Prefab houseboat in Prague features a spacious rooftop lounge

September 9, 2019 by  
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Normally, Czech Republic-based firm Freedomky stays busy building charming, energy-efficient, tiny cabins. But when the team was approached by a client looking to “live freely” on the water, the designers used the same space- and energy-saving techniques they use frequently to build Freedomky No. 59, a prefab houseboat with a flexible interior design that can be used as a work space or vacation home. Designed in collaboration with architectural studio Atelier Št?pán , the Freedomky houseboat was directly created with the client’s love of adventure in mind. As a fan of the company’s cabin designs, the client, who spent time in various glamping locations across Europe, wanted the architects to design something that would allow him to set up a home in Prague. The man wanted to be close to the center of the city without feeling the congestion of the highly trafficked area. Hence, the design team and the client decided to take it to the water. Related: A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer The houseboat is a prefabricated structure comprised of two modules placed on a custom steel pontoon. The two separate units were joined together at a shipyard 25 miles north of Prague . Once the prefab construction was complete, the individual pieces were towed by boat to the home’s final installation site in the district of Smíchov in Prague. The journey took 18 hours, with the housing components passing under 14 bridges, including the famous Charles Bridge. Made with the same materials as Freedomky’s cabins, the boat’s exterior walls are crafted from eco-friendly wood or wooden components. Because of the humid environment, the designers replaced the larch facade normally used on their cabins with durable cement fiber boards. Working within the company motto of “free art of living everywhere,” the Freedomky team went to work designing a floating home with a breathtaking interior customized to the owner’s needs. The main objective was to create a flexible space, where the houseboat could be used as an office, an upscale living area or a weekend stay for guests. The interior of the houseboat is bright and airy, with modern furnishings that are flexible in their uses. The dining table can also be used as a work center, for example. The walls throughout the boat are painted a bright white, and the interior benefits from the natural light that pours in from the sliding glass doors and plentiful windows. At the owner’s request, there is a large rooftop terrace , which can be planted with vegetation. + Freedomky Via Dwell Photography by Lukas Pelech via Freedomky

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Prefab houseboat in Prague features a spacious rooftop lounge

A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

September 2, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Bruno Zaitter with a request for a minimalist and sustainable getaway in Brazil’s Balsa Nova, the Brazilian architect and professor decided that cargotecture would be the perfect fit for the brief. Proving that less can be more, the architect upcycled a secondhand shipping container into a relatively compact 538-square-foot abode with a bedroom, bathroom, living and dining area, kitchen and an outdoor terrace. Most importantly, the structure, named the Purunã Refuge, immerses the client in nature with its large glazed walls that embrace panoramic views in all directions. Protected on the west side by a lush native forest, the Purunã Refuge is set at the foot of a geographical fault called Escarpa Denoviana and enjoys privacy, immersion in nature and views of the city skyline beyond. The project, completed in 2016, draws on Zaitter’s experience with recycling shipping containers into contemporary structures. As with its predecessors, the Purunã Refuge is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact. Related: A modern farmstay suite minimizes site impact in Brazil Raised 3 meters off the ground and accessible by outdoor stairs, the dwelling features a 12-meter-long container — comprising the sleeping area, a portion of the kitchen, the entrance and the bathroom with a soaking tub — that has been extended by two glass-enclosed volumes on either side. The larger of the two boxes houses the living and dining area as well as office space; the smaller box is a bump out of the kitchen that extends into the forest. Stretching northwest to southeast, the Purunã Refuge is accessed from the north side, which leads up to an outdoor terrace . “The project’s concept was to group the essential universes of human life — eating, sleeping, sanitizing, working and socializing — in a space of about 50 square meters with the greatest possible contact with the surrounding natural landscape,” Zaitter explained. “The biggest challenge was convincing people who still believe that large space equals comfortable space, and that small space is uncomfortable space. The refuge proved that less is more.” + Bruno Zaitter Photography by Sergio Mendonça Jr. via Bruno Zaitter

