and steel in an attempt to mirror their urban neighbors, the architects resisted those trends in hopes that their site-specific design could inspire “the towns to find their own language.” As a result, the architects built the home’s rammed earth walls using soil that was excavated onsite. Recycled materials, also salvaged from the immediate area, were used to form a spiraled wall — dubbed the Debris Wall — that serves as a focal point defining the central courtyard, which allows cooling cross-winds into the home. Furniture was also built from reclaimed wood, specifically from the client’s storage boxes. To protect against unwanted solar gain, the windows are protected with meter boxes sourced from a local scrapyard. The concrete roof and slab were mixed with coconut shells, thus reducing the amount of cement used. Related: Rammed earth walls tie this modern home to the Arizona desert landscape “While the house uses numerous alternate technologies, there is a certain whimsy and playfulness in its design,” the architects said. “Looking at the local context, the project strikes out, humbly maintaining its commitment to the society and the environment .” + Wallmakers Photography by Anand Jaju via Wallmakers

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This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout

This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes

October 25, 2018 by  
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In sunny Santa Monica, local studio Minarc has unveiled one of its latest projects built from mnmMOD panels , its award-winning and patented prefabricated building system that yields net-zero energy efficiency. Dubbed the Dawnsknoll project, the 2,500-square-foot dwelling champions sustainability beyond just building materials. Positioned for optimal passive solar conditions, the single-family home also boasts repurposed and recycled materials throughout, high-performance energy systems and a healthy living environment. Inspired by the volcanic landscapes of Iceland , Dawnsknoll features a color palette evocative of the country’s dramatic vistas, from the bright, lava-like orange used in the multi-gathering space in the heart of the home to the swimming pool that echoes the color of blue lagoons. Iceland’s rocky landscape is further mimicked with translucent, glacier-inspired light fixtures, the abundance of concrete for the floors and walls and the dark-colored cabinets and shelving. “On the Dawnsknoll project, Minarc focuses on a couple of main concepts: sustainability, color and space,” the designers said in the project statement. “Our green practices and selection of sustainable products do not raise the cost of a house. We believe that building repurposed with recycled and reclaimed material should not be more expensive for our clients. Throughout this house, we recycled, repurposed and reused to its extent.” Related: These prefabricated mnmMOD wall panels could revolutionize the way we build In addition to the prefabricated mnmMOD panels — which are recyclable and resistant to fire and termites — the Dawnsknoll house features 90 percent reused furnishings. The designers aimed to “only use materials in their most organic form,” which meant no paint, tile or carpet. One of many recycled materials used was rubber, seen in the bathroom sinks as well as in the kitchen and juice bar cabinetry, where recycled rubber tires were used. Indoor-outdoor living was emphasized through operable glazed doors that also let in natural ventilation. Radiant floor heating and domestic water heating were installed as well. + Minarc Images by Art Gray

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This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes

Zigzagging green terraces make up a luxury residential block in Mexico City

October 24, 2018 by  
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A challenging hillside site in Mexico City has given rise to Alcázar de Toledo, a luxury residential development designed by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos to look like an extension of its lush landscape. Embedded into the rugged terrain, the five-unit apartment block is made up of a series of green terraces that zigzag up the slope and provide deep roof overhangs to the bands of glass that wrap around the residences. In addition to its striking and sculptural form, the 5,471-square-meter building also affords spectacular panoramic views of the city. Completed in 2018, Alcázar de Toledo consists of four levels. The parking spaces are located on the topmost floor that descends via ramp down 5 meters to the reception and lobby with views of a large wooded area as well a water focal point with fountains. The five apartment units are spread out across the remaining floors, with two 500-square-meter properties on the level below parking; a 700-square-meter unit on the floor below; and two more 500-square-meter apartments placed on the lowest level. The different sizes of each unit translate to different programming and range from two to four bedrooms. A pool , spa, gym, terrace, dressing rooms and bathrooms are located on the second level from the bottom. “The architectural concept is based on a linear element, which folds itself over the topography in a right-angled zigzag shape,” the architects explained. “Each fold responds to different needs and contains the spaces for the five departments, with large terraces , amenities and parking. This resulting piece of four levels, as it adapts to the ground, is transformed into a structure element (like a wall or slab) or an open plaza or terrace. A solution that creates an elegant and subtle shape with a clear horizontality between the native vegetation of the context.” Related: A lush rooftop oasis flourishes on this renovated Art Deco townhouse in Mexico City Natural light and ventilation are maximized through the interiors, which all feature tall ceilings, open-plan common areas and full-height glazing shaded by the overhanging green roofs. Rainwater is also harvested, treated and reused on site for irrigation. The rainwater cistern is located beneath the building. + Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos Photography by Jaime Navarro via Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos

