Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape

March 6, 2020 by  
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London-based architecture firm  Featherstone Young  recently completed Stonecrop, a new home in Rutland, East Midlands that’s also an example of how thoughtful architecture can draw new interest to declining rural communities. Topped with a sloping green roof that touches the ground, the sculptural building features two wings — one that houses the main living areas and the other for guest quarters — that wrap around a central courtyard. To reduce the home’s environmental footprint , the architects used locally sourced Clipsham limestone and oriented the home according to passive solar principles.  When the architects were asked by their clients to design a home on the edge of a village designated as a conservation area, they were initially met with pushback from the local planning authority. In response, the firm created a successful two-stage planning approach that not only detailed designs for a 347-square-meter sustainable home, but also showed how sensitive new construction could protect and enhance the surrounding countryside by preventing linear sprawl.  “Releasing overlooked sites such as these helps keep villages compact and distinct, and kicks against the usual housing development we see sprawling into the countryside,” explained Sarah Featherstone, architect and co-director of Featherstone Young. “This, coupled with the house’s two-wing strategy, makes for a more sustainable approach to building in  rural settings .” Related: Contemporary barn-inspired home adheres to passive house principles Stonecrop’s two-wing design also helps clients save on energy costs. When the secondary wing for guests is not in use, the clients can choose to only heat the main wing for day-to-day living. The principal wing is defined by its “buffer” wall of textured dry stone that provides privacy and thermal mass. In contrast, the three-bedroom guest wing, which is also constructed from the same locally sourced Clipsham  limestone , features a smooth ashlar finish. The two wings wrap around a central courtyard that helps funnel natural light and ventilation indoors. Large glazed walls frame views of the garden and meadow, while a natural material palette further ties the interiors to the outdoors.  + Featherstone Young Images © Brotherton-Lock and © James Brittain

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Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape

Reima designs a traceable, recyclable jacket for kids

March 6, 2020 by  
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Finnish children’s activewear brand Reima has released its 100% recyclable children’s jacket. The stylish and sustainable outerwear is crafted from recycled polyester and comes with a tracking code for users to follow the product’s journey throughout its recycling and reuse. Even better, when you register to track the jacket, Reima will donate to organizations that help clean toxic blue-green algae from the Baltic Sea. The brand, founded in Finland in 1944, is tailored toward giving children the wearable tools they need to enjoy the great outdoors safely and sustainably. The Voyager joins Reima’s eco-minded collection featuring non-toxic, waterproof finishes and sustainable materials such as recycled polyester from plastic bottles, bamboo viscose and organic cotton . Each jacket comes with a traceable ID, and for each ID that is registered, Reima donates $11 to the Finland’s John Nurminen Foundation. Related: P+365 is turning abandoned festival tents into wearable merchandise “Another child reusing the Voyager jacket will save as much CO2 as it would take to produce a new garment,” said Shahriare Mahmood, R&D and sustainability director at Reima. “The high-quality and classic design of the Voyager jacket ensures it has enough value to be resold and reused by several children. We want to make an ecosystem with a true circular approach and provide the opportunity for our customers to act responsibly. We know that polyester recycling is possible, and by creating a proper ecosystem, we are heading to add even more value through upcycling .” Every part of the Voyager jacket — besides the zipper lock and snaps (which can be recycled as metal) — is made from polyester, a material that can be recycled into polymers to reuse for different products. The jacket’s material dries quickly and can be washed at lower temperatures with less detergent, features that contribute to saving energy and water while using less chemicals. Reima is also introducing a summer collection using SunProof Repreve recycled polyester jersey fabric made from plastic water bottles. The Reima SunProof PES jersey will provide UV 50+ sun protection. + Reima Images via Reima

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Reima designs a traceable, recyclable jacket for kids