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A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

thredUP partnerships open the door to secondhand shopping at major retailers

September 2, 2019 by  
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Whether it is a handbag from the 1970s or a leather motorcycle jacket circa 1999, what’s old is new again, and online retailer thredUP sees the circular economy movement as a thriving opportunity. The consignment retailer and secondhand shop recently kicked off RAAS, or Resale-As-A-Service, a project to attract traditional department stores to get on board with more sustainable fashion . “The closet of the future … is going to look very different than the closet of today,” said James Reinhart, CEO and co-founder of thredUP. “If you think back 10 years ago when we started, you had none of these direct-to-consumer brands. There was no such thing as rental. There were no subscription companies. In just these 10 years, we’ve had a radical shift in how people shop and buy apparel . And I think that shift is going to continue.” Related: G7 summit — Fashion companies make a pact to protect the planet The retailer collects around 100,000 pieces of secondhand items daily and says resale is growing 21 times as fast as the larger retail market; it could be a $51 billion market by 2023. Shoppers propelling the growing circular economy are Millennials and Gen Zers — the 18- to 37-year-old population — who are purchasing about 2.5 times more than any other age group. Big box stores, like JCPenney and Macy’s, have seen their sales yo-yo in recent years and have signed on with thredUP. In doing so, the retailers have three options: store pop-up, online collaboration or a loyalty program. Some experts believe department stores will lean toward pop-ups, because they tend to attract more shoppers. As reported by Forbes , pop-ups offered by thredUP will be between 500 and 1,000 square feet and “feature new items on a weekly basis, offering brands that aren’t already in a typical Macy’s or JCPenney. There will be 100 pop-ups by Labor Day.” According to Reinhart, the loyalty program has been the top option, where shoppers can purchase items from thredUP’s retail partners and also receive a “clean out kit.” Buyers use this kit to send in pre-loved clothing items to thredUP — thredUP retains the markup on resold items, consumers get credits and bonuses with the retailer and the retailer sees improved customer retention. It’s a win-win-win. thredUP has reportedly received more than $300 million in total funding for the project. It’s possible that thredUP’s RAAS initiative may help grow the circular economy and give struggling department stores a brighter future. + thredUP Via TreeHugger , Forbes and FirstResearch Image via Burst

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A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

August 19, 2019 by  
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Built largely from recycled materials, the home that architect Daniel Moreno Flores recently completed for an artistically inclined client in Ecuador oozes playfulness and creativity as well as a reduced environmental footprint. Located in the town of Pifo less than an hour’s drive east from Quito, the House of the Flying Tiles is strategically sited to embrace views. The house is named after its massive installation of hanging tiles — reclaimed and new — placed at the entrance to create visual interest and help shield the glass-walled home from unwanted solar heat gain. When deciding where to place the home, Flores began with a site study. Along with the client, he arrived early at the site to observe the direction of the sunrise and the best positions for framing landscape views. To make the home look “as if it had always been there,” Flores also let the site-specific placement of the home be informed by the existing trees and fauna. No trees were removed during the construction process. Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito “The house is oriented to the view, for the contemplation of the mountain, of the neighborhoods, and of all the plants and trees of the place,” Flores explained. “These spaces seek an intensification in the relationship with some externalities such as the mountain, the low vegetation, the sky and with the Guirachuro (a kind of bird of the place).” Using a mix of new materials and reclaimed wood and tiles from three houses in Quito , the architect created a 130-square-meter home with three main spaces: a double-height living area that opens up to an outdoor reading terrace and connects to a mezzanine office space; the bedroom area that overlooks mountain views; and the ground-floor bathroom that is built around an existing tree. The roofs of the structure are also designed to be accessible to create a variety of vantage points for enjoying the landscape. + Daniel Moreno Flores Photography by JAG Studio , Santiago Vaca Jaramillo and Daniel Moreno Flores

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A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