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Zigzagging green terraces make up a luxury residential block in Mexico City

This breezy, green-roofed home in Singapore embraces nature from all angles

October 17, 2018 by  
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Whereas many modern buildings in Singapore rebel against the country’s tropical climate with air-conditioned, hermetic spaces, international architecture firm Guz Architects decided instead to embrace the natural environment in its design of the Willow House. The single-family home takes on a breezy, pavilion-like appearance with open and well-ventilated spaces that tap into passive design principles and crosswinds for cooling. Draped in climbing plants and organized around ponds and gardens, the home feels like an extension of its lush surroundings. Spanning nearly 900 square meters, the Willow House was completed in 2012 for a young couple with three small children. “The house aimed to create dynamic spaces that encourage play and interaction,” the architects said. Surrounded by tall trees, the home is located in a private oasis of calm that looks a world apart from the dense urban environment  for which Singapore is famous. Oriented to optimize access to cooling breezes, the two-story residence is laid out in a L-shaped plan that wraps around a central courtyard with a pond. A single-story open veranda with an accessible rooftop garden anchors one side of the water courtyard and houses the primary living spaces. The other communal areas — such as the kitchen and dining room — as well as the concealed service areas are located on the ground floor, while the private areas are placed above on the first floor. The master bedroom and children’s bedrooms are placed on opposite sides of the first floor. Related: Lush green roof camouflages the Chameleon Villa into the Indonesian tropics A covered outdoor walkway on the first floor overlooks views of the roof garden and central courtyard , which comprises a large fishpond and a small island with trees. “The movement of water and fish brings life into the courtyard and draws the eye away from the building,” the architects said. In the area between the veranda and kitchen, the fishpond transitions into a shallow freshwater reflecting pond and finally transforms into a 3-meter-deep swimming pool that mirrors the home’s L-shaped layout. + Guz Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Patrick Bingham-Hall

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This breezy, green-roofed home in Singapore embraces nature from all angles

This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

October 16, 2018 by  
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Compact, energy-efficient and built with locally sourced materials, this hillside home takes a low-impact approach to its wetland surroundings in the city of Valparaiso in northern Indiana. Local design firm Bamesberger Architecture completed the home for a client who wanted a relatively small dwelling overlooking a pristine 400,000-square-foot wetland site. Named The Box after its boxy appearance, the home boasts low-energy needs and does not rely on air conditioning, even in the summer Completed in 2013, The Box spans an area of 960 square feet and consists of a main house, a screened porch and a small storage building. All three structures are slightly offset from one another to offer varied views of the landscape and are connected with two square timber decks. In response to the client’s wishes for a “very affordable” house with wetland views, the architects selected a budget-friendly yet attractive natural materials palette — including blackened steel, stone, concrete and birch plywood — to complement the property’s native trees and grasslands. “To set the house into the site, the main living space was built into the hillside,” the architecture firm explained. “Excavated rocks were reused as a base for the steel encased fireplace as well as a stepping stone inside the front door. The front door was built from a walnut tree found dead on the site.” Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree The main dwelling includes an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living area on the ground floor. Above, a small loft offers space for sleeping and a home office. A two-story shower takes advantage of the double-height volume, adding what the architects call “a spatial surprise in the otherwise small space.” To minimize energy needs, The Box is wrapped in high-performance insulation and built into the side of the north-facing hill. Radiant underfloor heating and natural ventilation also help keep the home at comfortable temperatures year-round with minimal utility bills. + Bamesberger Architecture Images via Fred Bamesberger

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This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

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