This modular, shipping container home was completed in 2 months

February 3, 2020 by  
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Completed in March 2019, this modular home in the East Hampton town of Amagansett, Long Island encompasses a kitchen, four bedrooms and three bathrooms within 1,800 square feet of living space. Four repurposed 40-by-8 -foot shipping containers were used to construct the main part of the structure, two placed side-by-side and two more stacked on top. The inside was then carved out to create a larger interior space. The whole building was installed in two days and fully completed in two months. New York-based architecture firm MB Architecture is responsible for the project. The proposed site was a triangular, wooded corner lot on high ground that the clients hoped to turn into a summer and year-round weekend home with a large outdoor space and enough room for a pool and a lawn. Although the building site was restrictive, its high elevation provided beautiful views and plenty of natural light. Related: This container home in Brazil helps its residents disconnect In addition to the limited construction site, the clients were also set on sticking to a strict budget, which, after examination, proved to be much lower than the original projected costs. The shipping container method presented the perfect solution, significantly lowering the costs of construction while offering a unique design strategy. MB Architecture proposed prefabricating the building off-site and lowering the cost of transportation and materials by using the shipping containers.  The designers installed a wide staircase, which took up the width of a single shipping container , and extended the high living room ceiling to create a landing area that faces the backyard. Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows were added to take advantage of the natural sunlight and provide breathtaking views of the sunset and spacious outdoor area. An additional shipping container guest house consisting of two bedrooms was strategically placed away from the main structure to create a courtyard in between the two buildings, making the property feel larger. + MB Architecture Via AN Interior Photography by Matthew Carbone via MB Architecture

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This modular, shipping container home was completed in 2 months

ZHA unveils LEED Gold-targeted OPPO headquarters in Shenzhen

February 3, 2020 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has won an international competition to design Chinese tech giant OPPO’s new headquarters in Shenzhen, China. Defined by the firm’s signature curvilinear features, the new office complex will comprise four interconnected towers with rounded shapes evocative of giant missiles. Wrapped in glass and filled with natural light, the tapered towers will target LEED Gold certification and are expected to break ground later this year, with completion planned in early 2025. Since launching its first phone in 2008, OPPO has grown to become China’s leading smartphone manufacturer and the fifth largest worldwide with over 40,000 employees in more than 40 countries. The new headquarters in Shenzhen reflects this meteoric growth and the company’s investment in innovative research with its futuristic design. The architects have developed the architectural design with 3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) and energy management systems to optimize efficiencies. Related: ZHA completes LEED Gold-targeted building with world’s largest atrium in Beijing Spanning an area of 185,000 square meters, the new OPPO headquarters will reach a height of 200 meters and 42 floors in its tallest tower. Two towers connected by a 20-story vertical lobby will comprise flexible, open-plan office spaces and will be flanked by two external service towers housing vertical circulation. The towers are oriented for optimal views over Shenzhen Bay — a 10th-floor Sky Plaza and rooftop Sky Lab will provide publicly accessible viewing areas — and are tapered inward at the bottom to make room for large civic spaces at street level that will include a landscaped plaza, art gallery, shops, restaurants and a direct link to a nearby subway station. “Locating the towers’ service cores externally frees the center of each floor from obstructions, providing uninterrupted views throughout the building that will enhance interaction between employees,” the firm explained in a statement. “Large atrium spaces unite all occupants through visual connectivity, helping to foster collaboration between different departments of the company. The abundance of natural light, varied working environments and diversity of routes for staff and visitors to move through the building are all conducive to creative engagement and spontaneity.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects

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ZHA unveils LEED Gold-targeted OPPO headquarters in Shenzhen

Urban Earth House exemplifies off-grid living in the city

December 16, 2019 by  
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When Craig Byatt Architecture was approached by eco-minded clients who wanted a home that was off-grid in an urban context and built with a combination of natural, reclaimed and locally sourced materials, the plans for the Urban Earth House were born. What’s more, because the clients’ children recently moved out, the resulting 70-square-meter structure in Melbourne, Australia was to become their “forever home.” The greatest challenge arose when the building site was examined. Privacy was an issue because access was constrained through a shared driveway. The site was also surrounded by neighbors, which worried the clients as they expressed eagerness for natural light. This, combined with a steep, small property block and a limited budget, led to a difficult time finding the right builder. After turning to four different building companies, all of which turned down the project, the clients decided to build the home themselves. Related: Phoenix Earthship features a food garden and jungle in off-grid fashion The Urban Earth House has many green design features. Double-glazed windows, recycled glass bulk insulation batts in the roof and ceiling spaces, mud bricks and recycled concrete walls help the home maintain a comfortable temperature year-round. A north-facing glasshouse was built onsite to help utilize the sunlight for winter vegetables and seed propagation for the clients’ organic farm. The skeleton of the house was constructed with recycled and reclaimed hardwood from an old road bridge, and the project used local tradespeople and suppliers as often as possible. To make the Urban Earth House even more exceptional, the clients commissioned local artisans to add unique touches. The kitchen backsplash was designed by a local painter and printed onto glass. A local metal worker crafted the door handles using tools owned by the grandfather of one of the clients. According to the architect’s statement, “This project’s recipe called for experimentation and adventure.” By “working with the laws of nature” and using “what’s already there” as much as possible, they were able to create a unique, off-grid home that respected the building site and supported the clients’ sustainable ambitions. + Craig Byatt Architecture Photography by Meredith O’Shea via Clean Energy Nillumbik