August 19, 2019 by  
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Built largely from recycled materials, the home that architect Daniel Moreno Flores recently completed for an artistically inclined client in Ecuador oozes playfulness and creativity as well as a reduced environmental footprint. Located in the town of Pifo less than an hour’s drive east from Quito, the House of the Flying Tiles is strategically sited to embrace views. The house is named after its massive installation of hanging tiles — reclaimed and new — placed at the entrance to create visual interest and help shield the glass-walled home from unwanted solar heat gain. When deciding where to place the home, Flores began with a site study. Along with the client, he arrived early at the site to observe the direction of the sunrise and the best positions for framing landscape views. To make the home look “as if it had always been there,” Flores also let the site-specific placement of the home be informed by the existing trees and fauna. No trees were removed during the construction process. Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito “The house is oriented to the view, for the contemplation of the mountain, of the neighborhoods, and of all the plants and trees of the place,” Flores explained. “These spaces seek an intensification in the relationship with some externalities such as the mountain, the low vegetation, the sky and with the Guirachuro (a kind of bird of the place).” Using a mix of new materials and reclaimed wood and tiles from three houses in Quito , the architect created a 130-square-meter home with three main spaces: a double-height living area that opens up to an outdoor reading terrace and connects to a mezzanine office space; the bedroom area that overlooks mountain views; and the ground-floor bathroom that is built around an existing tree. The roofs of the structure are also designed to be accessible to create a variety of vantage points for enjoying the landscape. + Daniel Moreno Flores Photography by JAG Studio , Santiago Vaca Jaramillo and Daniel Moreno Flores

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A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

August 19, 2019 by  
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What melts faster than an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day? Greenland’s ice sheet. In July, the world’s second biggest ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice and increased sea levels by about half a millimeter. On August 15 alone, Greenland’s ice sheet had a major meltdown, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean, scientists reported. While it’s not unusual for Greenland’s ice sheet to melt during the summer, it usually starts at the end of May but began weeks earlier this year. Meteorologists reported that July has been one of the hottest months around the world ever recorded. For instance, global average temperatures for this July are in line with and possibly higher than July 2016, which holds the current record, according to preliminary data reported by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme . Related: Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change According to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute , Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July, enough to fill nearly 80 million Olympic swimming pools. Mottram told CNN the expected average of ice melt this time of year would be between 60 and 70 billion tons. What could it mean? All this wacky weather may ultimately result in one of Greenland’s biggest ice melts since 1950. With the melt season typically lasting to the end of August, Mottram said the ice sheet could see substantial melting; however, it might not be as much as in recent weeks. Melting ice isn’t the only issue facing the Arctic, as the area has also experienced wildfires , which scientists said could be because of high temperatures. Since June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service has observed more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle. The recent wildfires and ice melt in the Arctic Circle could be strong indicators of more climate change -related issues ahead. Via CNN Image via NASA

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Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

Energy-efficient home uses recycled heat to reduce C02 emissions

August 15, 2019 by  
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The Lane End House by PAD studio incorporates natural building material and sustainable solutions to increase energy-efficiency . The resulting design creates a passive home with a smaller environmental footprint and a focus on sustainability.  The exterior of the house contains balcony areas that act as solar shading for the property, complete with thoughtfully-placed openings to create a greater distribution of natural ventilation to rid the home of intense heat during the hot Summer months.  Landscape-wise, the clients wanted to incorporate a natural feel as often as possible, with large windows to connect the inhabitants with the outdoors and a functioning herb garden located on the first floor balcony. The placement of the grand windows creates natural sunlight to light the home during the day while incorporating more profound landscape views. Related: Contemporary barn-inspired home adheres to passive house principles According to the client, “we wanted a house that was big enough to comfortably accommodate the two of us and our lifestyle – and no bigger. For us that meant carefully considered, flexible, multipurpose spaces that created a sense of space whilst retaining a modest footprint .” High quality, insulated timber wood used to create the frame both reduces the need for artificial cooling and heating in the home, and provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional (and heavy carbon emission-inducing) building materials. Additionally, the timber is locally-produced from renewable sources and the brick used to make the fireplace is hand-made by local vendors. On the ground floor, concrete was inserted to make the structure even more air-tight and regulate interior temperatures even further.  The builders installed a MVHR system designed to recycle heat produced from the kitchen and bathroom and mix it with clean air circulated through the ventilation and naturally colder areas of the house. In addition to completing the standard methods such as SAP calculations and EPS ratings, the impressive home was also built to Passive House ideology. +PAD Studio Images via PAD Studio

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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

