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

Santa Barbara home is surrounded by wooden screens for natural climate control

March 15, 2019 by  
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Indoor-outdoor living never looked so good! This modern design by Shubin Donaldson takes full advantage of the beachy climate of Santa Barbara, California. Wooden screens and a central skylight flood the entire beach house with natural sunlight while keeping the space protected from the ocean winds. “Environmentally, the home is cooled passively by ocean breezes, lit evenly during the day by daylight, and ipe wood screens minimize sun load on the extensive view windows,” the designers said. The unique structure also uses stacked volumes of steel, concrete and glass to create the look and utilize the space. Related: Circular, solar-powered beach house is a sustainable holiday retreat Because the client was an industrial designer, it allowed for a special collaboration with the architects of Shubin Donaldson. “He came to SD knowing that our design values were in-sync, and this stunning home is the result of a very productive and satisfying client/architect relationship.” The suburban building site was generally narrow and oddly shaped, so the designers had quite a challenge on their hands. “These constraints resulted in a unique formal solution deploying a concrete and steel structural frame to maximize the formal responsiveness of the structure,” according to Shubin Donaldson. To address the limited space, the beach house stacks different living spaces on top of each other, creating three separate floors. The garage, den and laundry room sit on the ground floor, while the second floor houses the bedroom and terrace . The main sitting area was built into the third floor. This stacking design not only takes full advantage of the residential hilly area but the lovely ocean-side location as well. Thanks to the elevated flooring, the owners enjoy vast wrap-around views. Outside of the main structure extends a wooden planked deck, perfect for enjoying the California weather. The beautiful patio has additional privacy thanks to a well-manicured landscape of native plants such as cacti and palms. A majority of the concrete walls were left uncovered and exposed, adding another modern aspect to the design. A gorgeous response to a challenging site while also utilizing eco-friendly options, the Skyline Residence is truly a one-of-a-kind design. + Shubin Donaldson Via Dezeen Photography by Jeremy Bittermann via Shubin Donaldson

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Santa Barbara home is surrounded by wooden screens for natural climate control

Breezy brick home in India houses multiple generations under one roof

March 4, 2019 by  
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New Delhi architectural practice Vir.Mueller Architects recently completed the Singh Residence, an experimental house built primarily from brick. Located in Noida just outside New Delhi , the home serves as a prototype for stylish and comfortable multigenerational living that’s not only sensitive to Indian culture and aesthetics, but also makes use of energy-efficient passive cooling. The home was created as a model for adaptable and replicable residential development across India. Spanning an area of over 10,000 square feet, the Singh Residence houses two brothers, their families and their parents. Per the client’s request that the project be built with local craftsmanship, the architects steered clear of commercial contractors and hired a team of 20 daily wage laborers. As a result, the multigenerational home’s construction had to follow a very simple design methodology that could be understood by the unskilled workers, without compromising the home’s appearance. Although the residence uses a simple and limited materials palette — all materials are sourced locally — the house looks highly textural thanks to the exposed brick pattern that allows natural light and ventilation to pass through. In addition to concrete and red brick, the home features teak timber sourced from the Madhya Pradesh forests and local white dungaree marble that lines the central axis of the home leading to the main staircase. Large timber-framed windows bring in ventilation and views, as does the interior courtyard at the heart of the home. Related: Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade “The interior floors are a mosaic of the Indian Dungri white marble , a cool and bright counterpart to the rich earthen hue of the bricks,” the architects say in a project statement. “The exterior of the house – a simple play on weaving the bricks as a kinetic element – offers a tough skin to the heat and dust of the site. The house is presented in as logic – embodying a truth of the context, it’s material culture; and as canvas, recording the light and circumstance of the setting.” + Vir.Mueller Architects Via Wallpaper Images by Saurabh Suryan & Lokesh Dang

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A rare ‘Bambi’ Airstream trailer becomes a stunning mobile office

