Glass-encased circular Solo House snakes through a Spanish forest

May 25, 2017 by  
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Brussels-based Office KGDVS just unveiled an amazing glass-enclosed circular building that winds through a lush green forest in Spain’s mountainous Matarraña region. The curved home is built on a high plateau and clad in floor-to-ceiling windows to give the space one continual breathtaking view of its evergreen setting. Solo House II is part of a series of individual retreats designed by French developer Christian Bourdais and built by various architects. Office KGDVS put their own stamp on the second Solo Home design by placing the the concrete and glass home on top of a high plateau to provide optimal views. Related: Villa Nyberg: A Passive Swedish Prefab with a Cool Circular Floorplan “Since the scenery is so impressive, we felt architecture should be invisible, merely emphasising the natural qualities of the surroundings,” said the architects, “A simple circular roof with a diameter of 45 metres underlines the qualities of both the plateau and its edge.” The circular concrete roof is supported by multiple rows of columns that intersect throughout the length of the structure. The four sections of the home are made up of both straight and curved edges, which elongates the design. Sliding glass panels line the home’s volume, and open up to various open-air terraces. On the interior, sliding curtains made of metal mesh provide shade and privacy when needed. The home’s circular design was intended to put the focus on the home’s beautiful natural setting, but the curved shape also delivers a number of advantages. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels that run the length of the home flood the interior with natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. The first Solo House was built by Chilean studio Pezo Von Ellrichshausen back in 2013. According to Bourdais, the Solo House project in Matarraña will eventually be joined by 15 other houses and a hotel. + Office KGDVS + Solo Houses Via Dezeen

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Glass-encased circular Solo House snakes through a Spanish forest

Architects use local materials to build beautiful Costa Rica community center

January 30, 2017 by  
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Round building offer many advantages in terms of sustainability and resilience , so it’s no surprise to see disaster-prone communities turning to the curved architecture. Fournier Rojas Arquitectos recently created a beautifully round community center for the small Costa Rican town of El Rodeo de Mora. The center, which was primarily built with locally-sourced and donated materials, will provide the economically disadvantaged area with an adaptable space for hold community events and a shelter during natural disasters. El Rodeo de Mora is rural community located in hot and humid central Costa Rica, which sees extended periods of heavy rainfall. These conditions, along with poor construction, caused the community’s existing center to deteriorate over the years. When Fournier Rojas Arquitectos stepped in to work pro bono on the project, they focused primarily on constructing a building that would be sustainable and durable granted the tropical climate. Related: Villa Nyberg: A Passive Swedish Prefab with a Cool Circular Floorplan They based the design layout on the needs of the community – it offers a kitchen, toilets, a storage facility and amenities for the local soccer team – but they were also working within the challenges of the location itself. Costa Rica has strict regulations in place to reduce damage from earthquakes, and the architects built the center (which can hold up to 100 people) on high ground to protect it from flooding . Using local materials , many of which were donated, the architects managed to keep the cost down to less than $250 USD per square meter. At the heart of the center is an adaptable circular room, whose exterior is made of clay ventilation bricks – a common material of choice for tropical environments. Not only did the round design help cut down the cost in terms of materials needed, but the circular layout provides natural air circulation. The entire building sits on reinforced concrete columns. Eight pitched roofs made from lightweight fiber-cement sheets make up the building’s canopy, which extends out past the circular volume, further providing shade and protection from the elements. The “layering” style of the roof was strategic to further optimize the building’s natural ventilation . The design has won an award from the WAC (World Architecture Community, May 2015) and a Special Mention in S.ARCH AWARDS (May 2016). + Fournier Rojas Arquitectos Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Alda

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8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