Solar-powered prefab cabins keep naturally cool in Portugal

June 11, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Lisbon-based architectural practice Studio 3A for a small residential project in the seaside village of Comporta, the architects knew that a major challenge would be keeping the house naturally cool during the oppressively hot summers. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable architecture, the architects used passive solar strategies and efficient insulation to mitigate solar heat gain. The firm also teamed up with design studio Mima Housing to prefabricate the buildings, named Cabanas in Comporta, which were topped with solar panels and sheathed in charred timber for a durable and maintenance-free finish. The architecture of Cabanas in Comporta follows a modular design of three types: the “intimate module” that houses the bedroom and bathroom; the “social module” for the living spaces with room for an outdoor pool; and the “service module” that also serves as storage for items such as the client’s car collection. Together with Mima Housing, Studio 3A prefabricated the modular buildings with oriented strand board sandwich panels and wooden joints. The facades are clad in timber charred black using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban. Related: The elegant MIMA Light prefab home ‘floats’ on thin air “As local connoisseurs, we based our construction method on the traditional fishermen huts/cabanas as an inspiration for our project,” explain the architects. These huts have been built in this area for years and are very functional and quick to build which were another important point of our brief. With this construction type we had a couple of challenges to face which was the hot-summer Mediterranean climate and the mosquitos which are well known to bug you in the area. We implemented various sustainable strategies to reduce the heat sensation such as the calculated overhangs in front of the main windows, low emissivity window panes and a tensioned solar shading system in between the cabana modules.” Heat gain is further controlled with a double blind system installed in both the interior and exterior. The external blind also zips down to protect the home from mosquito invasions. Strategic placement of the buildings optimizes solar orientation and access to cooling breezes. Dark cement flooring is used to take advantage of thermal mass, while photovoltaic panels and heat pumps help heat the buildings in winter. + Studio 3A Images by Nelson Garrido

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Solar-powered prefab cabins keep naturally cool in Portugal

A pair of minimalist cabins is a serene retreat in a Portuguese forest

May 30, 2019 by  
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While most architectural firms often work with demanding clients, Portuguese firm Studio 3a only had two very basic instructions when tasked with building a peaceful retreat for a client: the design must have a bed and a bathtub. Working within these simple parameters, the designers came up a gorgeous minimalist design that consisted of two jet-black timber cabins tucked into an idyllic spot surrounded by wild pine trees. Peacefully tucked into a dense forest in the coastal village of Comporta, the natural surroundings as well as the local climate drove the design’s many passive features . The area is known for its intense summer heat, so the architects carefully positioned the cabins so that they would be illuminated by natural light but also protected from the harsh sunlight. Additionally, the cabins have large overhangs and a tensioned solar shading system that provide respite from the heat while residents are outside. The cabins are also installed with low-E windows to add efficiency to the project. Related: Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods The project consists of three prefabricated cabins , two of which are connected by an open-air wooden deck. Fulfilling the client’s simple wish list, the first cabin, which is referred to as the “intimate module” is just 129 square feet and contains a bed and a bathroom. The second cabin, the “social module,” houses the main living space, complete with an open-plan living room and kitchen. The third cabin conceals the home’s utility services and a garage and is just steps away from a swimming pool. The minimalist cabins were inspired by the area’s traditional fishermen huts. The simple, cube-like formations emit a sense of functionality on the exterior, while the all-white interiors speak to a more modern aesthetic. Clad in charred Douglas wood finish achieved through the Japanese technique shou sugi ban, the cabins are camouflaged into their natural surroundings. In addition to its beautiful appearance, the charred timber also adds sustainability and resilience to the design. The architects explained that the Japanese technique is one of their favorites, because there are “no toxins or chemicals involved, [it is] maintenance-free and shows the beauty of the veins of the wood itself.” The two main cabins are connected through a wooden platform that was built around a large tree. This area not only connects the private spaces with the social living spaces but provides a beautiful spot to enjoy the fresh air. The entrance to the cabins is through two sliding glass doors. In contrast to the all-black exteriors , the interior of the cabins are bright and modern. With sparse furniture, concrete flooring and all-white walls, the living space boasts a soothing yet sophisticated atmosphere. + Studio 3a Via Wallpaper Photography by Nelson Garrido via Studio 3a

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A pair of minimalist cabins is a serene retreat in a Portuguese forest

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