February 14, 2019 by  
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When a busy tech entrepreneur contacted San Francisco-based firm Edmonds + Lee Architects to create a mobile office that could keep him on the road, they turned to an American classic, a shimmery Airstream. After searching for a year for just the right trailer, they found a 1960s Airstream Bambi II and converted it into a brilliant 80-square-foot office on wheels, lovingly renamed Kugelschiff (German for “Bullet Ship”). The architects worked closely with the client Jeff as well as his daughter Alaina, an industrial designer who is a proponent of sustainable design, to meet his specific needs. The first step was finding a trailer that would be a good fit with Jeff’s active lifestyle. To make his working time as convenient as possible, the mobile office had to be fully connected so he could be in touch from any location, no matter how remote. Related: Airstream launches its first-ever fiberglass camper for under $50K After a year of searching, the team came upon a surprising find, an incredibly rare Airstream Bambi II. Airstream produced only one of these models a year during the 1960s, making it one of the rarest trailers in the world. Once in Jeff’s hands, the architects got to work renovating the old model . Still in good shape structurally, they set about creating a space that would work as both an office and a retreat. Clad in all-white walls, ash wood floors and oak cabinetry, the interior living space is bright and minimalist. The furniture in the Airstream is flexible to add space to the compact interior. Using a puzzle method, the designers custom-made furniture with dual uses. For example, one end of the interior is outfitted with a wrap-around sofa that goes from dining space to meeting space in the blink of an eye. The kitchen is equipped with a hidden sink and refrigerator that can be concealed into the wall. Even the main working desk gets pushed down into a bed, which sits next to a large window that allows natural light to filter into the trailer. Additionally, the Airstream conversion included a number of energy sources, such as solar power. However, with Jeff’s need to be connected at all times, the power also runs on traditional DC batteries. It has both a Wi-Fi repeater and a cellular booster, so he’s always connected, no matter where he may be parked. The home device company Nest help set up the rest of the trailer’s smart home products, which are all controlled by Google Home. + Edmonds + Lee Architects Via Dezeen Photography by Joe Fletcher via Edmonds + Lee Architects

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A rare ‘Bambi’ Airstream trailer becomes a stunning mobile office

Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

October 10, 2018 by  
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Berlin-based architecture office rundzwei Architekten recently completed a light-filled home that showcases the many material benefits of cork . Named the Cork Screw House, the sustainably minded abode boasts a facade and roof clad in natural cork, a material that not only gives the building a highly textured appearance, but also contributes significantly to the home’s energy efficiency thanks to high insulation values. The cork home is set on a base of rammed concrete and comprises a series of split-levels for flexibility. The decision to clad the home in cork emerged from the client’s desire for a house with good acoustic performance. Initially drawn by the acoustic insulation properties of cork, the architects were ultimately convinced by the sustainable benefits of the material, which is made from granulated cork waste that has been pressed into naturally weather- and mold-resistant panels without any artificial additives. In addition to insulating cork panels, the architects carefully chose a natural materials palette and steered clear of chemical adhesives. Wood fiber and cellulose were used as additional insulation, while timber and gypsum fiberboards were selected for their ability to absorb humidity and create a comfortable indoor environment. Created for a family of three, the Cork Screw House is organized around a central, atrium -like staircase illuminated by a skylight. To side-step planning regulations that mandated a maximum floor size of 100 square meters, the architects lowered the base floors and designed the timber-framed upper floors as a series of split-levels, bringing the gross floor area to over 320 square meters. On the ground floor, full-height glazing floods the interior with natural light. The home also includes an exterior sunken pool that’s surrounded by rammed concrete walls for privacy. Related: Elegant cork-clad artists’ studio slots into a bijou London garden Due to the selection of natural materials and ample daylighting, the building “doesn’t need an active ventilation system despite the very low energy standard,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Through a stratified heat storage system supplemented by roof integrated solar panels, the heating supply is almost self-sufficient adding to the efficiency of the building’s overall performance.” + rundzwei Architekten Photography by Gui Rebelo