January 30, 2017 by  
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Hemp isn’t just for hackin’ the sack at Phish shows or making rope. This amazing plant, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis grown specifically for industrial purposes, has a vast number of applications for a greener planet. Cultivated hemp grows quickly in a wide variety of climates and does not degrade the soil in which it is grown. Tune in, turn on, and read this feature to learn the latest developments in the magical (yet still illegal in most countries) world of hemp. Housing Hemp can processed into a durable material that was once used by Henry Ford to construct a car that was lighter, less expensive and consumed less power than traditional metal cars. These principles have also been applied to housing throughout the world. In the United Kingdom, farmer Nick Voase turned his own grown hemp into an amazing eco-house, held together by lime, that is cool in summer, warm in winter, and even features a walk-in fridge made out of hemp. In South Africa, hemp advocate Tony Budden is working hard to demonstrate the value of the wonder plant; he and his partner built the country’s first hemp home. Northern Ireland’s Bevan Architects  used hemp to construct a simple low-impact cottage on a riverside apple orchard for an environmentally friendly retreat from urban living. Lastly, in Australia, Mihaus Studio built a prefabricated hemp-based modular space that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes. Plastic Traditional plastic is derived from non-renewable resources and is non-biodegradable, which means that disposed plastic usually ends up in ever expanding landfills. Enter our hero, hemp, a renewable resource which can be used to produce biodegradable plastic. A shift to the greener hemp would not require a sacrifice of quality . Hemp plastic may be up to 5 times stiffer and 2.5 stronger than traditional plastic made from polypropylene and unlike glass fibers, hemp plastic would not pose safety and health risks. Designers, such as  Studio Aisslinger , have incorporated this fine bioplastic into its products, such as the chair shown above. Pet Toys Hemp isn’t only for humans. Dogs, cats, and other furry, feathered, or scaly friends can also benefit from the plant. Honest Pet Products has created a line of pet toys made from sustainable hemp and organic wool. The method by which these toys are produced is also beneficial for the environment and community. The toys are manufactured by adults with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin and women living in the Gobi Desert and Nepal, who simultaneously support their family with their work and vow to protect the local snow leopards as a condition for their employment. Energy Storage Graphene  has received a great deal of attention for its superstrength and its astounding ability as a superconductor of electricity. Lost in this storm is the fact that hemp may be able to replicate graphene’s function as a supercapacitor, a revolutionary energy storage device, at a radically lower cost . David Mitlin of Clarkson University , New York discovered hemp’s superconductive properties by “cooking” plant material in a process. “Once you dissolve the lignin and the semicellulose, it leaves these carbon nanosheets – a pseudo-graphene structure,” said Mitlin. These nanosheets are then fabricated into electrodes, infused with an ionic liquid as an electrolyte, and function as supercapacitors that work in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Mitlin founded a small company, Alta Supercaps , with the goal of producing hemp-based supercapacitors on a small scale. Insulation Not only is hemp a durable material for housing structure, it also is an excellent insulator. In Belgium,  Martens Van Caimere Architecten  renovated a local home with a sustainable hemp-based insulation material known as hempcrete . Hempcrete is a mixture of lime, hemp, and water that is superior to concrete in its sustainability and cost while also offering better insulation. “In our projects we try finding solutions to lower the building costs,” said architect Nikolaas Martens. “In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Belgians were building houses that were badly or not insulated. So renovating these houses in a sustainable way tends to be expensive. Hempcrete combines the insulation and finishing in one layer, reducing building costs. Plus it is durable and sustainable, because it is made from a waste product.” Airplanes Fly high in the sky with hemp! In 2014, Canada-based Hempearth  contracted with a Florida-based plane manufacturer to build an airplane almost entirely out of hemp material . The plane will seat four people and have a wingspan of 36 feet. Approximately 75 percent of the plane will be constructed of industrial hemp. Originally scheduled for its first flight (appropriately out of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina) in 2015, the plane has yet to fly. Hempearth is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their project. Biofuel Not satisfied with simply being made from hemp, the designers at Hempearth also plan for their plane to be powered entirely by hemp-based biofuel . While hemp biodiesel has great potential, there are currently legal and economic barriers to widespread adoption . “That particularly, is very much an issue of economies of scale,” said Arthur Hanks, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. “We are still very much a specialty crop.”  The limited production of hemp is primarily geared towards the health food market, in which hemp provides the greatest return to farmers. “Every pound that’s being produced goes into the food chain,” Paul Bobbee, a Canadian hemp grower. While hemp production is legal in Canada, the continued haziness surrounding hemp policy in the United States suppresses the market.  If hemp production were legalized nationwide, “it would help regularize hemp in America, and help to increase markets,” said Hanks. Food Bring on the munchies. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, sprouted, or ground up while the iconic hemp leaf can be thrown into a salad. Hemp seeds are high in protein and have a similar amino acid profile to meat, milk, and eggs. Often cold-pressed into oil form, hemp seeds are a rich source of Vitamin B, iron, dietary fiber, magnesium and zinc. Although illegal to produce in most American states, hemp can be imported as a food product. As of 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products. Images via  The Event Chronicle , vhcmor/Flickr , Christina Griffin ,  Cedric Verhelst , Hempearth , FluffyMuppet/Flickr , Wikimedia Commons   (2) , Don Goofy/Flickr , Studio Aisslinger   and Bob Doran/Flickr