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Urban Earth House exemplifies off-grid living in the city

A 1960s home gets a modern facelift with solar panels and rainwater collection

February 25, 2019 by  
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Needing more room to accommodate their growing family, a young couple enlisted the help of North Melbourne-based McManus Lew Architects to turn their single-bedroom villa into a modern three-bedroom dwelling. Built in the 1960s as part of a 10-unit development, the property — dubbed Kew Villa — needed to maintain a consistent exterior appearance to match the neighboring buildings; however, the interiors could be changed to better fit the clients’ contemporary lifestyle. The home was also outfitted with solar panels that return excess energy to the power grid, a rainwater catchment system and recycled construction materials. Spanning an area of a little over 1,300 square feet, the increased size of the Kew Villa was made possible with the purchase of a modestly sized and underutilized yard next to the original property. Since indoor/outdoor living was important to the clients, the architects not only retained the home’s existing south-facing courtyard but also added a new deck area on the north side that connects to the surrounding garden. Massive panes of glass and glazed doors create a seamless connection between the indoors and the deck, which serves as an outdoor living room with a built-in bench, planter box and a retractable awning for shade. “[The dwelling] boasts the features of a much more substantial home and demonstrates that comfortable and private family living can be achieved in unexpected places,” the architects said in a project statement. “Materials were selected to both sit comfortably amongst the existing textures and quietly to allow the appreciation of space. Honest timeless materials such as recycled brick , blackbutt timber and plywood work in harmoniously and are both classic and contemporary.” Related: A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living Dominated by white walls punctuated with timber surfaces and greenery throughout, the light-filled interior feels bright and spacious. Access to ample natural light and operable glazing helps reduce the energy demands of the home. Energy costs are further offset thanks to a photovoltaic system. Rainwater is collected to service the toilets. + McManus Lew Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Emily Bartlett Photography via McManus Lew Architects

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A 1960s home gets a modern facelift with solar panels and rainwater collection

Delightfully surprising green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope

June 25, 2018 by  
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Anchored to a pine-studded slope, the Bailer Hill house is designed to evoke a natural rock outcropping. Seattle-based Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects completed this cascading stack of timber-clad boxes in the San Juan Islands for a retired couple who wanted to feel at one with the surroundings. Faced with glazed sliding doors and topped with feathery green roof patios, the home blends in with the landscape and embraces it through panoramic views. Inspired by Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects’ previous projects, the clients sought out the firm to help replace the existing converted garage on their San Juan Islands property with a “delightfully surprising” home. The clients worked closely with the architects in a highly collaborative process that led to an unconventional and site-sensitive design carefully sited to mitigate the steep slope and to capture the incredible views. The 3,228-square-foot home, which is spread out across four levels, comprises an open living area, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor that is also linked to a reading room and rear office. The master suite is located on the basement level, while the guest room and studio are placed in the upper two volumes. “Looking out over expansive water views, this house is the expression of the clients’ desire to connect to both the immediate landscape and the view beyond,” the architects explained. “Cascading organically down the hill, the house remains firmly rooted to the earth even as it rises high above the ground. It is a complex form with a simple goal: capturing the beauty of this spectacular site.” Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands The stacked formation allowed the architects to create a series of grass-roofed patios accessible from large lift-slide doors. Each volume is carefully rotated to capture select views. Natural light pours into the interior through these large doors as well as through the clusters of small rectangular windows. + Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects Images by Eirik Johnson

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Delightfully surprising green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope