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Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

This gorgeous converted bus hotel in Scotland pulls out all the stops

October 10, 2018 by  
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The world is full of cookie-cutter lodgings, but for those looking for a bit of character on their next vacation, The Bus Stop is now taking reservations. Located on a working farm in northeast Scotland, this old,  converted bus has been renovated to provide a peaceful retreat where guests can enjoy the beautiful, panoramic views of the rolling green hills for which the country is famous. There are two restored old buses tucked into the East Lothian countryside. Both have been renovated with everything needed for a glamping-style getaway . The interiors sleep up to four, with a king-size bed in the back as well as two bunk beds. The large bedroom has a glass skylight on the ceiling to allow guests to enjoy a bit of stargazing as they drift off to sleep. Related: Vintage red double decker bus is converted into a cool, retro hotel The living room is light and airy with a wood-burning stove to keep guests warm and toasty on chilly evenings. Natural light brightens the interior thanks to an abundance of windows. Guests can enjoy a fully-functional kitchen with a small refrigerator, a stovetop, a microwave and all of the essential utensils. The bathroom has a rainfall shower and is stocked with complimentary luxury toiletries. Of course, the best part of the bus hotel is its peaceful surroundings. Guests can enjoy the expansive views from open-air decks with ample seating for dining, socializing or simply taking in the landscape. The outdoor space is the heart of the hotel and comes complete with a charcoal barbecue and fire pit. As an extra bonus, there is also a wood-fired hot tub for relaxing with a nice glass of wine. When they are not soaking in the warm suds, guests can enjoy a stroll around the working farm, which is home to alpacas, horses, sheep and chickens. + The Bus Stop Via Tiny House Talk Images via The Bus Stop

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This gorgeous converted bus hotel in Scotland pulls out all the stops

The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes

September 26, 2018 by  
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Canada-based  Minimaliste Houses knows a thing or two about building tiny homes that stand up to harsh winters, but even when charged with building a home for the California coast, the designers used many of the same principles to create an energy-efficient and durable structure. The 28 foot-long Eucalyptus tiny home is completely off-grid , relying on roof-top solar panels, tight thermal insulation and natural light to make the home completely self-sustaining. When the builders were approached by a client who wanted a tiny home to live on the California coast, there’s no doubt that they felt it would be an easy project. However, the client also requested a structure that would have a strong resell value years down the line for potential buyers looking to live in a colder climate. This meant that the tiny house had to be durable to withstand various climates for years to come. The result is a gorgeous, custom tiny home that boasts a timeless design for virtually any location. Completely off the grid, the structure generates its own power thanks to a large grid of 260-watt solar panels on the roof. The energy hub of the home is comprised of eight batteries and a 4,000-watt inverter to power the home’s electrical needs, including all of the kitchen appliances. Related: 8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living In addition to its energy efficiency, the tiny home has a fresh, modern aesthetic. The exterior is clad in white cedar panels, creating a contemporary cabin-like feel that continues through the interior. Inside, ultra high-ceilings add more space for the dual sleeping lofts and create room for people of above-average heigh t. The floors and ceiling are also clad in wood panels that contrast nicely with the all-white walls. The design is open and airy, with an abundance of natural light thanks to various large windows around the home. From the living room, a stairwell with hidden storage leads up to the main bedroom. A unique hand rail made of steel pipes adds an industrial touch to the design. On the other side of the living room is a loft area, which can be used as a reading space or guest room. The bathroom is compact, but there’s enough space for a large stand-up shower, combo washer and dryer and composting toilet . At the heart of the home is the kitchen. Typically an area that is cramped and dark, the Eucalyptus’ kitchen is anything but. The U-shaped kitchen is lined with bamboo countertops that add extra space for the client, who loves to cook. There’s a large sink, propane oven and even a floor-to-ceiling pantry that slides out to provide plenty of storage for culinary staples. + Minimaliste Houses Photography by JP Marquis via Minimaliste