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Elon Musk stands up for refugees, wants to rewrite Trump’s immigration ban

January 30, 2017 by  
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In the wake of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, which targets Syrian refugees and people from six other countries, numerous Silicon Valley leaders came out in support of immigrants. One notable objector was Tesla CEO Elon Musk , who tweeted the ban is “not the best way to address the country’s challenges.” And Musk won’t just be tweeting, but said he will gather recommended modifications to the executive order that he plans to present to Trump . https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/825502618680045568 People from the predominantly Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya will temporarily be barred from entering America, according to Trump’s executive order, which reads “I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.” Trump claimed the order was not about religion, but about terrorism. Related: Artist covers two houses in bright pink crochet as a symbol of hope for refugees Silicon Valley leaders were quick to stand against Trump’s executive order. Google co-founder Sergey Brin joined a protest at the San Francisco International Airport, telling one reporter he was a refugee, Airbnb promised to provide housing for stranded refugees, and Elon Musk tweeted , “Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They’ve done right, not wrong & don’t deserve to be rejected.” https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/825809205244223488 Musk provided a link to the text of the executive order on the Wall Street Journal so people can read it for themselves. He said he will “seek advisory council consensus & present to President.” Born in South Africa , Musk came to the United States in 1992 to attend the University of Pennsylvania. He sits on an economic advisory board for Trump and more recently agreed to be part of a Manufacturing Jobs Initiative started by the president. Let’s hope Trump is willing to listen to his recommendations. Via The Verge ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via OnInnovation on Flickr and Lorie Shaull on Flickr

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The Oak Tree Ring House is an innovative home that blurs the lines between inside and out

January 21, 2015 by  
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The Oak Tree Ring House is a new kind of interactive home designed by Michael Jantzen . The space was designed with a temperate climate in mind and the structure consists of a large circular steel support frame in the form of four concentric rings that radiate out around a large oak tree in a central open courtyard. There is an array of solar cells mounted around the perimeter of the courtyard that are used to supply the electrical and hot water needs of the house. The design of the house was developed to create an interactive environment that blurs the lines between the inside and the outside of a living space. The canopy of movable panels can be used to allow the sun to enter the enclosed living space during the winter, and shade it during the summer. In addition, various kinds of microclimates can be created under the canopy by moving the panels to control light, wind, rain, and temperature. The large oak tree planted in the open courtyard at the center of the Oak Tree Ring House symbolically refers to the way in which the house seems to have grown out around it. Aesthetically, the tree functions as a central focal point for the house as well as a place to sit and contemplate the relationship between nature and the built environment. + Michael Jantzen The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: circular architecture , circular homes , green homes , green living , homes built around trees , innovative architecture , interactive homes , michael jantzen , Michael Janzten oak ring house , solar powered homes , temperate climate homes , The Oak Ring House

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