UNStudio designs future-proof cable car for Amsterdam

June 25, 2018 by  
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Amsterdam residents and visitors alike may soon see the city from sweeping new heights. Dutch architectural practice UNStudio has unveiled designs for the IJbaan Cable Car, a “future-proof” public transit system connecting Amsterdam West with Amsterdam Noord / NDSM. The cable car will span a little less than a mile (1 1/2 kilometers) and can be easily expanded in the future if needed. The IJBaan Cable Car was commissioned by the IJbaan Foundation (Stichting IJbaan), a grassroots citizens’ movement initially started in 2015 as a crowdfunding campaign led by Bas Dekker and Willem Wessels. Now supported by the Municipality of Amsterdam, the initiative aims to “create a new connection across the IJ bay by the 750th anniversary of Amsterdam in 2025.” The all-electric public transport system will create transport hubs and destinations. Designed as a new architectural icon, the cable car system consists of two stations—NDSM Marina on the North and Minervahaven to the South—and three supporting pylons with varying heights. Inspired by the city’s industrial past, the slender and sculptural towers will not be visible from Amsterdam’s famed canal ring so as to abide by UNESCO World Heritage height limitations. The system will take 4.6 minutes to complete a full journey at an average speed of 13.42 miles per hour. The passenger cabins can accommodate 32 to 37 passengers, while bicycle cabins can hold four to six bicycles . Related: Sleep inside this giant crane turned into luxury digs in Amsterdam “A cable car is an extremely sustainable public transport system,” says UNStudio founder and principal architect Ben van Berkel. “It is a very fast and green way of traveling, which is attractive for cyclists, commuters, students, residents and visitors. In Amsterdam you see a growing need for connections across the IJ, with the new metro and bridges. The city is growing enormously and such an ‘air bridge’ contributes to the development of the entire region. Transport by air also relieves the increasing pressure on traffic and the existing transport network on the ground. It is not only efficient but also fun. People are going to see and experience their city in a whole new way.” + UNStudio Images via UNStudio

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UNStudio designs future-proof cable car for Amsterdam

Scientists discover new gibbon species inside tomb of Chinese emperor’s grandmother

June 25, 2018 by  
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In a new study published in the journal Science , scientists detail the identification of a new species of gibbon, one that had gone extinct at some point over the past two millennia. The remains of Junzi imperialis were first discovered in 2004, when archaeologists at Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology in Xi’an discovered a mausoleum nearby the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China ‘s first emperor, which is famously guarded by thousands of terracotta soldiers. In addition to the partial skull of the gibbon, the mausoleum contained bones from numerous animals, such as panthers, lynxes, black bears and cranes. The gibbon likely would have belonged to the emperor’s grandmother, Lady Xia. “Having gibbons as pets appears to have been common among Chinese royals during ancient times,” study co-author Alejandra Ortiz told NPR . Years after the gibbon skull was uncovered, London -based archaeologist Samuel Turvey took an interest in its unusual characteristics. The remains were discovered “a huge distance from any of China’s surviving gibbon populations,” hundreds of miles south of the tomb, Turvey told NPR , “which immediately suggested that this specimen could be something extremely interesting.” Research suggests that through deforestation, humans were the likely cause of the gibbon’s extinction. Because of the gibbon’s dependence on the tree canopy ecosystem, it is very vulnerable to the destruction of its forest habitat. Related: Reforestation in China heralds the return of rare animals The discovery of a new, but extinct, ape species brings mixed emotions. “We feel that the discovery of Junzi imperialis is extremely important because it helps us to fill gaps in the understanding of gibbon diversity,” Ortiz said. However, the “discovery is sad, because it reinforces the idea that humans represent a major threat for the survival of species of gibbons and other apes, and our findings suggest that we have been a threat for quite a while.” + Science Via NPR Images via Benjamin Radzun and Eric Kilby

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Scientists discover new gibbon species inside tomb of Chinese emperor’s grandmother

How Lifecycle Cost Analysis Can Make a Better Case for Green Building

January 6, 2012 by  
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Design teams that consider the impacts of a building across its lifetime can help their clients make choices on materials, structural elements and systems that will reduce operations and environmental costs and other hidden expenses that are shaped by design decisions.

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How Lifecycle Cost Analysis Can Make a Better Case for Green Building

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