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The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes

Shipping containers become a spectacular plant-covered gallery

September 14, 2018 by  
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São Paulo-based architecture studio SuperLimão and architect Gabriela Coelho recently completed GSC, a massive multi-use collector’s gallery built from shipping containers and other metal materials. Located in a lush area of São Paulo, the spacious complex also contains an office, a gym, a small workshop, a kennel and additional gallery space for the client’s other prized items. The industrial character of the cargotecture project was softened with the addition of turf and potted plants, while passive solar techniques were employed to maximize energy efficiency. Covering an area of nearly 19,400 square feet, the GSC is a multilevel project that houses the garage on the ground floor and uses a series of reused shipping containers stacked on top to form the upper level. Rather than place all the containers side by side in a row, the architects strategically arranged the 10 containers to promote natural ventilation, lighting and sight lines between the different areas. The interstitial spaces between containers were converted into green space with seating and timber decking. The roofs of the containers were also landscaped with rows and rows of potted plants. “One characteristic that differentiates our project from the usual container projects that we are used to seeing is that this particular project is totally adapted to our climate while utilizing the maximum passive techniques of form to maximize energy efficiency and take advantage of reusable materials from the container itself,” the architects explained. “All of the spaces have windows on three different levels. They not only allow for ventilation , but they also perform at an optimal level on days without wind. The exterior walls are finished in a ceramic paint and work in conjunction with the roof covered in foliage to thermally regulate the internal environment thus reducing the use of air-conditioning equipment.” Air conditioning is only used during the hottest parts of summer. Related: 13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island The interiors of the containers were renovated to house a variety of rooms, yet the look of the original walls and doors was preserved to reference the building material’s history. Full-height glazing creates a sense of permeability that continues throughout the structure. Outside, rainwater is collected in a large cistern and reused. + SuperLimão Via ArchDaily Images by Maíra Acayaba

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Shipping containers become a spectacular plant-covered gallery

Danish-inspired holiday cabin is a dreamy Pacific Northwest hideout

July 19, 2018 by  
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Seattle-based design practice Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects is no stranger to creating charming cabins that embrace nature in the Pacific Northwest . So when a local family tapped the firm for a vacation home on a wooded plot overlooking the Hood Canal, the architects delivered with a clean and modern dwelling thoughtfully integrated into the site. Called ‘The Coyle’, the gabled buildings draw inspiration from the owner’s Danish roots and are wrapped in dark-stained cedar siding to recede into the surroundings. Located on a meadow of a long peninsula facing the Hood Canal, The Coyle is backed by a dense Douglas Fir forest and overlooks views of the water. The architects used the classic Danish sommerhus (summer cottage) for the starting point of their design, which emphasizes “clean, economical forms and materials.” Since the clients were on a budget, care was taken to integrate the site’s existing structure, which was repositioned and remodeled. “The angle of the cabins to one another was carefully decided to maximize views while still being aware of the additional burden it might place on the budget,” explain Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects. “The clean, minimal finishes selected by the clients — and their hands-on approach that included staining the cedar siding — also helped bring the costs down.” Related: An old 1930s home gets a modern makeover into a cozy beach cabin The clients, a family of outdoor enthusiasts, were also keen to adopt an indoor-outdoor living experience. In response, the architects separated the program into three gabled structures, each of which opens up to generously sized decks through wood-framed glazed doors. Ample glazing brings plenty of natural light to the interior, which is minimally dressed with white-painted walls, beamed ceilings and light timber floors. The holiday home is spacious enough to accommodate the client’s family as well as visiting guests. + Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects Images by Alexander Canaria and Taylor Proctor

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Danish-inspired holiday cabin is a dreamy Pacific Northwest hideout

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